By Josie Kafka 9/30/2010 02:54:00 AM
“You can’t just keep running.”
The Season Two finale left us with Peter and Walter back Over Here, accompanied by a woman alternately called Boliva, Oliviate, or Fauxlivia. Our Olivia (now with auburn hair) is stuck Over There as a pawn in Walternate game/war/vendetta. This episode’s focus on Over There, and on Olivia’s experiences, was exactly as creepy, disorienting, and disturbing as it should have been.
This episode is basically an escape-and-chase thriller, but that’s not why it is so strong. What makes it good is the series of conversations that Olivia take part in: with the psychiatrist, with Lincoln Lee, with her mother, and with Alterna-Francis. What makes it great is the extended conversation with the cab driver Henry, played by Andre Royo of The Wire.
Olivia’s conversation with the psychiatrist was completely open. She told her everything she knew, but the psychiatrist (who surely knows more than she is telling) didn’t support her assertions. As we find out later, though, Olivia’s memories are being altered so that she gradually becomes Fauxlivia. Walternate says this is so she can help the OverThereians figure out how to stop the destruction of reality. I don’t believe him. I think it’s revenge. I think Walternate wants to take something of Walter’s and make it entirely his own. If he gets to save the world, that’s a bargain.
Andre Royo and Anna Torv were basically re-enacting Collateral, in which Jamie Foxx plays a Magical Negro© who drives Tom Cruise around LA. But I’m willing to forgive this rather clichéd use of a fabulous African-American actor precisely because he is so fabulous. We saw last season, especially with episodes like “Peter,” just how wonderful Fringe could be when it took its time and allowed conversations and interactions to develop both the plot and the characters’ relationships. Here, that means that Henry starts to believe and/or trust Olivia, who continues to tell the truth as she searches, fruitlessly, for a way to get back home.
I think, but am not sure, that the major turning point for both Olivia and Henry came when she accidentally said “Frank” instead of “Peter.” It’s a sign that the memory-changes the Fringe Division is making are working. Henry caught her slip, and I think it pushed him over the fence into the realm of belief—and that’s why he followed her. But what I’m more interested in, at least at this very moment, is how Olivia herself reacted to it.
Olivia’s encounter with her mother, besides making me cry, was her personal turning point. She had realized her memories and skills (like sharp-shooting) were being altered. Lincoln Lee told her she couldn’t keep running, and she’d exhausted all the ways she knew of getting home. When she began to remember her mother’s home, her childhood home, and specific events in it, did she become Fauxlivia? Or did she realize that she could access both sets of memories (Fauxlivia’s implanted ones, and her own “real” ones) and begin to play the game?
I hope it’s the latter. I want Olivia to still be Olivia, fighting the good fight from inside the belly of the beast. Her conversation with Alterna-Francis, after her epiphany in her mother’s house, was a little off. It took her longer to laugh at his jokes than it normally would. Just shock, or something more?
Things Are Getting Weirder and Weirder All The Time:
• Henry made the “fist of power” at Olivia, which was also used on the protester’s signs outside of the newly-ambered opera house. Is he part of the resistance against the Fringe Division and DoD? How active is the resistance?
• So many great details about Over There, all of which are catalogued elsewhere. So I’ll just mention that Fringe has taught me that those big bicycle things are called “penny farthings”; the longest-running show on Broadway is called Dogs (sorry, T.S. Eliot); and JFK is still alive and politically active, which seems impossible, as he was born in 1917. Maybe it’s John F. Kennedy, Jr., who passed away in 1999 Over Here.
• No Massive Dynamics Over There, but Brandon works for the DoD.
• It looks like the credits will be red for Over There episodes and blue for Over Here episodes.
• Just a few minutes of Walter, Peter, and Fauxlivia. But we’ll get more of them this week. How long will this go on? It’s very interesting.
• It was implied that Henry’s daughter had died. Something Fringe-related?
• Beautiful imagery throughout, especially of reflections. I pondered calling Fauxlivia "Aivilo," but it sounds too much like an Italian pasta dish.
This was a great, understated episode (except for the exploding propane tank, of course). Fabulous mythology building, but even better character development.
Three and a half out of four penny-farthings.