With Olivia back in her body and Fauxlivia fully recovered from delivery, the main season arc returned in full swing in this episode of Fringe with a gripping story that took us back and forth between the universes. The Other Side never disappoints and ours always shines when dealing with the main storyline. We had here all the ingredients for a riveting hour and it delivered. It begins with Secretary Bishop using his grandson's blood sample, harvested in "Bloodline", to activate the Machine on the Other Side.
On This Side the event occurs at "6:02 AM EST" and triggers devastating vortexes on the east coast from Massachusetts to Florida. The Fringe team gets called on-site of the first anomaly and is hard at work when Nina Sharp informs them of the activation of the Machine on This Side. Olivia's knowledge of the Other Side's vortex detection technology takes her to New York. She is meant to help Massive Dynamic set up an early warning protocol, but winds up tracking Sam Weiss after Nina Sharp shares her recent insight into the multilingual author of the book on The First People. Back in Boston, Peter's courageous attempt to disable the Machine gets him in a coma.
On the Other Side Fauxlivia is enjoying her day off with her baby (with a name still unknown to us) when she is called in because of a 'Class 10' energy surge originating from Liberty Island. She leaves the baby with the nurse, who was conveniently with her, and runs off only to have the Fringe Division intervention aborted by the Secretary - although the energy spike is still detectable. Unwilling to let that one slide, she goes on her own to talk to the grandfather of her child. I have always thought Fringe could use Fauxlivia better. She has been mostly used as a plot device or as a dedicated soldier blindly following Walternate's orders. That is why I liked what happened with her pregnancy; when the Secretary introduced himself as the grandfather of her unborn baby her reaction showed she didn't necessarily welcome the restrictions that came with the relationship. It was possible, for the first time, to imagine a future in which she would be on a collision course with Walternate. The events in "Bloodline" further transformed the character, so we were ready for this first confrontation.
Fauxlivia shows she has connected the dots between the piece of equipment she brought back from This Side to the Machine she knows exists on the Other Side and the energy surge. The Secretary hides behind her clearance or lack thereof but she doesn't give up, reminding him that his son is on This Side, which leads him to say: "I chose to give up my son so that you could keep yours." I believe this conversation cleared whatever doubt she might have harbored on Walternate, and she decided to take matters in her own hands just like any sensible character would have done, a long time ago. Unfortunately, her attempt to cross-over and enlist Peter's help is aborted by Walternate. I liked that though her feelings for Peter might have started a significant paradigm shift for her, the decision to go against the Secretary was ultimately not motivated by love for the father of her child, but by the concern of killing billions.
It was interesting to see how Walter and Walternate each dealt with the events. The Secretary hid behind his pragmatism to justify destroying a world, while Walter turned to God in what I would consider the weakest scene of the episode. He should not have used the white tulip as a sign, he knew better. However, the bottom line is we all understand the impulse to turn to God and try to strike a covenant when everything else has failed, so the scene wasn't a total failure.
I liked the way the story was gradually unravelled with a powerful 'sense of drama'. The scene at the Bishops' place is funny and tender. It ends with an obviously happy Olivia in bed with Peter saying: "I could get used to this... This is my favorite time of [the] day. Sunrise ... and the world is so full of promise." The irony doesn't escape the viewer who knows things are about to change dramatically. On the Other Side Fauxlivia's peaceful day is equally shattered. After a display of happiness, the writers wreak havoc over both worlds skillfully. I was the first surprised when for example the lengthy goodbye scene involving Peter worked. It is worth noting that throughout the episode, the soundtrack was appropriately ominous and helped increase the intensity of many scenes.
The writers delivered a story that involved all major characters in both universes but still remained pretty easy to follow. I can't wait to see what Sam Weiss is up to, how Lincoln and the Fringe Division will react to Fauxlivia's arrest, or even the impact of This Side learning about Peter's son. The answers to these and few other questions will determine whether this amazing season of Fringe goes out with a bang or a whimper. Whichever way it is, I hope for a "world full of promise."