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Fringe: Brave New World, Part 1

“Anything is possible.”

And so it begins: the long, quick slide down the rocky outcropping towards the cliff from which we will hang with delicious, knuckle-whitening suspense until fall. “Brave New World, Part I” continues the great tradition of wonderful, mystifying, tantalizing penultimate episodes. And, in keeping with Fringe tradition, it is almost impossible to rate or even assess.

The first third of this episode was a fascinating low-key case of the week that set up the roller-coaster ride of the last two-thirds. Lost’s Rebecca Mader has made no secret of her membership in our unofficial Fringe fan club, and she did a wonderful job of showing us the outsider’s view of the events our heroes deal with every day. Her fear—and her strength—were a beautiful opportunity for Fringe to remind us what is at stake with every case: not just world-bending mind-altering insanity, but individual lives.

The evil burning nanites were creepy. (Nanites are creepy all the time. Like malevolent germs.) More to the point, their purpose is confusing: why would Jones leave such an obvious trail? Was he coached by Bell to draw the Fringe team out? In that case, Bell and Jones decided to sacrifice a bunch of people just to draw Walter’s attention to the continued existence of his ol’ friend Belly. And then Bell decided to sacrifice his bishop. (Jones, luckily, not one of our more loveable Bishops.)

Speaking of which: wow and double-wow! In a recent conference call, Pinkner and Wyman attested to their strong desire to get Leonard Nimoy back for the fifth season…and didn’t let anything slip about his appearance in this week’s episode. Now, not only is Bell back, but he’s possibly evil. Then again, his plans have always been mysterious: maybe he’s not a villain bent on the destruction of two universes. Maybe there’s more to this: Nina sure thinks so. Bell said he hadn’t made a move in his chess game in over 20 years. Is that an allusion to Peter’s death/abduction/etc?

(And what does Bell’s history of cancer, disappearance, and reappearance in this universe mean for the events of Seasons 1-3? How completely different were those first contacts between universes, without Bell to orchestrate them and move the pieces around the board? Argh, my brain!)

In addition to revealing Bell, the nanite case also revealed Olivia’s power of interpersonal telekinesis (for lack of a better phrase). She calmed Jessica’s nanites, and took over Peter’s body to help him fight Jones. That scene wasn’t my favorite, as the shadowboxing was clumsy, but this new aspect of Olivia’s power is both awe-inspiring and frightening. Peter promised Olivia they would figure out her new power together: “I will not lose you again, Olivia.” I can’t think of a better guarantee of something horrible happening to one of them in the next episode.

That would be emotionally difficult, as we’ve already (apparently) lost Lincoln Lee and an entire universe this season, we lost Jones in this episode, and Astrid is in dire straits. All that in an episode that also included the nanites, the sun-beam, Olivia’s powers, and the return of William Bell. That’s practically an entire chess game of events, and I didn’t even mention the lemon cake or the animalia.

Must Seem a Little Bizarre, Huh?

• Olivia: “Nursery?”
Peter: “Nursery?”
Olivia: “Nursery.”

• Walter: “…my lethal friend.”

• Peter: “That’s what happens when you drink and mince.”

• Walter: “Jones must be reflecting light off something, like one of the disco balls.”

• Walter: “…and shut off the sun. Well, you know what I mean.”

• Walter: “It’s a fool’s errand, and I am a fool. No one is asking you to join me, Alex. It’s much hunch, and I’m quite capable of pursuing it on my own. So peace out.”
Astrid: “Alex?”
Walter: “I was on a roll.”

• Walter: “I knew it! Chilean almonds!” Obviously!

• Walter: “Sounds like a rhino. But more nasal.”

• Bell: “Hello, old friend.”

• I would like to nominate “Eyes Without a Face” for the creepiest song ever, please. Especially muzaked.

• Did anyone worry that the nanites would infect anyone who touched the nanited people?

• I apologize if this is a stupid question, but why did Jones disintegrate?

Attempting to rate this episode when Part II is still to come seems like a fool’s errand of my own. So I’ll let you do it:

How many Chilean almonds out of four?

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


  1. I also didn't get why Jones disintegrated.

    But Olivia using her powers reminded me of a comment Peter and Walter made in the futuristic episode a few weeks back about Bell doing something bad to Olivia. Maybe he's manipulating her into using her power more until something really bad happens? (she apparently wasn't alive in that future)

    And I'm not sure how Peter never being saved led to Bell's cancer (or was it just a ruse?). By the way, the season is almost over and there were no explanations on how most of the major events from seasons 1-3 happened in this timeline.

    Unless I missed it we weren't even told how the machine could have been turned on without Peter (or, since this is a universe without him, how he could turn it off)

  2. William Bell is back! I was honestly shocked. I never though Leonard Nimroy would return to the show, and I was happy to see him. Although I didn't want him to come back like this. Evil, shooting Astrid (please don't die Astrid!), apparently fulfilling out a 20-year long endgame he has had planned that involves Olivia (Arvin Sloan anybody?).

    I wanted to see him and Walter bickering while bonding like they did back in season two. I don't want him to be the big bad of the series. That's what I thought we had Jones for. Although apparently that's not what the writers had in mind. I can't help but feeling that this was a weak send-off for a pretty interesting villian. Really? Peter has to die and Jones, a middle-aged man with decaying flesh, is the one sent to finish him off by HIMSELF with a crowbar? Really? How did he not see that he was being sacrificed. Even without Olivia, Peter could easily kick his ass.

    I have no idea what to think of Olivia's telekinetic fighting skills. Hopefully the writers know what they're doing and that part two of the finale will bring everything together. If I think about all the different plotlines of this season and try and make sense of them my brain starts to hurt. So for now I'm just having faith the writers have a plan for all of it.

    Josie great reviews as always! I just recently watched the past four seasons of this show for the first time because of you. I watched the show when it premiered, but was initially turned off and disappointed, but now have fallen in love. So glad we have a fifth season ahead.

  3. I loved the opening part of this, Rebecca Mader was great.

    Fab as it is to see Bell again, I'm getting completely lost about what happened to whom in which timeline. And since it looks like this is the original universe, just without Peter, the fact Walter's blood type has magically changed is going to bug me forever!

    Definitely not a stupid question to ask about Jones. It might be a Clue of some kind to how the timelines/universes are connected. Or it might be the makers trying to be Arty (echoing Jones' first death). Depends where this all goes in season 5 I think!

  4. Cesar, I think we're following the unwritten J.J time travel rule of "whatever happened happened". I.e. the events from seasons 1-3 that weren't Peter-specific still took place and our heroes' memories just bent to fit, glossing over the details. Walter was released from St. Claire's, Fauxlivia still crossed over, and the machine was still activated, we just don't think too hard about it.

  5. I don't know what happened. I don't know what's going to happen. And I started watching this show because of Josie, too. :)

  6. Liked Olivia's "powers" fixing the nanites, did not like her "power" controlling Peter's fight. Maybe it was the execution. I didn't really like the way Jones was dispatched either. He just didn't seem to be someone else's hireling, especially because he had so many followers.
    Great to see Rebecca Mader.

  7. If I recall correctly, Jones disintegrated because his molecules, or whatever, became highly unstable when he used a device to teleport out of a German prison, which happened in Season 1. So when he died, I guess he just fell apart.

    Also, flippin' excited to see William Bell back. Leonard Nimoy is awesome.

  8. I don't watch FRINGE – it lost me after the second episode.

    But the pic used for the post caught my eye.

    Is the red head Charlotte from LOST?

  9. HBR, yes it is! She had a guest appearance in this week's episode.

  10. Thank you!!!

    (I was too lazy to Google or go to IMDB. Once I finish rewatching TRUE BLOOD S 1 to S4, I'm planning a LOST rewatch.)

  11. HBR, I'm thinking about doing a Lost re-watch this summer, too.

  12. It's been two years. I think enough time has elapsed for me to watch them again (rereading each of Billie's reviews after I watch an episode, of course.)

  13. My god, has it only been two years?!

    I hope I enjoy it. I'm sort of bracing for disappointment. But I enjoyed the heck out of my Alias re-watch.

  14. I re-watched seasons 1 and 2 of ALIAS in the summer of 2010. I tried to re-watch season 3, but I couldn't get through it, so I moved over and re-watched all of my beloved BUFFY.

    The first two seasons of ALIAS were/are brilliant.

    It's only been two years since LOST ended. It seems longer.

    I think two years is enough time for me to have a sort of fresh view going in. I'll be watching them on VHS – I never recorded over the episodes. :)

  15. I'll walk the path of the DVD. I might finally get around to watching the commentaries, too--I almost never do that.

    This is a completely random warning, but it just occurred to me: when you're re-watching and re-reading Billie's reviews, remember to watch out for spoilers! There's a chance that someone out there hasn't heard how the series ends. :-)

  16. I had LOST seasons one and two on DVD. I lent them out a few years ago, but never got them back.

    I actually prefer my tapes for shows like LOST and TRUE BLOOD. I'm lazy, so being able to watch eight hours of the show without having to move off the sofa to change DVDs it bliss for me.

    As an aside: I have AWAKE on VHS too, but I've only watched the latest episode.)

  17. I don't know how they activated the machine, but it obviously was no longer Peter specific since it was stated earlier (when he was trying to get back to "his" universe) that he needed Walter's help to be able to interface with it... and when he DID turn it off in the previous episode (farewell Red universe! *snif*), he stuck his arm in some kind of adaptor he said Walter made!

    Was totally shocked to see Bell... amazing they could keep something THAT big under wraps! :o)


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