By Josie Kafka 4/09/2012 03:11:00 AM Categories: Episode Review, Everything In Its Right Place, Fringe. Season 4
“That’s the difference between us.”
In “Neither Here Nor There,” Olivia said, “I know what it’s like to have a hole in my life. It’s been there as long as I can remember.” That hole is now fixed, as Olivia has rediscovered herself and Peter along with it. But without that hole, Olivia can no longer connect with Lincoln Tyrone Lee. They don’t share the same language of loneliness anymore, and Olivia doesn’t even remember that she used to speak it.
Lincoln has always been a roamer, more given to leaving than to staying. For whatever reason, he preferred to remain untethered until he met something worth tying himself to: his partner, Robert Danzig, and Robert’s family. After the loss of Robert, Lincoln found a camaraderie with the lonely hearts in the Fringe lab: Olivia with her existential hole, Walter with his missing son and lost mind. Now that Peter has fixed both of those problems, Lincoln finds himself where he tends to be: unmoored. Now, though, he knows what he is missing.
Lincoln looked so happy to see Fauxlivia. She’s just similar enough to remind him of Olivia, but different enough that he’s not reminded of what he almost had and has so completely lost. In an odd symmetry, by the end of the episode Fauxlivia was in the same position: faced with Lincoln “Shy” Lee just as she’d lost Lincoln “Over-Confident Pretty Boy” Lee. Will Fauxlivia fall for our Lincoln the way she never did for her Lincoln? Will they at least develop a strong friendship that keeps him rooted? Or will it be too hard for her?
The two Lincolns had no obvious differences in their past, right down to their prom dates and the reason for the 3.85 GPAs. But somehow they developed crucial differences: Agent Lee lacks the personal confidence to assert himself professionally, despite his numerous skills. Captain Lee is brimming with confidence and has made himself indispensible at work. What Agent Lee doesn’t realize, of course, is that underneath Captain Lee’s bravado is their similarity: they are both men who cannot make O/Fauxlivia realize that they are worth loving. Their major difference is in how they present themselves and how they think of themselves, not what they actually are.
Lincoln “Spectacles” Lee’s fate is up for grabs now that their paths diverged in that most important of ways: the death of Lincoln “Captain Awesome” Lee. Is our Lincoln enjoying Over There simply because it’s a new opportunity to leave everything behind? Is he so deep in the habit of distance, of leaving, of detachment, that he can’t find home anywhere he goes? I hope not. I want Lincoln to find happiness and home either here of there, and to start believe what Captain Lee realized: he’s a good agent. Maybe he’ll make a choice to become the man he wants to be.
This episode broke my heart, and was a fascinating portrait of a character that I’ve come to care about deeply. (Sure, some of the dialogue was a bit on-the-nose, but who cares? It worked.) But what mattered most to me about this episode was that portrait—not the story of the week that made the portrait possible. Canaan’s story was interesting, and the reminder that David Robert Jones is a force to be reckoned with is important. But so far the Jones stories have seemed a bit too small: the shapeshifter episodes are often personal, which lessens the sense of peril as far as the army-building is concerned. I wonder why the shapeshifters are being created, what Jones has in mind, and generally what’s going on, but we’ve made very little progress on that front, which makes it seem sort of like Jones doesn’t have any master plan worthy of the name beyond creating and tracking a bunch of shapeshifters. Surely he does, but that “surely” just comes from my experience watching TV rather than any strong clues within Fringe itself.
• Fauxlivia: “Are we talking heat vision, or communicating with fish.”
• Lincoln: “You don’t like Tyrone? I think it’s a strong middle name.”
• Lincoln: “Your superhero is an insect?”
• Canaan: “I wanted to be needed. Or at least to be missed.”
• Lincoln [to Fauxlivia]: “I guess you still haven’t lost your touch.” What was Lincoln referring to? Am I over-analyzing?
• Walter: “I’m really looking forward to studyin—helping you.”
• The episode title is the name of a Radiohead song.
• Rest in peace, Lincoln “Pretty Boy” Lee.
Four out of four self-aggrandizing narcissists.
(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Awake, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com. Her Over There counterpart is a sad-sack loser and she feels lucky to be the awesome one.)