Monday, May 2, 2011

Fringe 3.21: "The Last Sam Weiss"

“I know what it’s like to feel unequal to the task required of you. To feel incapable. I’ll never be the man I was. But I’ve come to embrace those parts of my mind that are peculiar. Broken. I understand now that’s what makes my mind special.”

The penultimate episode of this season of “Fringe” really kicked the story into high gear leading us into the finale. Well, except for the second long “walking to the doomsday device” sequence in as many episodes. Have I mentioned that I’m a touch excited that series are beginning to wrap up for the year? I’m really looking forward to bringing you some different content in the summer. Summer is when I like to discover new things in TV (like my Doctor Who obsession that started last year), and can’t wait to share what I discover here on the blog. Anyway, I think I enjoyed this episode better than last weeks. It had some real shocking moments, which was a lot of fun. I’m also kind of at a loss for how this is all going to get resolved in about 43 more minutes. There are holes in the fabric of our universe, people! Luckily, all of our characters seem to be getting their act together and are beginning to work towards actually eliminating the threat of the doomsday machine once and for all.

The episode opens with Walter watching over Peter in his hospital bed. Walter hasn’t left Peter’s side since Peter was brought to the hospital. Astrid is concerned about this, and she tries every trick in the book to get Walter to leave Peter’s room for just a little break. Eventually, Astrid succeeds with the promise that the hospital cafeteria is serving tapioca pudding. As they’re on their way back to Peter’s room after their meal, they see a number of people being brought into the hospital who had been injured by a Fringe event. Astrid uses this as a catalyst to get Walter motivated to get back to work. She finally convinces him with one of my personal favorite sayings “God helps those who help themselves.” Walter finally agrees that he can leave Peter for just a little while to test a few theories.

Walter’s got to move fast, though. We see a family on a car trip, and the son is so freaked out by what he’s seeing that he actually takes of his headphones. All of a sudden, the family sees the car in front of them get struck by lightning. The dad stops the car and gets out to have a look around. As you do. He finds a place with a good view and sees that there is lightning all over the place, and it’s quite destructive. In Boston, Walter is quite intrigued by the lighting, of course. He decides to investigate it Ben Franklin-style (Philly represent!) by flying a kite attached to something metal. Walter gets struck by lightning twice while flying his kite, and the second time knocks him over, freaking out Astrid just a bit. It gives Walter the breakthrough he needs, though. He realizes that he “has to account for repetition” when analyzing the pattern of Fringe events.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Sam are looking at the doomsday machine. Sam explains that the machine currently has a force field around it because the activation of the Other Side’s machine has tricked it into thinking Peter is in it. Sam thinks they need to find a sort of crow bar to pry open the force field and let Peter in for real. They look through a crowded storeroom for the box that contains the “crowbar,” and Sam clues Olivia in on his family history a bit. He’s not the first Sam Weiss. His ancestors have collected information on the First People and the doomsday machine for generations.

Sam and Olivia do find the box, but they need the key to open it. The key is in a museum, and the museum is currently getting bombarded with lightning. The situation is so bad that the whole block has a police barricade, and the museum curator says lightning is even striking inside the building. Just as they reach the key, lightning strikes and sets of the museum’s alarm system. They’re about to be trapped inside, but thanks to some skillful throwing by Sam, a vase ends up propping a gate open. It reminded me of the Tenth Doctor’s prowess with a cricket ball in the Doctor Who episode “Human Nature.” Olivia opens the box, and the crowbar isn’t really a crowbar at all. It’s a picture of her, much like the freaky picture of Peter and the machine.

Meanwhile, Peter has finally regained consciousness. And Walter’s not there, which can only lead to…not very good things. Peter’s rather confused when he wakes up, which is understandable. He starts taking off sensors and taking out IV’s. I’m wondering why this doesn’t set off some sort of alarm that brings nurses running. Peter grabs his jacket and starts wandering around the hospital. The hospital staff all seem very busy treating people who have been struck by lightning. A nurse finally stops him and asks his name, and Peter has some trouble replying. I started wondering if he had some sort of amnesia. Even though the nurse tells Peter to stay put while she helps with another emergency, Peter keeps wandering. He goes outside and watches the lightning. The he gets a cab to take him to New York City. Which is quite an expensive fare from Massachusetts. When Peter arrives in New York, he continues his spending spree by purchasing a very expensive coin from a pawn shop. I think it’s the pawn shop that used to house the inter-dimensional typewriter. The real WTF moment, however, happens when Peter wanders up to the Statue of Liberty and tells the guard he wants to see his father- the Secretary of Defense.

Up in Boston, Astrid and Walter use see-through maps to line up where various types of Fringe events have happened. Walter notices a rift forming between where our doomsday machine is located in Massachusetts and where Walternate’s machine is located on Liberty Island. Walter thinks the two machines are sympathetically linked to each other, and he tells Broyles that they can contain the damage somewhat by moving our universe’s machine to Liberty Island, too. While Broyles works out those logistics, Walter takes a look at Olivia and Sam’s discovery. He figures out that the picture is trying to say that Olivia’s telekinesis powers might be able to be used as the “crowbar” that can bend the force field. Olivia is skeptical because she has only used those powers once before, and all she was trying to do then was turn on some lights. To make things even more complicated, Olivia is going to have to manipulate the Other Side’s machine to make the plan work.

Walter thinks Olivia can do what she needs to do from our universe without crossing over again, and he also thinks she’ll be fine with some practice. And that practice is going to take place on the inter-dimensional typewriter. Olivia sits at the typewriter a while and has no luck making any words show up. Walter tries to give her a pep talk, sympathizing with Olivia’s feelings of inadequacy. The pep talk inspires Olivia to try again, but it still appears to be a no go. Practice is interrupted by Astrid, who delivers the news that the hospital has finally discovered Peter is missing. And he left a note saying “I’m going home.” The music gets very “Lord of the Rings”-like as Walter gets very upset. I half expected the Gondor theme to ring out in honor of John Noble’s other famous character, Denethor. Eventually, Olivia tells Walter and Astrid what I was hoping the FBI would figure out sooner rather than later- that Peter made two large transaction with his credit card, and he’s now in New York.

The team finds Peter pretty easily in New York, and as Walter runs a few tests on him to check him out, his memory of our universe gradually starts to come back. The weather in New York is getting worse, so whatever the team is going to do, they need to do it quickly. Olivia and Peter talk out the problem of how they’re going to get the machine to work. It’s nice to see them still working together easily, even though their brief time of more carefree happiness is over. Astrid interrupts with a very important phone call. The inter-dimensional typewriter has suddenly started typing “Be a better man than your father” over and over, which is what Olivia had been trying to get it to type. I thought Peter would have some sort of reaction to that being the phrase Olivia chose to concentrate on, but it’s kind of dropped. Olivia mastering her telekinesis power leads to yet another long, drawn out walk to the machine, but this time Olivia and Peter take that walk together. Olivia successfully takes down the force field, which is definitely noticed on the Other Side. Peter sets himself up in the machine, and all of a sudden, it appears that he’s been zapped 15 years in the future, which is quite apocalyptic. And I’m left wondering where this show is headed.

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