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While this latest episode of Fringe is pretty entertaining, it does end the streak of great episodes that the series has been on. Unlike last week where both the case and what the team was doing was interesting, this week the case is bland, while the drama between our heroes is only passable. The case involves a frequency that erases the memories of certain people who have cracked a code that belongs to a wiped out civilization that predates the dinosaurs… sigh. In a show with multiple universes, pyrokinesis, teleportation, etc I suppose that something as far-fetched as a forgotten civilization shouldn’t bother me. Really, it doesn’t, it’s more about how the characters have no problem with believing it.
Walter definitely has a point when he says we shouldn’t think that we know everything, but how quickly Peter, Astrid, and everyone else believed it seems strange. The way they, especially Astrid, figured things out due to random and obscure clues, made it feel like I was watching an even more mundane version of National Treasure or Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day. Even though it’s easy to sympathize with a new mother who doesn’t remember her baby or husband, cases like this are why I thought Fringe was just subpar during its early days. Unlike the plotline of our Olivia getting home, Peter figuring out who he is, or Walter’s guilt about his actions, this episode mainly felt cold, distant, and withdrawn.
The limited screen time of our team interacting with each other was interesting. The Peter and Olivia scenes were bittersweet. It’s nice to see them finally hookup, but of course they really haven’t. While everything looks ideal on the outside, we the audience know that every kiss and sign of affection Peter gives to Olivia, puts him further away from the one he loves. Walter, who actually seemed like the voice of reason this episode, kept trying to impede on Peter’s research of the supposed doomsday device. On one hand, it does make sense for Peter to study it and figure out how it works, but he doesn’t know what activates it. Who’s to say him putting three pieces together then accidentally coughing on it won’t cause our universe to implode. Since Peter is a scientist at heart, it does make sense for his curiosity to take control.
It’s revealed that alternate Olivia and her group were behind the amnesia and they wanted Peter and his group to find the codes, since they somehow lead to different pieces of the doomsday device. However, according to “the first people” it’s the vacuum of creation and destruction. Between the vacuum idea and this episode dealing so heavily with a set of numbers, I couldn’t help but think of Lost several times while watching this. Speaking of that show, it does seem like our Walter is right about alternate Walter possibly running a long con on Peter. Really, if alternate Walter went through all of that trouble to simply get his long lost son back and he has spies in our universe, he could have Peter back home… if he wanted him there.
At the end of the episode we see our Olivia getting the news that she no longer needs to do the experiments, which imaginary Peter points out could mean they got what they need from her. However, it could also mean that alternate Walter knows she was lying at the end of the previous episode. Either way, the pending collision of our Olivia returning seems to be very close. In certain regards that is good, because lately the episodes set in our universe have been slightly less entertaining than the ones in the alternate one. That’s mainly because alternate Olivia barely does anything, so more weight falls on Astrid, Nina, Broyles, Peter, and Walter to be entertaining and really other than the latter two, they aren’t. It will be sad to see the adventures in the alternate universe go away, since in many regards that team is more fun to watch. At its core that’s another big problem with this episode. The Olivia getting home plotline is vastly more entertaining than the Peter might destroy a universe subplot, since Peter’s storyline is so ambiguous. Perhaps as that plotline is explored more it will become better, but right now all eyes are on Olivia, sorry Peter.