One of the first things I loved about Over There was the alternate version of Astrid. Jasika Nicole has said at conventions and in interviews that she bases many of Altstrid’s mannerisms on her sister, who has an autism spectrum disorder. The character also lets Nicole stretch a bit more than she was previously allowed, so I was super excited when we learned that tonight’s episode was Astrid-heavy.
The central story in “Making Angels” may not have been the strongest of the series, but the episode more than made up for any other failings in the sadly sweet and funny Alstrid-Astrid-Walter storyline. It also opened up some interesting questions for the Fringe mythology.
Cold open – Cancer’s a Bitch
We open with a man getting some unfortunate news about having cancer, although it’s of the “95% survival rate” kind. His bad day continues as a creepy dude approaches him at the bus stop and describes the horrible progression his cancer will take, saying the doomed man is “the other 5%”. A bus goes by – and the cancer dude is dead, with the prognosticator nowhere in sight.
Act One – Astrid’s Day Out
Altstrid makes an unauthorized crossing to Over Here, which her high security clearance totally allows her to do but which completely confuses the Over There Fringe team. They decide not to pull her back immediately and just send Altlivia to see what’s up, seeing as she’s had a vaguely ominous sounding “rough day.”
Altstrid shows up in the Over Here lab, where Peter and Walter’s relationship seems to have hit a bumpy patch, due partly to Walter’s annoyance that “the boy who plays chess” (Lincoln) is out of town. It is sad that there will be no Lincoln in the episode, but it’s intensely amusing that Walter prefers him to Peter since Lincoln doesn’t “starve” Walter and that Walther and Lincoln play chess together.
Act Two – A Whole House Full of Astrids
The preview for this week’s episode gave away the initial meeting of the Astrids – and Astrid’s gasp/mini-squeal – but it unfolds in a beautiful way. Altstrid tells a disjointed and tearful story of how she didn’t know where else to go, from which Astrid figures out that she’s just buried her father. It’s a wonderful scene, with Astrid displaying all the kindness and empathy she’s given to Walter over the years to clearly shaken Altstrid. It makes you wonder a bit how much Jasika Nicole is playing this like an interaction with her own sister, if her sister were actually an alternate, physically identical version of herself. We also learn that, in both worlds, Astrid’s mother died over cancer when the girls were very young.
Walter tries to break the tension and make eggs. Because food makes everything better.
Walter basically calls dibs on Altstrid, while Peter, Broyles, and Olivia go to cancer guy’s crime scene. The team determines that organ liquefaction is the best explanation for why the victim died crying tears of blood, but that his organs are intact. Walter says that the only other explanation is a mythical ancient Egyptian alchemical potion called the Tears of Ra that was used to euthanize pets, adding in some weird jokes that fall completely flat with Altstrid. Alstrid is far more interested in the way Walter talks through Astrid like they are “one person”, remarking on how that must be pleasant.
Have you ever wondered how Observers slip in and out of situations so easily and avoid notice by most folks? Well, it seems they have the ability to step in and out of glass, because an Observer steps out of a plate glass window at the crime scenes and tells his communicator, “I think we have located it.”
Back at the lab, Walter discovers a chemical in the victim’s body that is made of compounds that absolutely should not interact, but have. He compares it to the phenomenon of how different liquors shouldn’t be able to mimic the taste of iced tea but do. Peter is fond of this metaphor. Altlivia – who Walter still thinks is a Mata Hari even though she wouldn’t have been able to lure Peter into her vagenda in this timeline – shows up just as Altstrid figures out that the only way you could predict that all the compounds would interact is to have already seen that they interact. It’s something so statistically improbable as to exist outside our understanding of causality. Given Walter’s expression at this discovery, it’s surprising that they gave John Noble the line “I think I love her” instead of an erection joke. In other words, it’s fantastic.
We jump to our creepy, murderous prognosticator taking down another victim – this time, a woman who will lose her battle with alcoholism and destroy the lives of everyone around her. She tries to tell him that no one can predict the future, to which he responds that there is no future, no past – everything is happening at once. Then he sprays her in the face.
Act Three – I Knew the TSA is Evil
Since he’s got Altlivia here anyway, Walter decides he might as well return the things she left on their side. It’s confusing and amusing to both Altlivia and the viewer that he would keep this stuff so long. Walter says he was ‘confounded’ by a little silver box, which he has surmised is something sinister and devious. Altlivia jabs at him and asks if maybe Walter hates her because he actually enjoyed having her around.
Tension between the Bishop boys continues to mount as Peter, for some reason, has taken it upon himself to “do all the jobs” (as Altstrid puts it). He is just a step ahead of Walter at every turn at the crime scene and even starts the autopsy without Walter, so Walter passive aggressively makes him go sharpen some scalpels. Altstrid tries to make sense of the situation, asking Walter if he “feels love” for Peter. Walter explains how Peter is a painful reminder of the son he lost, which prompts her to ask why he doesn’t just choose to believe Peter is his son so he can love him and be happy. This possibility seems a revelation to Walter.
Before heading back to a commercial, we’re taken to a security checkpoint at Logan Airport. Every suspicion I have about the TSA is confirmed as we see that our bad guy is a TSA agent! He screens boarding passes and ominously tells people to have a nice flight, jotting down one of their names on a napkin.
Act Four – Coffee is Delicious
The Observer watches as our creepy TSA agent spectacularly fails at approaching and taking out the man from the airport whose name he wrote down. The intended victim happens to notice the menacing blue cylinder while being told about how he’d have his spine severed in a car accident, and makes a break for it. Unfortunately, he gets hit by a car and his spine is severed anyway. Olivia and Peter visit him in the hospital, where he tells them that the man said he was trying to put him out of his misery as though the man were some kind of saint.
Astrid and Altstrid have a cute moment of synchronized speech, after which Astrid offers Altstrid some coffee. Alstrid explains how it is so rare in her world that she’s never had any and actually smiles at Astrid. It is adorable! While Astrid gets coffee and Altlivia continues to troll Walter, Altstrid figures out that all of the victims were screened by the same TSA agent at Logan Airport. She also figures out that coffee is delicious.
Peter and Olivia try to snag our fortune teller at Logan, but are thwarted when another agent won’t let them pursue him past the security checkpoint despite the fact that the other agent is running away and that Olivia and Peter are government agents. No boarding pass, no entry.
Act Five – They’ll Never Take Me Alive, Ma!
Olivia and Peter go visit MIT, since Neil (the killer) used to be an advanced mathematics teacher there until, according to a colleague, he lost his mind. Neil thought math was the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe but came back from a lake house vacation obsessed with some high level equations he thought he could use to flatten all layers of space and time. It’s a bit ridiculous that the near-genius, time and universe traveling Peter doesn’t grasp this concept.
In a heartbreaking scene, Altstrid confides to Astrid that she can’t stop thinking about how her father must have wished she could’ve loved him back in a way he could understand. She even asks if Astrid thinks her father would have loved her more if she were more like Astrid, if she were normal. Jasika Nicole acts the hell out of the scene as both Altstrid and Astrid.
It turns out that Neil’s lake house is at Reiden Lake, where Peter re-appeared in this timeline. Peter and Olivia break into the lake house to find it wallpapered with mathematical equations, photos of his dead dad and twin brother, and savior figures like Jesus, Joan of Arc, and Gandhi.
Neil, meanwhile, has gone to his mother’s house, where he trades his spray can of death for a gun in his waistband. Naturally, his mother is extremely confused.
Final Act – Suicide and Lies
Neil’s mom is kind of a harpy and it turns out that, the night Neil’s brother and dad died, he heard her say that God took the wrong son. He never thought he’d be good enough for her, but realizes now that his constant striving made God give him a way to see the future and give people mercy. Neil goes so far as to compare himself with Jesus, who knew the Romans were coming to take him to his death but trusted God anyway. As expected, Olivia and Peter burst in and Neil commits suicide by cop, telling his mother that “angels don’t belong on earth”.
Olivia is visibly shaken by the event, since she shot a man in front of his mother and Neil obviously was not shooting directly at her. It does prompt her to finally admit that Peter makes a good partner, giving him a little smile that should make Lincoln Lee get nervous and hightail it back to town right quick.
Altstrid says goodbye to Walter, who gives her one of the most awkward hugs since Voldemort and Draco. It is far more adorable, though. Altlivia reveals to Walter that her “spy box” just contained mint-like candies, after which Walter concedes that Altlivia “has some positive qualities [he] might have overlooked”. Before Altstrid leaves, Astrid tells her that she’s not close to her father either but that she knows her loves her even if he doesn’t show it. It’s very sweet and obviously means a lot to Altstrid, but we immediately find out it’s a lie when Astrid goes to visit him! Astrid’s dad is a bubbly, “Shiitake Happens” apron-wearing guy who obviously adores her.
The episode closes out at Neil’s mother’s house, where two Observers snoop around and find Neil’s canister. It turns out that it is September’s and that he must have lost it near the lake. One of the Observer’s reveals to his superior that September has disobeyed orders and that Peter has returned.
Next Week: It’s hard to tell exactly what next week’s episode is about from the preview, but it apparently has to do with the very laws of physics going awry. Let’s all tune in and make Star Trek jokes about being unable to change the laws of physics!