Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fringe 3.18: Bloodline

“Promise me you’ll save the baby.”

Okay. They did it. The writers of “Bloodline” actually made me care a teensy, teensy bit about Alt-livia. I still don’t have an ounce of sympathy for her over the “I fell in love with Peter while I was stealing him away from his real girlfriend and now I’m pregnant and alone” drama. What she went through in this episode was pretty darn horrific, though. The type of horror her doppelganger in our universe has been through. I think the main reason I rooted for Alt-livia in this episode was Lincoln, though. He loves her, and he was so earnest in his quest to save her that I just had to hope he would succeed. Alt-livia should reciprocate and leave Peter to his Olivia. Then everyone would be happy! And I’ll stop being Pollyanna now. Fringe is too dark a show to take that easy a route. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy when things go the way I would like them to go, though, even if I know it’s only temporary.

The episode opens with Alt-livia at a OB/GYN appointment. She is having blood drawn because she needs to be screened for something called VPE. It is what Alt-Rachel and her baby died of, and it’s something that can start to affect Other Side moms 8-10 weeks into their pregnancy. Because her sister was a carrier, there is an 80% chance that Alt-livia is a carrier too. There is virtually no chance that mother and baby will survive if the mother has VPE, so the stakes are high. This kind of reminded me of the abandoned “pregnant women die in their second trimester on the Island” plot on “Lost.” Considering “Lost” and “Fringe” are both Bad Robot shows, I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. Alt-livia’s mom drops her off at her apartment building, where our favorite Observer, September, is watching. Alt-livia takes a call from Lincoln as she walks into the building. She tells him that she feels like she’s being watched, and Lincoln promises to send over a security detail. As soon as Alt-livia hangs up, it’s obvious that her fears were legitimate, because masked men taser her and kidnap her.

Lincoln and Charlie are happily chatting about the women in their life when they get the news. Lincoln is still holding a torch for Alt-livia, and Charlie is now dating Mona, aka Bug Girl. As soon as Lincoln takes the call from the security detail explaining what they found at Alt-livia’s apartment, Lincoln calls Walternate. Walternate is, understandably, pretty grumpy about this, considering Alt-livia is pregnant with his grandchild. He doesn’t seem quite as upset as you might expect, though, which is mighty suspicious. Lincoln, Charlie, and their team fire up the technology needed to follow Alt-livia’s satellite tracker (apparently a tracker is a common thing for important people on the Other Side, although it’s a classified program.). Some things don’t change no matter the universe, though. The team finds Alt-livia’s tracker on a random sidewalk, and definitely not in Alt-livia.

Alt-livia, meanwhile, is in a really creepy, scary situation. She’s being strapped down to a gurney in what seems like a once abandoned, only recently repurposed medical facility, and masked doctors and nurses are doing all sorts of scary medical stuff to her, including a needle to the belly. Again, this reminds me of “Lost.” Particularly, it reminds me of “Maternity Leave,” where Claire starts to remember what happened to her while she was kidnapped and experimented on by Ethan in the Staff hatch. The medical personnel have been trying to keep Alt-livia sedated, but as they keep saying, she’s a “fighter.” The doctor says it’s “almost time” to do something important they’ve been planning, and he wants a nurse to make sure Alt-livia is properly sedated for once. The nurse gets Alt-livia to open her mouth to take the sedative, but when the nurse is no longer looking, Alt-livia spits the sedative out.

Back at Fringe Division headquarters, Astrid has made an important discovery. She’s been analyzing the CCTV footage from outside Alt-livia’s apartment building, and she notices a commercial vehicle that has driven by the building a suspicious number of times. It’s none other than Henry the cab driver who helped Olivia escape back to our universe! I’m going to continue to call him Bubbles, though, because I’m an adopted Baltamorean and “The Wire” will never die! Anyway, Lincoln and Charlie find Bubbles and his cab and start to question him. They soon realize they are in a much stranger situation than they ever thought they would be. Bubbles starts talking about how he was surprised to see Olivia again, because all she used to be able to talk about was how Fringe was evil, she was in the wrong place, and she wanted to go home. Then Bubbles makes the mistake of mentioning something about two universes. Next thing we know, Lincoln and Charlie have him handcuffed in the back of their SUV. It’s the funniest moment of the episode. Clearly Bubbs knows too much! Thankfully, this incident makes Lincoln start to accept that Charlie’s old theory about the switched Olivias wasn’t all that far out.

Alt-livia’s mom gets a rather disturbing (on several levels) call from Alt-livia’s OB/GYN. First of all, the doctor has been trying to contact Alt-livia directly, but Alt-livia hasn’t been answering her phone. Second, she has the results of Alt-livia’s screening- she tested positive for VPE. The doctor tells Alt-livia’s mom that she needs to speak to Alt-livia right away to schedule “the procedure.” On the Other Side, it appears that pregnancies of women with VPE cannot be allowed to continue. This is especially bad news for Alt-livia, considering she’s currently in no position to make any decision about her pregnancy. She manages to reach a scalpel on a nearby table, and she starts trying to use it to unbuckle one of her restraints, but all of a sudden she feels extreme pain in her abdomen. The camera pans out, and we can see something moving under her skin.

Back at DoD headquarters, Lincoln confronts Walternate with what he has learned from Bubbles. He demands to know if the Olivia switch happened and which Olivia is currently part of his team. Walternate claims to explain everything, telling Lincoln the exact time when our Olivia was part of Lincoln’s team. He also explains that Alt-livia is pregnant with Peter’s baby, Walternate’s grandchild. The pain on Lincoln’s face as he hears this tale is just heartbreaking and just the beginning of Seth Gabel’s outstanding work in this episode. Walternate acknowledges that Lincoln needs to know everything in order to have the best chance at finding Alt-livia, but he really doesn’t tell everything. Like the fact that he was planning to kill our Olivia- he didn’t “send her home.” And that he killed Colonel Broyles. Luckily Lincoln’s a smart guy.

The doctors are moving Alt-livia to “phase two” of whatever horrible thing they’re trying to do to her, and she now looks heavily pregnant. They say scary things about positioning her in a certain way if her bones can take it, and the nurse mentions that they’ve had to give her several blood transfusions. When Alt-livia comes to, the nurse takes her to use the toilet. Alt-livia uses this time to try to appeal to the nurse’s sense of caring and healing by telling the nurse that she probably has VPE. The nurse seems to hesitate for a moment, knowing that continuing on with this procedure could well cost Alt-livia her life, but then she steels herself. That wasn’t the only trick Alt-livia had up her sleeve, though. As the nurse is leading her back to the gurney, Alt-livia grabs the scalpel she had been using earlier. She uses it (and her fists) to get out of the medical facility. The nurse sounds the alarm, but it’s too late. Alt-livia is gone.

Outside, Alt-livia finds herself in just as creepy a location. She’s in Chinatown in the middle of the night, and this guy walks by her in a porcelain mask. It’s bizarre. She tries to get the attention of a woman who is vacuuming inside a closed restaurant, but she has no luck. To make matters worse, she starts to go into labor. Somehow she manages to get herself to a phone booth and call Lincoln. Lincoln is escorting Bubbles out of the Fringe Division headquarters when he gets the call. A trace on the phone soon tells Lincoln exactly where Alt-livia is, and Henry offers to show him a short cut to get there.

Lincoln and Bubbles end up helping Alt-livia to deliver the baby. Bubbs apparently delivered one of his own children in the back of his cab, so he does the hard part (the prep and the catching), and Lincoln cradles Alt-livia in his arms. The whole thing is heartbreaking because Alt-livia and Lincoln both think Alt-livia, and probably her son, too, are going to die. Lincoln is just doing the best he can to comfort Alt-livia, and at one point, he finally tells her he loves her. Alt-livia doesn’t exactly reciprocate, but she doesn’t seem upset by the declaration either. She just asks Lincoln to promise to save the baby. Bubbles successfully delivers the baby, but Alt-livia doesn’t seem responsive. It’s just a fake out to make us think she died, though- she eventually opens her eyes. I think it might have been an interesting direction for the show to go to actually kill her off.

Once Alt-livia and baby are safe, Lincoln and Charlie discuss what they’ve learned. They are starting to not trust Walternate, and they’re really beginning to wonder what happened to Colonel Broyles. I think this bodes well for the future of both universes. Meanwhile, Alt-livia and her mom are in Alt-livia’s hospital room enjoying the baby. The nurse takes the baby to collect a blood sample, and of course I thought she was going to kidnap him or something. An ominous looking guy (I think he was one of the doctors from Chinatown) takes the blood sample card and delivers it to yet another ominous looking guy (well, we see the second guy’s arm) instead of taking it to the lab. We ultimately see Brandon deliver the blood sample card to Walternate, which leaves us to wonder if he was behind the whole abduction and pregnancy acceleration. And if he was behind it, for what purpose? Because he knew Alt-livia was possibly a carrier for VPE, or because he needs the child to either run Cortexaphan tests or operate the doomsday device?

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