Mr. Lee went to the Other Side in Friday's fantastic episode of Fringe, "Everything In Its Right Place." It was a strong character episode that had it all: big progress in the overall story, a fascinating case, and an emotional punch to the jaw. It was as good as anything we've seen in Season 4.
And here's the amazing thing: It accomplished all of this without involving any of the show's "main" characters, showing just how strong Fringe's universe (in a show sense) is. Peter, Olivia, and Walter stopped by just long enough to put clothes on a cow, leaving Lincoln Lee as the centerpiece. Fringe has been setting up Lincoln's dissatisfaction with his universe and his role within his Fringe Division over the last few episodes, climaxing with his letting go of any notion that he could be Mr. Dunham now that Peter and Olivia are happy to hook up. Thankfully if you strike out with one broad, you always have a chance with the alternate version of her. Look out Alt-livia, Lincoln is comin' after you!
Because he had nothing better to do (and because he essentially has no life), Lincoln decided to run some errands for Astrid and went over to the alternate universe for what was initially a simple paper drop. Instantly, Alt-livia was warmer to Lincoln than anyone back home, where they had pressing issues to attend to...like dressing up a cow. When it comes to the Cow vs. Lincoln, I'm decidedly Team Lincoln. Stupid cow! Until David Milch makes an HBO series about cows, they'll remain walking burgers to me.
Lincoln had no such problems in the alternate universe. Alt-livia was joking with him. Captain Lincoln was fascinated by their connection and the two tried to figure out how they came to be so different. Even randoms from the street were ready to high-five Lincoln, because Fringe agents are celebrities in that world. It was like Freaky Friday for Lincoln, except much less freaky and way more awesome.
Also on the Other Side, a shapeshifter was playing Batman (or Mantis, for those of you who sneaked in from outside) by dishing out vigilante justice to purse-snatchers and junkies. Lincoln's become a bit of a shapeshifter expert, so he offered up his services—much to the chagrin of Colonel Broyles, David Robert Jones' burrowed mole who is either a shapeshifter himself or just a bad dude.
It turned out that this shapeshifter, named Canen (spelling unknown), was feeling a bit like Lincoln: underused and under-appreciated. Designed to be the first of a new breed of shifters (super-humans, DRJ called 'em), he ended up being more of a beta program and was cast aside. But Canen was like a good boy waiting for his deadbeat dad to come home from a three-year trip to get cigarettes, and he held on to the hope that DRJ would come back to help him fulfill his potential. In the meantime, he sucked out the identities of criminals to keep himself from falling apart using a very disgusting projectile esophagus instead of the old-tech palette plug.
After some thrilling pursuit and surprisingly casual banter, Canen was taken into custody. Broyles alerted Nina, who planned on taking out the loose end. A snipeshifter aimed at Canen, but plugged cool Lincoln instead. Not to fear though, right? When we first met Captain Lincoln he was blown up and he made it out of that okay. Using the now clear-as-day notion that DRJ had no interest in keeping Canen alive, Lincoln went Tony Robbins on him and told him to seize the day and help take down the bad guys. Giving Nina a taste of her own medicine, Canen shapeshifted into the snipeshifter, returned to Nina's lair, and shut down the security systems so the cavalry could storm in. Nina was taken into custody and a monitor that tracked all the shapeshifting agents was found. All they would have to do is hack it and they can locate any shapeshifter in the city. I'd call that a good day's work!
But uh-oh: Word came down that Captain Lincoln didn't make it, which put a damper on what should have been a blowout donut party. It's hard to call this a major death given the amount of time we've spend with Captain Lincoln relative to the rest of Fringe's characters, but it sure felt like one. One of the advantages of Fringe and its dual universes is that the characters get amplified rather than reduced through the use of doppelgangers, and Captain Lincoln's death felt like a part of our Lincoln died. Not gonna lie, I was totally bummed.
Alt-livia was bummed too, but if there's a silver lining it's that Lincoln is still there. It's both creepy and comforting that he's a different version of the partner she just lost, but in that touching scene at the end of the episode it looked like they'll be able to help each other out. It was also a cool way to create plenty of fertile ground to further explore the themes of identity that Fringe likes to focus on.
"Everything In Its Right Place" was, dare I say, inspiring! It was awesome to see Lincoln step up and control his destiny instead of letting himself waste away in a cold, unloving universe. And in the end, everything did end up in its right place (except for Captain Lincoln, as few would consider six feet under a "right place"). I'm gonna go out today and do something that confident alternate-universe Tim Surette would do, like wrestle a giraffe or pull a truck with my teeth. What about you?
Notes From the Other Side
– I love the episodes that take place in the alternate universe! The little differences over there give it a sci-fi feel, but it also feels so rooted in reality. It's one of the coolest sci-fi worlds out there.
– Cows: cute or just uncut steaks?
– More great work from Seth Gabel, but unfortunately he has one less character to play now.
– Lincoln to a very stoic Altrid: "Humor me. So to speak." Walter to Canen: ""I'm really looking forward to studying...helping you." Alt-livia to the Lincolns: "Girls, you might want to get off the line, because some of us are trying to work here."
– I didn't really need the Native American necklace storyline, did you?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom