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The episode most fans have been dying to see is finally here and it was worth the buildup. With both Olivias exposed for who they really are, they’re both trying to escape from their current universe. Alternate Olivia’s journey feels like a cat and mouse game, while our Olivia’s experience actually reminded me of ET. However, the episode ends in the murder of a main character… not flying bikes. Besides from the sacrificial death, this entire episode had a somber feel. Of course, there’s our Olivia who has been captured and turned lab rat. However, it was weird to see Peter and Walter so shaken, especially Peter, since he usually has composure. The reveal that he’s been dating and having sex with the wrong person seems to have tremendously affected them both. That’s actually refreshing to see, since other shows, Buffy and Smallville to name a few, have had the sleeping with a doppelganger subplot, but it’s usually resolved in an episode or two. Fringe seems to be treating this unintentional betrayal seriously.
Speaking of betrayal, alternate Broyles is between a rock and a hard place on whether he should help Olivia or not. It’s pretty amazing that alternate Broyles has become more likable than our Broyles in just these last two episodes alone. If he can forgive someone from our universe then perhaps this battle can be avoided. While the real Olivia has been away Peter has had some major growth too. During the beginning of the series he was just there to deliver some good and not so good one-liners, but now he’s a leader, decisive, and instead of just talking about his intellect they’re showing it. Broyles finally giving him a gun shows that growth and Peter’s headshot of the shape-shifter was on Jack Bauer levels of badass. It will be interesting to see if he’ll retain leadership of the group, since Olivia will probably be somewhat broken for awhile.
One of the most tragic things about this “war” between universes is that it has no real cause. There have probably been billions of dollars spent and countless people killed because a man wanted to save his son. Sure, the alternate universe does have reason to be mad at us, since Walter’s actions have caused fundamental damage to their very existence. However, blaming our entire universe for the actions of one man isn’t fair. It still remains ambiguous if Walternate knows that his counterpart was acting alone to save their son or if he truly believes it’s one universe versus the other. Either way, this entire situation could be fixed with one conversation.
Since alternate Olivia spent so much time in our universe and even learned an abundance of classified information, she surely knows the truth, which is that we’re no threat to them. The show has successfully made this black and white issue very gray. During seasons one and two, it would have been easy to say that the other universe is evil and if one universe has to survive then it should be us. It’s now clear that both sides are both good and evil, the show is also saying a lot about human nature too. While both nurture and nature are playing a part in each character’s behavior, for many of the characters nurture has clearly won the battle.
Now that everyone is in their proper universe, the path of the show seems very ambiguous. Are we going to see the alternate universe again? Are we going back to the sub-par monster of the week format? What’s going on with the doomsday device? Based on the previews for next week it seems as if they’re quickly jumping into a standalone case, but still bringing over the residual damage that Olivia has suffered and Peter’s infidelity guilt. Perhaps the writers can balance random cases and still keep us serialized drama fans happy by continuing character’s subplots weekly. The doomsday device storyline might become the main focus now, but so far that hasn’t even been slightly interesting. I hope that Fringe doesn’t suffer from Battlestar Galactica’s mistake, which also had a great subplot at the beginning of its third season that it was never able to match again during its entire run. Between possibly never seeing the very interesting alternate universe again and the show moving to Friday nights, the fate of Fringe is sadly up in the air. I remain hopeful on the show’s quality, but Friday nights could mean a nail in its coffin.