“Every war has a cost.”
Now we know. No—that’s not right. Now we think we know Jones’s master plan, and we think we know his motives (basic megalomaniacal world destruction, with animal accompaniment). What matters more, however, is the damage he has caused. Not earthquake damage, although of course that is significant, but damage to the sense of community that has, for the past few episodes, been growing between the two worlds.
This season has not focused on Over There quite as much as I would have liked, but that made the Over There episodes all the more interesting for their rarity. Seeing that world felt like chancing upon an old friend in an unexpected place. That Over There made Lincoln “Clark Kent” Lee feel tethered made it all the more interesting of late, as Lincoln seemed to be thriving in his new environment. Hooray!
Alas, I hoorayed too soon. The loss of Over There, including our loss of Lincoln Lee, feels like finding out that an old and beloved (although seldom-seen) friend has died. I will miss Walternate, Fauxlivia, Other-Astrid, and—above all—Lincoln Lee. I will miss making jokes about coffee shortages. And I will miss they way the two universes played off of each other, with each character learning something about themselves and their potential from their doppelganger.
This season began with a profound sadness, which Olivia described as a “hole in her life.” There’s an Over-There-shaped hole in Over Here now, and vice versa. The destruction of the bridge, and the removal of our other set of heroes, almost could have been a season finale (although that would have been even more upsetting). It feels like Fringe is winding down, shucking off the extraneous bits to make the final showdown of this season more tense and taut. Nonetheless, I hope this severance is not permanent.
Maybe it is not. I might be remembering this wrong (if I am, please correct me in the comments), but wasn’t Alt-Broyles tasked to blow up the machine while working for Jones? Assuming that Jones intended him to succeed, wouldn’t that mean that Jones wanted the worlds split again? If so, didn’t the team just do his work for him? And wouldn’t that mean…something? (If Jones did not want Alt-Broyles to succeed, then Alt-Broyles is in prison for a greater purpose, which puts an interesting spin on things.)
Regardless, Jones’s plan is provocative in its simplicity. Destroy two universes in order to create a Big Bang presided over by him, on a tiny “island” with a bunch of creepy animals. Why would anyone want to do that? What would the results be like? Walter’s delightful slides made the world-smooshing seem like Big-Bang levels of chaos. Who can rule that or thrive in it? How much power does Jones even have?
He certainly has a near-messianic power over his followers. There have been intimations of his ability to inspire devotion, but Nick Lane’s unshakable faith shakes my own certainty in Jones’s villainy. The two worlds are not at war: that we know. But might there be another reason for Jones’s actions? Maybe he is lying to his followers to convince them, but wants to save the world. Although it does not, these days, seem to need saving. (I should stop trying to anticipate what happens next, shouldn’t I?)
The return of Nick Lane from Season One’s “Bad Dreams” was interesting and fascinating: Olivia remembers him now, even though he recognizes her only from childhood. He seems to have thoroughly bought Jones’s disinformation. His story about his sister Kendra was heart-breaking, especially since it was implicitly contrasted with Over-There Nick, who mentioned that Lincoln had dated Kendra. O-T Nick said her name with such ease that I assume Kendra is still alive; that would make sense, as her death was a result of Bell’s and Walter’s experiments and their effect on Nick’s latent reverse-empathy. Subtle heartbreak: Fringe does it so well.
Now that we know Fringe will have a 13-episode fifth season, I have more confidence in this season. Sure, it might end with a dud, and Jones’s plan is still weirdly sketchy. But 13 episodes and a solid end-date gives the writers a chance to go out with a bang, to tie up loss ends, and to make sure that everything winds up with rainbows, puppies, and red licorice growing from trees. Because that is how this will end. Right?
Just Go With It:
• Walternate: “If I have learned one thing, it’s that anything is possible.” There is something oddly solipsistic about being validated by one’s counterpart, isn’t there?
• Walter: “Oh, she’s pretty.” Interesting callback to last week’s episode.
• Walter: “Have you ever tried LSD?”
• Peter: “If the bridge does have to be closed, at least everything goes back to the way it’s supposed to be.”
• Great shot of Lincoln in a mirror when he was talking to Peter.
• While all the counterpart conversations were wonderful, Walter and Walternate in the bridge hallway was the best. Other-Astrid’s small wave is a close second, though.
• Did anyone else wonder if the Fringe teams would get re-ordered as the bridge was destroyed? Other-Astrid Over Here, for instance, and the Walters swapped?
• My DVR insists that this episode is called “World’s Apart.” As I cannot make heads or tails of that apostrophe, I have decided to remove it.
Four out of four rainbows
(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Awake, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com.)