Fringe Review: Immortality ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: Immortality

      Email Post       2/15/2011 02:59:00 AM      

“Guess who.”

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god—and that’s just my reaction to the crawly bugs, which gave me some really horrible nightmares. Everything else? I’m not even sure of what to say: so many developments, so many possibilities, so much dramatic tension.

Life prevented me from completing this review for a few days, but I did waste a bit of time zipping around the internet to see what folks were saying. I was surprised to discover that some people worry that Fringe has introduced a soap-operatic element into the plot—as though Fauxlivia’s as-yet-unborn baby will become cousin Oliver, or Dawn from Buffy, or a cuddly McGuffin to be tossed around like a beachball at a Dodgers game. But, after all, Fringe is full of plots that could be ripped from Days of Our Lives: dopplegangers, abducted children, mysterious parentage, childhood trauma, fake bionic hands…the list goes on.

The difference is one of tone, register, and good ol’ fashioned skill. I don’t know much about soap operas, but I’m under the impression that they’re rather campy. Fringe isn’t. The writers have managed to take some truly unbelievable plots and make them seem real and vibrant. The actors, too, deserve mad props for bringing authenticity to numerous moments that could be overplayed and overwrought. So Peter is torn between two versions of one ur-Olivia, one of whom is pregnant with his baby in another dimension, and is thus being used as a pawn in an evil vengeance scheme by an all-powerful Walternate? Fringe will make it work.

In the meantime, we have numerous fascinating character developments. I am most interested in Walternate’s feeling towards children (generally) and family (specifically Peter and Baby). In his conversation with Evil Brandon, Walternate discovered that he has a line: no experiments on children. This line reflects his own feelings towards his lost son, but it also illuminates some of Walter’s own ethics of experimentation. Unexpectedly, Walternate became more relatable, which shone a light on the moral implications of Walter’s own Cortexiphan sins.

Walternate does, however, seem to see a devious potential in Baby. He may draw the line at experimentation, but he doesn’t mind using Baby as a pawn to draw his own son back. Will this eventually become something more sinister, as Walternate uses his grandchild to explore the infinite potential of baby brains? Will he begin to see the child as his own lost son? Or will some event take place that prevents the baby from being born? (My money is on that last one, sadly.)

Silva said: “The world changed on me. It simply changed, and robbed me of my legacy.” Walternate could say the same thing, although he doesn’t yet seem to see Baby’s function as a potential immortality device. We have babies to see our line continue, to replicate, to leave something of ourselves that lasts beyond our death. That’s what Silva wanted, in his own way: to live beyond his death as a scientific genius. It’s a natural desire that turned into a monomania because he had nothing, in the present, worth living for. Is that where Walternate is headed?

I chose the line “Guess who” as my lead quote for this episode because, in addition to the immortality theme, there’s a theme of confusion over the roles people play, and will play, in each others’ lives. The tension showdown between Silva and Fauxlivia was a game of “Who’s got the button?”—who is doomed to die, and who to live? (Their names are also near-anagrams of each other, but not quite.) On a larger scale, Fauxlivia agreed to marry her boyfriend, but we saw her struggling with the return to her “real” life, away from Peter. Now, of course, she’s left with Peter’s baby, no fiancé, and a complex moral relationship with the most powerful man Over There. Lincoln, too, seems confused about his roles, both as the new Broyles and as Olivia’s friend who wants something more. Even Francis didn’t know what role he was to play in the flirtation game with the bug girl. And did anyone catch Fauxlivia saying “I.D.” instead of “Show-Me”? It’s a symbolic slip—she didn’t just use the wrong word, but is struggling with her Over Here identity and her Over There identity.

While this episode had great moments of world-building, and a hugely important mythological jump forward in the pregnancy plot, it’s those character interactions, reactions, and tensions that I find most interesting. I’ve come to care deeply about the characters and the worlds the show has created, because Fringe is made with such consummate skill that everything feels so real and alive. All of that is my way of saying that I can’t wait for the next episode.

What the Hell Am I Putting Together Here?:

• Lincoln: “How come, when you say boss, it sounds like insubordination?”

• Olivia: “No, sir, the bugs do not have control of your wife…I promise, that is not the way they work.”

• The bug girl crushing on Francis was adorable. The bug jokes were charming, too.

• So the sheep are dead, eh? That’s depressing. As were the mentions of no hot water in North Texas and a cholera epidemic. (Cholera? We know how to deal with that!)

• Lincoln is verging on too pretty, isn’t he? That must be why he wears the scruffy sorta-beard, just to ugly himself up.

Four out of four creepy crawly bugs. Ugh!

(Find more of my Fringe reviews, as well as reviews of the Vampire Diaries at


Mingas said...

I watched it yesterday and yikes!!! Those bugs were disturbing... but besides that, you know what, I dont delete episodes, because Im eager to find out what else is behind every single moment. So Bolivia's preggs, okay, and she didn't answer to her ex-fiancé's question: Do you love him? . but does she? Isn't she looking to her own interests, instead of love? Doesn't she only want a better life, being linked to the most powerful man around - Walternate?! Who has - funny enough - a sexual life, and a hidden love for children.
So I disagree with you on this. Maybe she will want to do the experiment with Brandon, and enhance her baby's capacities, who knows?

Thats what I love about Fringe, it never disappoints me, my heart always skips beats, each time I watch a new episode.


Hope they don't cancel it. I wouldn't resist...

Great post there!!!!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this review. I wanted someone to do the episode and writers justice. It's easy to get overwhelmed when a seemingly cheesy plot device crops up in a show like this.

:) Can't wait, we've got some real goodness coming up in the show.

BHer said...

Anyone else think something is coming with alt-Charlie? This is the 3rd time they've mentioned the spiders in his blood...

Xindilini said...

Like sands in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives...
Roman Brady meet Roman Brady... I believe there was also a tattoo.
Great analogy. I even have a preferred Roman too.

Anonymous said...

The more I see him, the more I like alt-Lincoln...he seems like a great guy who obviously still likes Fauxlivia. Hopefully Fauxlivia will realize how much alt-Lincoln's done for her and how great a friend he is, and decide to stay with him (which, incidentally, leaves Peter for our Olivia). I'm also excited to meet the Lincoln from our universe - is he like alt-Lincoln? Was he a Cortexiphan kid?

Anonymous said...

You know, I am about done with reading comments on this and other scifi sites. I think the problem is, you all want the show (this or any other show) to be made in your image, the way YOU think it should go.
You have demonized the over there people and sanitized the over here people to the point of ridiculousness! You make Peter another 'Pacey' and Olivia another 'joey'. You embrace Walter as a sweet, forgetful scientist with brain damage who really doesn't mean any harm. You are all "WACK!" and in serious need of a reality check.
I think if given a chance to survive, this series will go places you never imagined and prove you simpleminded imaginings to be laughable. Now, go sit in the corner with your dunce caps on.

Matthew on the Fringe

Anonymous said...

WOW, what a fantastic episode. This season Fringe has really stepped it up instead of suffering from the second year slump that so many shows do, especially after such a great first season. As a DISH customer/employee I use their HD service and have to say, this is the show that I think benefits from it the most...such great effects. The bugs in HD were even creepier than they would have been otherwise. Can't wait to next week!

Anonymous said...

Matthew on the Fringe, I hope you have stated this on every single Fringe messageboard. I mean its one thing to disagree with a storyline but people have gone overboard with their crazy comments.

I so agree that people are criticizing the show for not going the way THEY want it to go. I mean, really, get over it.

Anonymous said...

Fine review of a great episode. I like the human interest stuff myself. There has to be humanity to balance the weirdness. Walternate isn't exactly a saint. He's still conducting fatal experiments on unaware innocents. Walter had his own moral tunnel vision, but never conducted an experiment he knew would kill the subject. I love some of the simple things these actors pull off. Like Faux in the hospital dreading Frank's question, "How far are you along." The look on her face knowing her life would be changed forever once she answered it. Also, the way she went to the door expecting Frank and it was Walternate. Enjoy it while it lasts. I believe FOX won't pick up Season 4, but maybe SyFy will. Likely the costs per ep will have to come down. You'd see a lot more "soap opera" than science. If I'm right, and I hope I'm not, FOX will publicly give it every bit of support so they don't have a fan revolt to deal with. The end will come suddenly and irrevocably. My wish is that they give fans some closure on the main story arc. It's really set up to do just that. Peter heals both universes (BTW NOT dimensions), Walternate is happy with a grandchild instead of a son who no longer belongs there. Lincoln declares his love. Peter and Liv hook up. Possible new thread, an even more dangerous 3rd universe that requires a temporary alliance to fight. Roberto

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