Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fringe 4.20: "Worlds Apart"

“I think I shall miss them. More than I imagined.”

After the really rather spectacular “Letters of Transit,” “Worlds Apart” was a bit of a letdown. It was an episode pretty much entirely focused on the mythology and had no separate case of the week element. Granted, the same could be said of “Letters of Transit,” but that story was much more engaging. There was a very fully realized new world and new characters to discover. In contrast, “Worlds Apart” involved saying goodbye to a bunch of characters we’ve known for a couple seasons now. On the one hand, I applaud the “Fringe” creative team for trying to pare down the number of universes they’re using to tell stories, especially since we now know when the series will definitely end (they have a 13 episode final season next year). On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion that the complexity of the Red Universe is going to be replaced by the complexity of the future war with the Observers. With only 15 (counting the remaining two episodes of season 4) more episodes in which to tell this new story, I think it might suffer. All in all, I think this means it’s pretty much the right time for “Fringe” to be winding down. Better to let it go before it is completely creatively spent.

The episode opens at the Bridge, where Walter has called a meeting of the key players on both sides. He announces that he believes he knows what David Robert Jones is planning. He thinks that Jones wants to create a gravitational singularity, and this would result in the mutual destruction of both universes. The ultimate result would be a brand new universe that Jones would control completely, down to the laws of physics. I’m not quite sure how this second part (about Jones having complete control) works, but I guess we’re just supposed to go with it. The group starts to get a little skeptical of Walter when he says that this idea came to him in a dream, but Walternate ends up sticking up for him. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this timeline’s Walternate not being evil. If Walternate, with a full brain, is a decent guy, why did Walter need those parts of his brain removed, and why did Future Walter go kind of dark and twisty when his brain was repaired?

Anyway, we next get a look at what the team will be dealing with in this episode. We see four people holding maps who have timers strapped to their wrists. They’re all over the world- Sydney, Beijing, the Himalayas, New York City. Each of them stands at the exact spot marked on their map, and they start to go into a sort of trance, with veins popping in their foreheads. Around them, earthquakes cause destruction. Back at the Bridge, everybody starts getting called out of the meeting because of the earthquakes. There were 27 in total. Back at the lab on our side, Walter is investigating some objects from the Manhattan earthquake. These objects are not tuned to the normal frequency of either universe, which leads Walter to theorize that Jones is trying to tune each universe to a common frequency. This process has the unfortunate side effect of chipping away at the barrier between the universes. On the Other Side at Fringe HQ, former Cortexaphan kid (on our side, at least) Nick Lane pays a visit to Lincoln. It turns out they grew up together in Philadelphia. Nick says he had a vision of himself causing one of the earthquakes (the earthquakes happened in both universes). Lincoln calls Olivia with this news, and after she sees an image from Sydney with another fellow Cortexaphan kid, the tells Walter that she thinks Jones is using the Cortexaphan subjects as devices to cause the earthquakes.

The realization of what is happening causes quite the moral dilemma for the Fringe teams in both universes. Peter suggests closing the bridge. Then our universes Cortexaphan kids won’t be able to connect to their doppelgangers and cause the earthquakes. Walter says that closing the bridge, while it wouldn’t make conditions on the Other Side worse, would stop the improvement they’ve been seeing. Olivia decides there must be another way. They need to catch Jones once and for all. The plan involves bringing Alt-Nick over from the Other Side, accompanied by Alt-livia. Walter hooks Alt-Nick up to a typically crazy machine and gives him some also-typical LSD. Olivia then uses the machine to connect to his mind and see what he sees. This is possible because of the old connection between Olivia and Nick when they were fellow Cortexaphan subjects. While this is being set up, Alt-livia gives a nice speech about how she likes being able to see rainbows on our side (the atmosphere on the Other Side is too degraded). It’s a good way to show us the stakes, and it shows Alt-livia’s gratitude to our side’s team. Olvia successfully makes a connection, and she sees our Nick at Salem Bay University. Peter, Lincoln, and some FBI back up hightail it there immediately. They stop Nick just in time, but they can’t stop the 26 other earthquakes from happening.

Olivia, Peter, and Walter take a trip to the Boston federal building for a debrief with Broyles. Broyles informs them that higher-ups in DC want to think about closing the Bridge as a solution to the earthquake problem. Broyles wants to kno just how much longer Walter thinks the universes can hold out before more drastic action needs to be taken, and Walter says he’s surprised that the quakes haven’t caused both universes to collapse already. Olivia, however, wants one more chance. She asks for permission to interrogate Nick. She thinks she’ll have the most success because of their existing connection. Nick does open up to Olivia, but what he has to say isn’t really good. Nick tells Olivia that Jones is helping the Cortexaphan kids protect our world in the war with the Other Side, and after one more offensive, they’ll have won. Olivia tells him the truth about how both universes are allies now and the Other Side is healing, but it doesn’t seem like the message really gets through.

In another room, Peter is taking apart Nick’s timer and trying to learn about it while talking to Lincoln. They talk about what folks on the Other Side must think about the prospect of the bridge closing, and they talk about how if the bridge does close, Peter is going to stay in our universe even though he’s originally from the Other Side. As Peter puts it, “home is where the heart is.” And we can see the gears start turning in Lincoln’s brain. As they’re talking, the timer starts counting down again. They’ve got six hours before another round of earthquakes and the probable destruction of both universes. Olivia tries talking to Nick again. He explains that Walter’s Cortexaphan treatments made him a reverse empath. One day, he was feeling especially down, and he accidentally caused his sister to commit suicide. He also says Jones helped him get control of his condition. Olivia tells Nick once again that Jones is lying and they need Nick’s help to stop the destruction of both universes.

Nick purportedly agrees to help, and Walter tells him that they’re looking for a safe zone Jones may have set up (like in “Welcome to Westfield”) to ride out the impending destruction. Nick mentions a warehouse where he once met up with Jones. There was a lot of equipment there. The FBI raids the place immediately, of course, and Nick and his handler wait in a car outside. Nick tells his handler that the raid is taking too long and that he feels pathetic for believing Jones’ lies. It’s pretty obvious he’s trying to drive his handler to suicide. The FBI finds nothing in the warehouse, and the handler ends up with a self-inflicted knife to the gut. Their final plan having failed, the Fringe teams have a summit meeting at the Bridge. Broyles say that the DC higher-ups have promised to go along with whatever the summit decides. Walter says decisively that they have no choice but to close the Bridge. Walter and Peter start a process that will overload the Machine and close the Bridge. As the overload is in progress, Walter and Walternate have a heart-to-heart, mostly about Peter. Everybody else says their goodbyes too, and Lincoln decides to go to the Other Side permanently. I’ll certainly miss Seth Gabel’s work on the show. Here’s hoping Lincoln has better romantic luck with Alt-livia than Alt-Lincoln did. Everybody waves goodbye as the overload completes and the bridge closes, presumably separating the universes forever.

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