The Wife:

You guys all remember that car accident whence the Observer allegedly saved Walter and Peter? Well, he actually only saved Walter. Because Peter did done died. And he has no memories of his early childhood at all, because the Peter we know was stolen from another dimension to replace the son Walter lost in this life. Snoo! I thought I’d just get that big revelation out of the way because it was super good. We’d long been discussing that Peter might be a clone or a cyborg like Nina Sharp, but because there’s more than one of everything, he’s actually just his other self. At least, this is what I believe we are supposed to infer from the coin he doesn’t remember flipping, his grave and Walter’s lengthy discussion of how he started looking into parallel dimensions after he lost something very dear to him.

But before that revelation, Nina Sharp, shot at the end of the last episode, is rushed to surgery, requiring lots of specialists because she’s more cyborg than we previously thought. After analyzing the audio recorded by the security camera during her shooting, Olivia et al realize that it was David Robert Jones who shot her. He removed something from her arm, a super cell, powerful enough to make whatever he’s doing unstoppable. Olivia is ready to chase down Bell, but Nina assures her that Bell is not the enemy in this case. Jones worked for Bell 15 years ago, and was fired, so she posits that these actions, The Pattern, are Jones’ way of getting back at Bell. Nina tells Olivia that if she stops Jones, she will arrange a private meeting for Olivia with William Bell.

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

Meanwhile, Jones and his crew are out trying to open up other dimensions, using the super cell to power a device that rips open windows to other worlds. Only it isn’t totally working right, ripping things in half that try to enter or exit. (See: truck missing its back half, soccer player missing half of his body.) Olivia starts doing some hardcore paranormal research and realizes that The Pattern really does form a pattern, a series of incidents radiating out from the places in which Jones tested his ability to break down soft spots in the fabric of the universe. Conveniently, if you rearrange the way you look at those patterns, they form a new one, pointing to Jones’ next target: Reiden Lake.

Walter has been missing while all this has gone down, taking some sweet mind trips with The Observer to graveyards and beach houses and whatnot. The Observer reminds him of Peter’s otherworldly origins by giving him the coin the boy used to flip, asserting that there is more than one of everything. He tells Walter that he should now know what he has to find, and Walter goes searching his old beach house. Peter eventually catches up to him there, remembering at the least that they used to go there when he was a child, and Walter tells his son about all his old acid trips with Bell and how they thought they were seeing other dimensions and spent their lives trying to find ways to access them without LSD. In a box, he uncovers Peter’s other coin, as well as a plugging device that will stop any rifts between dimensions from opening.

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

Walter and Peter meet up with Olivia et al at Raiden Lake, where Jones is already working on opening a hole to get to the other side. Peter manages to shut down the hole just in time, which is extremely helpful, as the transporter made Jones impervious to bullets, but not impervious to being sliced in half by straddling two dimensions.

Nina sends Olivia to NYC to meet with Bell, after informing her that Bell’s research with Cortexafam was to allow gifted children to travel in and out of other dimensions without widening soft spots. Bell, it seems, has been hiding out in another dimension this whole time, and after Olivia waits for about eight hours to meet with him and he never shows, she hops in an elevator and leaves. But during the 15th and 16th floors, something weird happens: suddenly, other people appear, and then disappear, and when the doors open, she’s welcomed into a bright, white hallway and taken to Bell’s office . . . which happens to be in one of the Twin Towers . . . in another universe where 9/11 never happened. (But Obama is still president, if the New York Post on Bell’s desk is to be believed.)

This was a great season finale, and I’m very excited for the possibilities for next season. I think there will be a greater focus on the mytharc of The Pattern and interdimensional travel/alternate realities. If there’s one thing J.J. Abrams does really well, it’s peering into alternate realities or altering the time line, and I can see Fringe doing very well down that route.

Questions still unanswered:

  • Why, exactly, is Nina Sharp a cyborg? I mean, I love her even more now that I know she has Kevlar ribs, but since I’m so into cyberpunk now, I’d love to learn more about that.
  • What happened to Peter’s mother?
  • Why did the folks at ZFT do so much experimentation with hybridity and diseases? Are these experiments also to prepare soldiers for the war against people from other dimensions?
  • Everyone seems very fearful of other realities, but if Bell is hanging in one where 9/11 didn’t happen, that somehow doesn’t seem so bad to me. Where are the horrible realities filled with people with no orifices and swamp monster chimera thingies? (Husband Note: The Post did mention a New White House, which may indicate something horrible happened to the old one.)

There are definitely more questions still unanswered, but I’m sick currently and am amazed I was able to lucidly discuss that episode at all. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed geeking out with you all about Fringe, and I think we can all agree that the show has gotten to a really good place and can only get better during its sophomore season.

Until then, I leave you with my favorite Walter line this week:

“We’re trying to plug a hole in the universe. What are you doing here?”

The Husband:

Even in this post-Lost television landscape, I was still damned surprised that Fringe got away with such a slow burn during its premiere season. Did they really do that good of a job keeping me away from learning about these alternate dimensions, a maaaaajor game changer, and how they related to The Pattern? Did they actually trust in the intelligence of its viewers to keep 20 episodes in mind, many standalone and seemingly unimportant?

Between this finale and Star Trek, I am genuinely impressed with what Kurtzman and Orci cooked up. Yeah, the dudes who wrote the fun-but-dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Transformers figured it out, along with help from the justly maligned Akiva Goldsman, the man who helped turn the Batman universe into a peacock explosion of neon, codpieces and puns about ice.

And what of alternate realities? Is this show now going to become Sliders? (I actually never watched Sliders, but I do know two things about it. 1. It starred the O’Connell Brothers and my beloved Sabrina Lloyd. 2. It was about jumping between dimensions. Good enough, right?)

And hey, to that jackass that gave me shit for my negative review of The Mentalist pilot and gave me some numbers that the Mentalist pilot scored more viewers than Fringe, I’d like to point out that as of last week, Fringe surpassed that CBS crap to become the highest-rated new series of the 2008-2009 television season. Premiere numbers are one thing, but returning viewers are another, and so Fringe proves that it has legs and drawing power. There’s nothing better than word-of-mouth, especially those words that brought back a good deal of viewers once Fringe realllly got cooking several episodes in. Suck it, hater.

And so, I will leave you with how I began writing about Fringe – with a haiku!

Alternate worlds are

Tricky. Good: David Lynch films.

Bad: James Wong’s The One.

(Wife’s note: Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about the time I spent Easter in James Wong’s living room. I usually don’t get to name drop like my husband the former entertainment journalist does, but I’ve been to James Wong’s house. And that’s fucking awesome.)

The Wife:

I’m not sure if Fringe was trying to reference The Matrix, The Butterfly Effect or I Know Who Killed Me this week with its storyline about Olivia’s visions of alternate paths on the timeline of one’s choices (see episode title!) and twins who didn’t know they were twins who were made into weapons by ZFT when they were trained to become firestarters in childhood. (They kind of ended up referencing all three.)The only problem with this is that, like Olivia and apparently all other children experimented on by ZFT, these people are unaware until recently (their “activation”) that they possess these powers, which leads one of the twins, Susan, to burn up from the inside and spontaneously combust. As Olivia tracks down Susan and tries to discover why she may have blown up (as Peter so tactfully likes to put it), she keeps having visions of things being slightly different than they actually are. Where one charred body lies, she sees two. Where Broyle’s desk once was, it is not. In fact, she has glimpses of entire conversations with people before/differently than they actually occurred. This déjà vu, Walter supposes, is an ability given to Olivia by ZFT as a child, an ability to look into an alternate reality. I don’t feel like this side effect of the Cortexafam really adds much to Olivia or to her struggle, but it seemed to be marginally helpful to her here, once the confusion stopped, of course. By peering into the alternate reality, she was able to discern that Susan had a sister who might meet the same fate without some intervention.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

In their search for Susan’s twin, Peter and Olivia pay a visit to conspiracy theorist Clint Howard, who proceeds to tell them about an American graduate student in Budapest that spontaneously combusted and blames it all on William Bell and Massive Dynamic, the latter of which he purports is merely a cover organization for all of Bell’s wholly unethical activities. He suggests Bell is activating his ZFT soldiers for an upcoming war, which is why, we’re supposed to infer, the events of The Pattern are occurring. And whom will this war be fought against? Why, only the Romulans! Because this show is produced by J.J. Abrams! And Star Trek is coming out this Friday! So, naturally, crazy Trekker conspiracy theorist believes the Trekverse is real and that he is, in fact, Spock. But he cannot be, you see, for Leonard Nimoy is William Bell! My exclamations of these facts are meant to mock the completely unwarranted, unnecessary and wholly unsubtle tie-ins to Abrams’ next project. Look, ya’ll, I will be seeing Star Trek this weekend because I grew up on that shit and I’ve been squeeing at the trailer every time I see it. I’m even okay with turning the Lost titlecard into the Enterprise beaming itself into a commercial (because that’s kind of a neat transition), but this was a moment that, while amusing because it’s Clint Howard, totally drew me out of the show. There were other ways to show us that Clint Howard wasn’t entirely right in the head without beating us over the head with Trek. Bad Robot, we’re watching Fringe. We’re excited for Nimoy. Chances are, we’ll be seeing Trek this weekend and giving you all of our hard earned geek dollars. You didn’t need to be so obtuse about this.

Anyway, while I was busy rolling my eyes but smirking at the Trek monologue, Harris is back and rubbing Olivia the wrong way by asking her to do things like take psych evaluations. She refuses, particularly because, in an alternate reality, Olivia is able to track down Susan’s missing twin who is still alive, but unfortunately, an Isaac Winters gets to her first in reality reality. At her apartment, there are signs of a struggle, and Peter notices that the glass has been melted on one of her windows, indicating her firestarting abilities. He pops out a nice little disc of glass and reveals his plan to use the new machine he’s been making out of Walter’s old machines to read the sound imprinted on the glass like a record. (Abrams is fond of comparing things to records, no?) This is a gift to his father, so he can copy all of his jacked up old albums, which truly pleases Walter. After adjusting the white noise and a bunch of other sound-related tinkering, they’re able to play the glass record and hear Susan’s twin Nancy being abducted. They also hear a phone being dialed, so Olivia asks Peter to clarify the sound so she can use her tone-dialing app to connect her to whomever the kidnapper called . . . and it’s Harris. That scene was really cool, and filled with the kind of super-fringey fringe science we were promised. This is probably my favorite use of weird science on the show, right alongside using homing pigeons as a GPS.

Olivia and Francis track Nancy to the warehouse where Harris has taken her and while they search for the girl, Olivia finds a board with pictures of various former ZFT experiment participants, including the twins and herself. Harris manages to surprise her and locks her in the conflagration room with Nancy, who, agitated, starts heating up. Olivia tries to calm her down and tries to get Nancy to direct her energy elsewhere, so that she doesn’t blow up. Nancy fares better than her twin sister and is able to light Harris on fire, killing him while saving her own life. Remember that light box Olivia had to know how to turn off with her mind? That was attached to Nancy, and I wonder why Olivia didn’t have to turn it off in order to remove Nancy from the machines she was hooked to in the conflagration room. It seems odd just to have it appear there and not be used.

Afterward, Olivia interrogates Walter about his involvement in ZFT and why there are so damned many kids from Jacksonville who are either dead or super fucked-up. Walter, who earlier finally showed Astrid and Peter his wonky y-ed typewriter and has spent the episode searching for a missing chapter of the ZFT manifesto which would prove the organization had some honorable intentions, insists to her that they were trying to prepare the kids in their experiments for something terrible coming. When pressed, Walter can’t remember what and breaks down, from a combination of Olivia’s bullying and his own terrible guilt. Later, in his lab, he finds the missing chapter, which proves that ZFT’s intentions were to better prepare humanity to survive the coming war (against persons from another dimension, we have been told), by producing stronger, better-equipped children who, when the time comes, will be the humanity’s hope. But Walter is given no chance to present these findings to his colleagues, as The Observer has come for him, simply stating, “Walter, it’s time to go.” Without questioning him, Walter goes to get his coat.

Nina Sharp drops by Broyles’ house to deliver a packet of photographs of The Observer, stating that something ominous happened the last time he appeared with such frequency. When she returns to her office, she is shot when she steps off the elevator. Which kind of sucks, because I think every Fringe viewer loved Nina Sharp and (maybe, secretly) hoped she would be revealed as Peter’s mother. I’m assuming Bell had Nina killed because, with the war coming, he no longer needs Massive Dynamic as a front, and, clearly, she’d caught on to some badness and needed to be put asunder. As for The Observer, I believe he’s taken Walter to meet with his former partner, at long last bringing ZFT back together.

So what do we make of this? On the whole, this episode was middling at best, plugging the mytharc forward by following a largely uninteresting Freak-of-the-Week story and giving Olivia a serviceable (though I presume not entirely always this helpful) power to see the other side of a timeline. It certainly wasn’t as strong as “Bad Dreams,” but was less engaging than “Midnight.” The revelation that ZFT was experimenting on children to make soldiers for good wasn’t all that telling for me, as that’s the vibe I’ve been getting from the kiddie experiments all along. The Observer taking Walter and Nina’s death were both good, surprising and eerie moments, and are probably the most memorable bits of this episode. I did, however, think John Noble was brilliant as Walter this week, digging right into the sadness of a man who knows he has done questionable things but is looking for something, anything that can exonerate him. More than anything, he needs to believe that his involvement in ZFT was for a good, if mad scientist-y, reason. And when he finds that missing chapter, he is assured of his own belief, after having it doubt casts upon it only hours earlier by Olivia, doubts so haunting it reduced him to tears.

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

On another note, how happy do you think Stephen King is to hear his name and invention of the word “pyrokenetic” used on the show? I fully expect him to write about it in EW, because he loves, loves, loves pop culture and being a part of the zeitgeist.

The Husband:

While all the Trek stuff was, indeed, eye-rolling, I was satisfied enough in my head to know that Clint Howard, brother of Ron, also happened to be in one of the first episodes of the original Star Trek series, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” one of my favorites from season 1 of TOS, excluding, of course, the Athens-looking planet episode with the stationary gigantic ghost finger in the sky, as well as the Khan-focused season finale.

In it, the crew is toyed with by a silly, fake-looking alien on their monitor (or whatever it is you nerds call it), commander of a vessel intent on destroying the Enterprise, but by episode’s end, the Enterprise crew finds that they’ve been had – the alien was just a puppet, and the enemy ship is piloted only by a smart, tiny child who was testing the merits of the crew. Silly Clint Howard. The image of the puppet would be used frequently in the end credits of the show, and would be a super-inside joke during the credits of the Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.”

The Wife:

Before I get into the meat of this episode, let me just say that I’m super glad Fringe films in NYC and tosses in Tony Award winners and Broadway vets whenever it gets the chance. There’s something of a de-emphasis on theatrically trained actors appearing on film and television these days, and I find that, because of that, I have an extreme preference toward actors who cut their teeth treading the boards. I can really tell the difference between actors with stage training and actors without, because those with stage training seem to have so much more depth to their performances, like there’s always a rich inner life stirring behind them. A lot of actors who lack that kind of training end up being a little bit dead in the eyes at times, and that totally kills a performance. I’ve already talked about how happy I am to have Michael Cerveris as the Observer (who was perhaps his most observable tonight as he got an extended walk-on in a club scene at the beginning of the episode), who currently works in Sondheim shows. And I cannot fully explain my delight in seeing Jefferson Mays as a featured player in this episode. Mays won a Tony in 2004 for Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, a one-man show about a German transvestite and the historical relevance of her antiques (which I regrettably didn’t see when it was here at the Curran in 2004). (Husband Note: I saw it, and he was fantastic, while the show is more of a B/B+.) So my delight in his appearance on my television screen last night essentially came down to my husband and I gleefully trying to insert the phrase “I am my own wife” into any scenario in which it would fit during the course of the show. Considering the nature of the episode, in which Mays’ character tried to stop his diseased wife from killing young men and drinking their spinal fluid all over Boston, we managed to work that in a lot. (Why isn’t she in the Chinese restaurant basement? Because she doesn’t exist, as Mays clearly is his own wife.)

So Nicholas Boone’s wife Valerie is running amok, seducing young men at clubs so she can drink their spinal fluid, which is what she needs to live, considering she’s been dosed with a ZFT-created drug (with a syphilis base) that has turned her into a monster. She can unhinge her jaws like a snake, exposing razor-sharp fangs which allow her to snap a victim’s head clean off, allowing her to suck all the spinal fluid right out of his body. That drug, whatever it actually is, causes her to lose spinal fluid faster than her body can produce it, hence the need to get it in any way she can. It also makes her eyes freakishly blue. No one knows why ZFT would do such a thing, other than creating monstrous women who eat spinal fluid seems like it aligns with their goals of global destruction through the advancement of technology.

I’ve got to say that I truly, truly loved the freak meet in which a sleazy guy with a terrible Australian accent (couldn’t Anna Torv have coached him?) picks up Valerie at a club, citing, “You’re my kind of girl,” and takes her home, where, in the heat of a kiss, she snaps his neck with force befitting a Slayer. From then on, each of her kills is punctuated with a callback to that line, “You’re my kind of man.” Dude, I’ll tell you what. My kind of girl can definitely, definitely snap a dude’s neck with her bare hands.

Walter finds an extinct strain of syphilis on the first victim’s neck, which they trace to a drug company called Lubov Pharmaceuticals, based out of Nicholas Boone’s home. They arrest the wheelchair-bound Boone and he agrees to tell them everything he knows about ZFT (which he used to work for) if they help him save Valerie. He says she’s been kidnapped and held in the basement of a Chinese restaurant (that, naturally, is actually a laboratory), but when she can’t be found, he tells Olivia that he needs to retrieve some vials of a contagion, XT43, which he believes will cure the person who’s out killing – his dear wife Valerie, whom he says was intentionally infected by ZFT to punish him for leaving the fold.

No, no syphillitic demon women yet. I'll let you know.

No, no syphillitic demon women yet. I'll let you know.

Amongst the things in his home laboratory, Peter finds a video camera with a recording as recently as three weeks ago in which Valerie is perfectly healthy, happy and normal and Boone himself is able-bodied. One of my favorite parts of Mays performance was the rhyme he creates for his wife on the videotape: “Valerie Boone, you turn March into June.” Not only am I sure that their happy videotape was entirely improvised, but that tape and that rhyme in particular served to ground and humanize the Boones and make their story exceptionally tragic. Olivia asks him why he’s in a wheelchair now if he was fine just a few weeks ago, and he reveals that he had been carefully measuring out portions of his spinal fluid to feed to Valerie in order to keep her alive while he tried to find a cure, but he could only give so much without killing himself and partial paralysis was as far as he could go to personally save her. And so she ran off, desperately fighting to survive. I love this kind of monstrosity (see my previous affections for Joseph Meegar), and that little rhyme really worked to make me completely sympathetic to Boone, Valerie and their plight.

Olivia and Peter try to track down where Valerie might be headed by following Boone’s stolen car (where they turn up more victims), while Boone stays in the lab with Walter to work on a cure for his wife. When Olivia and Peter call to say that they know where Valerie will strike next, Boone tells them that he can’t make the cure in time and begs them to bring his wife in alive so he can still try and save her. He asks Walter to remove another 25 ml of spinal fluid, assuring him that he has carefully measured each previous withdrawal so he won’t die if he loses just a little bit more. Astrid warns against it, but Walter proceeds anyway, trusting his new scientist friend. But by the time Peter, Olivia and Charlie bring Valerie in, it’s almost too late for Boone, who has had a stroke due to the loss of spinal fluid. And as Valerie is administered the antidote and returns to the Valerie Boone who turns March into June, Nicholas slips away into death.

He does, however, uphold his bargain with Olivia and records a message for her on the very video camera that holds the final images of him and Valerie together before the contagion in which he tells her some names involved with ZFT, the only one we are privileged to hear is, perhaps, the one we all knew was coming: William Bell, alias Gordon DeBoone, is ZFT’s biggest funder.

For me, this one was a really ideal episode – sympathetic monsters that actually contribute to the mytharc and move the story forward, and a lot of that is anchored in Jefferson Mays’ performance. Good times, Fringe. They’re really come around to some good stuff recently, and I’m pleased with where they’re headed. Now if they could only get Raul Esparza to guest star . . .

And some funny bits:

  • “You know what this reminds me of, Peter? Shrimp cocktail.” –Walter
  • “It tells me you’re hot. And you’re definitely hot. But I’m looking for someone with syphillis.” –Peter, when being hit on by a girl at a club and reading her with his thermal heat sensor.

The Wife:

We were watching Idol prior to the return of Fringe, as FOX wants us to do, and I spotted a bald man in the crowd. At first, I though, “Hey, that guy looks a lot like The Observer. Oh, no. Wait. It’s probably just Phil Stacey.” But, much later, we saw the man again and I realized it was The Observer. Nice work, FOX. You just delighted Fringe fans and probably didn’t even phrase the Idoloonies, unaware of the delights of Michael Cerveris. Now, knowing that Cerveris is a Broadway star, part of me hoped he would sing a little bit at some point during Idol, but I guess that would ruin the whole “being The Observer” thing.

But on to the main event: Fringe is back, ya’ll! And as much as I thought the show really found its groove before the break (if we forget about the Wereupine and the brain-mush episodes), I can tell they’ve made changes that, at this stage, I think are still an improvement. It has helped tremendously to see Olivia with her family, and seeing her bond to the creepy little BatBoy-esque feral child found in a hermetically sealed tunnel under a construction site only humanized her more. There’s tremendous warmth under her fierceness, and I think that’s the person she really is, the person who loved John Scott – not the tough-gal mask she wears when she enters the Boston Federal Building every day. That’s part of her, too, but, it’s important that we’re able to see a difference between her work face and her home face.

This episode was also a major change from what we’ve seen before because it took a more traditionally procedural structure and utilized its fantasy/sci-fi element (the BatBoy) in the service of solving a serial murder. Walter et al always do something crazy to solve the case, but it’s usually the crazy (Walter) solving the fucking ridiculous, rather than the fucking ridiculous (BatBoy) solving the mundane. And as for that serial killer, The Artist, he was pretty cool. Note to self: never trust a guy in a wheelchair who admires your shitty flash tattoo. He will push you into a van and mutilate your body. I mean, The Artist is too broadly drawn to ever show up on the really, really good serial killer show, Criminal Minds, but he worked for Fringe. I don’t know if I’d remain committed to this show if it stayed on this supernatural procedural route (although, it is, in some sense a supernatural procedural without the serial killer plots, its still very different than, say, Eleventh Hour, which  I could not make it through the first episode of), but I wouldn’t mind a few episodes like this.

Hold me, Bat Boy!

Hold me, Bat Boy!

Because of his bond with Olivia, the BatBoy starts giving her clues to find The Artist, because, as an empath, he knows its important to her, but Mr. Michaels from Child Services is not pleased to see that Olivia has taken the boy from this hospital and dressed him up in her Northwestern shirt to hang out at the lab. She strikes a deal with Michaels, who is actually from the CIA and collects these children for research as they will be helpful, I guess, should we ever have to survive in an underground, low-oxygen environment with no sunlight, like, say, after the Apocalypse. She and Broyles strike a bargain with Michaels to turn over the BatBoy after he helps find The Artist, and the BatBoy, being an empath, doesn’t want to help Olivia anymore, knowing that she’s going to abandon him. Once he gives her the final clue and she and Francis capture the artist in the very spot BatBoy indicated he would be, she manages to spirit the BatBoy away to a nice home upstate where he will be cared for, and Broyles perpetuates the lie that the BatBoy escaped when CIA man Michaels comes a-calling.

And who should the BatBoy see on his nice drive upstate? The Observer! In the most obvious Observer cameo since his appearance on American Idol earlier in the evening! The mystery of the BatBoy is that no one knew how he would up in a hermetically sealed cave, or how old he really was. Perhaps, given his resemblance to The Observer, they are of the same race? And potentially alien in nature? I guess we’d only know for sure if the BatBoy liked to eat a lot of very hot, spicy foods, but I’ll take their long exchanged glance at the end to mean that we should read them as similar entities. After all, we know there are more BatBoys out there. Michaels said so himself.

So, to recap, you put your left foot in, and then out.

So, to recap, you put your left foot in, and then out.

Walter moments of the night:

  • Dancing with his brainwave-readermatron.
  • “I’m sure Agent Dunham knows what a penis looks like, don’t you Agent Dunham?”
The Wife:
Merry Fringemas, Everyone! I already miss Walter and Friends and writing geeked out recaps for you, so, thankfully, Walter has decided to narrate a brief recap of every episode this year in rhyming quatrains for his video Christmas card to the fans.

[clearspring_widget title=”Fringemas” wid=”4946f2fe0d3e1d3d” pid=”49497baef3dcc7d7″ width=”400″ height=”300″ domain=””]

It’s pretty amazing, Hope it tides you over until Jan. 20!

The Wife:

Ordinarily, I don’t read anyone else’s posts about a television show before writing my own thoughts. But given that I ran a day behind on Fringe this week due to the unfettered glory that is the So You Think You Can Dance Tour (complete with menacing giant dancing Snuggle bear!) that took place in Oakland on Tuesday night, and that I was pretty tired by the time I did get around to Fringe yesterday, I broke my rule a little bit. I thought perhaps I had missed something in this episode, as it didn’t really seem like anything was solved or answered like the previous three episodes had lead me to believe would happen. I thought maybe I faded into sleep for a second and missed something crucial, but so far, all sources agree: really weird shit happened on Fringe this week that totally broke the formula and also totally fucked our minds. Good to know it’s not just me.

But that’s probably what I should have expected when my husband told me that the Great Glorious Mindfucker J.J. Abrams wrote this episode. That’s his official title, by the way.

“The Arrival” opened with a spooky bald man enjoying a meal of “raw roast beef” with 11 jalapenos on the side at a Brooklyn diner as he surveys a nearby construction site. As he wolfs down his jalapeno and raw meatwich (which he covers in pepper, to boot) without chewing, he takes detailed notes in some unidentifiable language that we can only be certain isn’t Korean and keeps peeping at the construction site through the sexiest binoculars I’ve ever seen. As the crane at the construction site collapses, the mystery baldie calmly drinks a glass of water before walking over to the site to survey the damage, whereupon looking at the crater caused by the collapsed crane he declares, “It has arrived.”

Observe my love on condiments!

Observe my love of condiments!

The actor inhabiting the role of the aptly named “The Observer” is Broadway veteran and Sondheim mainstay Michael Cerveris, who revived the role of Sweeney Todd in 2006 and won a Tony Award in 2004 for his role as John Wilkes Booth in Sondheim’s Assassins. Back in 1998, he played the dual role of Hedwig/Tommy Gnosis in John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch off-Broadway. This, for those of you who aren’t as theatrically well-versed, makes him totally and completely awesome. I am glad to have him on Fringe in what I hope will be an oft-recurring role. (But maybe not too often. He’s currently working on the next John Doyle directed Sondheim project in the Fall: Road Show.)

Back in Boston, Walter keeps mumbling the formulas for root beer and other favorite beverages, driving his son to question, yet again, what his purpose is in all of this. Peter feels he is unnecessary, only a babysitter for his father, and despite her best attempts, Olivia cannot quell his feelings of uselessness. I think we have to remember that part of Peter’s drive to detach himself from the Dunham-Bishop Fringe Investigation Society is that he needs to get a head start on the various debt collectors who are after him. Being stuck in one place for too long is potentially very bad for Peter’s physical being.

The object that arrived at the construction site caused a gas leak to fully rupture and therefore destroy whatever was sitting a top it. This object appears to be some kind of burrowing egg phallus, another of which showed up in 1987 – as did The Observer. The burrowing egg phallus emits vibrations at 2MHz, and then 4MHz, transmitting some kind of unbreakable code signal. In 1987 when it appeared, it exploded after two days. Downward. As in, into the Earth.

“I sure hope that a gigantic metallic suppository is not the pinnacle of human existence.” –Peter Bishop

Some thug shows up with the most incredible blaster ray in the world, knocking people flat on their asses with a blast of light. Seriously, this thing is better than photon torpedoes. Presumably, he is after the mysterious object, but needs to kill a lot of people in the process of finding it.

Olivia, meanwhile, receives a late night call from Agent Scott, although the call cannot officially be traced. But that when you’re a reanimated evil FBI agent, you can do things like that. Make calls that can’t be traced from beyond the normal realm of the living.

As usual, Walter Bishop has apparently done prior work with this mystery object, The Beacon, back in the day when he was working on subterranean missiles. When the location of The Beacon is compromised, Walter must move it to a secure location, so secure that not even Astrid can know about it, which is why he loads her up with sedatives.

Then someone gets tortured, and The Observer watches Walter drink a root beer float. (Can you tell that this is the point where I started getting really tired and wondered if I was missing things?)

Peter tries to escape Boston, but is apprehended by the thug with the awesome gun who likes to shove wires up people’s noses to read their brainwaves. Or something. Through his process, he immediately discovers the origins of The Beacon – something Peter could not have possibly known because Walter told no one where he had hidden it. (By the way, it’s buried under the gravestone of Robert Bishop, whom I presume is a distant relative of our Bishop Boys. That’s not the smartest place, Walter. A good detective would have figured that one out soon enough.) In the graveyard, Dunham fights the thug with the awesome gun, and The Observer can apparently recite Peter’s thoughts word for word, which is a very handy skill that he undoubtedly picked up after years of working on Broadway. All the fighting is for naught, though, because the beacon burrows deep into the Earth and disappears, thus “departing on schedule.”

After this spooky mind reading encounter, Peter is reborn as a believer in The Pattern and decides to stay. He is rewarded with credentials, making him an official part of the team. Walter’s only explanation as to why Peter knew the location of The Beacon is simply this: “You know it, son, because I know it.” The elder Bishop then reveals that the two survived a car crash, but that Walter did not save Peter. Both Bishops were technically dead, until they were saved by the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, er, The Observer. Somehow, Walter knew he needed to save The Beacon so that it would stay on course with The Observer, a likely vestige of the psychic connection the Bishops and The Observer formed when he saved them from death. This, I think, may answer a question or two about Peter’s spotty medical record, considering he was dead and all. I still can’t be sure that he isn’t a magical man baby or a clone of his father, though.

In other news, Olivia likes to eat Scotch and cereal for dinner, at least until interrupted by former lovers that she thought were dead.

Thank you, Great Glorious Mindfucker J.J. Abrams for that delicious mindfuck. My brain hurts a little bit.

Also: Frog, Butterfly, Leaf, Hand, Apple