Despite being a fan of the first two seasons of Fringe, I found myself noticeably disinterested after the first few episodes of the third season. To me, the pace had slowed, the mythology became needlessly complicated, and the eventual move to Friday nights didn’t help matters either. Still, with the season three finale just weeks away, I thought I might stay in and catch up on a show that at one point appeared to be a worthy successor to The X-Files. The verdict? While I was a little confused at some points, the April 22nd episode of Fringe was highly enjoyable, and has definitely rekindled my interest in the series as a whole.
According to the show’s mythology, there exist two universes, which are both alike and different in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. A kind of “wall” exists between the two (similar to the rift in Torchwood or the “doors” that separated the Doctor and Rose) and should that wall be penetrated, all hell could break loose.
Well, the wall is coming down — and a man name Walter Bishop is the reason. It’s important to note that this is “parallel Walter”, not the crazy-but-loveable Walter in our universe. For reasons that are still unclear, Walter wishes to open the door and effectively destroy the other world — which happens to be ours.
The fact that his son, Peter, exists in this world seems inconsequential. Walter knows something that we don’t — something so terrible that sacrificing his own son strikes him as a viable choice.
And what about Peter? Back in our world, Peter attempts to use a machine that can open the wall between the two worlds and find out what is causing the rift to begin with. In previous episodes he’d shown an uncanny ability to operate the machine before. This time, however, the machine wants nothing to do with him, and promptly sends him flying off a podium, straight onto his head.
Olivia fans, don’t despair: both Olivias get plenty of play in this episode, although it is parallel Olivia who does most of the heavy lifting. After discovering that Walter’s plan to destroy the other universe, she attempts to stop him but ends up being captured and imprisoned. And oh yeah, parallel Olivia is now a mother — and the child appears to be Walter’s grandson. Meaning that parallel Olivia and “our” Peter had sex? When did this happen?!
The episode ended with Peter in the hospital. Medical tests show no brain damage and his vital signs are strong, yet for some reason he fails to regain consciousness. His father — “our Walter, not the evil one — is shown in a confessional begging God to punish him but leave Peter and the greater world unharmed.
And what of “our” Olivia? After some verbal sparring with Nina Sharp at Massive Dynamic, she comes into contact with a man named Sam, who is quite possibly the only person who knows anything about the machine that nearly killed Peter.
Previous for next week’s episode look intriguing — and I apologize if my review for this week’s episode is a bit of a mess. Perhaps that’s a testament to Fringe‘s complicated mythology and my having not watched the majority of season three.
Still, the show has got me intrigued. What other changes have happened since I last tuned in? Why is Peter in a coma? And what has evil Walter so scared that he’d be willing sacrifice his own flesh and blood in the name of the greater good?
I suspect that I’ll be surfing FOX.com and Hulu in an attempt to get caught up on season three. Much like the X-Files before it, Fringe appears to be developing a complex and complicated mythology of its own, one that has the potential to turn off new viewers but entice those who once watched the show to discover current plot developments.
All in all, not a bad hour of television. I simply wished I knew more.