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'Fringe': Flame on

May 6, 2009 | 12:29 am

119_roadnottaken_0158Walter explains why Olivia has been what he calls prolonged déjà vu by describing the multi-verse: The theory that every choice we make splits off into a separate reality. It’s a theme known in science fiction, comic books and a particularly good episode of Futurama. No matter how many of them there are, it appears that all roads lead to William Bell.

Last week’s revelation that William Bell has been funding ZFT pales compared with this week’s confession that the typewriter wrote ZFT’s manifesto “Destruction by Advancement of Technology.” I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I totally called that back when Walter first played with the typewriter. William Bell pays for the experimentation on the general public, William Bell ran the trials of Cortexiphan, William Bell broke the cookie jar. No, wait, that was Not Me, the impish gremlin from "Family Circus." Though like Not Me, William Bell seems to be everywhere, yet he remains unseen.

Though just as Olivia is about to find some real answers to what’s really going on, she’s sidetracked by another crazy death. Wow. It seems like this keeps happening. Like on a weekly basis. Well, whenever "Idol" isn’t running too long.

This week’s sidetrack came as a girl who ran off the bus and exploded. Simple enough. Though as Olivia starts to investigate, she finds herself slipping back and forth from an alternate universe. Where black phones are red, Broyles rearranged his office and all hell had broken loose. And out of one or the other universe, Stanford Harris reemerged. Remember that guy? He showed up for about three episodes to make Olivia’s life miserable because she tried to bust him on sexual assault charges in the past. He’s back and here to stay and… oh, he blew up.

Stanford Harris blowing up was a good thing though. He was experimenting on a woman in a contained room and Olivia had to talk her down from exploding. Talk about déjà vu. Didn’t she already do that? Back in "The Cure?" Instead of pyrokenisis, the woman had been turned into a microwave. And instead of Stanford Harris it was David Esterbrook. Which universe is that guy in? Olivia should really consider going back to interrogate him after everything that’s happened.

By the end of "The Road Not Traveled," Olivia is demanding that Walter tell her why he and William Bell experimented on children. Walter explained that they were preparing the children, but he couldn’t remember why or for what. I’m really wondering what the powers that be over at Fringe are preparing us for.

Synergy -- "Fringe" veered very close to a whole other kind of crossover this episode, too. J.J. Abrams’ other major project "Star Trek" stopped by for a visit. You have to be living in a cave without WiFi to not know Leonard Nimoy is showing up next week to play the role of William Bell, but we also got a taste of the film in one of the "Trek"-filled commercial breaks. Beyond that, Clint Howard showed up to explain how the Pattern is actually the exposition for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn," which is actually more plausible than most "Lost" theories I’ve heard.

"Fringe" also managed to give a shout-out to Stephen King, acknowledging that he coined the word “pyrokinesis.” The Bad Robot crew has a fondness for the iconic horror writer, and he has a fondness for them as well. It would be great to see King become almost the Jules Verne of "Fringe," his outlandish novels being read years later as scientific clairvoyance.

Astrid Action – Astrid made it out of the lab. All the way to a crime scene. I guess all it takes is Peter to be out with Olivia when they call for Walter. Someone has to carry all that heavy equipment.

Spot the Observer – You know where I wish I hadn’t spotted the Observer? In the previews for "The Road Not Taken." I’d been waiting the whole episode for Baldy to show up, so when he slipped into Walter’s lab out of focus, I didn’t think for a second that it was Astrid. Knowing in advance kind of took the steam out of that scene, though the way that Walter grabbed his jacket and shuffled out of the room, steam would have been lost anyway. I wish this had come after Nina Sharp’s kidnapping. I would have liked Walter and the Observer’s slow exit to be the end of the episode.

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: FOX