“It's like nothing ever happened.”
After a great deal of action in two separate universes, we’re left with sadness: Olivia has to try to fit into a world that has changed; Fauxlivia has to fit into a world that doesn’t know she has changed—or even been gone.
There’s been some speculation that, someday, we would get purple credits: a mixture of the blue and red that demarcate the differences between Over Here and Over There. We haven’t reached that point (Will we? Who knows?), but we did get the alternating credits that signaled two stories…well, sort of. Really, this is one story told in two places. Despite Lincoln Lee’s likability, Charlie Francis’s welcome return, and Walternate’s Shakespearean vengeance, for me our heroes are still the original Scooby gang: Olivia, Peter, Walter, Astrid, Broyles. I’m on their side in the battle, if that’s what it comes down to. And Fauxlivia still freaks me out.
She’s fascinating, sure. But she’s cold-hearted. On the one hand, I understand that she’s just doing her job. On the other hand: hasn’t she realized yet that the Over Here folks are not intentionally waging war against her people? Wouldn’t that affect her willingness to treat “us” like sock puppets in her vengeance mission? Fauxlivia’s “vagenda” (which I assume is using a vagina to further one’s own agenda) was based on the assumption that she was fighting a war, and that her side was right. We didn’t see her character change much at all—even her handcuffed lie to Peter felt like a vagenda, not honesty.
Perhaps Fauxlivia will start to have second thoughts as she attempts to reintegrated Over There. Our Olivia, though was already broken before she made her final crossing. At first, I wasn’t sure how Olivia could be so ruined so quickly—but it makes sense: she was so very close last week, and was ripped from her home. She was sobbing and begging from the trauma of loss.
But as Thomas Wolfe says: “You can’t go home again.” Home isn’t the same once you’ve left it. For Olivia, it won’t just be a matter of perception, either. Her work-family is substantially different, especially Peter. And, while Olivia’s relationship with her FauxMom hasn’t been a major plot point, it’s gotta hurt to lose her mother twice. (Once is a tragedy; twice just seems like carelessness.)
She did get off lucky, I guess. Lab guy Brandon’s ability to see Olivia as nothing more than replaceable mass made me shudder. I have a hard time with anchovies in a tin, so treating people like dehumanized mass really isn’t my thing. Over There, they’ve got a pretty sophisticated rhetoric surrounding their enemies: on the one hand, they’re evil masterminds capable of mass destruction. On the other hand, their lives are as meaningless as rocks. It’s doublethink at its finest, and it is what has allowed Walternate to gain such power.
The power of that rhetoric, that basic Over There concept of hatred and self-defense, is what made Broyles’s decision so striking. Again, this puzzled me at first. Olivia helped him: why wouldn’t he return the favor? Because he believes so firmly in the war that he imagines he is fighting. Altering his way of thinking is akin to me changing my belief that gender is an important component of identity—a radical re-conceptualization of the universe. While I’ve consistently been impressed with Fringe’s world-building, the true force of it didn’t hit me until this episode: these people have a fundamentally different way of looking at the world than we do, a way that includes a lot less doubt and a lot more fear. Almost all of it created by Walternate.
Will we see him again? Will the Over Here shapeshifters have more tasks to do, and more coffee to enjoy? Will Walternate continue his scheming? How will Olivia react to Peter’s relationship with her double? Does Peter need a hug? I don’t know, and every time I theorize about this show, I get it completely wrong. But I still love it.
There May Be Something I Haven’t Thought Of Yet:
• Vagenda. Is this a word that everyone knew about but me? I plan to use it as often as possible in the future.
• Peter wasn’t overly smiley in that photobooth picture, was he?
• The laptop switcheroo was Peter doing to Fauxlivia exactly what she’d done to him.
• Walter tried to cover for Peter. So charming!
• Olivia’s reaction to the prospect of adrenalin was hilarious.
• When a shapeshifter takes on a person’s form, doesn’t that person die? I thought I saw the restroom victim in the background when Peter was talking to Fauxlivia.
• Poor Other Broyles. Oh, god: and his poor family.
• Peter: “I guess answers are where you draw the line.”
• Walter: “In the 70s, I innocently wandered into the wrong house, and it was three days before I realized my mistake. And unlike Olivia, the woman with whom I was sharing my bed didn’t look like my wife at all.”
• Brandon: “We just have to replace her mass.”
• Walter: “She used my stomach to get to my heart.” Like evil laparoscopic vagenda surgery.
• Peter: “That would be so much easier to believe if you weren’t in handcuffs right now.”
I’m surprised this wasn’t the mid-season ender, because on a scale of one to ten, this was a tequila hangover episode, aka:
Four out of four vagendas
(Thanks for your patience with this incredible late review. I could manufacture a really good excuse involving anchovies, vagendas, and pastries bigger than Walter’s head, but really it was just one of those weeks. Next week I should be much more prompt, both here and with my other reviews on billiedoux.com.)