Review Of Episode 3.03 'The Plateau' ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Review Of Episode 3.03 'The Plateau'

      Email Post       10/11/2010 02:36:00 PM      

Let me start by simply stating that I think this is the best episode of Season 3 so far. Why? The dualism, the chain reactions, and the casting.

Plateau scenario 1: Walternate, the 'Other Side's Secretary of the Department of Defense, observes our Liv functioning on her first day at work as FauxLiv. He seems pleased, and assures a not-so-confident AltBroyles that soon our Liv will "reach a plateau and her new identity will become fixed." But Walternate did not count on any unknown variables.

Plateau scenario 2: Milo Stanfield was mentally retarded. His loving sister, Maddie, signed him up for an experimental drug study run by the Ivon Medical Group, a subsidiary of her work, Gregston Electric. In a true miracle, after only one treatment with a new neurotopic(a smart drug) Milo's IQ soared. After five treatments, Milo was thinking in terms of probabilities that even savants like Alternate Agent Astrid Farnsworth found unthinkable(ever see the movie 'Rainman'?). But the medical experts conducting Milo's study did not count on any unknown variables.

Milo Stanfield did not want to return to his former level of functioning. We learn through our Liv's question to the Chief Medical Director of Bryant Hospital that when the study nears completion the subjects are returned to their former level of functioning. (Hmm. Smells of the old book Flowers For Algernon, doesn't it?) Possibly it's that inbred sense of doom that sets Milo off and creating complex chain reactions that get rid of the people trying to ruin him-including our Liv, operating of course, as AltOlivia Dunham. But even smarty-pants Milo did not count on AltLiv breaking protocol and creating an unknown variable.

One definition of plateau is "a period or state of little or no growth or decline."

The irony of the two scenarios above is that neither our Liv, nor poor Milos were in a plateau as expected. Walternate's AltOlivia Dunham-infused B-lymphocytes might have produced one had our girl not been a cortexiphan child. But Liv was, and therefore, we see signs the treatment's not plateauing, but decaying. All medical researchers like to think they know all the possible outcomes in a study, but I'll bet they had no idea Milo would respond the way he did after five treatments. His increased intellect did not plateau, but seemed to soar exponentially. And despite all Milo's superior knowledge, he did not take into account that our Liv would break from protocol, not stop and use oxygen, and ultimately not die. The paralells between Milo and our Liv are quite pronounced, especially in the scene where they are both wearing oxygen masks.

Let me mention something else new and interesting in this episode. It is possible that AltLiv's boyfriend Frank Stanton could be a baddie! Why would a virologist who specializes in smallpox be counting backwards on his calendar? Are you getting the feeling like I am that Frank had something to do with starting the smallpox epidemic in Texas?(Note how that disease which has been eradicated in our world is causing problems Over There.) Who does Frank work for? And even worse, is it possible Frank's boss or bosses caused contagions around the US which led to the amber quarantines? Let me make your head hurt even more, and bring up the possibility that Frank Stanton is a mole, using AltOlivia to keep tabs on the Fringe Division of the DOD. Why do I think this? He seems too nice.

And pardon me while I strut around for calling it on FauxLiv and Lincoln having a backstory.
The best part of Over There for me is Scarlie(Please don't kill him off, Mr. Pinkner! Once was enough.) and that scene with Scarlie and Lincoln going alpha-male on who knows FauxLiv better was tons of fun. Scarlie tells us that Lincoln Lee thinks he has a vulcan mind-meld with FauxLiv just because he kissed her once, to which Lincoln replies, "How was I supposed to know she had a boyfriend?" Now I may not be a Milo Stanfield, but that sounds like FauxLiv encouraged that.

One more thing regarding chain reactions. Milo liked his. Our Liv gets them whether she likes them or not. I suspect the doorbell ringing(remember episode 2.04?) sent our Liv into that mouth-opening hallucination of Peter in the last few minutes of the episode. That was incredible, and any other juicy adverbs you care to insert. One warning, though. Past experience shows when Jeff Pinkner gives the P/O shippers a juicy bone like that, you can bet there's bad P/B stuff ahead. I've come to see it as his way of trying to soothe the blow that's coming. In this case, I fear that animal FauxLiv will devour our Peter. Soon. Talk about your unknown variables!

I think the actor Michael Eklund did an outstanding job as Milo Stanfield. Kudos to the casting people. This episode was designed to draw us into Over There, to get us to invest in the other Fringe Division characters and the craziness in their world, and draw us in it did. As usual we got at least two questions answered and thought up at least another dozen. Let's hope the writers haven't reached a plateau.

I give 'The Plateau' a 5 out of 5.

Ps. Is it my imagination or is the 'Over There' Fringe Headquarters in the shape of the Fibonacci Spiral?!


Todd J. Haser said...

This was, by far, the best episode so far this season... and, I'm liking 'over there' stories more than 'over here' stories. Yes, I like the fringe division over there. I love Charlie - it's great to have him back and have him full vested in the fringe team - lincoln is great as well! The fringe team 'over there' is so much fun to watch. The thing that surprises me the most about this entire story line is that it was the actions of the observer that caused all of this chaos. The observer 'started' the war. Anyhow...

fringeobsessed said...

Yes to all your points, Todd.
I cannot give September soul credit in starting the war but, I have reflected on his involvement many, many times.

Xindilini said...

I admire your ernest devotion to pairing off Lincoln / alt-Liv. This show gives a bone to fans of different things to an nth degree. I'm just not sitting on your branch am I.
I wish I knew where you get your spoilers. I only saw Frank grimacing the fact that he is on call the week of the episode, when he wishes he could be home with Liv.
I thought it was only unavoidable breaches in the universe get ambered. I wasn't aware of diseases.
So maybe an outbreak of smallpox isn't normal - 22 cases. A society so advance would have overcome the same disease. Frank could be a specialist assigned to study it a good enough reason he would be needed. I would prefer it if Frank was still good. I can't believe they would have introduce him just to be eye candy. That's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Xxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx, xxxxx xx Xxxxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxx xx xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxx. [spoiler redacted]

Frank is a CDC (Atlanta) virologist. Smallpox hasn't happened naturally here since 1977. Frank's universe is more advanced technologically, nanites for burns, etc.. but they aren't as advanced as our bio-sciences, according to the show. So they are still struggling with disease (and blight), though they can treat symptoms of disease and injury better.

Frank checked his schedule 'forward'. He is "on-call" all week and was seeing what he had scheduled. His concern arose later. Taking time-off so he can help Olivia if she needs it.

Fringe Hquarters can be seen from above in 3x01 and is not like a FiboSpiral at all. It is a round bldg next to a very narrow taller bldg.

Soul credit for the Observer? Do you mean sole credit? I do like the concept of soul credit BTW.

I think Milo was low IQ, not "mentally retarded". BIG diff.

Dennis said...

FYI, The real building used for the Fringe headquarters is the Vancouver Public Library.

You can see an overhead shot here (you may need to scroll to the left a little...)

Xindilini said...

We can also see telltale green bar from the TD Bank behind Olivia and Charlie when they were talking about the case, in the Vancouver Public Library interior. You can't quite hide Canada.

fringeobsessed said...

Thanks for posting the link to the overhead shot of the Vancouver Public Library. Not a Fibonacci Spiral, but very pretty indeed.

Anonymous said...

When will Sam Weiss appear?

jashack said...

The smallpox epidemic took place in North Texas. Over there Texas is split between North and South.

Anonymous said...

anyone else notice how our Liv asked (using Fauxlivia's memories) where he got the avocados and how much they were?

I'm guessing they're rare over there...

Anonymous said...

Was it my impression or during the episode our Olivia kept picking white shirts from Alt-Liv's closet? Maybe because our Liv's memories are still in her subconcient. And also notice her hair turning slightly blond. ;)

Great episode, loved it!

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