‘Fringe’ recap: God helps those who help themselves
Apparently "Fringe" doesn’t want to wait until the end of the season to start giving us huge cliffhangers. Here we are, one more episode to go in the junior year of "Fringe," and they end with a moment that very well could have been what carried us off into the summer. If this is how they’re ending the episode before the finale, I can’t wait to see how they finish Season Three.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Last week, Walternate turned on his version of the device in the other universe, and ours switched on as well, wreaking havoc all over New England. Peter tried to climb inside our device to stop it, only to get thrown across the room like a rag doll and ending up in the hospital. Meanwhile, Olivia’s off hunting the mysterious Sam Weiss, possibly the only person who knows what’s going on. All the major players were in position to charge head-first into the finale.
"The Last Sam Weiss" starts off with a car commercial. The opening had all the essential elements. Family out driving, complete with a Doors song. ("Riders on the Storm." How appropriate.) They even managed to squeeze in shots of the Ford logo up front and the Focus name in back. I understand that shows like "Fringe" have to do product placement, especially since most of us fast forward through the commercials on our DVRs/TiVos, but at this point, I say go for it. Make the opening sequence a Ford commercial with a "Fringe" event stuck in it. As long as I get my cloudless lightning, I’m fine.
The cloudless lightning, or ‘dry lightning’ as Broyles calls it, is another side effect of the device. These side effects are getting stronger and more frequent. As much as Walter would like to sit by Peter’s bedside and wait for him to wake up, he knows Peter would want him out there, trying to find a way to stop the destruction, so Walter grabs his kite and rushes out into the storm. Literally.
Meanwhile, Olivia and Sam Weiss try to figure out what’s wrong with the device. We quickly learn that Weiss isn’t the immortal first person many thought he might be. No, Sam Weiss is just part of a long line of Sam Weisses. Sam’s great-great-great grandfather Sam Weiss found an ancient manuscript about the device while searching for fossils, and his family has been searching for the missing manuscript pieces, guarding the secrets and naming their sons after themselves for generations. Our Sam Weiss is just the most recent Sam Weiss. He’s working in a bowling alley and waiting for the end of the world.
Only what’s happening now doesn’t sync with what Sam’s been taught about the device. There was nothing in the manuscript about the other side turning their device on first. So Sam takes Olivia to hunt down a “crowbar” the manuscript mentions that will allow them to pry the device open long enough to sneak Peter inside. The journey takes them on their own mini "Da Vinci Code" adventure, breaking into museums, busting artifacts, the whole nine yards. Finally they discover that Olivia has been the crowbar all along. It’s her brainwaves that can shut the device down long enough for Peter to take control.
Only Peter has vanished. He woke up and got dressed. Then in the chaos of an emergency room flooded with lightning victims, he walked out of the hospital. He is disoriented. He doesn’t know his name at first and clearly mistakes our universe for the other side, but he does manage to spend $800 cab fare to get back to New York City and $500 on a lucky half-dollar when he gets there. You’re never too mentally traumatized to spend tons of money.
While getting struck by lightning a couple times, Walter realizes that the Fringe events are happening in a pattern, focused on two points: the location of our device and the location of the device on the other side. His obvious solution is to move our device to the same place as theirs. This will buy Olivia more time to figure out what to do and localize the destruction to, say, a national monument and the most densely populated city in the country.
Olivia practices her mental powers in preparation for turning off the device. It isn’t enough to telekinesis it off, she has to telekinesis off the device in the other universe. Tough.
Eventually they find Peter as he tries to sneak onto Liberty Island to speak to his father at the Department of Defense. It takes seeing Olivia and Walter to remind Peter which universe he lives in and completely restore his memory, but once that’s taken care of, he’s ready to give the device another shot.
The buildup was very dramatic. Olivia powering down the device with her mind and Peter stepping into the device. We got flashes of memories, moments from the last three seasons, as he locked in his limbs, and poof.
Peter wakes up somewhere in the future. Past 2021. Where the Fringe Division is driving tanks down New York City streets and they’ve finally gotten around to building Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site. Is this what the device was built to do? When exactly did Peter land in the future? What the heck is going on? Luckily we have one more episode left this season, but something tells me we’re going to come out with more questions than answers.
The Last Sam Weiss –- Now, I love Kevin Corrigan. I don’t say that because I’m about to criticize him. Well, not just that. I am going to criticize him, but I really do love Kevin Corrigan. I was a fan of "Grounded for Life" and his Sean Garrity is my favorite professor at Greendale Community College. Something about Sam Weiss simply didn’t click for me Friday night. Corrigan’s naturalistic style of performance seemed slightly off key for the slight melodrama of "Fringe." Did anyone else feel that?
Astrid Action -– With Peter and Olivia, Astrid basically became the Fringe Division Friday night. She comforted Walter over Peter’s hospital bed and coaxed him out with promises of tapioca pudding and old school fruit cocktail. She inspired Walter to stop moping and try to figure out how to stop the lightning. She took care of the logistics of moving the Device to New York City. She ran Peter’s credit card. Wow. She did the work this episode. Astrid should ask for a raise.
Spot the Observer – I cheated. I’ll be honest. I got through the episode, sat down to write, and realized I hadn’t even thought to look for the Observer. Maybe if "Fringe" was less interesting, I’d be more likely to spot old baldy myself. Luckily the eagle eyes over at FringeTelevision.com caught him. He’s walking the streets of New York while Peter’s trying to find a pawnshop. I have a feeling next week the Observer will be easy to spot.
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo: Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham and Kevin Corrigan as Sam Weiss. Credit: Fox