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'Fringe': Winter finale

February 4, 2010 | 11:45 pm

214_jacksonville_0371 I want to applaud Fox for running with the concept of winter finales. Considering most shows are going on hiatus while the Olympics, “American Idol,” and “Lost” battle it out (my eyes will be on the one with parallel timelines), why not tie up some loose ends and give the audience a cliffhanger to hold them over until spring? “Glee” did a marvelous job of closing out its first chapter, and “Fringe” gave us some juicy bits to chew on while we eagerly await April.

Over the last two weeks, “Fringe” has shown us how good they have gotten with stand-alone episodes. Thursday night, “Fringe” dives straight into a mythology-heaving hour.

It all kicks off in an average Manhattan building with a couple of co-workers chatting about a series of “mini quakes” that have been hitting New York City, but things seem a little off. Why is the guy working on blueprints for a new Pentagon? Well, before we can really put too much thought into it, the “mini quakes” are replaced by a “maxi quake,” and when the dust settles, our new friend has melded to part of the building, sporting an extra pair of arms and legs like Spiderman in the Six Arms Saga. (How nerdy of a reference was that?)

After a cute call where Olivia jokes that Peter’s won a free trip to New York City, the Fringe Division arrives on the scene, and Walter quickly realizes what happened. A building from the alternate reality (or Déjà Vuniverse as I like to call it) was pulled into our reality, fusing people with their other world doppelgangers. Walter confirms this by asking the multi-limbed man about the Sept. 11 attacks. In that reality, the terrorist struck the White House and the Pentagon. Though I’m not sure how Walter knows about the Déjà Vuniverse’s day of tragedy. Wouldn’t he have been in the mental hospital by then?

No time to figure that out. Walter explains that since this building came from there, one of our buildings has to go back to balance reality. It’s like a cosmic game of Red Rover. Agent Broyles heads to Massive Dynamic to get them tracking seismic vibrations and dog howling while Olivia, Peter and Walter travel to Jacksonville, Fla. That’s where Walter and William Bell conducted their experiments on children (including Olivia), trying to make them soldiers for the upcoming war between the universes.

This is when the fun really starts. We get glimpses into the world of 1983: Walter and William Bell giving experimental drugs to children and trying to scare them into starting their powers, Olivia’s old room nearly all burnt from her mind fire, big murals saying “Our kids are happy kids.” Is there anything creepier than an abandoned day care?

Walter tells Olivia that when they experimented on her as a child, she gained the ability to see a glimmer on objects from the other dimension. She agrees to go through the process again, but after a few minutes of running around her mind forest with her younger self, she comes out yelling: “What the hell is wrong with you? You did this to children?”

But again, they’re out of time. They rush back to New York as the clock ticks on the vanishing building. Walter and Peter team up with my favorite Massive Dynamic employee, Brandon, (Can we get more screen time for this guy?) to try to track down buildings with the same mass as the one that came over from the other side.

As the clock runs down, Olivia begins to freak out. Then a near kiss with Peter apparently is enough to push her over the edge and jump start her Shinning. She tracks down the building about to shift and manages to get everyone out just in time. Whew!

But that’s not all. Peter and Olivia decide to celebrate another Fringe Division victory by going out for drinks. Peter even gets Astrid to come over and babysit Walter with a couple of games of Monopoly. When Olivia arrives at the Bishop house, she sees Peter glimmering and realizes he’s not from our reality. Walter quickly catches her and begs her not to tell, but now she knows! What will she do? Guess we’ll find out in April.

The Combination -- 5-20-10. That was the combination for the lock on the front of the Jacksonville day care. Walter said they always use the same combination, but he couldn’t remember the significance. Though looking at it written out, the first thing that popped into my head was a date. May 20, 2010, which just so happens to be a Thursday. And if my math’s right, should be the season finale for “Fringe.” Imagine that.

Astrid Action -- Astrid has seen a lot in her year and a half working for Walter (parasites wrapped around a guy’s heart, bodies full of larva, people turned to dust), but when Walter brings home a man who has been fused together with himself from the Déjà Vuniverse, it’s too much for her. Instead she opts to go through the items brought over from the other reality along with the building, such as a silver dollar with Richard Nixon on it. My favorite was the double-decker car. When are we going to get those here? Take that fuel efficiency!

Spot the Observer -- For the second week in a row, I’m going to have to rely on you guys to let me know where the Observer was hiding. I thought I spotted his shiny dome while the hotel was being evacuated, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

Also, while you’re pointing out how dumb I am for not catching Cue Ball, let me know if you caught any Déjà Vuniverse details from that opening scene. Like apparently, coffee is hard to come by over there. Only available in Hawaii for some reason. Does it have to do with Newton’s comments about “the blight”? Did you pick up on anything else?

-- Andrew Hanson


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Photo: Olivia (Anna Torv), in back, runs in her mind forest with her younger self. Credit: Fox