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‘Fringe’ recap: Lincoln vs. Lincoln

April 7, 2012 |  9:29 am

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If you told me we were going to get an episode of "Fringe" with barely any Walter, I would have called you crazy. Walter Bishop is "Fringe." He is the origin of the rift between the two universes, the cause of most of the crazy science they have to clean up. He’s the heart of the show, supplying the majority of emotion and by far the largest chunk of humor. Yet in "Everything in Its Right Place," Walter only gets two scenes, bookending the episode, and you know what? I barely noticed. This week was all Lincoln Lee.

At the beginning of the season, Seth Gabel moved up from a special guest start to "Fringe" cast member, and Lincoln got promoted to a full-fledged agent of Fringe Division. But it hasn’t been the best year for him. He lost his partner to a shape-shifting super soldier. Then he got promoted to Fringe Division and got to flirt with the beautiful and skilled Olivia Dunham. But as soon as he seemed to be making a connection, a guy who wasn’t supposed to exist appears out of thin air and woos her away. Talk about unlucky.

So now, Olivia, Peter, and Walter have bonded into a nice little family, Lincoln feels lost and out of place. They notice Gene the cow is depressed but don’t pick up the same cues from Lincoln. No wonder he needs a vacation. And what better place than an alternate dimension.

Of course, you can’t just have a routine exchange of information with the alternate universe. As soon as Lincoln shows up, Faulivia rushes him out the door as they go investigate a murder scene. Turns out the alternate universe has a vigilante of sorts, attacking criminals in mid-crime. Up to this point, none of the victims have been found, but Lincoln is there to see the first body left behind, which has the melted face of a shape shifter attack.

Agent Lee was there, but so is Capt. Lee, the alternate-universe version of Lincoln. Capt. Lincoln Lee practically runs Fringe Division on the other side. He is bold and confident, almost to the point of narcissism, as our Lincoln points out. Quite the shift from the quiet and cautious Agent Lee. At one point, the two Lincolns compare the events in their lives to see where they diverge to create these two vastly different personalities, only to find that their histories are essentially exactly the same. In fact, we never find out what caused Agent Lee's and Capt. Lee’s unique personalities; but again, I barely noticed.

Agent Lee spends most of the episode seeing how much better the alternate universe is, at least to his point of view. There, Fringe Division is masked in secrecy. Those agents are heroes, and so is he. Everyone on that side has spent the last 30 years dealing with the side effects of Walter's crossing over. Now that the bridge between their worlds is open and the Fringe teams are working together, their world has begun to heal, and random guys take time out to thank Agent Lee for his part in that. Plus, Fauxlivia isn’t as dour and burdened as our Olivia. She’s a redheaded firecracker ready to kick some tail. She’s single, too. Sure there’s no coffee and big chunks of real estate have been quarantined in amber, but the pros of the alternate universe seem to almost outweigh the cons.

Together, Agent Lee and the alternate Fringe Division track down the vigilante shape shifter. Turns out he is the prototype, the first shape shifter David Robert Jones created. The earlier versions of shape shifters used a device shoved into their victims’ palate. This shape shifter appears to have an organic version of that device built into its mouth, which is exceptionally disturbing when seen in action.

But Kanen (or Canen? Kenan?), as he’s named, isn’t an evil shape-shifting super soldier. Jones tossed him aside for the newer models. He attacks criminals to get the DNA he needs to stabilize himself, but he won’t kill Lincoln, even when he gets the chance. He gives himself up, and after evil Nina Sharp tries to have him killed, he helps Fringe Division track her down. Maybe now we’ll have a shape shifter on our side.

The victory doesn’t come without a price. Capt. Lee took the bullet intended for Kanen. Now we have one less Lincoln in the universes and the fight against the David Robert Joneses got a whole lot more personal for the alternate Fringe Division. I have a feeling this game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full war.

Dispatches from the other side: I love any trips to the alternate universe. The original versions of Fringe Division are still my favorite, but I always get a kick out of the minor details the writers throw in about the different version of reality. Their money has Richard Nixon and Millard Filmore on it, their newspapers have Harry Potter-style moving images, and don’t forget the cool berets their Fringe Division gets to wear.

Astrid action: Originally it was supposed to be Astrid who went to the alternate universe to swap files on the shape shifters. That would have made for a much different episode, but Astrid had obligations with her father, giving Lincoln the opportunity to jump in. Alternate Astrid gets her screen time as well. She even gets to deliver the news to Cornel Broyles that Capt. Lee didn’t make it, but he already knew that, being Jones’ shape-shifting mole in Fringe Division.

Spot the Observer: If you look closely, you’ll spot one of our Observer friends watching while the Fringe Division transports their shape-shifting prisoner.  He is smart enough to observe from across the street and stay clear of the would-be assassin’s bullet. Which reminds me, did we ever find out how September got shot? Another answer to look forward to.

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-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Seth Gabel and Anna Torv hunt down a vigilante in "Fringe." Credit: Fox Television

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