Friday, February 18, 2011

Fringe 3.13: "Immortality"

“No children. That is not an option.”

If you’ve been reading my “Fringe” write-ups on this blog, you’ll be able to accurately guess my overall feelings about this episode. As in: not positive. Alt-livia’s pregnancy feels like a cheap ploy to try and gain viewer sympathy for the character of Alt-livia and make her into a plausible rival to Olivia for Peter’s affections. And for this viewer, at least, it didn’t work. It’s just too much. I had almost two full seasons to invest in Olivia before Alt-livia ever appeared, and Olivia has had so many horrible things happen to her that I hate to see even more added to the freaking huge pile of everything she already has to deal with. As for Alt-livia, I don’t feel sorry for her at all. She stole another woman’s man through trickery, and now she’s paying the price. I don’t care that she’s developed feelings for Peter, because she never should have done what she did in the first place. I don’t care that Frank left her because she cheated, therefore she deserves it. Turnabout is fair play. She destroyed the life Olivia was finally starting to put together for herself, so her life is now destroyed too. I maybe care a teeny tiny bit that Walternate is probably going to use her and her unborn child for his own nefarious plans, but that’s about it. To bring it back around to actual critique and stop looking like I’m way too invested in these characters, I’ll say that the “Fringe” Powers that Be failed at their goal to make Alt-livia sympathetic because most viewers likely do not want her to be sympathetic.

This episode takes place entirely on the Other Side. Which didn’t make me especially happy. The Other Side was a fun diversion for a little while, but when I tune into “Fringe,” I want to see Olivia, Peter, Walter, and Astrid. That’s what I watch for. I watch for the kooky father/son dynamics of Walter and Peter and the caring relationships between the little found family that is Fringe Division. Anyway, we first see Alt-livia pick up Frank at the airport. They are very affectionate, but when they get to their apartment, Frank questions whether everything is okay with Alt-livia. He feels like between his phone calls from Texas and their car ride home, she’s been very distant. Alt-livia just tries to play it off as having trouble with Frank being away for so long, but she’s so obviously lying. Frank really wants them to reconnect, so he suggests a weekend trip to Annapolis. Annapolis is pretty much my favorite place (and where I would live if there weren’t a ton of other things to consider), so I’m not sure how I feel about Alt-livia being well acquainted with it. I’d be curious to see what Alt-Annapolis is like, I suppose. They apparently have an Obryki’s, whose real life Baltimore location is scheduled to close after this coming summer.

Also at the airport, we see two men sitting at a bar. The older of the two men causes a distraction and uses that to switch drinks with the younger man. Not realizing what has happened, the younger man drinks the drink he didn’t order. The younger man goes into an airport bathroom, and we can quickly tell that he is most definitely not well. He collapses in a stall. The older man follows him into the bathroom, and the younger man yells out for help. The older man isn’t going to help, though. He has a very smug, satisfied look on his face, and he pulls out a small container as he strolls towards the stall that is occupied by the younger man. By the time Fringe Division gets to the airport bathroom, they’re investigating a suspicious death. There are large beetles everywhere, and most of them are dead. This leads them to hypothesize that the bugs don’t last long outside the body.

Alt-livia and Charlie take one of the beetles to a geeky redhead named Mona. She’s the bug girl, and she treated Charlie for that pesky spider infestation. She has a thing for Charlie, I think because he still technically has spiders in his blood. Gross. Mona IDs the bug in question as a Skelter Beetle. This particular beetle has, until now, only been known to live in sheep. Clearly that must have changed, though, because on the Other Side, sheep have been extinct for the past ten years. Meanwhile, the creepy older man from the airport is investigating the beetles, too. He’s looking for them to produce some sort of enzyme, but the experiment doesn’t work.

Back at Fringe Division headquarters, Frank is now working with the team. Apparently, Lincoln, who is now in charge since Broyles is “missing” called in a CDC consult, and Frank was it. One of the few things I liked about this episode was how much Frank liked Alt-Astrid and her math and common sense skills. He’s very impressed when Astrid suggests sending out a “Fringe Alert” about Skelter Beetles. She’s done the math to know exactly how many credible responses they should expect to receive. Unfortunately, the alert goes out while the culprit is watching TV. He’s at a diner, talking to another guy about his research. We see the Fringe Alert come on the television, and the creepy guy says “I’ll have what he’s having.” Clearly he’s about to do the food/drink switch again.

Frank tells Lincoln that he’s planning to propose to Alt-livia during their trip to Annapolis, and since Lincoln still has a thing for Alt-livia (does any straight male not have a thing for her? anybody?), he freaks just a tad. Maybe I’d care if I had seen more of their history, but I haven’t, so I don’t. Lincoln immediately tells Alt-livia the news, and her reaction is really difficult to read. She certainly doesn’t want to talk about it with Lincoln, that’s for sure. There isn’t much time to fret over those issues, though, because Charlie actually gets a legit call from the Fringe Alert hotline. The call is from a scientist who used to work next door to another scientist named Silva. Silva was working on a vaccine for Avian Flu made from an enzyme produced by the Skelter Beetle. Sounds like we have a winner.

The urgency to find Silva is increased when the team find the guy from the diner dead in his car and covered with beetles. The beetles are getting bigger now, which can’t be good. Frank, of course, is the one who puts all the pieces of the puzzle together, because he’s “pretty perfect” as Alt-livia puts it. He figures out that Silva must be trying to grow the beetles in people since he can’t grow them in sheep anymore. He gets caught up in the moment and chooses right then and there to propose to Alt-livia. She says yes, even though she’s been cheating on him. Such a lovely person, Alt-livia is. Lincoln cuts the celebratory moment short when he calls Alt-liva to let her know that a shipment the materials Frank says Silva would need for his experiments has been traced to an address in Brooklyn.

Alt-liva and Lincoln are on the case, but they quickly get separated inside the creepy old Brooklyn warehouse. Lincoln finds himself locked in a freezer, and Alt-livia falls through a rotten floorboard right into Silva’s lab. Alt-livia wakes up from her fall to find Silva giving her something to drink. She’s still pretty out of it, so she doesn’t give it a second thought, but given Silva’s modus operandi thus far, we’re led to believe it’s bad news. Silva then starts babbling what seems like an evil speech of evil about how one more host is necessary for the queen. Alt-livia then realizes she’s probably been infected, and when Lincoln arrives on the scene (he busted himself out of the freezer using liquid nitrogen), she lets him know. This drives the over-protective Lincoln just a touch crazy. Thankfully, additional back-up arrives, led by Charlie, and Alt-livia is taken away in an ambulance.

In the ambulance, Frank is getting ready to inject Alt-livia with a really powerful anti-parasitic while one of the EMTs or Paramedics is trying to get an ultrasound. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Lincoln is going a bit nuts trying to get answers out of Silva about how to cure Alt-liva. After some taunting, Silva reveals that he didn’t infect Alt-liva at all. He infected himself. And a really big queen beetle chooses that moment to eat its way out of his neck. I guess it can’t be an episode of “Fringe” without the creepy and gross. We then cut back to the ambulance, where the crew realizes that the movement on Alt-livia’s untrasound isn’t a beetle, after all. She’s pregnant. Frank is not at all happy about this (understandably), and he questions her about it at the hospital. When Alt-livia makes it clear that she’s in love with her baby daddy, Frank leaves. Good for Frank, I say.

Alt-livia’s not going to be going through this alone, though. Alt-Brandon (who is somehow still alive despite being shot by Alt-Broyles) has told Walternate about an important breakthrough regarding the chemical they synthesized from Olivia’s brain. It’s killed just about everyone they tried it on, but one guy was able to levitate a book before he keeled over. He was the youngest of the subjects, so Alt-Brandon hypothesizes that if children were treated with the chemical, it just might not kill them. Walternate refuses to go through with this, though. Experimenting on kids, interestingly (unlike his doppelganger), is a line he refuses to cross. Because he lost Peter at such a young age, obviously. He confides in his mistress (who is kind of gross) his displeasure at discovering a line of evil he can’t cross. At the end of the episode, though, he pays Alt-livia a visit. Smirking, he tells Alt-livia that she’ll be well taken care of, since she’s the mother of his grandchild. It appears he won’t mind experimenting on kids if they’re biologically related.

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