Fringe season two finale – Over There, Part 2 – episode review

Fringe’s second season finished with a bang last night – and a massive cliffhanger that suggests the third season will be one helluva rollercoaster ride!

We’re seeing a lot of series’ wrap up at the moment, and it’s interesting to watch the varying level of skill required to create a nail-biting finale. Some have been quite clumsy, or spent more time setting up themes for the next season that they didn’t. Not [[Fringe (TV Series)|Fringe]]. We got an all-action finale that played out like a movie in places, some truly awesome set pieces and a major cliffhanger that raises a ton of questions for Season Three.

Over There, Part 2 mostly follows the race to rescue Peter Bishop from alt-Earth (or Earth-2 if you like). But while our Fringe Division are tracking down Peter, their Fringe guys are trying to capture Walter.

Meanwhile, Peter goes on a tour of alt-New York. This is an eye-opener of epic proportions: whole areas rendered useless by wormholes, quarantine zones that use the amber solution (from the very first episode of Fringe!) with the unfortunate side-effect that they kill anyone trapped inside. A hotel by Antonio Gaudi that was never built in our world stands proudly by the Hudson River. A great little scene that gave Peter a tourist’s-eye view of the weird parallel universe he used to call home.

Walternate enlists Peter to look at a strange old-tech device that he can’t seem to get to work. It’s only when Peter’s on his own and working with the device that he realises there’s a symbiotic element to it – it needs to connect with a biological entity to be activated. And only one person can activate it – him.

It’s a great reveal. Personally, I’d always imagined Walternate was a devastated father who, using the same drive and determination our Walter exhibited, would cross universes to get his son back. And partly, that was true. But he shares other traits in common with our version of Walter: he’s utterly lacking in moral and ethical scruples. He doesn’t want Peter back because of any parental bond. He wants to use his son as a weapon against the other reality. This is perhaps the most subtle twist on the psyche of Walter Bishop and so extremely well conceived.

Meanwhile our Walter Bishop and William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) head for Harvard to find a machine that will help them travel home. This gives the pair a chance to spar with each other, and Walter reveals a bitter grudge that Bell made a fortune with Massive Dynamic, exploiting alt-Earth technology while Walter rotted in a psychiatric ward. (side note: all those people trapped in amber – imagine the alt-Earth version of Jurassic Park in a couple of million years?)

One bit didn’t work…

Olivia tempting Peter back to our world with an offer of love. You can try to tell me that there’s been sexual tension brewing between Peter and Olivia for ages, but I can’t see it. Didn’t he date her sister for a while? And Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham like she’s suffering from haemorrhoids, all very serious like she’s distracted by a pain in her posterior. Or ‘haunted’ if you want to use Peter Bishop’s word.

Anyway, I just didn’t buy it. And I don’t think there’s room for romance on Fringe, do you?

Awesome twin-fighting moment!

It had to happen…Olivia’s from both universes finally meet. (Excellent discussion thread on AV Club suggests we call alt-Olivia Fauxlivia. I’m cool with that.) And I’m slightly unclear as to what Fauxlivia’s motivation is though. Walternate tells her that the imposters are “monsters in our skin”, yet there’s a brief touching scene where Olivia realises her mother is alive in alt-Earth, but her sister is dead. For Fauxlivia, the situation is reversed. For a moment, they seemed to bond.

But all of that got overshadowed by the awesome “Olivia versus Fauxlivia” title fight. And what a fight it was too. It’s hard to believe though, but since I think Anna Torv with red hair is hotter than Anna Torv with blonde hair, I was slightly rooting for Fauxlivia. Luckily, after Olivia won, and loosely tied up her alternate, she whipped out some hairdye and went red. I like to think that was just for me.

Back to reality…and a cliffhanger!

So, with Peter back in the gang (although not particularly happy about it), everybody heads back to the theatre for the trip back to our universe. However, Olivia and Bell get into a shootout with the alt-Earth Fringe division, and a neat little switcheroo sees Fauxlivia travel back to Earth unbeknown to the others. Our Olivia, meanwhile, is revealed to be trapped in a cell on alt-Earth where Walternate comes along just to look at her every now and then.

Walternate is just a little bit sinister, isn’t he?

So, we leave the second season with our heroine trapped on a parallel world while her doppelgänger establishes herself as a mole on Earth. She gets one of those special between-universes typewriters and awaits her orders. Will Dunham get tortured by the Walternate, or used as bait? How will Fauxlivia cope when she meets her once-dead sister and her neice? And will she hop in the sack with Peter?

Special commendations

As the season wraps up, John Noble must be praised for his portrayal of Walter Bishop. The fact that he plays an alternate version of Bishop shows what a great actor he is. Our Walter is a fragile, vulnerable man, racked by guilt over his past actions, while Walternate is perhaps the driven, cruel person Walter might have become if William Bell hadn’t done some crude brain surgery on him!

And speaking of William Bell, perhaps the last acting role the legendary Leonard Nimoy will ever perform. Kind of sad, but kind of flattering that he chose Fringe to be his last gig before retiring. I’ve enjoyed his enigmatic William Bell, and he’s definitely left us with questions unanswered!

Quotes from Over There, Part 2

  • Peter: “I’ve seen strange. But this, this is something else.”
  • Walter: “Bell is here? Nice of him to finally show up.”
  • Walter (to William Bell): “I see you’ve aged.” Bell: “It appears I’m not the only one.”
  • Peter (to alt-Dunham): “You remind me of somebody I know. But your hair’s different. I think I like yours better.”
  • Walternate: “I told you there’d be invaders coming over from the other side, but I didn’t tell you they would be us…Don’t be deceived, Olivia, they’re monsters in our skin. They do anything, say anything to gain our trust, but they can’t be trusted.”
  • Bell: “We’ve accomplished a lot together Walter, but she may be our greatest achievement.”
  • Bell to Peter: “I haven’t seen you in many years. You’re holding up better than I would’ve thought.”

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1 Comment

  1. jefft

    I read this and then started wondering where this was on my Sky planner.

    Answer: nowhere to be found. Good old Sky.

    It hasn’t aired in the UK yet. Damn, I wish I hadn’t read this piece, interesting as it was. And yet you review DrWho within hours of the air date. Where are you based , Gerard?

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