Fringe – “Over There” - Parts 1 & 2
Peter Bishop has crossed over into the alternate universe, brought there by his real father (labeled “Walternate” by our Walter) who is the Secretary of Defense in a world fraught with nasty and destructive “science gone wrong” events which puts to shame “the Pattern” of our universe. Walternate seeks Peter’s help with a special device. Olivia Dunham and Dr. Walter Bishop also cross over and attempt to bring Peter back home to his adoptive universe.
For a season finale, this two-parter felt incomplete; it seemed more interested in setting up events for season three than with giving viewers a satisfying coda to this season’s storylines. Just a few episodes ago, Peter (Joshua Jackson) learned his true origins: he was kidnapped as a child from the alternate dimension, Walter is not his true father and his real mother on the other side is still alive, and not a suicide victim as in our universe. We get a few glimpses of Peter as he meets with his real father and mother, but we don’t get to know what he’s feeling. Has he seen so much weirdness while part of Fringe Division that he just takes all this in stride? He never seems overwhelmed or at least confused a little by it all. Shouldn’t he be?
We do see Walter’s reaction to losing his son to his own misguided actions, and actor John Noble once again gives an award-winning performance, so that side of the equation is handled well. I believe Joshua Jackson could deliver the goods if the writers and director Akiva Goldsman gave him the opportunity.
We see a lot of the alternate universe and for all its technological wonders and advancements over our world it’s a sad place (the neighborhood encased in amber is amazing and scary and sad). Their Fringe Division seems more a paramilitary organization than our world’s unit of the FBI. To tell the truth though, when we’re first introduced to Alt-Fringe Division early in part one, they were a little too gung ho – it reminded me of Special Unit 2 or some goofy other X-Files knock off – strutting around in their dark commando jumpsuits. I wanted to dub in the “hut-hut-hut-hut” from the cop scenes in The Blues Brothers movie.
Olivia meets up with William Bell (Leonard Nimoy, not aging as gracefully as buddy Bill Shatner) who helps her and Walter find Peter and get back to our universe. The scenes between Bell and Walter were alternately fun (the KFC scene) and moving (“(Bell) cut out pieces of my brain!”). I wish Nimoy wasn’t in such a rush to retire from acting again. If William Bell is truly his last acting gig then he could have gone out on a high note in a memorable role, instead of just an inflated cameo.
Olivia gets to meet Alt-Oliva (who’s a brunette) and the two have a great scene where they compare their lives: Olivia’s mom died but she has her sister Rachel and niece Ella, while Alt-Olivia still has her mom, but her sister died in childbirth. Anna Torv showed she’s a very capable actress in this scene, with extremely expressive eyes. The Olivias have a nice knockdown, dragout fight with our Olivia emerging victorious (just barely).
She impersonates her alt-self, and with Alt-Charlie’s (Kirk Acevedo) help locates Peter. Olivia convinces Peter to come back to our universe because "you belong with me," and she kisses him. I don’t know how I feel about this angle. The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully definitely had a romantic chemistry, which the show ultimately followed, but I never got that vibe from Olivia and Peter (not even from Peter and Liv’s sister Rachel). They're partners and friends, but lovers?, that spark was never there.
It all ends with Bell apparently sacrificing himself as a “door stop” (since he’s crossed universes so many times his atoms are all wonky and supercharged) to aid Olivia as she uses her cortixiphan abilities to open the door between worlds to allow the gang to go home. Peter and Walter begin a new phase of their relationship, with Peter seeming to forgive Walter’s extra-dimensional kidnapping. But we see that it’s not our Olivia but Alt-Olivia who made the crossover, as she uses the old typewriter with the mirror to contact the alternate universe: “Infiltration complete. Awaiting orders.” Our Olivia has been taken hostage by Walternate and is held in a lightless cell (she’s extremely unhappy with that, so perhaps Olivia is afraid of the dark?).
But that brings up a major question: we know our Olivia was tested and treated with the drug cortexiphan by Bell and Bishop, that’s how she’s able to open the doorway between universes. Has Alt-Olivia also been given the same drug treatments, which allowed her to easily open the doorway?
The Olivia switch was obvious to even a blind man. It wasn’t even presented as a shocker. They didn't have the obligatory scene of Alt-Olivia bluffing her way through interactions with her fellow Fringe mates before we find out a switcheroo has been made.
Not as frustrating a last couple episodes as the series Lost has been having, but a not wholly satisfying season-ender either. Still, Fringe has great out of this world (universe) sci-fi concepts and ideas and an amazing cast of actors and characters. I look forward to season three this fall.