Fringe fans come to tonight’s episode pretty high after last week’s fantastic, futuristic episode and yesterday’s renewal news. Here’s how this week’s episode played out…
Walter stands at the base of the Bridge device, from which Peter calls him away for a meeting Walter has called for both Fringe teams. He believes David Robert Jones is trying to create a gravitational singularity – essentially creating a new Big Bang that would destroy both universes and create a brand new one. One where he controls the laws of physics and nature. In true Walter fashion, the epiphany came to him in a dream, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the rest of the teams. In a surprising show of solidarity that foreshadows the emotional events closing out the episode, though, Walternate does takes Walter seriously. This causes Peter to entertain the notion, but ask how such a thing would even be possible.
Quick cuts between Sydney, China, the Himalayas, & Manhattan reveal folks with synchronized watches rushing to specific locations on maps they carry. The counters on their watches run down, they close their eyes, veins on their foreheads bulge and turn slightly green, and the spots on which they stand begin to rupture.
Act One – The Return of the Cortexiphan Kids
Bolivia asks the question on everyone’s minds: how could someone survive the destruction of two universes, as Walter is suggesting? The initially skeptical Peter explains that Jones did just that in Westfield – destroyed parts of both universes, but left one small patch unharmed. It was a “safe zone” in which to ride out the storm.
Both teams suddenly receive news of the synchronized earthquakes (caused by our Cold Open Crew), which are happening in both universes. At the lab Over Here, Walter examines items found at the Manhattan quakes and determines that Jones is trying to get both universes to vibrate at the same frequency in order to shatter the barrier between them. He illustrates the consequences of this plan using the classic children’s game Don’t Break the Ice (which I had completely forgotten existed). Judging by the looks on the team’s faces, it is a very effective visual.
Over There, Lincoln is thrown when a man from Alt!Lincoln’s childhood shows up claiming that he “saw” the Manhattan quakes happening before he even knew they were going on. The man’s name? Nick Lane. Lincoln calls Olivia from the Bridge to alert her to Nick’s vision, which seems to actually be a kind of remote viewing of the quakes in her world. When she hears Nick’s name, Olivia immediately knows that Jones is using Cortexiphan Kids to do his dirty work.
Act Two – Brain Buddies
While he (of course) abhors DRJ’s plan, he does find it rather ingenious that he is using the abilities of the Cortexiphan Kids to psychically link them with their alternate versions. They are “drawing on their alternate’s frequencies to change the vibratory nature of the area they’re standing in, effectively merging the two universes together.” Peter brings up the distressing idea that the Bridge is actually facilitating this psychic process, and that severing the link could stop it. This brings up a dilemma, though: closing the Bridge could stop the psychic link and the universes from merging, but it would also halt the healing process Over There. Not satisfied with this Catch-22, Olivia proposes that they just find out where Jones’s next attack is going to be and stop it.
In order to do so, they bring over the alternate Nick Lane to get poked and prodded by Walter. Lincoln and Bolivia accompany him across the Bridge, which allows Bolivia to thank Olivia for her efforts in keeping the Bridge open. Fun (and depressing) fact: in addition to having no Batman, Over There doesn’t have rainbows. Because of the healing process, though, Bolivia keeps “looking up” for them after every rain.
Olivia basically ports into Nick’s brain and uses his psychic connection to his alternate (from here on referred to as ‘Bad Nick’) to find out where the attack will be. It’s a bit odd that Olivia sees everything from an external vantage point, almost as if it’s a film. Peter rushes over to the location and catches him before he can trigger a quake, but it is too late to stop them from occuring elsewhere. Seismic activity lights up the map on Astrid’s computer.
Act Three – Nick and Olive, Redux
Bad Nick has a nasty scar on the side of his head in the shape of a ‘2’, which we see as he sits awaiting interrogation. A quick review of Bad Nick’s belongings show that the watch is from Over There (likely a gift from David Robert Jones). In a rather morbid little discussion in Broyles’s office, Walter expresses surprise that the quakes haven’t already collapsed the universes and Broyles reveals that Washington is already discussing turning off the Bridge.
Olivia takes on Bad Nick’s interrogation, apparently expecting him to not remember her. But he does – he even calls her Olive. Catching onto this instant intimacy, Olivia tries to quickly explain the dangers and get him to reveal Jones’s location. Surprisingly, though, Bad Nick launches into a mini-monologue about how they are on the same side. That this is what they were trained for and warned of as children – a coming war, from which Jones is protecting them all. Olivia dismantles it all, explaining that the two worlds are working together and that Jones has been lying to him.
While disassembling Bad Nick’s watch, Peter and Lincoln chat about the implications of closing the Bridge. The healing process Over There would stop and it would be odd to never interact across the universes again, but at least they would all survive. And, as Peter says, things could get back to how they “should” be. Predictably, Lincoln is more divided on this thought, which the show drives home with reflections of Lincoln’s face in a computer monitor. The conversation is cut short, though, when the counter on Bad Nick’s watch suddenly goes live again.
Olivia brings news of the counter back to Bad Nick, practically begging him to stop the quakes for the sake of everyone he loves. Echoing the Nick Lane of previous seasons, Bad Nick tells Olivia that she was always the strong one and tells the story of how emotional “reverse impact” from his suicide attempt resulted in his sister’s suicide. Jones taught him how to control his power and emotions, giving him a mission for his life. Olivia reiterates that Jones lied to him and pleads that he consider the billions of lives the universe collision would cost.
Act Four – Deceptions and Decisions
It seems that Olive’s pleas have worked, as Bad Nick is out of the interrogation room and cooperating. He tells Olivia and Walter about a warehouse where he met DRJ a couple of times, which Olivia and the team move in on as a potential site for Jones’s “safe zone.” While the team raids the warehouse, Bad Nick uses his power to inspire suicidal feelings in the agent left to guard him. The team returns from their wild goose chase to find the agent has stabbed himself in the belly and Bad Nick has escaped into the streets of Boston.
Over at the Bridge, the teams have installed a few ominous and not at all aesthtically pleasing giant digital clocks showing the countdown from Bad Nick’s watch. It seems that Washington has decided to support whatever decision the teams from both world’s make. In the absence of any other ideas or viable options – and after the camera dramatically cuts between the alternates for few beats – they decide to shut down the device.
Act Five – And Then There Was One
Peter (literally) rolls up his sleeves and activates the device that has laid dormant but ominously present for so much of the season. As they wait for the machine to overload, the Walters talk about Peter. Walter is completely overwhelmed by Walternate’s praises of their son – that he is “smart, noble, kind – all the things I would have wished for him” – and tries to flee into a hallway. Walternate pursues, however, and the two have a bittersweet discussion of the possibility that shutting down the machine will blink Peter back out of existence. The heartbreaking brilliance of John Noble shines through as Walter weeps at the tenderness and solidarity Walternate shows.
More goodbyes are had in the moments leading up to shutting down the device. Lincoln tells Peter that he “may have found [his Olivia]” and the two shake hands. The Olivias trade mutual admirations and Olivia exhorts Bolivia to keep looking for those rainbows. Altstrid quietly waves goodby to Astrid from across the room. When Lincoln joins the Over There side of the room and tells Bolivia she’ll need to help him find an apartment, she doesn’t look at all displeased. Then the device hits overload, Walter flips the switch, and the Over Here team is alone.
Walter: “I think I shall miss them. More than I imagined.”
Next Week: “The answers you’ve been waiting for”! Although, in light of the renewal news, it should probably be “The answers you’ve been waiting for…except for the ones we’re holding onto for season five!”
What do you think? Will shutting down the device stop Jones? Is this how things got whittled down to the single universe “Letters of Transit” implied? And where will Bad Nick Lane resurface?