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Fringe 3.20 - 6:02 AM EST - Review

Fringe 3x20: In Which Walter Cooks Naked on Tuesdays and Our Universe Faces Imminent Destruction

This week’s episode marked the beginning of the end for both our universe and the third season of Fringe. The episode laid the foundation for the next two undoubtedly action-packed, heart-stopping instalments. ‘6:02 AM EST’ had a couple of heart-stopping moments of its own. We returned to the ‘Entrada-esque’ narrative which flipped back and forth between Ourverse and the Altverse, where Walternate was up to no good.



THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY:

Now, I am become Death – Walternate’s plan was finally revealed in full. In short, he sent Altliv ‘Over Here’ to steal the last piece of tech required to assemble The Machine ‘Over There’ and also to encourage Peter to begin working on assembling The Machine. Fate then seemed to smile upon him when Altlivia discovered she was to be Peter’s baby-mama. So, Walternate, ever the caring granddaddy, accelerated Altlivia’s pregnancy, not it seems for the sake of the baby, but to isolate Peter’s DNA within the child which would ultimately allow him to activate The Machine on our side via quantum entanglement. Which brings us back to this week’s episode...



And while Brandonate was all “Yay! I’m proud to be part of a project that kills billions of people and saves our universe!” Walternate was more sombre, understanding the weight of the sacrifice, the weight of the devastation he was about to cause. I thought that quoting Oppenheimer was both poignant and telling. Walternate is conscious of the sin, he knows what The Machine will do, yet to save the billions of people on his side, he will kill the billions on ours. “We destroy their world to save ours. May God have mercy on us.” I believe that Walternate truly believes that his way is the only way, making him a tragic figure. Still, that does not give him the authority to decide the fate of our universe.



Early Morning at the Bishops' – Naked Walter is not really something one wants to encounter early in the morning. Naked Walter is not really something one wants to encounter at all if possible. Unfortunately for Olivia, Naked! Walter is exactly who she encountered while sneaking out of her boyfriend’s bed at 6:25am. This scene was absolute gold, from Olivia’s ‘OMG where do I look?!/OMG I’m wearing only a shirt!!/OMG he’s wearing nothing!!’ expressions, to Walter’s complete nonchalance. Then she goes back to bed aka Cutesville where she and Peter make with the snugglies in the early morning sunlight. And I could practically imagine Wynkner saying, “Look how cute they are, guys. Look how happy they are. Look how much it’s going to hurt when we tear your hearts out.” This really was the calm before the storm.



The Beginning of the End – The scenes that followed filled me with a profound sense of dread. A vortex appearing in our world, the arrival of ‘the blight’, events increasing exponentially. Walter realising that The Machine was being activated via quantum entanglement was interesting as the team wondered how on earth Walternate could power it without Peter, of course not knowing that Peter Jr. solved that problem. I was glad to see Olivia put her ‘Over There’ knowledge to good use as she worked to develop the early warning system. So she went off to New York, but not before she and Peter exchanged “I love yous” with their eyes, which gave me the feeling that this was the last time they would see each other, for a while anyway.



Meanwhile in Altverse… - We got the picture of motherhood with Altlivia pushing baby Henry (who else cheered when the little nugget’s name was announced?) in his carriage when she got a message on her rather retro beeper. Altliv figured out that the Secretary had something to do with the alarmingly high energy surges on Liberty Island and decided to confront him - and thus begins Altlivia’s redemption arc. For the first time since her introduction, we got to see Olivia Dunham’s alternate stand up to authority and really become a badass on her own terms.



I believe it was important to show her standing up to Walternate, the one man who had in essence been pulling her strings all season. To see her actively rebel did more for her in terms of redemption than the baby arc could ever hope to achieve. It was important to us, as viewers to finally see Altlivia as a person with ideals and personal morals beyond those of the state. It was important for us to see that she was indeed affected by her time ‘Over Here’. And, in in that last moment with her sitting in that cell, sneering at the Secretary, she was more like our Olivia Dunham that she ever was while wearing her clothes or sleeping in her bed.



I think it was interesting that Walternate chose to mention the sacrifice of the son, which of course is one of the pervasive themes in the show. Altlivia was prepared to leave little Henry behind if it meant that she could bring Peter back. In a similar vein, Walter was finally ready to let go of his son…

Peter and The Machine – So Peter decided to embrace his so-called fate and enter The Machine in attempt to turn it off. I don’t know if this was the best idea. Personally, I would have tried to encase the thing in amber before getting in there barefoot, but hey. The plot did allow for some of the most heart-wrenching moments this season has delivered, including a very rare and touching moment between Walter and Broyles and a sweet hug between Astrid and Peter. But as always, the tears were saved for father and son. Walter’s reluctant acceptance of Peter’s decision and his final willingness to let him go was beautifully played out by both John Noble and Joshua Jackson.



As it turned out however, The Machine was not quite as friendly towards Peter as it was the last time they met. One touch and Peter was literally knocked off his feet. Yet despite the tremendous fall, his brain function was fine - doctors just couldn’t wake him up. I doubt the electric touch left him unaffected though. Something tells me that whatever is happening to Peter as he lies in that hospital bed is connected to The Machine.

All the Awards – John Noble continually blows me away with his gut-wrenching performances. His moment in the chapel really sold Walter’s despair and the depth of his remorse. I cannot stress enough how much I hope the cast and crew get recognised for their work this season.



Chasing the Weiss Rabbit – So Olivia met with Nina who told her that the universes were not playing fair because Sam Weiss told her that if Olivia and Peter made with the snugglies then everything would be just fine. Olivia understandably disturbed by the fact that Nina and Sam were discussing her love life decided to find Weiss and get answers.



The first few scenes saw Sam Weiss frown over two bowling balls, the red one impinging on the blue. Seemingly troubled by this omen, he unlocked a secret cupboard and retrieved a Newton’s Cradle which, after a few seconds, began to swing spontaneously, suggesting imbalance. Later, Sam was peering through what looked like a window to the other side and furiously scribbling down a mathematical equation, the result he got was an ominous 0.



By the time he reached Olivia, my assumption was that Sam Weiss is genuinely concerned for the state of our universe. Whatever is happening definitely seems to trouble him, which suggests that he is not maliciously planning the end of all humanity, which suggests that perhaps he is not all bad, which suggests that just maybe Olivia can trust Sam Weiss after all.



THINGS THAT MADE ME NOT SO HAPPY:

What About Mr X: I was expecting to get some reference to last week’s rather abrupt ending in which Olivia rather casually mentioned the man who she thought might kill her. I understand that the plot has to move along swiftly, but it seems strange that such a huge revelation would be swept under the rug.

Brandonate: He of the beady eyes and baby-teeth. As long as this character is in an episode, he will find himself on this side of the review. I find his presence more and more grating. He seemed even more obnoxious in this episode, particularly when he assumed he was important enough to stay in Walternate’s office before Olivia entered. While being knocked out by Altlivia was certainly a treat for me, I look forward to the day that he meets a more grisly end.



END NOTES:

As a lead-in to the finale, I thought this episode did very well. I imagine it will only get crazier from this point onwards so hold on to your oxygen because I have a feeling breathing might become difficult in the next two weeks.



RATING:



9.0 Newton’s Cradles

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