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‘Fringe’ recap: labor pains

March 26, 2011 |  9:24 am

318_bloodline_018 It’s crazy to think that at one point I complained that "Fringe" needed to “get to it faster.” Back in Season One and much of Season Two, the show would only dish out hints at the overarching mythology in each episode. Tiny morsels delicately rationed out. Now "Fringe" rushes through nine months of pregnancy in just a single episode. Why waste time? There are tons of great drama we can’t be waiting around for. 

Fox officially announced it was renewing "Fringe" for a fourth season Friday morning. If you need a reminder of why, all you have to do is watch "Bloodlines." We’re back “over there.” In case you’ve forgotten what’s happening in the red universe, Fauxlivia is pregnant with Peter’s baby, Walternate is putting together the pieces he needs to destroy our universe, and Lincoln has taken over Broyle’s job as the head of Fringe Division. If you had any doubts about the quality of "Fringe," just look at how much life they have brought to the alternate reality. They took these doppelgangers who could have existed as villains and made them just as compelling as the characters in our reality. It’s almost hard to say who the bad guys are.

As if carrying the child of a man living in another universe wasn’t enough, Fauxlivia also has to worry that she’s a carrier of VPE, or Viral Propagated … um, something that starts with E. The doctor said it kinda quickly and I didn’t catch it. Whatever it stands for, VPE is the condition that caused Fauxlivia’s sister Faux-Rachel to die in childbirth with Faux-Elle. If Fauxlivia’s also a carrier, there’s a high chance that she, the baby, or both might die during the delivery. Fauxlivia waits for her test results, contemplating the impossible decision she will have to make, but that’s all cut short when she’s kidnapped from her apartment.

How about that kidnapping? Did it make you jump? It totally caught me off guard. 

While Fauxlivia is injected with crazy chemicals and plans her escape, Lincoln and Charlie do their best to track her down. The Lincoln/Charlie relationship might be one of my favorites on the show. Those two guys seem so natural and fun together. Charlie teasing Lincoln about his new job, and then Lincoln cracking jokes about Charlie’s dates with “bug girl.” I enjoy watching the red universe’s Fringe Division as much as ours. 

In more great “get to it” moments, Lincoln and the Fringe Division begin to find out about the Fauxlivia/Olivia switch. Searching for clues on Fauxlivia’s disappearance, their Astrid points them to a taxi that has been driving past her apartment repeatedly. Of course, that cab belongs to Henry Higgins, the cabby that helped Olivia escape back to our reality. Henry’s story leads Lincoln to Walternate, who spills the beans on Fauxlivia’s mission into our reality, which prompts Lincoln and Charlie to question what else they might be kept in the dark about. 

Fauxlivia manages to escape ("Fringe" villains need to learn that you can’t keep either Olivia tied to a gurney for very long), but not until after her captors have sped up her pregnancy. She bursts out into Chinatown as she kicks into labor. I sure hope that the bystanders in our universe would be much more helpful to lost pregnant women than the ones over there. She makes it to a hospital just in time to give birth to the next of the Bishop line. Boy, that kid’s going to have a crazy life.

Besides propelling the "Fringe" mythology several leaps forward, "Bloodline" managed to squeeze in a couple great moments of acting as well. Anna Torv continues to impress. There might be some debate over her Leonard Nimoy impression last week, but you can’t deny the power of that speech she gave trying to convince the obstetrics nurse to let her go. Or how about the moments she had with Amy Madigan about her fears over VPE and being a mother. I’m one of the people who doubted Torv’s acting chops in Season One, but I never will doubt her again.

After this episode, my biggest fear is that everything that’s been said about the device will be true, that one of the universes is going to have to be destroyed so the other can live. Of course, my gut reaction is that I want our universe to thrive, but I’m starting to care just as much about our friends “over there.”

Blast from the past – "Fringe" has been doing an excellent job of dipping back into the first season and bringing new life to technologies that could have been forgotten as “craziness of the week.” "Fringe" brought back the mysterious amber from Episode 3 "The Ghost Network," and gave it a whole new life. While I don’t think the show came out and claimed the connection, the process they used to accelerate Fauxlivia’s pregnancy reminded me a lot of Episode 2, "The Same Old Story." That’s when Walter, Olivia and Peter investigated a baby that aged 80 hours immediately after birth. Am I the only person who caught that connection?

Now that "Fringe" has earned itself a fourth season, there will be much more time to revisit some of those technologies from the first year. Are there any favorites you’d like to see again? My vote is for the werewolf-like monster that crashed the plane back in "the Transformation."

Astrid Action – Astrid 2 or Bad Astrid or whatever you want to call her is starting to get as much screen time as our own Astrid. Her security clearance was knocked up a few levels so she could be trusted with the fact that Olivia is carrying Secretary of Defense Walternate’s future grandson. It doesn’t matter which universe we’re in, I always enjoy watching Astrid pop up. 

Spot the Observer – Those bald watchmen weren’t hiding very well this week. Even Fauxlivia caught a glimpse of one. While the Observers stepped out of the shadows slightly, they didn’t give much of an indication of why. Just the cryptic comments that “it is happening.” With only four episodes left in the season, “it” better get hurrying. 

[Update: Thanks to everyone for catching that I said Fauxlivia gave birth in the hospital. How could I forget that incredible scene. Anna Torv, Seth Gabel and Andre Royo were each amazing. Just shows how great this episode was. I couldn't even remember everthing I loved.]

RELATED:

Fox renews 'Fringe' for Season Four

'Fringe' recap: 'The place where the mysteries of the universe are solved.'

Complete 'Fringe' coverage on Show Tracker

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Olivia (Anna Torv) is kidnapped and finds herself in mortal danger. Credit: Fox

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