Monday, May 3, 2010

Fringe 2.19: "The Man From the Other Side"

“I’m not from here, am I?”


So this is the episode we’ve all been waiting for- Peter finally learns the truth of where he came from. The reveal doesn’t go down as Walter hoped- Peter figures it out on his own, and to say he’s not happy about it would be an understatement. I suppose that’s what Walter gets for dithering for so long about telling him. The truth caught up to him, no matter how he tried to delay the inevitable. The fallout was brutal, and I’m sure the show will be dealing with it for some time to come. Part of me wishes Walter had gotten the chance to tell Peter the way he wanted to, because I hate to see the little Fringe Division family torn apart, but the way it went down is much more interesting and opens up more possibility for future storytelling, so overall, I think it was the right choice.

This week’s teaser had plenty of the typical “Fringe” creepy and gross, but it was also much more of a horror movie send-up than many. A teenaged couple are parked in a car near what looks like an abandoned warehouse. As they are about to enjoy what would be called a “sandwich” on HIMYM, flames can be seen inside the warehouse and some of the windows blow out. The guy, predictably, has to go investigate instead of getting the hell out of there. Inside the warehouse, a squishy, slimy creature breaks the guy’s neck. The creature then breaks out one of those devices that gets stuck in the corpse’s palate, and it’s obvious what’s going on. More shapeshifters from the Other Side have arrived. Just to complete the horror movie send-up, the first shapeshifter goes out to the car and kills the girl so a second shapeshifter has a form to assume.

Walter, still feeling guilty and still unable to come clean, has taken to constantly gazing at an old family photo. The guilt becomes too much, and he’s about to actually tell Peter the whole story of his abduction (he even starts in on his spiel and everything), when Peter’s phone rings. It’s Olivia, and she’s coming ‘round to pick them up for another case. It turns out the girl’s body from the opening scene has been found, still in the car. Walter, of course, notices the “sandwich” in the car, and Olivia notices that it doesn’t have lipstick on it, so there must be a second body somewhere- the body of the person who had been smoking. This leads the team inside the warehouse where they find the guy’s body and a third shapeshifter “embryo.”

There are a few science-y type things that help the investigation. First, the team figures out that some interference on televisions nearby the warehouse has its origins on the Other Side. Actually, it’s the funny Massive Dynamic tech who figures that out. I like when he makes an appearance, mostly because I always love good nerd humor, and he brings the nerd humor in spades. Specifically, the interference was solar flare interference from the Other Side, slightly distorted because it’s from the other side. The Massive Dynamic tech speculates that our two universes are like two metronomes not quite in synch. Most of the time they will beat separately, but every once in a while, they briefly beat in the same time. Such a convergence between the two universes is due to happen the next day.

The other science-y bit is Walter going all Frankenstein and reanimating the embryo that they found at the warehouse. Walter’s previous experimentation with the embryo seems to have damaged it, but it stays alive long enough to divulge two important clues. It starts rattling off information about a man named “Daniel Verona.” It also reveals that Newton is behind whatever is going on. The FBI snatches up Verona, but they got to him too soon to be of use. He’s not a shapeshifter yet, but his identity is assumed by one not long after he’s released. Two other people have also succumbed to the same fate. One is a bank manager, the other an electrician.

Walter eventually figures out what’s going on. He remembers the experiment he and William Bell conducted where they sent Bell’s car to the Other Side. They used three devices that were basically like really big tuning forks, placed the devices in a perfect triangle around the car, and set the tuning forks to vibrate at a specific frequency during a time when the two universes were supposed to be in synch. The corpses of the identities the shapeshifters have assumed reveal the points of the triangle. Olivia fills in the last bit of information- she thinks the actual point where Newton will be trying to bring something over from the Other Side is a bridge over the Charles. She thinks the water will absorb the excess energy.

Walter thinks he can stop Newton by creating a competing frequency that will cancel out Newton’s frequency, and Walter brings all sorts of odd devices along with him to the bridge to make this happen. The Fringe team is met at the bridge by the two shapeshifters’ newest personas- Boston cops. Olivia figured out they were fake really quickly, though. As Olivia is shooting and Peter is ducking, Walter drives the SUV with his equipment in it on to the bridge. Peter and Olivia eventually are able to make their way to Walter. There are problems with the equipment, something computer-related that Walter can’t fix, so Peter orders everybody off the bridge.

As Peter does his computer wizardry, Newton’s devices are starting to make the bridge shake badly. At one point, a window partially opens up to the Other Side, and Peter can faintly see a man walking there. As thing go really haywire, a random, redshirt FBI agent that ran on to the bridge to help Peter completely disintegrates. Peter, however, makes it through the ordeal alive, albeit pretty banged up and in the hospital. He wakes up to Olivia looking down on him, which is a nice bit of symmetry to when he was at the hospital watching over her after her post-trip to the Other Side car accident. The moment reaffirmed my decision to be an Olivia/Peter shipper. The smile on his face when he opened his eyes and saw her was just too sweet.

The happy vibes don’t last for long, though. Peter asks to speak to Walter alone. Peter has put together the pieces of the puzzle and figured out that he’s from the Other Side. He doesn’t want to hear Walter’s mumbled half-beginnings of explanations. He thinks he knows all he needs to know (even though, clearly, we know he doesn’t). It’s really very sad. Nevertheless, the next morning, Walter’s still nagging Astrid to take him back to the hospital to see Peter ASAP. That’s not going to happen, though. Olivia arrives to inform Walter that Peter checked himself out of the hospital and is now completely off the grid. The FBI has no idea where he is. The team needs to get past the drama and get it together soon, though, because what Newton brought over doesn’t sound good at all. A being called “The Secretary.” We don’t see his/her face, so I’m assuming that The Secretary is the Other Side doppelganger of somebody we already know.

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