Sometimes with [[Fringe (TV Series)|Fringe]], you look back over the past three series and wonder how the hell we got here.
I mean, when this show kicked off, it was for all intents and purposes a whimsical X Files clone. Now we’re dealing with two overlapping parallel universes. One of our lead characters, Olivia Dunham, is stuck in what we’re calling Earth-2 and her alternate version is surreptitiously working some kind of mission on Earth-1.
What frequently stuns me about this show is how immersive it has become. We shout at the television every time we see Peter Bishop in bed with Fauxlivia, or when our Olivia comes close to getting home, or when Walternate does something to threaten her safety. Walternate may draw our hatred more easily, because we’re so fond of his morally dubious, foodaholic, fragile alternative on Earth-1.
The Candy Man
Not related to the bee-loving horror film character of the 80s/90s, this Candy Man is a freak who abducts children and drains their pituitary glands for the life giving fluid inside them. He uses it to restore his body to a more youthful form.
This, in a way, is not unlike the freak-of-the-week stories that Fringe began with. However the writers do a stunning job of weaving the individual stories into the series’ mythology and the season-long story arc. For a start, we discover that Alt-Broyles’ son was abducted by the man, the effects of his procedure is to shorten the child’s life. He may not make it beyond 18 years old.
Dunham’s investigation pisses off Broyles when she asks to re-interview his son. Highly protective of the child, he refuses, but she takes a hard line with him and tells him that it’s not just about his child. Again, the story itself is passable fare, but what it achieves is Broyles gaining respect for Dunham. She also inadvertently ‘outs’ herself by mentioning the FBI – who ceased to exist on Earth-2 a decade earlier. Broyles overhears this, and lets Olivia know that he knows about her. But he turns a blind eye because of her earlier kindness to his son.
I have to commend the elegance of this storyline. Fringe could have gone for the simplistic equation of Earth-1 = Good, Earth-2 = Evil. Instead, they’ve taken a deeper look at these people. The Fringe division on Earth-2 shares good camaraderie and the team are clearly bonded and working for the good of their universe. We saw this the other week when they were appalled to discover that people trapped in the amber could be revived. They’re not painted in pure black and white.
Well, except for Walternate and Fauxlivia. Who knows what their agenda is?
Escape from Earth-2?
In the space of an hour, we really were led to believe that Olivia was going to escape Earth-2 and get home. Even when Broyles exposed her secret there was a genuine heart-stopping moment whether he’d stop her or not.
However, t’was not to be. Olivia tripped the security system breaking into the lab to send herself home, and Walternate raced to stop her escaping. However, it wasn’t quick enough. Olivia managed to spend enough time on Earth-1 to get a message to Peter through a terrified cleaning lady. As Peter hears this, it suddenly becomes clear to him why the Olivia in bed beside him had never seen Casablanca and why she thought Ronald Reagan had starred in it. Nice reference to Back To The Future there, too!
So, the stakes are effectively raised. We’re all busting to know what happened in the bedroom after Peter hung up his phone. Will he play along with the charade, or will he take her in immediately? What’s worse is that Fringe takes a break next week! So frustrating!