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Fringe: Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?

“You’re not his Olivia.”

Last week, Fringe gave us parallels between our Olivia and a man whose mind had been altered beyond all expectation by scientists. This week, Fauxlivia’s double is the man—that is, the shapeshifter—who becomes so enmeshed in his cover story that he starts to believe it. But will Fauxlivia ever feel the connection with Peter and Walter that Olivia has? Or will her resistance to developing those connections make her subterfuge easier to discover?

We don’t know the answer, yet. But Peter senses something is different, and his conversation with Fauxlivia in the Massive Dynamics cafeteria has me wondering. Earlier, he’d shown off his people-reading skills. Then, he told Fauxlivia that she was different. Is he playing with her? Hoping to get her to connect so that he can use that connection to his own advantage? Would Peter be willing to sleep with someone just to con them? (My money is on ‘yes.’)

Newton stayed on mission up to the end, but both Van Horne and the other shapeshifter were attached to their lives: their covers became their realities. Fauxlivia is definitely playing the game, but I don’t see her making an emotional connection just yet. Peter, on the other hand: either he knows and is playing Fauxlivia, or he is ignoring the doubt-twinges and choosing to create his own reality, just as much as the shapeshifter did. Is it still a lie if the liar believes it’s the truth?

Walter, too, inhabited a false reality for most of this episode, choosing to self-medicate his way through what appears to be his first day as head honcho of Massive Dynamics. I applaud the decision to make Walter supremely wacky for the first half of the episode, as it helped make a lot of exposition and set-up more interesting. He found a peculiar type of truth in his altered state, too, finally calling Astrid by her real name. Perhaps falsehood can make the truth more clear. That, my friends, just might be our Theme of the Week.

(Oh! Mid-review realization! If Peter knows Fauxlivia isn't his Olivia, but is willing to live with the difference to keep things on an even keel, then he's doing exactly the same thing Walter did, when he took Peter from Over There to replace his dead son. Ooh...what sort of messed up game is Peter playing?)

I should probably say something about Newton, and his suicide. I think this actor is quite good at his job, even if he does look like Gordon Ramsey, but something about him just doesn’t click for me. He’s like a black hole, just sucking all of my interest away, which actually makes me happy that the character is done. (I realize this is likely a highly personal reaction, and I can’t explain it.)

Newton’s one weakness might be other people’s attachments: he’s been analyzing Fauxlivia’s relationship with Peter (rightly, I think), and he spared Ray’s family. That’s touching, in its own way, even though he did shoot Ray. I think it’s the choice Newton assumed Ray would want to make. All that’s irrelevant, now that he’s dead.

The Stegosaurus Has Two Brains:

• Olivia: “He’s a little short for her.”
Peter: “Not when you stand him on your money.”

• Broyles can sound so important when he wants to. He just walked all over that nurse at the hospital.

• Walter: “Somewhere between pudding and foie gras.” Ugh.

• Newton: “He’s been disabled, or, as you people call it, he’s dead.”

• Walter: “Perhaps a gentle caress, or tickle?”

• Walter eats animal cookies to honor William Bell’s memory.

• The title of this episode is a reference to the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that inspired the movie Blade Runner.

I continue to like the shifts between universes, although I’m also looking forward to seeing how they resolve this split. But it’s the Over Here episodes that I like most, because when we’re Over There I miss Peter and Walter. Walternate, Francis, and Lincoln Lee don’t have the same appeal for me. So:

Three and a half out of four tin cans that are still kicking.

(Thank you all for your patience with my very late review. I found myself trapped in an alternate universe with nothing but a typewriter and a zeppelin. It won’t be a problem again, as Fringe is on hiatus until November 4th, so that men in matching outfits can play with balls while other men watch. Baseball, in other words — what did you think I meant?)

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

5 comments:

  1. So far this season hasn’t put a single foot wrong and I’m glad to see that this episode was no exception.

    I actually liked Newton, he was a fun villain (despite his uncanny resemblance to an overexposed foulmouthed TV chef) and I am sad to see him go but I can understand when they decided to kill him off.

    Fauxlivia is alone now. She just lost her sole ally and support system and is clearly starting to crack under the pressure. Josie, I like your idea that Peter is possibly already on to her and is just stringing her along. Otherwise it makes Peter look a bit foolish that he hasn’t twigged yet.

    Also, did anyone else notice the funny way Walter looked at her after he started touching her hair? Sure he was tripping at the time but it was almost as if he noticed something about her.

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  2. I liked evil Gordon Ramsey too. The idea the Southern Pastry Princess on MasterChef might have been a carefully inserted shapeshifter appeals to me.

    I actually think all that stuff with the shapeshifters getting attached to our world is foreshadowing for Fauxlivia falling in love with Peter. The scene in the restaurant washroom already shows she's having a tough time when he's being all charming and date-mody.

    As for peter, I don't think he's figured it out yet. I'm guessing it's just another case of a very smart man thinking with the wrong head.

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  3. Oooh, I think Peter suspects and he's playing along because he loves Olivia and she's throwing herself at him and who could resist that, even if he suspects?

    Walter was even more Walter than usual. My favorite line was, oh, now I've forgotten the exact wording, but it was about how he wouldn't have left his pudding.

    Much agreement that I prefer the blue episodes over the red ones, Josie. You don't get Walter on LSD in the red ones.

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  4. Newton was a shapeshifter? That could explain why his severed head was stored in some facility back in season 2, but I can't remember if we ever knew. Like I commented under other reviews: plot hole or my memory hole?

    So far I liked the red episodes more because of the world building and spotting differences. Also I'm not a fan of seeing the protagonists infiltrated, I prefer protagonists infiltrating someone else. Hence red over blue. But that might change any episode.

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  5. Now I'm just full-on irate with Peter. Given all that happened in this episode, for him to just brush away his completely reasonable concerns about Olivia was beyond the pale. (And, yes, I don't believe he's playing her. If anything, he's playing himself.)

    I'm really sorry to lose Sebastian Roche as Newton. I know he's never clicked with you, Josie, but I've always found Roche a strangely compelling actor, so I was always interested in Newton and his machinations. That said, I can understand the necessity of cutting Fauxlivia loose from the one being that might interfere with her developing emotional attachments to Over Here.

    And on Red v. Blue: I find myself looking forward more to the Red episodes. I think because I like Lincoln Lee, Alt-Broyles, and Alt-Charlie, and I'm much more interested in seeing Olivia find a way to survive in her situation than in watching our "Over Here" heroes get duped by Fauxlivia. The Over There stuff is fascinating and engaging, whereas I invariably find the Over Here stuff infuriating (at least at this point).

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