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Fringe: Worlds Apart

“Every war has a cost.”

Now we know. No—that’s not right. Now we think we know Jones’s master plan, and we think we know his motives (basic megalomaniacal world destruction, with animal accompaniment). What matters more, however, is the damage he has caused. Not earthquake damage, although of course that is significant, but damage to the sense of community that has, for the past few episodes, been growing between the two worlds.

This season has not focused on Over There quite as much as I would have liked, but that made the Over There episodes all the more interesting for their rarity. Seeing that world felt like chancing upon an old friend in an unexpected place. That Over There made Lincoln “Clark Kent” Lee feel tethered made it all the more interesting of late, as Lincoln seemed to be thriving in his new environment. Hooray!

Alas, I hoorayed too soon. The loss of Over There, including our loss of Lincoln Lee, feels like finding out that an old and beloved (although seldom-seen) friend has died. I will miss Walternate, Fauxlivia, Other-Astrid, and—above all—Lincoln Lee. I will miss making jokes about coffee shortages. And I will miss they way the two universes played off of each other, with each character learning something about themselves and their potential from their doppelganger.

This season began with a profound sadness, which Olivia described as a “hole in her life.” There’s an Over-There-shaped hole in Over Here now, and vice versa. The destruction of the bridge, and the removal of our other set of heroes, almost could have been a season finale (although that would have been even more upsetting). It feels like Fringe is winding down, shucking off the extraneous bits to make the final showdown of this season more tense and taut. Nonetheless, I hope this severance is not permanent.

Maybe it is not. I might be remembering this wrong (if I am, please correct me in the comments), but wasn’t Alt-Broyles tasked to blow up the machine while working for Jones? Assuming that Jones intended him to succeed, wouldn’t that mean that Jones wanted the worlds split again? If so, didn’t the team just do his work for him? And wouldn’t that mean…something? (If Jones did not want Alt-Broyles to succeed, then Alt-Broyles is in prison for a greater purpose, which puts an interesting spin on things.)

Regardless, Jones’s plan is provocative in its simplicity. Destroy two universes in order to create a Big Bang presided over by him, on a tiny “island” with a bunch of creepy animals. Why would anyone want to do that? What would the results be like? Walter’s delightful slides made the world-smooshing seem like Big-Bang levels of chaos. Who can rule that or thrive in it? How much power does Jones even have?

He certainly has a near-messianic power over his followers. There have been intimations of his ability to inspire devotion, but Nick Lane’s unshakable faith shakes my own certainty in Jones’s villainy. The two worlds are not at war: that we know. But might there be another reason for Jones’s actions? Maybe he is lying to his followers to convince them, but wants to save the world. Although it does not, these days, seem to need saving. (I should stop trying to anticipate what happens next, shouldn’t I?)

The return of Nick Lane from Season One’s “Bad Dreams” was interesting and fascinating: Olivia remembers him now, even though he recognizes her only from childhood. He seems to have thoroughly bought Jones’s disinformation. His story about his sister Kendra was heart-breaking, especially since it was implicitly contrasted with Over-There Nick, who mentioned that Lincoln had dated Kendra. O-T Nick said her name with such ease that I assume Kendra is still alive; that would make sense, as her death was a result of Bell’s and Walter’s experiments and their effect on Nick’s latent reverse-empathy. Subtle heartbreak: Fringe does it so well.

Now that we know Fringe will have a 13-episode fifth season, I have more confidence in this season. Sure, it might end with a dud, and Jones’s plan is still weirdly sketchy. But 13 episodes and a solid end-date gives the writers a chance to go out with a bang, to tie up loss ends, and to make sure that everything winds up with rainbows, puppies, and red licorice growing from trees. Because that is how this will end. Right?

Just Go With It:

• Walternate: “If I have learned one thing, it’s that anything is possible.” There is something oddly solipsistic about being validated by one’s counterpart, isn’t there?

• Walter: “Oh, she’s pretty.” Interesting callback to last week’s episode.

• Walter: “Have you ever tried LSD?”

• Peter: “If the bridge does have to be closed, at least everything goes back to the way it’s supposed to be.”

• Great shot of Lincoln in a mirror when he was talking to Peter.

• While all the counterpart conversations were wonderful, Walter and Walternate in the bridge hallway was the best. Other-Astrid’s small wave is a close second, though.

• Did anyone else wonder if the Fringe teams would get re-ordered as the bridge was destroyed? Other-Astrid Over Here, for instance, and the Walters swapped?

• My DVR insists that this episode is called “World’s Apart.” As I cannot make heads or tails of that apostrophe, I have decided to remove it.

Four out of four rainbows

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

9 comments:

  1. Wow Josie

    Review already out ?! Wow again.

    Another very strong ep. I prefer NOT to ask myself a myriad of questions, I simply enjoy watching it. We'll see where it leads us.

    I am confident that the next season will be extraordinary. 13 eps is a good thing : just like orange juice, it will be more concentrated.. (1st half of season 3 and 2nd one of season 4 will be remembered for a LONG time; kudos Fringe writers (and actors)).

    Yes, another 4.

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  2. I just went through three seasons of Fringe in a week or two (and may now be going slightly insane) so I hope you don't mind if I let off steam for a moment!

    OK, this one thing has been driving me crazy for half the season - Walter's blood type has changed. It was A+ in season 3, now it's O-. Which means we are definitely in a different universe, not just a different timeline, yes? Unless the writers slipped? (but it was a major plot point in season 3, so that would be weird).

    I was really disappointed when Peter didn't flip back to Original Universe (or whatever) at the end of this episode. I was fine with the new timeline for a while, but I'm not fine with being stuck in it forever. But I have similar issues with JJ Abrams regarding Star Trek, so I may be on to a loser here.

    I didn't like Henrietta appearing last week at all, I got attached to baby Henry and I want to get back to the original two universes, where he exists.

    I do love Lincoln Lee though. He is awesome in every way (both versions, though I miss Pretty Boy Lee). Another reason to get back to the original two universes ASAP!

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  3. Juliette, I think it's unlikely the writers slipped, so it must be significant. I've been trying to make sense of the rules for universes, timelines, etc. on Fringe, but I can never do it.

    And then I remember Billie's Rule #7: "Never try to apply logic to time travel stories." I think that also applies to alternate-universe stories.

    And I don't say that to dismiss your ideas (which I think are completely correct) or your reactions, which I more or less agree with.

    I, too, miss Lincoln Lee. I'm really upset about the idea that they just wrote Seth Gabel out of the show, and I hope they didn't.

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  4. Just a thought, but what if the device Jones gave alt-Broyles wasn't to destroy the bridge but to use it's connections to both universes as the starting point for his plan. The thing even had prongs a bit like a tuning fork (or that could just be my memory).

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  5. I just loved this episode. It was so lovely and sad to see these two groups of doppelgangy people realize how much they have grown to care about each other right before saying goodbye. And I really loved all of the conference room scenes. They must have been a bitch to film.

    No theory whatsoever about what Jones is up to, but I agree that it probably isn't what Fringe Division thinks it is.

    Please don't let this be the last we see of Lincoln Lee.

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  6. Good point Josie, Rule #7 does seem to apply here!

    I'm hoping we'll get a least one more glimpse of *a* Lincoln Lee, somewhere, somewhen. I wouldn't mind catching up with Red Charlie once more either.

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  7. I had to rewatch the end of this one, because I was so tired on Friday that I kept nodding off. I basically missed that climactic scene between the Walters the first time!

    The final sequence was much more affecting the second time through, and I found myself feeling incredibly sad when it was done. I've always had tremendous interest in/affection for the Over There versions of our characters, so losing this universe for good would definitely leave an "Over There-shaped hole" in my Fringe world. But I can't even entertain the thought of permanently losing Lincoln Lee, so I'm choosing to believe this isn't the last we've seen of that side. I'm also on board with the "Jones's plan isn't quite what it appears to be" theory.

    John Noble and Anna Torv are so good. I almost started crying when the machine finished overloading and Walter immediately looked to see if Peter was still there, then gently walked over to touch him and reassure himself that he hadn't lost him again. Beautiful.

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  8. On top of everything, I'd like to thank you for reminding me of Nick's previous appearance. I had no memory whatsoever of him. And the only Kendra I remembered had a terrible accent.

    I'll miss over there terribly, but I have a hunch it'll be part of next season, too, when the two universes will fight together against something BIG.

    I hadn't thought about it before reading your review. I think Jones's plan was to shut down the machine all along. His plan A was simpler: having a mole destry it for him. But he considered its failure when planning, so he put forward a much more tiresome plan to force the Fringe teams, to give them no choice to turn off the machine.

    What impressed me the most in John Nobles's performance was how easy it was to tell apart Walter and Walternate, even if Walter was wearing clothes more similar to walternate's than usual, and even when they were silent. His whole body twitchs and posture changed. That very poignant scene where they talk privately in point: Walter was very comfortable sitting on the floor, whereas Walternate seemed to be doing that for the first time in his life. He's a superb actor.

    And I have to say I thought "solipsist" would be one of those words I know but would never need to. Thanks for paying that knowledge of for me, Josie. And for the rest of the review, too, of course.

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  9. "And I have to say I thought "solipsist" would be one of those words I know but would never need to."

    You and me both, Gus.

    Or is that me...and me?

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