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Fringe: Over There, Part 1

“I’m quite confident we don’t have much time.”

My friends, I think the storm is a-comin’. Our Fringe team finally made it to the other side, in search of the beloved Peter. Turns out, the other side is uniquely prepared to deal with such an invasion: Over There, Fringe Division has the public profile and man-power of ICE or Homeland Security in our world, because they have experienced what they thought were naturally occurring rifts in the fabric of reality, a la Walter’s (well, Walternate’s) bestselling ZFT guidebook to the apocalypse. This first half of the season finale was nearly all set-up for the next hour, so let’s take it one piece at a time:

Our Heroes:

Walter’s realization that putting a bunch of Cortexiphan kids in the same room together and having them hold hands to create a rift in reality should have been silly, but it was really no sillier than building a device to get everyone Over There safely. We re-met three of Olivia’s childhood comrades, and it was pretty clear that they were nothing but red shirts (although I was surprised by how quickly they were killed off).

Olivia felt like she was on a suicide mission, which tells us that her devotion to her work and her devotion to both Peter and Walter is at an all-time high: she gave Ella the cross, just in case she might not come back—the Fringe version of one last good day. Then she jumped into enemy territory with nothing but a rain-slicker for back-up. She says she trusts William Bell, for no particular reason, and that trust will certainly play a big part in the inevitable William Bell/Walternate/Our Walter showdown that must come next week.

Walter, on the other hand, is slipping back into helplessness—even when he’s Over There. He’s never been a warrior, so going to the hospital after getting shot is a natural reaction. He couldn’t know, of course, that his double is probably an extremely recognizable man Over There. After all, he’s Secretary of the Department of Defense. (If I were feeling the Doc Josie vibe, I would make a lot of the fact that our current Secretary of Defense is named Robert Gates…gates, bridges, doors to alternate realities…oh my goodness!)

Over There, or The Other Heroes:

Remember how Gordon Ramsey’s little brother referred to his boss as Mr. Secretary? I thought it was just a silly name, like Dr. Evil. Guess not: Walternate is a big kahuna, and has the snazzy office on Liberty Island to prove it. As head honcho, he oversees the well-funded Fringe Division, whose work was inspired by his own theorizing about the aforementioned tears in the fabric of reality.

But (and there’s always a but, isn’t there), it’s not true. Walternate has been lying to the OtherAmerican people: he knows that the rifts aren’t caused by natural wear-and-tear, but by people on both sides creating holes. He seems to have a specialized cadre, including Newton, who are aware of this fact. Olivia, however, is just a flunky who doesn’t know the full story.

In fact, Oliviate (that’s Olivia and alternate smooshed together) is in the same place that our Olivia was in the series premiere: she has the boyfriend, the job that she doesn’t actually know much about, and little access to the higher truths of pan-dimensional conflicts. Until that nice young alternagent (alternate+agent) died, she seemed to be second in command. Oh, and she’s partnered with AlternaFrancis (nothing else works), who really shouldn’t have shaved his head.

Walternate's rage at losing his son has turned him into a scary guy: I got a Darth Vader vibe from the last shot of him taking a mysterious something out of a highly-secured box. He’s declared a jihad on all things noternate (not+alternate, i.e., our heroes), which will inevitably lead to a showdown between doubles: will Olivate try to kill Olivia? Will our Olivia be forced to kill AlternaFrancis? Will Walter kill Walternate, and assume his role as Mr. Secretary? All of this could be avoided, of course, with a little help from…

The Wild Card, Peter:

Peter’s the only one who can possibly solve this problem. But he’s going to have to do it with very little caffeine (terrible world, that!), and while dealing with his own problematic reconciliation with his mother and real father. The awkwardness of the scene with his mother was perfect: he couldn’t quite see her as his mother, probably because he’d never seen his other-mother (Walter’s wife) so old. I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to see Peter’s interaction with Walternate, though.

Our heroes think they’re on a rescue mission, and the alternate team thinks their reality is being invaded. Peter wasn’t taken, though: he chose to go. But will he choose to stay?

For the first time, I’m on tenterhooks about what will happen in next week’s episode. There will be a cliffhanger, of course—that’s de rigueur on a J.J. Abrams show. But who will wind up on which side? Who will live? Who will die? Is there any chance that one of our heroes will die, to be replaced with one of the alternaheroes? I hope not. I like our heroes just the way they are.

It’s Exactly What It Appears To Be:


• The Alterna-Fringe Division has the whole laugh-in-the-face-of-death thing down pat, don’t they? And the berets: it’s weird, isn’t it, that soldiers look so much cooler wearing such silly hats.

• AlternaFrancis has a bug infestation?

• OMG! Will we see the faces of the final five? And that’s the house where Six saved Baltar from the destruction of Caprica! Is Over There really a Cylon projection?!

• The Observer participated instead of just watching. Is this a hint that the two sides are bleeding together?

• Broyles and Nina Sharp really seemed angry at each other. Are they on the outs?

• What did Olivia and her boyfriend Frank have tattooed on their backs?

Differences:


• Radiation scans are quotidian, I guess.

• IDs are called Show-Mes. And they’re required for bus rides. (Maybe Over There is Arizona.)

• Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is on the $20 bill, and quarters are different.

• Blimps!

• The Twin Towers are still standing. (We knew that already.)

• The credits are red (I’m not sure that counts).

• McDonald’s still exists.

• Computers are cooler-looking, and hand-held scanners aren’t just a fiction of forensic evidence crime-shows. But wouldn’t having the screen on the table-top cause all sorts of neck problems?

• The Statue of Liberty is verdigris free. (Dimitri, that’s a great V-word!)

• Government offices are pretty.

The West Wing is still on the air.

• There’s something involving lasers and hospital beds, and medicine in general seems highly-developed. Good news for Walter, I guess.

• Cabbage Patch kids weren’t discontinued.

• The Grand Hotel exists. (That means nothing to me.)

• Nurses wear those little wimple-like hat things.

• Pay phones still exist, and have touch screens.

• Oliviate doesn’t drink. Oh, and she’s wearing a terrible wig. I was worried it would come off when her boyfriend took off her shirt.

• What did I miss?

Four out of four molecularly-unstable coffee cups. But I reserve the right to change my mind if Part II is awful.)

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

9 comments:

  1. "The Grand Hotel exists. (That means nothing to me.)"

    The internet knows everything. Turns out the original name was Hotel Attraction, it was a skyscraper project by Gaudi, which was never built. In 2002 there was a proposal to build it on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center as Gaudi’s Grand Hotel.

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  2. Was there a poster in the background of the bus stop for re-electing Obama, Palin, and McCain, or was that just me?

    The bug thing with Charlie -- wasn't there an episode where some monster laid eggs in him, but Walter cured him? It seems like in the alternate universe, they were able to suppress the infestation but not cure it.

    Is it bad that with all the cliffhangery goodness, one of the things I'm most curious about is how the nice young alternagent knew Nick?

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  3. Hi R. Berger,

    I'm pretty sure that was the West Wing promo. If we're talking about the same bus stop, that is.

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  4. You missed that the phone book is called the white pages. :)

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  5. Believe it or not, that's what we call the phone book in my neck of the woods. Have I been living Over There all this time?!

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  6. I'm going to do my Darth Vader impression: "Immpresssssive."

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  7. I kind of love how the lack of coffee makes Over There seem so much more dire to us. No coffee! Aaargggh! I also really enjoyed getting to meet the Alt-Fringe Division for the first time here. All of our regulars immediately do a great job of creating distinctively different personalities.

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