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Fringe: Bloodline

“Nothing is set in stone.”

It would be easy to dismiss this episode as nothing more than “advancing the plot,” whatever that utterly meaningless phrase means. To do so, however, would be to ignore the lovely character moments, structural risks, and tantalizing hints of “Bloodline.”

From the Hemingway-esque circumlocutions of Fauxlivia’s conversation with her mother about the “procedure,” to the quiet grace of Lincoln Lee’s “I love you,” every line of dialogue seemed weighted down with an extra suitcase or two of meaning. “You’re a different person than your sister”? “That just doesn’t sound like you”? “You can’t leave!”? This list could go on.

All of that dramatic irony—in which dialogue speaks differently to us than it does to the characters—is predicated on us as viewers glimpsing in through a transparent fourth wall. The theme of observation and watching was everywhere, though: not just in the clues to get us theorizing (the year of the rabbit, for instance), but also in Fauxlivia’s sensation of being watched, the Observer and Henry the Cabbie watching her, the Echelon system that enables satellite tracking…This list, too, could go on and on.

However much we may feel like we see everything, though, we only get as much as the writers can give us. Regardless of whether you figured out Walternate’s complicity in Fauxlivia’s abduction early or late in the game, we didn’t get confirmation until the end of the episode. Similarly, Fauxlivia’s perspective on what was happening to her was equally limited: unable to see her captors’ faces, unsure what they were doing to her until her stomach started wriggling—Fauxlivia, like us, only has so much information. Both we and the characters are working with only partial knowledge, trying our best to understand where things are headed. Narratologically, this was made even more difficult by the episode’s unusual structure: no freak of the week, just one long chase interspersed with conversations whose relevance we couldn’t know as we saw them for the first time. “It’s Chinatown,” indeed.

Lincoln Lee and Francis are starting to get a sense that something is afoot, though. These guys are good: they did some solid detective work under incredible pressure (to find Fauxlivia) and at incredible risk (of Walternate’s rage). Their final conversation on the elevated walkway—a contained bridge, really—showed us how they’re both trapped and on their way to new realizations.

But the real stand-out of the episode was Lincoln Lee. As touching as the birth scene was, I was most impressed by his restraint as the talked to Walternate about Fauxlivia’s journey. He had to remain professional while dealing with knowledge that 1) his beloved had been replaced and he hadn’t noticed, and 2) his beloved was pregnant not by some one-night stand but by Walternate’s son. The emotional chaos those realizations and revelations caused for him was intense, and he managed to show us just how deeply he was wounded without showing Walternate.

Speaking of Walternate: wow. Did he resort to kidnapping Fauxlivia to accelerate the pregnancy because he knew about the VPE? Or did he plan on doing this as soon as he found out, for some other reason? After all, what’s the rush? We’ll find out soon, although not soon enough: the next new episode of Fringe airs April 15th.

I Feel Kinda Dizzy:

• OtherFrancis and Mona the Bug Girl had tea. I guess that’s the equivalent of a coffee-date Over There. Sigh.

• Francis: “Hands on the wheel!”
Lincoln: “Get out of the car!”
Henry: “Which is it?”

• Henry: “I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers here, guys. There are some things a guy like me shouldn’t know about. I get it.”

• Lincoln: “That was way too many details to be lying.”

• Fauxlivia: “It’s nice to meet you, Henry.”

• The wriggly baby belly was very Angel Season Four, and not necessarily in a good way.

• So they do have old-school pay phones Over There?

• I love the way everyone Over There just accepts the pregnancy-acceleration like it’s the equivalence of getting a tetanus shot.

Four out of four Chinatowns.

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

12 comments:

  1. Loved. It. Count me on the Lincoln Lee bandwagon. Lincoln and Charlie starting to realize there is more going on than they are being told? Great! I am now fully invested in the Over There crowd. Which makes me further invested in how the story is resolved - this universe or theirs? If that is part of what the writers were going for - I think they succeeded.

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  2. Liked this episode at lot more than last weeks. The writers have really done a fantastic job in developing the other universe and filling it up with people we actually give a damn about. Part of me hopes that season 4 will be all one week here, one week there.

    And with Seth Gabel as a series regular.

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  3. I thought this episode was great! I keep reading comments here and there by people who say they don't see the need of any more "over there" episodes... but I love them! I love seeing how good these actors are by changing their characters just enough. And I love some of the people from Over There! SPECIALLY Lincoln Lee! I actually like him for Olivia much better than Peter! ;o)
    And it's great to see Charlie again.

    Walternate had me totally fooled. that guy is EVIL. And yet not. Excellent work John Noble!

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  4. A fantastic and emotionally touching episode overall, but the standout moment for me was seeing the baby starting to grow in Fauxlivia's stomach and getting chills as I remembered "The Same Old Story".

    It's official: I can't get enough of Lincoln Lee. Please keep him for Season 4, writers! He's so worth it!

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  5. I knew that Walternate had to be behind it pretty much from the beginning, but this was still an excellent episode. This was the first time I actually liked the "over there" crew. Especially Lincoln. Maybe I finally like him because he was about to let our favorite cab driver Henry go free. And Fauxlivia even felt like Olivia.

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  6. It's really wonderful to see so much love for Lincoln Lee here. I've become insanely attached to the guy (and pretty much the rest of the Over There crew), and he had a fantastic episode this week. The delivery scene was incredibly emotional, and I found myself welling up as Lincoln supported Fauxlivia and quietly declared his love.

    I was also quite moved by Henry's desire to help Fauxlivia, even though he realized she wasn't the same person he had helped before. I'm really glad his involvement led Lincoln and Charlie to develop some serious reservations about Broyles's disappearance and their situation.

    Totally agreed on the pregnancy acceleration observation, Josie. Just another fine example of how bizarro their world is. No one acts perplexed or otherwise mystified/horrified by the notion of accelerating a pregnancy.

    Walternate is so freaking creepy. When he smiles, it scares the crap out of me.

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  7. Nice to be back to a universe where things are more believable then in our universe. ;) I mean accelerating pregnancies sure is more realistic then the ghost of William Bell, isn't it?

    I think the writers know how great Lincoln Lee is, they could had him burned in the season 2 finale, but by the season 3 premiere it turned out those burns were treatable. So he is steadily growing into a main cast memeber. That way people don't have the usual allergic reaction to a new character.

    I wonder if Walternate wants to use the baby as a way to lure Peter back, a replacement for Peter inside the machine or maybe as a lone cortexiphan trail member. After all if Olivia survived it then her son would too. Not much risk there compared to using complete strangers.

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  8. With huge dollops of hindsight from nearly-the-end-of-season-4 - I think this episode might be the reason season 4 lost me after 'The End of All Things'. I loved this episode, I loved Lincoln Lee (I love all versions of him, but this one, OriginalRedUniverse LL, is the first and favourite) and although I'm not generally a fan of pregnancy or miracle baby storylines, LL and Fauxlivia got me here. The complete dropping of this entire timeline/universe (along with Charlie) is my biggest problem with the direction the show has taken since.

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  9. (Feel free to delete the above comment if it's too spoilery - I;m not sure what the policy is for older episodes!)

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  10. Juliette, our policy is no spoilers for later episodes, because a lot of people marathon these shows after they've aired, and we don't want to ruin anything for them.

    However, I don't think your comment is too spoilery. I think, if people haven't seen Season Four, it just won't make any sense. :-)

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  11. Cool! Feel free to delete if anyone's bothered!

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  12. I haven't seen season four and no spoilers for me, Juliette. But, I must admit to being intrigued...

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We love comments! We actively monitor, and feed mean, nasty comments to our cats. It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.