“She’s taken everything.”
I wondered last week why the Fringe powers that be didn’t use the last episode—specifically, Olivia’s return—as the mid-season finale. It was exhilarating, fast-paced, and nicely concluded one phase of the longer story about the two worlds. Now that I’ve seen “Marionette,” I understand.
If this episode were the first episode of the second half of the season, it would have felt underwhelming. Freak of the Week, personal conversations, but no huge mythology episodes. As an emotionally charged denouement to last week’s high octane plot developments, though, it works perfectly. Last week, Olivia came home. This week, she found out what we’ve known for a while: home doesn’t mean what it used to.
The obvious parallel this week is between Olivia and the marionette. The Puppetmaster wanted to replace his lost friend with one of equal mass and identical makeup—her skin, her organs, her whole physical self. He found, though, that what he expected her to be wasn’t really her. She was somehow different, and he knew just from looking at her.
Olivia is in the same situation as the Puppetmaster: she came home, stared her world in the face, and had to undergo the horrible process of realizing that even though home looked just the same, had all the same features and people and cups of coffee, it wasn’t the world she had left. Her world, and Peter, is fundamentally different inside.
Unlike the Puppetmaster, Peter didn’t see the difference in Fauxlivia’s eyes. Or, he saw the difference and liked what he saw: he preferred the “quicker with a smile, less intense” Olivia. And now he’s coming to terms with the fact that he now has a faulty replacement, and that what he is left with isn’t as good as what has left.
Olivia, too, is starting to reinterpret her world. When she mentioned Fauxlivia’s friends and loved ones, she seemed a little wistful. For a while, at least, that was her life, before the Olivia-memories came back. Olivia’s conversation with Astrid, which is the most personal one that I can recall them having, may be Olivia’s attempts to build strong friendships Over Here, but it also might be a sort of latent character tic from her Fauxlivia days: accustomed to close friendships with her co-workers, she behaves differently with Astrid than she used to.
Olivia’s conversation with Broyles was equally touching, but in a different way. It’s almost as though Broyles felt like Olivia knew him better than she does, because she had interacted with his double. His question about alt-Broyles’s family and wife said so very much. What would that mean if he ever met them? Perhaps someday we shall see.
I’m sure some intrepid Wikipedia fiend has begun to catalog the allusions built into an episode like this, from Pygmalion to Frankenstein and beyond. I’ll leave that sort of treasure-hunting to hardier souls. I won’t even engage in my usual, inevitably erroneous, speculation about what comes next. Will we see more of Over There? Will Peter and Olivia become friends again? What about lovers? Where was Astrid off to in such a hurry? What did the Observer mean? Was he referring to Peter or Walter? Can a strawberry milkshake really make a bad day better?
For answer to those questions and more, we’ll have to wait until January. The next episode of Fringe is called “Firefly,” and it marks the first Fringe to air on a Friday. Before we get disillusioned about Fringe joining the ranks of that beloved show, Dollhouse, and Terminator: TSCC, let’s remember the most important lesson from Joss Whedon and Captain Mal: You can’t stop the signal!
The Standards We Generally Use Don’t Apply:
• Walter: “I’d forgotten that a couple of nights ago I’d used my cauterizer to remove an uncomfortable growth between my…”
Peter: “The less information, the better.”
• Walter: “By intimate, I mean sexual.”
• Walter: “Tell them to look under ‘Pet Projects.’” This line becomes even funnier in light of the later revelation that the revivification project was being done on Peter’s beloved cocker spaniel.
• Olivia: “It’s kind of disconcerting, knowing that somebody else has been living your life.”
• Walter: “Do you think possibly they replaced her with a robot?”
• Olivia: “He said that he looked into her eyes and he knew it wasn’t her…I understand the facts, and I know that she had reams of information about me, about my life, about the people that were close to me. I understand that if she slipped up she would have a completely reasonable explanation. And I guess that to have seen past that is perhaps asking a little bit too much. When I was over there, I thought about you, and you were just a figment of my imagination. But I held onto you. And it wasn’t it reasonable, it wasn’t logical, but I did it. So, why didn’t you?”
• I figured out the organ-transplant angle in about 5 seconds. Am I awesome? Yeah, awesome.
• Olivia finding the MIT shirt in the washing machine nearly did me in.
• As did the guy with the missing eyes. Ugh!
• But Walter licking the fake cremains—not once but twice!—was delightful.
• I’ll give my entire kingdom and my horse to the first commenter who tells me where I’ve seen that house before, particularly the big stained glass staircase. It’s driving me crazy.
Four out of four revivified, beloved cocker spaniels. Woof!
(Like me so much you'd re-harvest my organs and try to bring me back to a puppet existence? Why not just check out my reviews of Chuck and the Vampire Diaries at billiedoux.com?)