Fauxlivia and her team call upon their counterparts from This Side for help when a serial killer goes on a bloody rampage. They recruit the killer’s This Side counterpart, a professor of forensic psychology, and try to transfer him to the Other Side without his knowledge to put together a profile on his other self. However, things soon go out of control when the professor realizes what’s going on.
Fringe airs Friday nights at 9:00 on FOX.
This was one of those episodes of Fringe that make me very, very happy. Pretty much everything about this episode worked, with the main plot serving to really illuminate the similarities and contrasts between the parallel worlds while the subplot involving Walter (John Noble) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) inched forward in a creepily satisfying way.
It was also nice to see how the writers are going to be managing the Two-Worlds aspect of the show this season. With the bridge between worlds open, it allows for interaction between the Fringe Divisions while maintaining the antagonistic relationship and growing paranoia.
Even the cryptic references to things missing from people’s lives were more subtle and effective. Well, except for Broyles’ (Lance Reddick) dive into romantic mysticism at the end. Don’t know what that was about. Most of the credit goes to the writing team of Alison Schapker and Monica Breen, who have done quite a bit of solid work over the past ten years as both writers and producers.
While the focus of this episode is on the hunt for a bizarre serial killer on the Other Side, it serves to spotlight Olivia/Fauxlivia and provides Anna Torv an excellent opportunity to emphasize the differences in how she plays the characters.
The simple fact that we can tell which world’s Olivia is on-screen just by her expressions and the way she holds her body should be enough to prove to the haters that our world’s Olivia is supposed to be played as stiff and cold. That’s not an acting shortcoming, folks. That’s the character.
There are a few enjoyable moments as Fauxlivia and their Agent Lee (Seth Gabel) get to roll their eyes and comment on just how bitchy and by-the-book Olivia is, but we also get to see that she’s actually a better agent than Fauxlivia, thinking on her feet and going the extra mile to solve the case.
So I guess there are pros and cons to each world’s Olivia, but I have to admit, I still prefer her as a redhead with attitude.
The real highlight of the episode, though, is the performance of John Pyper-Ferguson as both the Other Side serial killer and the Our Side Forensics Professor recruited to help solve the case. Pyper-Ferguson had already proven his acting chops as Tomas Vergis on Caprica and just last week as Stanton Parish on Alphas, but this was a bravura performance.
Not only was he remarkably creepy as the serial killer stalking and stealing people’s happiest memories as he slowly freezes their brains (just go with it – it works in the moment), but the way he plays the slow realization that he’s profiling an alternate version of himself is both horrifying and heart-breaking. As is the revelation that he’s not different from his Other World version; he’s just learned to control his violent urges.
Once he knows that there is a parallel world and that his other self never had the life-changing experience that saved him, the tragic conclusion is practically inevitable. I’d say that his performance was on par with Peter Weller’s in the now classic “White Tulip” from Season Two.
And I don’t say that lightly.
In addition to both Pyper-Ferguson’s and Torv’s performances as Things That Make Me Happy, we discover, to my delight, that the Other Side Broyles isn’t dead! Of course, with the way reality was re-written, we don’t know if he still played a part in Olivia’s escape. If he did, then he’s a lucky bastard. If he didn’t, then who knows how Olivia got away?
Regardless, I’m glad the hard-ass – sorry — harder-ass Broyles is back!
On the Walter front, things aren’t so rosy. In fact, catching glimpses of Peter has pushed Walter into a nervous frenzy, covering all reflective surfaces and acting crazier than usual. And not the lovable crazy that we’re used to. This Walter makes me sad.
Although I did laugh out loud when he called Lincoln, “Kennedy.” Finally! Someone other than Astrid (Jasika Nicole) gets the Walter renaming treatment.
Especially since now he’s not only seeing Peter, he’s hearing him. Which leads to a clever scene of Walter reenacting the classic Maxell cassette tape ad, lacking only the tie blowing in the sound waves from his speaker stack. But even though that was funny, as the episode ends, Walter is thrust back into the same sort of panic that wrapped last week’s premiere.
Peter’s trying to communicate with Walter and in the final moments he shouts out an ominous “Help me!” Unfortunately, Walter’s cowering in fear again.
I’ve done a good job of avoiding spoilers, so I don’t have a clue how this situation is going to play out. I’d like for it become something big that everyone will have to acknowledge and deal with, but I’d prefer it not to happen too quickly. As Chris and I discussed last week, it’s kind of interesting exploring the new Peter-less world and I’d like to spend some time here.
So, yeah. I thought this was one of the best episodes in a while. I’m hesitant to go as large as I want to, as this wasn’t necessarily an important episode, but dammit, I was entirely satisfied with how everything played out, so it’s a score for me.
As usual, your mileage may vary.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.