“Maybe you could tell me a story.”
Once upon a time, I was friends with a good storyteller. A good storyteller, but a bad ender. Whether it was the time he and a gang of bikers rescued an abused young woman, or the one about the guy, the banana, and the French bulldog, each of his stories ended the same way: “So that happened.”
I said those words out loud last Friday night, to an empty room (if you don’t count the cats, the cat hair, and the cat paraphernalia). So that happened—or did it? By some reckonings, we learned so much. By other counts, we didn’t learn nearly enough. That Peter was incorrect, and that Thislivia isn’t Ourlivia, was simply sad, although not surprising given the emphasis in the previous episode on the vagaries of perception and subjectivity.
Jones’s Evil Plan is still murky, but some of his techniques are right out of the Evil Villain playbook. I realized that captive-Nina wasn’t real-Nina quite quickly, because I’m supercool like that. And as soon as Peter encountered Leland in his house, with the classic reading-lamp misdirection, I knew he was going to get sapped. At first, I felt disappointed that his techniques would be so obvious, but it fits Jones’s m.o.: standard bad-guyery, fringy motives. What’s frustrating, though, is that Amberlivia and Peter both know a lot about Jones—but not enough to stop him.
Peter’s walk through the Observer’s consciousness was interesting. It’s nice to know that Henry hasn’t been forgotten, and that he has a purpose. (And now we know why Bolivia’s pregnancy was accelerated, yeah?) And it’s interesting that the Observers are future humans, although I am sad that we’ve lost all of our hair and turned exclusively white and male. Alas.
Olivia’ conversation with Nina was wonderful. Watching Nina try to cover her own guess-work, and watching Olivia try to hide her growing realization that this was not the Nina she was looking for, I realized (as I do every now and again) just how skilled this cast is.
But I continue to struggle with this season’s goals, as I’ve written before. I suspect these episodes will be great in retrospect, once we know where they’re going. Now, though, I feel frustrated and confused. Confused about what’s going on (is she or isn’t she?) and confused about what I’m supposed to want: at this point, can “Peter returns home” be enough? Would we lose Team Amber then, or only see them sometimes, the way we aren’t getting much of the red universe this season?
It seems that Olivia’s superpowers aren’t helping her brain-merge with her alternate selves; those powers are a detriment that have put her at psychic risk. That tells me that a universe-merge probably isn’t the goal of this season. But, like Peter, I have come to care about these new people that look so much like my old friends. And the more I care, the more I wonder: how can this all end happily ever after?
What Happened to the Table?
• Lincoln: “She is not your Olivia.” Did anyone else think of “these are not the droids you are looking for”?
• Broyles: “If a shapeshifter were responsible, you’d be dead.” Broyles, you’re missing something…
• Lincoln: “Short of the sixth amendment being repealed, I don’t see her talking any time soon.” Did anyone else think of Alec Baldwin in The Departed: “Patriot Act! Patriot Act!”
• Lincoln: “Your Olivia and our Olivia? I thought they were one and the same to you.”
• Anna Torv is always beautiful, but when her hair is loose and wavy, she crosses the line into astonishing.
• Walter designated September as “Mr. X” on the brain-merge-ometer. So Walter, that.
• Fringe benefits. Ha!
• Olivia’s conversation with Peter reminded me of “Marionette.”
This review feels full of discontent, but I can't deny that each episode of Fringe is remarkably well done, even if I'm feeling iffy about what it's doing. So: three out of four butter-and-sprinkles sandwiches.
(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com. Winter is coming!)