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‘Fringe’ recap: Fathers and Sons

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"Fringe" was built on the concept of two parallel universes. Season One hinted at the possibility until the finale when Olivia finally crossed over. Season Two built on that with Shape Shift Super Soldiers and the war between the two sides. In Season Three we spent a lot more time “over there,” seeing how the alternate Fringe Division operated, and Season Four got a bridge where characters could travel back and forth easily. The writing staff continually comes up with new and clever ways to explore that duality, but this week we got something new: a crime that happened simultaneously in both universes. The two worlds are becoming more and more entangled, which seems to be the endgame for the villainous David Robert Jones.

The investigation kicks off after an average yelling CEO is levitated then slammed down on a conference table with the force to shatter all the bones in his lower body. CEO of Aartz Holdings. Not to be confused with Leslie Arzt, the unlucky science teacher from "Lost." While examining the bodies, Peter notices bruises that are consistent with seat belts, which leads to the discovery that the man’s doppelganger in the other universe died at the same moment in a plane crash. Walter doesn’t know how it is possible or who caused it, but at this point, they should just start assuming David Robert Jones is to blame right off the bat. 

In order to compare the two versions of the victims, Walter takes a break from giggling over Peter and Olivia’s relationship to travel to the other universe to act as a consultant. The preparation for the trip piqued my interest. Not that Walter chose to empty his bladder beforehand or confessed that the medications he was on were “mostly recreational,” but the fact that once you step through the bridge, you are subject to the laws of the other universe as if you were a naturalized citizen. For a moment, I was concerned that Walter might be charged as a war criminal for the disaster he caused to that world. Luckily not. I also thought we might finally get the Walter/Walternate confrontation, but I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer for that. 

The case draws Fauxlivia away from her bigger investigation. She’s trying to find the mole within their Fringe Division that keeps supplying information to Jones and his conspirators. I was a little surprised who it turned out to be. I mean, we all knew it was Coronel Broyles, but up to this point, I had assumed the real Coronel Broyles had been replaced by one of Jones’ many shape shifters. In truth, Broyles has turned traitor in order to protect his son. David Robert Jones has the cure for the disease that once threatened his son’s life. 

It’s so much more interesting having the mole be the original Broyles rather than a shape shifter. With Jones’ cure, Christopher Broyles regained his sight and his life. He’s picked first for sports and has girls liking him. Broyles toils with the guilt over Lincoln’s death at the hands of Jones’ assassin, but at the same time, Lincoln’s mothers saying that parents shouldn’t outlive their children only backs up Broyles' motives. When in doubt, Broyles also seeks the advice of Walter, the one man who understands the extremes a father will go to in order to save his son. 

Turns out the in-sync deaths are another test, like many of the abnormalities both Fringe Divisions have investigated this season. David Robert Jones is experimenting, moving beyond the theories of Walter and William Bell. He wanted Coronel Broyles to attach a strange device to the giant machine that keeps the bridge between universes open. It seems that he either wants to merge the two worlds or destroy them both. We only have four more episodes this season to find out what his master plan truly is and how the Fringe Divisions are going to stop him. If they stop him. Rumor has it that "Fringe" has filmed alternate endings for the finale. One if it’s a season-ender and one if it’s a series-ender. Let’s hope that series-ender ends up as a special feature on DVD. 

Hold on a second – I’m pretty sure Mr. Delman, the guy who was getting yelled at in the opening scene, got away with a fast one. When Olivia questioned him, Delman said he “thought” his boss was about to fire him when it happened. About? The guy was in the middle of the word “fired” when he was jerked out of his seat. Did that guy manage to save his job due to his boss’ crazy death? Nice work, Delman. 

The Problem with ‘Fringe’ – As "Fringe" barrels towards its season, and possibly series, finale, I can’t help but think the show’s great asset might also be its biggest hurdle. The story has gotten so complex, between the parallel dimensions, alternate timelines, character histories (both original and revised). I can’t imagine a new audience member jumping in at this point and having any idea what’s going on, and as far as I know, past episodes of "Fringe" aren’t available anywhere online. Not legally, anyway. Both Fox.com and Hulu only seem to have the last five posted. People I know gave "Fringe" a chance in the first season, but they never made it to the point where the show really took off. It would be great to bring new people into the "Fringe" fold, but right now that would require generous friends with past seasons on DVD. If you have them, get them out there. It would be a shame if "Fringe" became appreciated after it left the air. We don’t need another "Firefly."

Astrid Action – It’s almost time to retire the Astrid Action section. When "Fringe" started, I put this in here to highlight a character I didn’t think was getting as much screen time as she should, but now Astrid is a central figure. This week, Astrid got many great moments. You had Other Side Astrid’s confusion on what to say at funerals, the two Astrids working together to relay information from the teams investigating in both universes simultaneously, and the glee over the gift of coffee. Astrid has come a long way from being simply a lab assistant. Of course, I take full credit.

Spot the Observer – Our little Observer got a little bold this week. Did you notice him coming up the stairs to the park when Broyles met David Robert Jones to get the mysterious device he was to attach to the mysterious machine? He was hard to spot from an audience point of view, but he was so close to the two men, I’m surprised neither of them noticed. Though they were preoccupied with their clandestine rendezvous. Next week is the always-clever episode 19. In the past we’ve gotten film noir musicals and an animation. If you couldn’t resist watching the preview for the episode, you might have spotted the Observers again. Looks like it will be a lot of fun. 

RELATED:

'Fringe' recap: Lincoln vs. Lincoln

'Fringe' recap: the 60% Solution

Complete 'Fringe' coverage on Show Tracker

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: John Noble as Walter Bishop. Credit: Fox Television

 
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