Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fringe 4.02: "One Night in October"

“At the risk of sounding sentimental, I've always thought there are people who leave an indelible mark on your soul. An imprint that can never be erased.”

I know there’s been a lot of complaints about Peter’s absence from “Fringe” so far this season, and I certainly don’t like our usual team being disrupted (see my complaining about the switched Olivia plot that most critics loved), but I thought this episode was pretty decent. The plot provided a cool way to blend the two universes (although I hope this method of blending doesn’t become the show’s weekly format- I’d rather be kept on my toes a bit). I also really enjoyed getting to see our Olivia interact with Alt!Lincoln. Alt!Lincoln cares so deeply about Alt!Livia that it was fun to watch him sort of discover our Olivia and all the ways in which she’s the same and different. They had a really interesting dynamic. Although I would like to see more of our universe’s adorably geeky Lincoln on a regular basis. In this episode, we were relegated to once appearance by him at the beginning of the episode.

The episode opens with a fairly creepy (like old-school, pre-split universe “Fringe” creepy) interrogation scene. A man is holding up what looks like a childhood photo and asking another man to recount the story behind the picture. The interrogated man seems reluctant, but he slowly tells the happy story. The camera then pans to show a glow-y tube emanating from the open back of his skull and traveling to a sinister machine. The other man apologizes, hits some switches, and the interrogated man dies.

Back in Boston, Walter is having a bit of a ‘sode as they’d say on “Wonderfalls.” He’s covering up reflective surfaces with blankets and towels (so he doesn’t see Peter’s image, presumably), and he’s ranting about how evil the folks on the Other Side are, using every synonym for evil he can think of. Lincoln arrives in the middle of this scene, because he had been told he was going to learn about shape shifters. Astrid helps explain to Lincoln what’s going on, and Walter calls Lincoln “Kennedy.” That made me crack up.

Olivia arrives at the lab, and she and Astrid have a little aside about how Astrid thinks Olivia should ask Lincoln out. Olivia makes all sorts of excuses about why she shouldn’t. Obviously this scene is meant to let us know that Peter still occupies some space in her subconscious. Olivia is saved from having to explain herself further by a phone call from Broyles. There have been 23 murders, essentially by brain freeze, on the Other Side, and they want our Fringe team’s help. Olivia and Broyles meet with Alt-livia at the Statue of Liberty bridge. Alt-livia wants our Fringe folks to help with the case by bringing our universe’s version of the suspect over to the Other Side to check out his doppelganger’s apartment. In our universe, the man is a forensic psychology professor specializing in serial killers.

Olivia visits the professor, whose name is John, and tells him that the FBI needs his help in building a profile. He eagerly agrees to help, basically saying he’s been training for something like this. Then Olivia brings out the tranquilizers. John can’t know that he’s going to a parallel universe, after all. It kind of reminded me of how the Others transported new recruits to the Island on “Lost.” Then we cut to the Other Side, where we see from the title card that most of the action this week is going to be taking place in the parallel universe version of my old stomping grounds, southeastern Pennsylvania. Norristown, to be specific. Strangely, it looks less dumpy on the Other Side. Of course, that’s really just because of the fact that the show is actually shot in Vancouver, Canada. Alt-livia is dying her hair blonde to look more like her doppelganger mission, and Alt-Lincoln interrupts. Alt-livia mentions that she’s dating Frank (another change brought about by Peter disappearing), which must disappoint Lincoln terribly. Meanwhile, Alt-John is stalking his next victim at a gas station.

At the lab, Astrid finds Walter lying back in a chair, listening to really loud music emanating from a wall of speakers. It also turns out that he’s been self-adjusting his medication levels. It’s pretty obvious that he’s reaching his limit of being able to deal with the visions of Peter. At the end of the episode, we see that all the measures Walter is taking to block Peter out aren’t working. He’s got all the reflective surfaces covered, but he still hears Peter’s voice begging for help as he tries to go to sleep. Walter turns on the loud music again to try and drown it out, but Peter’s voice only gets louder.

Over on the Other Side, John is at his doppelganger’s house, beginning to build a profile. He figures out that the killer had a very unhappy, abusive childhood. He finds victims who are happy and had good childhoods. I guess that explains why he wanted the victim at the beginning of the episode to tell the story behind that childhood photo. John starts to see things he recognizes from his own childhood, like a set of chairs. He really freaks out, however, when he sees one of his own childhood photo’s on the suspect’s wall of photos. He rushes outside the house and is even more confused when he runs into our Olivia and Alt!Lincoln, then turns is head to see a nearby neighborhood encased in Amber. He understandably wants to know where the heck he is.

Back in the house, our Olivia sits John down and talks to him about how they both grew up in an abusive home. John says his father saw the darkness in him, that’s why he was abusive, but he was saved by a woman named Marjorie. John wants to save his doppelganger like Marjorie saved him, but Olivia explains that his doppelganger can’t know he exists. While the agents have a bit of a confab outside about Alt-John’s latest victim (a mom from the gas station), John escapes the house. Lincoln and the Olivias (should that be the name of my “Fringe” tribute band?) rush to Fringe HQ to figure out what to do next. Alt!Astrid calculates that it’s going to take many hours to locate John, but Olivia has an idea. She remembers the license plate (PA, of course) from the tractor in the childhood photo that set John off. The address where it was registered is a farm that was shut down “after the Richboro fires.” There were just so many Southeastern PA references in this episode! I guess the house where I grew up probably was damaged in the Richboro fires, too.

John shows up at the killer’s lair (presumably at the farm…are there actually any farms near Richboro anymore? I don’t think so) just as Alt!John is about to drill into the skull of his latest victim. Meeting his doppelganger freaks Alt!John out quite a bit, but the two of them do figure out where their lives diverged. They were both at a carnival as a kid when their dad discovered had been killing animals. John ran away and met Marjorie when he woke up on her farm, and Alt!John got dragged home and beaten by his father. John tries to convince Alt!John that there’s another way to deal with the darkness, but Alt!John knocks him out and hooks him up to the glow-y tube machine. He wants to know all about Marjorie, and he uses the machine to steal all of John’s memories of her.

While this is going on, the Fringe team raids the farm. At first, they think they’ve found the wrong place, but Alt-Lincoln finds a door down to an old basement. That basement is Alt-John’s lair. Olivia finds Alt-John, and he tries to shoot her, but Alt-Livia manages to shoot Alt-John before Olivia gets hurt. Back in our universe, John winds up in the hospital with significant memory loss. The team is worried that without the memories of Marjorie, he’s going to become a serial killer like his doppelganger. It turns out there was no reason, to worry, though. Olivia has a nice conversation with him, and it soon becomes apparent that while he no longer remembers Marjorie, he still very much remembers the lessons he taught her. Broyles tells Olivia hat he thinks people leave an indelible mark on the soul. Which is yet another reference to memories of Peter still kicking around. Can he just be brought back already?

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