“Nothing is set in stone.”
It would be easy to dismiss this episode as nothing more than “advancing the plot,” whatever that utterly meaningless phrase means. To do so, however, would be to ignore the lovely character moments, structural risks, and tantalizing hints of “Bloodline.”
From the Hemingway-esque circumlocutions of Fauxlivia’s conversation with her mother about the “procedure,” to the quiet grace of Lincoln Lee’s “I love you,” every line of dialogue seemed weighted down with an extra suitcase or two of meaning. “You’re a different person than your sister”? “That just doesn’t sound like you”? “You can’t leave!”? This list could go on.
All of that dramatic irony—in which dialogue speaks differently to us than it does to the characters—is predicated on us as viewers glimpsing in through a transparent fourth wall. The theme of observation and watching was everywhere, though: not just in the clues to get us theorizing (the year of the rabbit, for instance), but also in Fauxlivia’s sensation of being watched, the Observer and Henry the Cabbie watching her, the Echelon system that enables satellite tracking…This list, too, could go on and on.
However much we may feel like we see everything, though, we only get as much as the writers can give us. Regardless of whether you figured out Walternate’s complicity in Fauxlivia’s abduction early or late in the game, we didn’t get confirmation until the end of the episode. Similarly, Fauxlivia’s perspective on what was happening to her was equally limited: unable to see her captors’ faces, unsure what they were doing to her until her stomach started wriggling—Fauxlivia, like us, only has so much information. Both we and the characters are working with only partial knowledge, trying our best to understand where things are headed. Narratologically, this was made even more difficult by the episode’s unusual structure: no freak of the week, just one long chase interspersed with conversations whose relevance we couldn’t know as we saw them for the first time. “It’s Chinatown,” indeed.
Lincoln Lee and Francis are starting to get a sense that something is afoot, though. These guys are good: they did some solid detective work under incredible pressure (to find Fauxlivia) and at incredible risk (of Walternate’s rage). Their final conversation on the elevated walkway—a contained bridge, really—showed us how they’re both trapped and on their way to new realizations.
But the real stand-out of the episode was Lincoln Lee. As touching as the birth scene was, I was most impressed by his restraint as the talked to Walternate about Fauxlivia’s journey. He had to remain professional while dealing with knowledge that 1) his beloved had been replaced and he hadn’t noticed, and 2) his beloved was pregnant not by some one-night stand but by Walternate’s son. The emotional chaos those realizations and revelations caused for him was intense, and he managed to show us just how deeply he was wounded without showing Walternate.
Speaking of Walternate: wow. Did he resort to kidnapping Fauxlivia to accelerate the pregnancy because he knew about the VPE? Or did he plan on doing this as soon as he found out, for some other reason? After all, what’s the rush? We’ll find out soon, although not soon enough: the next new episode of Fringe airs April 15th.
I Feel Kinda Dizzy:
• OtherFrancis and Mona the Bug Girl had tea. I guess that’s the equivalent of a coffee-date Over There. Sigh.
• Francis: “Hands on the wheel!”
Lincoln: “Get out of the car!”
Henry: “Which is it?”
• Henry: “I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers here, guys. There are some things a guy like me shouldn’t know about. I get it.”
• Lincoln: “That was way too many details to be lying.”
• Fauxlivia: “It’s nice to meet you, Henry.”
• The wriggly baby belly was very Angel Season Four, and not necessarily in a good way.
• So they do have old-school pay phones Over There?
• I love the way everyone Over There just accepts the pregnancy-acceleration like it’s the equivalence of getting a tetanus shot.
Four out of four Chinatowns.