Fringe Review: 6:02 AM EST ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: 6:02 AM EST

      Email Post       4/24/2011 06:29:00 AM      


“I think this is what I’m supposed to do.”

Television shows are made up of many things. Dialogue and actors. Cinematography and score. Overarching plots, character development, and important moments. Great images and great lines. There is also an element of expectation—as viewers, we expect some moments to be presaged by rising music, for instance. Years of suckling on the boob tube makes even the most casual viewer a master of prediction and anticipation.



Fringe wows us with its narrative tricks and risks, its wacky science, its wonderful acting and great writing. Especially since the middle of the second season, each episode has been remarkable. In “6:02 AM EST,” Fringe pulled a new device out of the bag of filmic tricks: a mood of unbearable dread.

Everything has mood, of course. Most TV shows alternate, even in the weightiest of episodes, between light and dark, often relying on dialogue to relieve the viewer’s tension. Fringe aced the mood tonight. Rather than keeping me on the edge of my seat, “6:02” found me leaning back on the couch, resisting the slow push towards some dreadful moment. Something terrible is happening, will happen, has happened. Our heroes are helpless.

We know more than they do, which makes it worse. We know Walternate’s plan, his motivation, and the stakes of his goal. Our heroes are casting about in the dark, hoping to guess what their counterparts in another frakking universe are up to and how to stop them. We also know that the season is coming to an end: obviously, something will happen soon and it will happen big. Our heroes don’t know that, because their lives don’t move in prescribed seasons of twenty-two episodes. They know something is happening, but they don’t have the viewer’s mastery of narrative prediction, because no one can know the story of their own life while living it. They are afraid, but we are in dread.

That dread was created in part by the bits and pieces of wow—the thing with the sheep in the field and other events that happened just off-screen to clue us in on the disintegration of the universe. The biggest moments were underplayed: Peter, rejected by the machine, and Fauxlivia put into prison. I never imagined that Peter would be shot down (as it were) by the machine, and the rising music made me expect a salvation ex machina: how’s that for undercutting audience anticipation? Even Olivia’s failure and capture happened off-screen. One minute, she is realizing the thingamabobs don’t work; the next minute, she is in a holding cell.

But it was the character interactions that mattered most here:

1. The opening with Olivia and Peter in bed, with Olivia waking Peter up. The parallel: Peter, comatose, unable to be woken by Olivia at episode’s end.

2. Walter’s willingness to let Peter become his own man, and giving up what he risked universes to gain all those years ago. The parallel: Peter’s difficult choice to possibly sacrifice himself for the fate of the world and (only recently) developing a filial love he’d never felt before.

3. Fauxlivia using her personal connection to Walternate to get answers related to her job. The parallel: Walternate being unable to punish Fauxlivia because of that personal connection.

4. OtherBrandon’s moral center (he has one?): saving his universe at all costs. The parallel: Sam Weiss, knowing that events are out of his hand and possibly beyond his abilities or knowledge to save.

5. Fauxlivia singing to baby Henry and easily admitting her love for him. The parallel: Lincoln Lee’s unwillingness to say how much he loves her. Also, Olivia’s unwillingness to say goodbye to Peter, and his unwillingness to tell her what he is about to do.

6. Walter’s monologue. Or maybe I should call it a dialogue with a silent God. The parallel: Walternate’s discussion with Fauxlivia, whose child gave Walternate hope just as God/Robocop gave Walter hope with the white tulip.

The end of the world is nothing but background in this episode, which allowed us to watch our heroes on both sides teetering on the verge of an apocalyptic cliff. We’re left with Peter unable to wake up (and the related knowledge that his relationship with the machine perhaps isn’t what we’d anticipated), Fauxlivia locked away for trying to save a universe she still has some fondness for, and Walternate channeling Walter’s Oppenheimer obsession. With only two episodes left, I suspect some of our worst dreads will soon be realized.

This Stuff Is Not Organized:

• Olivia: “Oh, no. The surprise is all mine.” And I won’t even mention the mushroom caps.

• Walter: “I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.” Oh, farm humor.

• Astrid: “Is that more dangerous than vortexes putting holes in our universe?”

• OtherBrandon: “One will get you there and back.” And one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.

• “The Faraday cage.” Yes, I know Faraday is a real guy and not every Faraday reference is also a Lost reference, but still…

• I got the impression the radio-announcer’s statements about Ebbets Field and Dodgers was a cool thing for people who know stuff about baseball.

• Walter rubbing the gel on Peter’s hands was like a parent rubbing their kid down with sunblock before a day at the beach.

• They have stockades Over There? Real ones, or was that a metaphorical stockade?


Four out of four ancient yet still very annoying desk toys. (Does anyone know what those things are called?) Newton's Cradles, or possibly Balance Balls. Thanks!

23 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the mentioning of the parallels. This episode was amazing, I can't wait to see what the next installments bring.

Are you talking about the Newton's cradle - the annoying desk toys

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful review. I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and I too felt it was the character interaction that was the focal point of this episode. As a shipper (I hate using that term, but it's true), I loved the scene between Olivia and Peter in bed and Olivia's inability (or not) to say goodbye to Peter. I first thought it was a tad cold, but your reasoning makes sense.

I can only imagine what the final two episodes will bring us. It's funny, you can guess and theorize all you want, but the writers always seem to surprise you.

Anonymous said...

agreed.

I also loved and had a small moment of "oh nice choice writers!" in Walter's Chapel monologue...he didn't ask God to spare his son. He asked God to spare his universe. A true sign he has given over Peter to what must come - whatever the 'what' happpens to be. I was sure he was going to ask for Peter to be spared in this scene, which would have satisfied and been apt. But I liked this better. Subtle with just one line of dialogue.

The writers treat the viewers as smart people who don't need to be hit over the head with the 'just-incase-you-don't-understand-let-me-make-it-REALLY-obvious-or-explain-it-to-you' anvil like some other shows.

I wish it was Friday (or Saturday for me in Australia) already!

iRandy said...

Great review - loved the parallels. FRINGE continues to shine with excellent acting, writing and a creative team that isn't afraid to take chances. I can't wait for next week!

Anonymous said...

"I got the impression the radio-announcer’s statements about Ebbets Field and Dodgers was a cool thing for people who know stuff about baseball."

Not only that, but they said "Expos". As in Montreal Expos, a team that moved "over here" as well. Baseball fan porn :)

Anonymous said...

Another parallel: another red-headed Olivia being put in the holding cell. Last time, it was our Olivia disguished as Fauxlivia, but this time it's Fauxlivia herself. Interesting difference between situations, though. Our Olivia was desperate because she was trapped against her will in another universe, but Fauxlivia was defiant because she had just attempted to stand for her morals and beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Stockade is a synonym for a military prison.

Robert A. Black said...

Ebbets Field was in Brooklyn, meaning that in the other universe, the Dodgers never left there. Which makes sense, given that there's no Southern California on their map of the US.

Loren said...

Really enjoyed reading your review! Thank you, and yes, let's not talk about mushroom caps!
And I must say that I agree with all of you, this is a show that is intelligently crafted, with great acting and character portrayal/evolution. Finally a show that challenges the viewers' minds and inflicts the right kind/quota of emotion according to the situation at hand. A real progressive, mind-blowing piece of masterful narrative and acting! I can't wait to see what the future episodes and season bring!

Verita said...

This was a great episode; however, the scene in the chapel was completely out of place. How can they have an atheist suddenly talking to "god "? That was totally ridiculous and probably done to satisfy the religious groups on good Friday. To me it felt like a cheap sell out. Other than that, wonderful episode.

bre.ribeiro@gmail.com said...

Isn't the name Balance Balls?

I only recently started reading your blog, this is the second review I've read so far... Last week on Lysergic Acid Diethylamide review you mentioned "three out of four red doors"... I didn't get it, is that a recurring theme on Fringe? And now you mentioned "four out of four desk toys" again... I'm clueless! Noob I know, so what? LOL

Anonymous said...

First Anonymous: thank you! I'll edit the review in a moment.

Bre.Ribeiro: The "why" is a long story, so I'll just mention that I use a different object to rate each episode. It's amazing how almost every episode of every TV show I watch contains one funny object.

Everyone Else: Thank you for your comments! I was very self-conscious about this review, and almost held off on posting it. I'm glad so many of you have found it worth your time.

--Josie.

Dennis said...

bre.ribeiro@gmail.com said... "you mentioned "three out of four red doors"... I didn't get it, is that a recurring theme on Fringe?

This is just how the episode is rated by the reviewer. Instead of "4 out of 5 stars", she is using episodes related items (toys, doors, etc).

Dennis said...

Also, the name of the toy is Newton's Cradle. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_cradle

Anonymous said...

Verita,
Walter thought of himself as an athiest up until he took Peter from the other side. From that point on, he has been haunted by the thought that he stepped across the line and "played god" which has resulted in the damage caused to both universes. Last season, he sought a sign that God had forgiven him.

If you missed all of that, then you have missed a major theme of this series.

The writers of Fringe have proven to be detail oriented- we have a man who assumed the role of God who needs to give up his son to die so that he can save the world. The episode happens to air on Good Friday. Coincidence, maybe. Probably not, though.

Anonymous said...

@Verita
Walter is not an athiest. He was at one point (go back to the episode Peter), but throughout the show he always expressed a belief in God (not necessarily Christian, my guess a theistic rationalist). This evident in the episode "White Tulip" when he talks with Alistair Peck (Peter Weller), where he explains that he thinks God is punishing him because he broke the laws of nature and stole Peter, and is asking for a white tulip as a sign of forgiveness (referenced in this episode). Though I can understand why it would seem out of character for Walter to be pleading to God. He is usually the one that can fix these things with his quick-disjoined thinking, but this time he is completely powerless to do anything. The only hope was Peter (which it was nice to see Walter put 2 and 2 together with what September meant in Firefly) and that seemed to completely backfire. I'm guessing all he had left was prayer.

I really enjoyed this episode, and I knew it was a matter of time that Olivia would see Walter naked (dating Peter and all). I mean it was Tuesday afterall. I actually got some sympathy for Walternate in this episode. I don't think he liked what he felt he had to do to save his world, but it had to be done. I always was under the impression he was just after revenge. It was also nice to see Fauxlivia (or Bolivia) be openly defiant so she can warn Peter.

Though I do have some questions involving this whole dilemna:
1. Why does Universe B have all these Fringe events and the blight and Universe A didn't (well before this ep). If Walter's doorway caused all these problems, shouldn't both universes have the same problems (or if anything Universe A have worse problems).
2. Why would destroying either Universe would fix the others problems? There has to be a balance between the two universes (from episode Jacksonville), wouldn't the removal of 1 cause a slight lack of balance (just a slight). I know this is a plot point, but I am still curious about it.

I am thinking Universe B's problems arise from something else (possibly another Universe), and Walter's doorway may have been convenient scape goat.

With regard to the 5th relationship, didn't Lincoln tell Fauxivia that he loved her in the episode Bloodline? I may be mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice at the start of the episode the color of the bowling pins? Only the blue pins were left standing while the red ones were knocked over. I found that very interesting!

Josh said...

Great Review of an epic episode!! I still can't get over how great this show is!

Also: Stockade is synonymous with prison, in our world the Army calls it's prisons "Stockade" as opposed to civilian "Prison" or "Jail" or Marine/Navy "Brig".

I think the reference is a subtle hint as to the militaristic nature of Over There and Walternate especially.

Anonymous said...

Walter is a clever man, but still when he has to deal with something he can't control or change, he turns himself to god, like a lot of believers do, finding a good way to live with all the things we can't explain, justifying ignorance by giving it an upper consciensness level. For Walter the limit is higher that's all !

Anonymous said...

Josie, I think your seeing things that aren't there. Talk about over analysing!!

Mariano Ezefers said...

Hey, I bet you liked Lost so much you researched that Faraday was a real guy. It was. He also invented his cage, which works with the concept that electricity is a shallow phenomenon (the current goes along the change and not within). It's a clever reference of the electricity that will shock Peter at the end... Physics is fun too.

Anonymous said...

"cage" instead of "change", sorry

FringeFrogee said...

Dennis, does the name Newtons Cradle (as in Thomas Newton)not cause some worryas to source of any information given to Sam Weiss?

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