Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fringe 2.23: "Over There, Part 2"

“But in the end, you have to come back…because you belong with me.”

Last year’s “Fringe” season finale was when the show really dared viewers to take notice that it had truly arrived, and “Over There, Part 2” was a worthy follow-up. It really worked on all levels for me. There was emotion, romance, action, and suspense, and each aspect of the episode was executed well. I especially liked that Peter and Olivia have now acknowledged their feelings for each other, even if their relationship has to be put on hold for a little while. I also found it fascinating that we got to learn much more about the Other Side. We got a stark education about the consequences of the lengths Walter went to in his obsession with saving the Other Side’s Peter. We also get an understanding of why the people of the Other Side would be willing to believe Walternate’s lies about how our universe is pure evil.

The episode opens with Peter taking a tour of New York. He sees a very large building encased in amber. That’s what Quarantine is. We also learn in chilling fashion why the alt-Fringe team in the last episode was really hoping they wouldn’t have to use Quarintine. The narration for Peter’s tour tells us that it was a landmark event a court declared the humans encased in the Quarantine amber legally dead. Peter also sees the Statue of Liberty on his tour, which as we learned in the last episode, is the headquarters of the Department of Defense on the Other Side. This segues nicely to a scene of Walternate in his office, where he is informed that Walter has been checked into New York General Hospital.

Olivia and Bell can easily guess that they won’t have long before Fringe is on their tails, so it’s time for a daring hospital rescue of Walter. The rescue sequence is a lot of fun. Bell and Olivia arrive at the hospital just before the alt-Fringe team, and they’re talking with the woman at the desk when Fringe closes in. Olivia goes to check all the emergency room beds right before Fringe arrives on the scene. It’s up to Bell to stall them so Olivia has time to get Walter out of there. Bell’s stalling tactic is very old man-y, and it was quite entertaining. He fusses over the Fringe agents, telling them that he invented much of the technology they’re using. He also extols the virtues of the weapons they uses and gives them scoop on what the next model will include. Alt-livia, Charlie, and company eventually manage to get away from him, but it’s too late. Walter is gone.

Peter arrives at the Statue of Liberty, and he and Walter discuss Walter’s big project. Walter wants Peter to take a look at the power source of the device he’s trying to build. He claims to want Peter’s help because our side has made scientific breakthroughs that the Other Side hasn’t. That should be a warning sign right there. It’s painfully obvious that the Other Side is more technologically advanced than we are. The conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Alt-livia, who is there to give a status report on the Walter in the hospital incident. Peter is thrown for a bit of a loop by her. Out of Peter’s presence, Olivia tells Walternate that her doppelganger was involved in the hospital incident (she saw “herself” on security camera footage), and Walter asks if she’ll do him a favor. This was warning sign number two.

After the break-out, Walter, Bell, and Olivia take a break at a KFC, where we learn that Walter figured out all eleven herbs and spices. Of course he did. Olivia is going to go after Peter, and Walter and Bell are going to engineer a “doorstop” to help them travel back to our universe. Meanwhile, Walternate has given Alt-livia the assignment of taking Peter to a safe apartment. Alt-livia has figured out that he knows her doppelganger, and she wants to know more about her alternate. At first Peter thinks they’re a lot alike, but by the end of the conversation, he realizes how different the two Olivias really are. He describes his Olivia as “haunted.” I think the description is apt. When Alt-livia goes home, she’s ambushed by her doppelganger. Olivia wants to be taken to Peter. At first it seems like Alt-livia might oblige, but the whole thing devolves into a knock-down-drag-out fight between the two Olivias. Our Olivia eventually prevails when she knocks out Alt-livia with a table lamp. She then dies her hair to look like her doppelganger and opens the front door to find none other than Alt-Charlie. Charlie says Walternate has another mission for them. Olivia convinces Charlie that the mission is to move Peter to a safer location.

Charlie is fascinated to find out that Peter has been found- he’s become something of a myth like the Lindbergh Baby on the Other Side. Just before Olivia and Charlie arrive at his apartment, Peter makes an important breakthrough in his power source investigation. He figures out that it’s symbiotic. It needs to interface with organic material to work. Specifically, it needs to interface with Peter. I thought the dialogue in this scene, with Peter dictating notes, was a bit on the nose, but the revelation was still plenty creepy. Olivia and Charlie interrupt his work. Olivia shows Peter the paper the Observer gave her, and before Charlie can protest, Olivia knocks him out. This is followed by Olivia saying , “Peter it’s me,” and Peter replying, “Thanks. I think I just figured that out.” I thought that little exchange was adorable. What follows is my favorite scene of the episode, where Olivia convinces Peter to come back to our universe with her. Peter was complaining that he didn’t belong in either universe, Olivia says he belongs with her, and they share a kiss. It’s really very sweet, and it’s about time.

While Olivia has been rescuing Peter, Walter and Bell have been making their way towards Boston. That city has been all but abandoned on the Other Side due to a lot of tears between the universes happening there. As Walter and Bell drive towards Boston, the landscape around them looks like a wasteland. Walternate’s Harvard lab is still standing, though, and not much worse for wear. The pair begin uncovering all the various strange devices in the lab, and eventually they find what they’re looking for. There’s a cylinder which will somehow hold open a door between the two universes.

The climax of the series takes place at the theatre (apparently actually an opera house) where Walter, Olivia, and the other Cortexaphan kids initially crossed over to the Other Side. That’s where Olivia was planning to meet up with Walter after each accomplished their mission. Alt-Fringe has managed to track the team back to the opera house, and there’s a huge showdown. Bell and Olivia try to hold off the alt-Fringe folks while Walter and Peter head inside the opera house to ready the doorstop device. Bell can actually hold his own, thanks to possessing a prototype of the newest model of the gun he invented. Things are looking dire when all of a sudden, there’s a bright light. Bell wakes up sprawled on the ground. Olivia is looking over him, and she claims she used the phosphorus bomb Bell gave her. There’s definitely a sense that things aren’t quite right, and for good reason.

The doorstop device is ready to go, but there is still the problem of how to open the crack Olivia opened between the universe, considering they’re down three team members. Bell provides the solution. He’s crossed universes so many times that his body is very unstable. All of his cells are only slight provocation away from exploding, and that should provide plenty of power to send the rest of the team home. The plan works, and the team tries to adjust to being back home. Things seem kind of off, though, given what we had already seen in this episode. Olivia has to use a hide-a-key to get into her apartment (both Olivia’s hide theirs in the same place- that’s how Olivia was able to ambush Alt-livia). Peter is at the lab with Walter and Astrid (ie he’s not with Olivia). Peter says he’s going to go for a walk. Also not with Olivia. He has decided to stay in our universe, though, reasoning that Walter saving his life twice ought to count for something. The reason for all this strangeness quickly becomes apparent. Olivia enters the typewriter store and asks for the typewriter the shapeshifters always use to contact the Other Side. She’s actually Alt-livia! Where is our Olivia, you might ask? She’s in a dark cell in Department of Defense headquarters, screaming in terror as Walternate looks on.

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