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‘Fringe’ recap: Absolution

January 21, 2012 | 11:12 am

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One thing I’ve loved about "Fringe" is that the show never has evil characters. They will take their time building up their villains, whether it is the mad scientist whose experiment ran amok this week or someone like Walternate. Though once you get the full story, even the extreme bad guys have almost sympathetic motivations. Most are men so wrapped up in their own obsessions they lose track of who they were harming, but every so often, they have antagonists fueled by blind ambition or a desire for destruction. The best of them being David Robert Jones. 

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Unless your enemy’s enemy is David Robert Jones. Then we both have a problem. Jones first appeared back when the British bought out Sterling Cooper. No, wait. It was Season One. Olivia went to visit him in a German prison to help an FBI agent with a parasite wrapped around his heart. Jones became the first recurring baddie. After his colleagues transported him out, Jones worked tirelessly to bust over to the alternate universe in order to impress William Bell. He almost made it, but Peter slammed the door closed and sliced the poor guy in half. 

Now that we’re dealing with a Peter-less timeline, "Fringe" can bring back anyone it wants, and David Robert Jones has a second chance to fulfill his nefarious plans.

Granted, David Robert Jones came off like a Batman villain. When Fauxlivia and Lincoln Lee show up to arrest him, Jones kills one of his shape-shifters in front of them. To show them what he’s willing to do to something he loves. Getting arrested at all seemed unnecessary. He wanted a hard drive the fake Brandon kept in his office, but he could have easily gotten one of his shape-shifters to retrieve it. Jones just wanted to mock Fringe Division to their face. Then in order to escape, Jones used an elaborate scheme of passing out $100 bills to duplicate the tracking signal on him, but he simply turns his tracking signal off. Seems like David Robert Jones is a bit of a drama queen. 

Peter wasn’t interested in getting involved with this timeline’s issues, but that goes out the window when he sees David Robert Jones. Peter has unique knowledge on the guy. I mean, he already killed him once. That’s a heck of an advantage. The Fringe Divisions can use all the help they can get. Jones always seems to be one step ahead of them. 

While the youngsters try to stop Jones from his evil strip mining, Walternate tells his wife Elizabeth that he doesn’t think he can recalibrate the machine and help Peter return to his timeline. Elizabeth decides to travel over to our universe and try to convince Walter to give it a shot. Walter has repeatedly said he won’t let himself help Peter because the last time he did, he broke reality. His Elizabeth committed suicide shortly after their Peter died. Elizabeth admits that she forgave Walter long ago for what he did, offering Walter the absolution he desperately craves. It also gives Walter the strength to go to Peter’s aid. As Walter says, Elizabeth was pretty amazing. Every version of her.

Unfortunately, David Robert Jones gets away with his hundred pounds of a mineral that can be made into a bomb that could rip apart universes. Olivia tries to follow him back to the other universe, but ends up getting the front half of her engine block chopped off for her efforts. The two universes must band together to take on this new threat. But that’s not all. Turns out Jones has a mysterious backer. None other than Mrs. Massive Dynamic herself, Nina Sharp. 

The alternate timeline has given "Fringe" license to do whatever it wants. Walternate is a good guy. Nina is a bad guy. Everything is up for grabs. I’m sure we’re in for a lot more twists and destruction before Peter gets back to the ones he loves. 

No Place Like Home – I watched this week’s episode of "Fringe" at a friend’s place on his LED television. Sometimes a brighter, crisper image isn’t necessarily better.  The darker, murky picture on my Plasma TV at home lent itself a little better to the darker, murky visual style of "Fringe." I will admit that the sharper picture did help in a couple of ways. I spotted the Observer much easier than when I’m home. It wasn’t clear enough for me to figure out who was on the alternate universe’s $100 bills. Did anyone else catch it?

Astrid Action – Both Astrids got some action tonight. Our Astrid took a break from babysitting Walter and his cooking experiments to play psychologist for Olivia. She even agreed to run tests on the Observer blood Olivia brought in. I’d be very interested in those results. BadAstrid, or alternate Astrid, analyzed the info from fake Brandon’s hard drive and analyzed the data for Peter. Was it just me, or did BadAstrid come off a little autistic this week? Not sure if this was hinted at in previous episodes. I thought they simply weren’t giving her many lines. 

Spot the Observer – The Observer isn’t a fool. When you have knowledge of everything that is going to happen, you’re definitely going to show up when a crazy guy is handing out money. The Observer walks though the background as Lincoln Lee pushes his way through the crowd. Either that gunshot wound in his stomach last week has already healed, or the Observers are now time-traveling. I’m guessing the latter, but "Fringe" always seems to surprise me with Option Cs I never knew existed. 

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-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Walternate (John Noble), left, and Peter (Joshua Jackson) devise a plan. Credit: Fox Television

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