Review of 3.04 'Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?' ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Review of 3.04 'Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?'

      Email Post       10/15/2010 08:58:00 AM      

Let me start by saying this whole episode reminds me of an excellent movie from 1987 called No Way Out. Have you seen it? Basically, Kevin Costner is a naval officer who gets promoted to work under the Secretary of Defense in the Department of Defense. He is assigned to investigate the death of a young woman who had ties to officials in that department. We find out Costner's character had been having a happy affair with the deceased, and had fallen in love with her. He finds out her 'sugar daddy' and killer was his boss and seeks revenge. Unfortunately, the key piece of evidence is an old Polaroid negative which, eventually when re-constructed, shows Costner in the woman's company and hence the lead suspect. Costner tries desperately to find evidence to name his boss as the poor woman's keeper and killer. And he does. The boss says a KGB operative killed her. By the time the Polaroid's reconstructed, Costner has escaped. In an excellent twist at the end his 'landlord' speaks to him in Russian, revealing there really was a KGB operative in the DOD that no one knew about. Costner had been assigned to have the affair to gather Intel on the Secretary of Defense and the DOD. Costner's told to go back to the Soviet Union but he refuses. Surprisingly they don't kill him for refusing, his Soviet handler says "Where is he going to go?"

So how does the movie No Way Out relate to Fringe episode 304? First off, Newton had no way out. He had to be terminated in the holding facility so they couldn't get his Intel.(But seriously, couldn't he have just run way?) Secondly, that poor shapeshifter(yes, the executive producers made me have sympathy for this shapeshifter who had grown to love his current 'life.' Reminiscent again of 'Blade Runner,'yes?)had no way out. He disobeyed orders by not shifting. But he knew even if he had he was supposed to get 'rid of all traces' ie., his beloved family, and he said he couldn't do that. Thirdly, FauxLivia had no way out, so she thought. In order to complete her mission she needs Peter Bishop's unwavering trust. She thinks she's going to get that by sleeping with him. Ah, but let's examine the bigger picture here.

The three most important plot/foreshadowing-related conversations in this episode are the following:

1. At the beginning of the episode where Peter shares some of his con insight with Olivia. He tells her he understands 'transactional needs.' "Each party has something the other party wants." Regarding the couple in point at the restaurant, Peter says, "She gets security, he gets her." But it's Peter's words after that that make FauxLiv run to the bathroom to pull herself together. "We all draw our moral lines in the sand. And unless you can put yourself in another man's shoes, I don't think you can really judge the situation." Peter cannot understand how correct he is there, or can he? Did he say that to see if FauxLiv flinched, or was he just being philosophical?

2. Forty-five minutes into the episode, it is again just Peter and FauxLiv. They have a few moments before their private lunch is interrupted by the well-meaning Astrid, and Peter makes the most of his time. He tells FauxLiv that Patricia VanHorn, the deceased Senator's wife, lived with a shapeshifter for two years, and that "she must have noticed something different." FauxLiv gives a hasty reply, almost defensively saying "Well, shapeshifters are good at their job." (Now seriously, would our Liv ever say that?!) Peter says he has been thinking about it, and that "maybe she did notice, but she just made excuses for herself not to have to deal with it, or, she came up with ways to explain it to herself. Kind of like I've been doing with you. With all the little differences since you've come back from the 'Other Side.' Well you did tell me that all your experiences on the 'Other Side' changed you, but since you got back, it's like, you're a completely different person. You seem less burdened, you're more patient with Walter. Don't get me wrong, I like it. The change is good, it's just... different." So now we know, folks, that the 190 IQ is still in action, despite being distracted by lust, the current case, Walter's crazy way of assimilating into his leadership role of Massive Dynamic via a hefty dose of LSD, and the fear of the doomsday machine.

3. About 6 minutes from the end of the episode Newton and FauxLiv have what is most likely their last conversation. After she insults him Newton decides to go in for the final dig and restarts his dissertation on her pretending to convince herself she doesn't care. "But you do care. Every night, when your head hits the pillow, in the last moments before you go to sleep, your emotions betray you, and you question your ability to pull this off. Things like integrity, self-respect, they haunt you. They form a line that you are unwilling to cross. And that will lead to your undoing." He gets the reaction from her he desired, and she goes off half-cocked, her desperate plan cemented. FauxLivia seduces Peter while Newton, the good soldier, takes his suicide thingy. (BTW, did anyone else think of that scene from 'The Godfather' during these two simultaneous scenes, where Michael Corleone's at a baptism while the mob heads are being killed?)

This brings us to the question of the hour. When Peter responds to FauxLiv's text and goes to her apartment he asks her what's up. She tells him she's sorry and that she lied to him. Ironically it's the most honest thing to come out of her mouth since she set foot Over Here. In true Peter Bishop fashion he furrows his brow and asks her, "When?" He's probably preparing himself to be rejected by her again. Her response? "I don't want to talk," and she starts the FauxLivia seduction engine. We know our Olivia would never drop her barriers quickly like that. So, has Peter figured out that Faux's a phony at that point before he beds her, yes or no? More importantly, what does he have to lose at the moment either way? If he has figured out he's being conned, he may already be conning her right back in an effort to get to the truth. If he hasn't figured it out but just suspects something's "different," as he put it, he's ignoring it, as he suggested the Senator's wife did, and jumps on the FauxLiv love express. My opinion is that he doesn't know for sure, but he pushes all his questions and uncertainties aside to have what he's wanted for a very long time. The Olivia Dunham grabbing him by the collar is his 'transactional need,' and Peter Bishop probably crossed that line of integrity and self-respect on an almost daily basis, in his life before Liv conned him out of Iraq. Unlike FauxLiv, there's probably no hesitation whatsoever. I would like to think that if her aggressive action cinched it and he was sure it wasn't Liv there before him, that he would be frozen in fear, and that 190 IQ would throw him into red alert, if he paid enough attention. But what if he suspected it was the Other Olivia and slept with her anyway? I think eventually we will get our answers. Fringe executive producer Jeff Pinkner promised a P/O sex scene at the San Diego Comic Con, he just delivered the wrong P/O for many fans.

We learned that not only are there shapeshifters among us, but they've infiltrated high levels of our government over here. If you replace 'shapeshifters' with Russian spies, we're back to the No Way Out movie again. And you have to wonder, who else could be a shapeshifting mole on our side? Notice that Broyles tested all the high-ranking officials in Washington but he did not test the Massive Dynamic executives, the higher-ups in Boston's Federal Building, nor our beloved Fringe team. Hmm.

I could have sworn by the emotional darkness of this episode that this was directed by Akiva Goldsman. Surprisingly, it was directed by Ken Fink. Did anyone else flinch when the Senator got broadsided after the adorable scene with the little girls?

Walter, Astrid, and Peter were well-written here. And an honorable mention for the entire bittersweet scene of the shapeshifter explaining how monsters can be loving and innocent and your best friend, to his adopted son. Walter high on LSD addressing his new MD minions was fun. Nina's reaction to it was way too flat. (What is that woman up to?) And Walter mentioned "power source" again. That reference started in 'Brown Betty' and continued through both parts of the Season 2 Finale, and I predict will play a major role again sometime later this season or in the next. Overall, this was a pretty exciting episode that kept me in my seat.

I give it a 4.0 out of 5.


Xindilini said...

This was a most entertaining review. For me it had many references I'll have to look up.
As things are getting weirder now, I got a new theory about Fauxlivia I'm not sharing until I see more episodes.
I just thought the senator being broadsided is quite out of the blue and seemed suspect. It's as if someone is trying to off shapeshifters or high level government officials. I only noticed that Van Horn was wearing a somewhat plastic smile at the time. (What was in that lemonade?)

fringeobsessed said...

Maybe Colonel Raymond Gordon broadsided Senator VanHorn?

Pierre said...

Great review ! I don't know about the "No Way Out" comparison, though, since I haven't seen it.
What about that black and white movie, at the end of the episode, right before Peter reads his text ? Any reference, here ?

Anonymous said...

It was a great episode! but really, FauxLiv is so getting on my nerves... I'm putting my money on the theory that Peter knows Fauxliv is, well, fake, but playing along to get intel from her. I mean the real Olivia would never EVER booty-call Peter (isn't that sort of what she did!?)!!!!!!! I swear the real Olivia would take like, months. Then deliver another very awkward but cute monologue on how she loves Peter.

Anne said...

I think Anna Torv was perfect in this episode.
I can't wait to see how Peter's going to handle the whole Fauxliv thing, and how she's going to act. 6 or 7 weeks from now, too hard!

Anne said...

Did you notice the photo in Olivia's appartment, just behind Fauxliv when she and Peter are kissing? Looks like the bridge in "The Man from the other side"...

Pat said...

I would give this episode 5 out of 5. Everything worked for me the actors, the direction, the story and how everything blended so well.

I think this is the best episode of the season.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Astrid is Bell's daughter... animal cracker scene

Anonymous said...

"Spoiler Alert"

I rented No Way Out and was going to watch it tomorrow - thanx.

My girlfriend heard me talking about the show and said she ate that as a kid in Scotland. I said what? She said Cream Of Sheep. arrgg - I told her itz Dream of Sheep. Electric ones.

Fakelivia is not her name. Thom Newton called her Bolivia. And the writers called her that too.

Anonymous said...

AhhhHA! There's a fly in the Mentholatum. Apparently Belly's shifters have one major defect that Walternate never counted on. What is it? The ability to develop emotions. Love. I was so hoping the writers were going to take this path.
How many more shifters have been living the lives of their victims for years? How many will not be able to carry out their missions to the fullest when the time comes? Ironically, lack of emotion will be Alivia's undoing. She's missing something - a soul.

fringeobsessed said...

I want to respond to Pierre above who asked what the movie clip was behind Peter as he reaches to read his text.
My sci-fi expert says it's from "The Forbidden Planet," a 1957 sci-fi classic about a man on a planet far from home living with just his daughter. The "Krell," the deceased civilization on the planet Altair-IV built a Great Machine underground that could create any matter, and they therefore played God. After a tortuous plot the main character dies and his daughter leaves with the commander of a rescue party who determines the deceased died a long time previous because they were trying to play God.

What's pretty fun is the wikipedia's picture of the Great Machine, which looks hauntingly similar to the doomsday device in the Fringe comics printed last year.

Thanks, Pierre, for making me research this! :)

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