Happy Easter, “Fringe” fans. It’s that time of year when lapsed Christians like myself dig up the Google Map directions to that church we went to for Christmas. Then home for chocolate and ham.
“Fringe” is here to help get you in the Easter spirit with the most religious episode to date. There’s always been some Christian themes in “Fringe.” Mostly the looming reality that Peter, the son, may have to sacrifice himself for mankind. “6:02 AM EST” also gives a swarm of locusts, shepherds and Walter’s conversation with God. More religion than you can shake a stick at. A stick that will fall to the ground and become a snake.
6:02 AM EST refers to the moment Walternate activated the other universe’s version of the device. With the chromosomes AlterBrandon and Department of Defense scientists over there managed to pull from Fauxlivia and Peter’s child, they’ve started up the machine that will supposedly destroy one universe to save the other. This is what we’ve been building to all through Season Three. The wheels are in motion. Sure they’re taking a little time to get warmed up, but they’re moving.
Walternate starts the device with a heavy heart. AlterBrandon is all but giddy to be doing his part to help annihilate our universe to end the war we don’t know we’re having. Walternate thinks more of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb who lived with the nightmares of those he killed in order to stop a war. Walternate even points out that Oppenheimer compared himself to the destroyer of worlds, but he’s going to actually do it.
Back in this universe, our device also clicks on when Walternate starts his. At the same time, weak points in the fabric of reality are starting to tear. Entire flocks of sheep and the men tending them are wiped out in a flash, vegetation is destroyed, Walter’s talking about mushrooms while naked. Well, that last one might not be a product of the device, but it is just as scary.
As the machine builds up steam to do whatever it is that it does, the characters move into their places to charge into this season’s finale.
Walter begins to understand why the Observer tested him earlier this year. “Give him the keys. Let him save the girl.” The Observer’s cryptic words weren’t simply instructions for the moment, they were telling Walter a larger truth. All the problems between the two universes sprung from Walter’s inability to let Peter go. He couldn’t allow the alternate universe Peter die like his son had, so he stepped over and kidnapped him. In order to undo the mess, Peter might have to get into the device and try to stop it. Whatever it does, the drawings of Peter with light bursting out of his eyes and mouth don’t make it look like it plays out very well for him.
While Peter and Walter bond over a drink, Olivia takes charge of the investigation. First thing she does is pick her brain for alternate universe Fringe Division info to put together early warning signals for potential, then she jumps on the train for anyone who knows about the device. Luckily she’s already met the man who seems to know more than anyone else: Sam Weiss. Sam got a haircut since we last saw him and he explained to Nina that whichever Olivia Peter loved would determine which universe got saved. Though now he’s vanished, because Nina Sharp spilled the beans on his connection to William Bell and because his executive desk toy started hammering out a funky rhythm. While Olivia searches through his apartment and the one bottle of cologne sitting on the fireplace, Sam’s out where the universe is falling apart, taking notes.
Even Fauxlivia is gearing up for the finale. It’s now been three weeks since she gave birth to the speedily developed Henry Bishop, named after the kind taxi driver who helped deliver him and helped the real Olivia escape their universe. When their Fringe Division gets a Level 10 Fringe alert, they go running to the source at the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense turns them away, which only makes Olivia more suspicious that they started their device, which she confirms in a face-to-face with Walternate.
Fauxlivia decides she needs to bring Peter back and show Walternate that neither universe needs to be destroyed. She makes a strong attempt to break on through to the other side, only to end up locked up through all the festivities. Somehow I doubt she’ll stay there long.
This was a movement episode. “Lost” used to have them every season right before the finale. They give an opportunity to get everyone into place for the big climax. In true “Fringe” fashion, they managed to slip in a little extra emotion as well. Now that everyone is where they need to be, we’re ready to charge in to the last two episodes. Show runner Jeff Pinkner let slip in a conference call last week that before the season ends, somebody we love deeply is going to die. With “Fringe,” that could be any of a bunch of great characters.
Misdirection -– Twice Friday night “Fringe” got me with a little sleight of hand. The first was Fauxlivia’s siege on the Department of Defense. She broke in, took AlterBrandon hostage and stole two cylinders that could transport people between universes (or rip their atoms apart). Then, right when she’s about to be captured, she activates the cylinder and … nothing. A dud.
The second, of course, was the beautifully executed moment when Peter touches the device. There had been such an emotional buildup to the moment. Peter had said goodbye to everyone, like Dorothy about to fly away with the Wizard of Oz. Then he climbs on the rising/extending platform that takes him right up to this frightening machine. (Do you think they built that just for the device, or do they have those sitting around for all their rising/extending needs?) When he reaches out to touch it, zap. Peter goes flying. “Fringe” got me there. I never would have expected that.
Astrid Action –- Astrid got to give one of those all-time great action movie likes. Right up there with “I’m getting to old for this [expletive]” or “that’s just crazy enough to work.” When Peter tried to give her a message to pass on to Olivia, Astrid said he could tell her himself when he gets back. She also got a good emotional moment, too, when she dove in for the hug. That’s how versatile Astrid is.
Spot the Observer – Did you see the Observer stroll by in the background while Fauxlivia pushed Henry in the park? For a second I thought he was walking on the edge of the fountain, goofing off. At this point, I could see if the Observer isn’t as concerned with hiding. There’s so much going on in both universes, no one is going to notice him. Maybe next week he’ll ride past on one of those penny-farthing bicycles with the big front wheel they still ride in the other universe (and they think they’re so advanced).