Sunday, February 7, 2010

When Worlds Collide - Fringe

Fringe – “Jacksonville”


When the ground trembles in Manhatan (that’s NOT a misprint; the teaser opens on the parallel Earth!), there’s more to fear than a mere earthquake. So much more.

Olivia Dunham and the Fringe Division are called to New York City in the middle of the night and are greeted by an incredible sight: objects and people are horribly fused together. It seems Newton from the other universe (the head that got a new body) is up to something and it involves bringing a building – and everything in it – from his universe into ours.

Walter Bishop theorizes that the universes must “balance out” as on a scale, therefore a Manhattan building from our side will be sucked over into the other universe in less than a day.

Now a race is on as Walter tries to re-trigger in Olivia the ability she exhibited as a child during Walter’s and William Bell’s experiments on her: the ability to “see” objects from the other side.

A flat-out terrific episode. I love the parallel universe stories; they are what really set this series apart from The X-Files. Olivia is put through the wringer and Anna Torv shines. She has such subtle facial expressions, which serve her well in this story as she’s made to dredge up her feelings as a young child being experimented on by Bishop Sr. and Bell. And she makes it clear to Walter (John Noble) she does not agree with him on what he did to her and other children. Her anger is palpable, and a definite change for the character. (To make matters worse, Olivia has no real memories of the experiments, but she has the proof of Walter’s videotapes, so to see this being done to her but not remember must be a most disconcerting feeling.) I hope they keep an undercurrent of it between Olivia and Walter and not simply let it fizzle out over time (she may forgive him one day, just not too soon).

I like how they are differentiating the parallel universe with our's. In the teaser, we learn that coffee is a rare commodity (possibly global warming is worse over there). The terrorist attacks of 9-11 succeeded in hitting only the Pentagon and the White House (we know from an earlier episode that the Twin Towers are still standing). And President Nixon apparently did not resign in disgrace as his face is minted on a silver dollar.

Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia share an all too rare moment of lightness in the opener as she rousts the Bishops in the middle of the night to investigate the incident in Manhattan. Their joking was fun and flirty, capped off later by a near-kiss (shades of Mulder and Scully!) just before Olivia is able to spot which building is due to be taken into the other universe. Astrid (Jasika Nicole) has a nice moment when he lifts the sheet covering a dead body only to find two people fused together: one body with eight limbs and a second head in the torso. She's seen and handled a lot of weird and strange things as she's assisted Walter, but this is just TOO weird and strange, and she asks to be let out of this autopsy.

I was so caught up in the prospect of an old-fashioned upbeat ending with Peter and Olivia going for drinks (OMG, I think I’m a Peter/Olivia ‘shipper!) that I forgot for a second which show I was watching. The episode’s writers Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz quickly brought me back down to earth. When Peter lets Olivia in to the Bishop residence, Olivia stops for a second and stares oddly at Peter. Walter quickly comes over and pleads with her, “please don’t tell him.” Olivia is able to see a “shimmer” around objects that are from the other universe. She sees this same shimmer around Peter, and the look of shock and surprise on her face is so moving.

I cannot wait to see how this plays out! Bravo, Fringe folks.

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