Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fringe 3.20: "6:02 AM EST"

“Oppenheimer saved us too, but at what cost? He couldn’t bear the nightmares. The screams of all the innocents he had killed.”

“6:02 AM EST,” beyond having a kind of lame title, was very much a set-up episode, beginning to move all the chess pieces that are the “Fringe” characters into position for the final battle (for now, at least) between the two universes. As a set-up episode, it was difficult for me to get especially emotionally invested in it, considering I know that everyone’s situation will likely be radically different by the end of parts 2 and 3 of the three part season finale arc. By the end of this episode, Peter is in a coma and Alt-livia is locked up in Walternate’s house of horrors, and clearly both of these things much change, at least, by the end of the season. There was this sense of doom and dread permeating through the episode. I guess that was to be expected, considering Walternate’s been planning the destruction of our universe for quite some time.

This episode switches back and forth between the two universes, and we start on the Other Side. Alt-Brandon is meeting with Walternate, updating Walternate on the status of his latest nefarious plan. We find out why Brandon nabbed the DNA sample of Walternate’s grandson (who we find out later is named Henry, after the helpful cab driver). They were able to extract half of Peter’s genetic profile from the DNA sample, and Brandon speculates that will be enough to activate the doomsday machine. Brandon says he’ll have the machine up and running within the hour. Walter has a very emo monologue about how even though he’ll be saving the universe, it will be at a great cost. I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for him. He hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to try and find a way to save both universes. It doesn’t have to be us vs. them.

Back in our universe, things finally start to get apocalypse-y after all the warnings we’ve heard for the past two seasons. They get apocalypse-y in a field on a sheep farm in upstate New York, to be exact. A flock of sheep and two shepherds are taken away in a vortex. At his bowling alley, Sam Weiss hears a noise, probably caused by the vortex. He abandons his bowling companion and rushes into a storage room. He roots through the shelves with determination and pulls out what must be an apocalypse detecting machine. I was actually kind of surprised how quickly he finds the machine he’s looking for, given how packed the storage room was. If Sam is worried, things are going to get bad quickly. We later see him in a park, using a machine and writing down equations as the sky seems to be blinking all different colors.

We then switch to Peter and Olivia, waking up in each other’s arms. Clearly this is one of those “last moment of happiness” type scenes. Trying not to wake Peter, Olivia sneaks out into the kitchen, where she is greeted by a very naked Walter. Olivia deals with it as best she can, then goes back to Peter’s room for some cuddling. They talk about how Walter regularly cooks naked on Tuesdays, and how Olivia’s favorite time of day is sunrise, because the day still holds promise. Neither of them want to let go of the moment, but their cell phones ring, as they tend to do. The Fringe teem assembles at what I’m going to call the sheep field. After looking at the destruction, Walter speculates a vortex appeared in the area and took everything and everyone away.

Cut to Massive Dynamic headquarters, where Nina is having a rather frantic discussion with one of her employees. I predicted what was happening with this one before the actual reveal. Nina looks at something that is obviously very troubling, and she immediately calls Broyles. The doomsday machine spontaneously turned itself on. Coincidentally, the machine turned itself on at about the same time that vortex zapped away the sheep and shepherds. After a little work, Walter discovers a similar pattern to what he identified when the typewriter to the Other Side was turned on. He thinks that the doomsday machine must be turned on on the Other Side, and the machine in our universe turned on sympathetically. This is a crushing blow to Walter, who thinks that Walternate has won and the world is about to end. I told you this episode was heavy on the dramatics.

Back on the Other Side, Alt-livia and her nanny are walking baby Henry in a stroller across a park when Alt-livia gets a page about a Fringe Event on Liberty Island. Because Liberty Island is Department of Defense headquarters, this seems like it should be a big deal, and the Fringe team roles out, ready to start a big evacuation based on the reading they’re seeing. Just as they’re about to arrive on the scene, Lincoln gets a call telling them to stand down. Alt-livia is confused and frustrated by this, and she uses her position as Peter’s baby mama to get an audience with Walternate to grill him about it. Without officially confirming it, Walternate implies he has activated the doomsday device. Alt-livia is not happy to hear that, mostly because Peter is still over in our universe. And that just made me roll my eyes.

In our universe, the Fringe team is scrambling todeal with escalating events. The vortices are coming fast and furious, people are disappearing, and the Blight is starting to take hold. Olivia wants to use her knowledge of Alt-Fringe procedures to help our universe. She shares the protocol for early detection of Fringe events with Nina, and Olivia also wants to go to New York to help Nina and the Massive Dynamic team more directly. She and Peter have s sort of stoic goodbye, but that fits with Olivia’s personality. Walter’s frantically trying to come up with idea after idea to stop the machine, including encasing the whole thing in lead. Peter stops him, saying that he thinks the only way to truly stop the machine will be if he tries to use it. His DNA turns it on, so maybe it can turn the machine off, too. Walter realizes that this is what September the Observer had been preparing him for a few weeks back. The whole thing is just heartbreaking.

Olivia arrives at Massive Dynamic to find that Nina is not optimistic about their chances. The early warning system is up and running, but an early warning system isn’t much good if you can’t do anything to solve the problem when you detect it. Massive Dynamic has been unable to find rare minerals in a quantity necessary to produce the amount amber that would be needed to stop the increasing number of fringe events. Nina starts to get a bit whiny, telling Olivia that it “wasn’t supposed to be like this” and that she was told that if Olivia was with Peter, everything would be fine. This obviously shocks Olivia, and she demands to know who told Nina this. Nina reluctantly tells Olivia that it was Sam, and Olivia rushes off to find him. Olivia succeeds in finding Sam’s Boston apartment, but he’s long gone.

On the Other Side, Alt-livia’s saying a rather sad goodbye to Lincoln. She’s planning a trip to the Other Side to find Peter, and she needs Lincoln to watch Henry. Her reasoning is that she thinks Peter might be able to convince Walternate to turn off the doomsday device, but it’s pretty obvious that she just plain wants to see Peter again, too. Why oh why couldn’t she just be happy with Lincoln? Poor boy is smitten with her! Alt-livia’s plan seems to work well at first. She gets Brandon at gunpoint. She wants him to take her to the device Walternate used to cross over and fetch Peter. Brandon warns Alt-livia that particular device causes loss of molecular cohesion, but Alt-livia doesn’t care. Brandon gives her the device, but an alarm goes off, and Alt-livia quickly starts being chased by guards. She puts up a good fight, but she gets cornered, and she can’t get the device to work. By the end of the episode, she occupies a DoD holding cell much like her doppelganger did at the beginning of the season. Walternate pays her a visit and says that because she’s the mother of his grandon, he’ll spare her life, but she’s staying in the cell until the battle with our universe is over.

Back in our universe, Peter is preparing to enter the machine. It’s a rather painfully drawn-out scene, where Peter says emotional goodbyes to everyone except for, you know, his girlfriend. Since she’s still in New York. Even Peter’s walk across a causeway to the machine is long and drawn out to milk the drama for all its worth. Less than a second after Peter touches his hand to the machine, he gets thrown from the platform. I found this to be kind of lame. Peter getting thrown is so quick in comparison to his preparation to touch the machine that it’s actually jarring. Peter is taken to the hospital, where Walter briefly tries to micromanage his care before one of the ER docs throws him out. Olivia is finally clued into what’s going on, and she arrives at the hospital understandably upset. Tests run at the hospital couldn’t find any real brain damage, but Peter is in a coma. Olivia steps outside to take a breather and look at the sunrise when Sam suddenly appears. Sam says he needs Olivia to take him to the doomsday machine right away.

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