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Fringe – Bloodline

Fringe always seems to step its game up whenever they do an
episode outside of the standard formula – basically, whenever the opening
credits look different. There have been a couple episodes set in the 80s that
explore the origins of this whole crazy war between universes that have been
pretty amazing, and also a number of episodes this season set entirely on the
other side that have been very good as well. It’s like the change in setting
invigorates the writers and cast, and lets them do new things. Last night’s
episode was another one set in the other universe, and while it seemed to
function mainly to move the plot along, it was still a very effective and
interesting hour of TV.

So the other Olivia (from this point forward just assume
every character’s name would be preceded with “the other”) is pregnant, and
while Walter and her mom are excited about their grandchild, Olivia is terribly
worried. On this side her sister died in childbirth along with her infant
daughter, due to a condition known as VPE, and because of the familial
connection Olivia has an 80% change of also being a carrier. Any excitement at
the thought of being a mother is tempered by the strong odds that she won’t
survive to experience it. Her concerns become more focused though when she almost
sees an Observer outside her apartment and then gets abducted before the
security detail Lincoln
sends can get there.

Lincoln and Charlie are anxious to get their partner back, and
they think they have a shot because of the tracking device in her. It’s a dead
end though, because apparently the kidnappers knew about the tracker and had
the protocol to throw them off the scent. Only someone with high clearance
could have done that, so someone inside the Fringe division must have been in
on it. They’re also aware she’s pregnant, because we see them strap her into a
gurney and turn on some equipment, including a strange light that they shine on
her stomach.

Fringe - Bloodline

Astrid uses her crazy data analysis to find a car that has
driven by Olivia’s house an improbable number of times recently. Thinking it
might be connected to the kidnapping, Charlie and Lincoln track it down, but it’s
just the taxi driven by Henry, the guy who helped our Olivia a while back (or The Wire‘s Bubbles, as he’ll always be known to me). He
saw his universe’s Olivia recently but she didn’t seem to recognize him, which
concerned him, so he’s been checking up on her. Some things he says lead the
Fringe guys to figure out that the Olivias were switched at some point, which
Walter confirms to Lincoln.
They both become aware that they’re not being told everything about this whole
conflict.

We find out that the kidnappers are accelerating her
pregnancy, causing the infant to grow to term in only a few hours, and they
also seem to be preparing her body for childbirth. It’s an idea the show has
played with before, and they get some nice sick imagery out of it. Despite
being able to grow a fetus that quickly, the kidnappers aren’t smart enough to
keep her sedated with something better than a pill, which eventually enables
her to escape their clutches and wander through Chinatown while in the throes
of labor. She calls Lincoln
from a pay phone, and he and Henry manage to find her across town before the
kidnappers who were within walking distance. She gives birth in a store while Lincoln confesses his
love, and miraculously she and the baby both survive.

It turns out that the accelerated pregnancy managed to let
her give birth before VPE could replicate quickly enough to take effect,
meaning the kidnappers were really helping her the whole time. Putting that
together with the fact that they had the clearance to get past the tracker, and
it’s pretty clear that Walter was behind it. He had to make sure his grandson
survived at any cost. I’m not sure what he’s planning yet, but I bet it’s going
to big. Also, the Observer makes a cryptic phone call.


This episode had a few flaws. The plotting is fairly
contrived to get to the whole Olivia-giving-birth-in-Lincoln’s arms thing, and
I’m not quite sure why I should care about that development. It’s not really
clear what the plan was if she didn’t escape – would she and the baby and have
been returned safe, or were they planning to keep it? It doesn’t seem likely
when Walter can pretty much do as he pleases and seemed content to let Olivia
keep him at the hospital. Still, the episode itself was well directed and
tense, with some classic Fringe creepiness. I also still enjoy the alternate
universe stuff, even if some of the differences feel formulaic at this point.
Hey, Taxi Driver was directed by Coppola instead of Scorsese over here, and it
isn’t very famous! Wow! Just four episodes left in the season, though luckily
it was confirmed this week that the show was renewed for another year. I don’t
expect it will survive past that point given the slowly but steadily dwindling
audience, but it gives them a chance to do something really special with the
time they’ll get.

Rating
8.8

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