It has only been two weeks since the last “Fringe,” but it feels like forever. In the break, I traveled to Iowa, which is a lot like getting stuck in a parallel universe. Things are similar but not exactly the same. I was cut off from the people I’m used to seeing in my daily life. Everything is a little less Blue and a little more Red (though more in a sociopolitical way than actually colors). Luckily I made it back to Los Angeles just in time to see Olivia make it back to our universe.
“Entrada” picks up right where “Fringe” left us before going on Thanksgiving break. Peter received a midnight call from a Liberty Island cleaning woman who saw Olivia cross over into our world. The helpful custodial worker delivered Olivia’s message. She’s trapped on the other side. Peter gets this call while lying in bed with Bolivia, who has not only taken our Olivia’s place, but also apparently stolen all the blankets.
Peter may have been blinded to the fact that this isn’t his Olivia for the past eight episodes, but he more than makes up for it. He searches her belongings, checks her computer and tests her with a Greek quote. Bolivia knows she fails, so she forced Peter to drug himself before escaping into the night. Bam! All before the opening titles (an awesome mix of the Blue and Red). For a show I once complained didn’t “get to it fast enough,” “Fringe” hasn’t pulled any punches this season, especially as we come to the end of the Journey Home storyline.
“Entrada” is a tale of two Olivias trying to get home. On our side, Bolivia is on the run from a very determined Peter. She’s biding time while Walternate and his crew figure out a way to bring her back to their universe. Evil Brandon proposes an even swap of the two Olivias. I feel free to call him “Evil” Brandon now since he pointed out that our Olivia didn’t necessarily have to go back alive. There were a few organs he wanted to keep and just “replace the mass.” Creepy.
On their side, our Olivia is trapped in the Department of Defense headquarters, covered in dotted lines like a diagram of meat cuts on a cow. The only person who can help her now is that side’s Broyles. She helped rescue his son even when it meant risking her chance to go home. He begins to suspect that Walternate could be wrong. War doesn’t have to be the answer to the conflict between universes. Broyles frees Olivia from the butcher’s table. As much as this was an episode for Ana Torv, “Entrada” gave some great moments to Lance Reddick. He got to play the internally conflicted alternate Broyles who ends up sacrificing himself for Olivia and our Broyles who sees the consequences of that decision. Such a great moment in that morgue as Broyles closes the dead eyes of his other self.
As Olivia escapes Walternate’s clutches and rushes to the only other place she knows there’s a sensory deprivation tank, Bolivia meets up with a Handsome Shape Shifter at Penn Station to facilitate her return as well. I wonder how many shape shifters are left on our side. There can’t be too many of them. They’re complicated pieces of machinery that we keep shooting in the head.
Again, Peter compensates for missing all the signs that something wasn’t right with Bolivia by making the best call of the night. When Bolivia came out of the bathroom with the hostage, I kinda wondered if it was going to turn out to be the Handsome Shape Shifter in disguise. Peter was on the same track and didn’t hesitate to shoot her in the head when she didn’t know her daughter’s name.
In their universe, soldiers track down Olivia as she climbs into the sensory deprivation tank at Walternate’s old lab in Harvard. Though apparently it deprives all senses except hearing, since she winces at the sounds of the soldiers taking Alternate Broyles. Moments later, Bolivia escapes a prison transport as Walternate and Evil Brandon swap her back to their side. Everyone is back where they are supposed to be, bringing a close to this first chapter of the third season. But now comes the question of where “Fringe” will go next.
The Move– You may have heard that Fox announced that “American Idol” will be filling Wednesdays and Thursdays when it comes back this January, which means “Fringe” is going to move to Friday nights. Some might call it ironic that after nearly two years of asking “Fringe” to get relocated to another evening, it’s finally going to what some call the “Death Night.” I’m optimistic about the move. Fridays worked for Fox’s other sci-fi blockbuster “The X-Files,” and I think this season “Fringe” has proven itself every bit as good as that classic. It’ll only mean that everyone will have to log in on Saturdays to read my Show Trackers. You’ll all do that, right?
Astrid Action – As always, Astrid showed up to find the one essential clue to the episode. This time it was the box of pastries that lead the Fringe Division to the typewriter shop where Bolivia was hiding out. Amazingly she wasn’t thrown off by Walter’s tirade about Bolivia using her carnal wiles to draw Peter into her “vagenda” (best new word of the year). Astrid was also there to welcome Olivia back when she climbed out of the sensory deprivation tank. Even BadAstrid made an appearance on the other side, relaying the information that Alternate Broyles had gone missing. All the Astrid you can handle and more.
Spot the Observer – As usual, the Observer shows up right before the FBI. You can see him standing outside Penn Station. Or Springsteen Station as it is called in the other universe. It’s been a while since the Observer has had a story of his own. Maybe now that this first chapter is over, he’ll get another chance.
— Andrew Hanson