Fringe: Save the Best for Astrid

Fringe S04E11: "Making Angels"

Yowza, Friday's episode of Fringe was DENSE like a brick made out of tightly packed mashed potatoes! So many things happened in "Making Angels" that there's no time to chat about your weekend, swap Super Bowl stories, or exchange updates on how your cat's potty training is going, so let's get to it!

First, if you don't want to pick up Jasika Nicole and put her in your pocket and feed her like a baby bird then you are crazy. Jasika got her long overdue Astrid-centric episode this week as Universe B Timeline B Astrid crossed over to meet Universe A Timeline B Astrid following the death of the former's father. A/B Astrid's reaction to seeing her counterpart was priceless, and Olivia's quip ("I always wondered why nobody does that") brought up a great point. But that's just Astrid being Astrid.

It's easy to forget that Astrid is the lone normal person working in close quarters with a bunch of weirdos. Her reaction and subsequent efforts to help her counterpart were compassionate, sweet, and completely devoid of personal motivation, because that's just the way Astrid is. After Astrid Asperger (B/B) sought out Astrid for answers about her father, Astrid commiserated with her by saying her dad also lacked compassion. But it was all pillow talk, as we saw Astrid's dad in the end, a giant teddy bear who showered Astrid with love and great kitchen puns as soon she walked through the door. Astrid chose to lie to her counterpart because it was exactly what her counterpart wanted to hear and exactly what she needed for closure.

But it was the "please don't go" squeeze Astrid gave her dad at the end that really sent the story into emotional orbit. Astrid learned so much about herself from Astrid Asperger's experience with her father on the Other Side, and their cold relationship made her value her own relationship with her father that much more. Cue the teary-eyed embrace. The story also touched on concepts of nature versus nurture; what came first, Astrid Asperger's "condition" or her father's lack of love? Fringe's fourth season is exploring how little differences can knock things off their path so greatly, and this was well exemplified through Astrid.

If you squinted and looked really hard, the Astrid story also played into the case-of-the-week, as they are wont to do on Fringe. Astrid's late hug with her dad signified her recognition of the inevitability of her future: Her dad will one day die. Neil was a man with all the powers of the Observers. Both addressed ideas of dealing with the inevitable. Neil could see the past, present, and future, and decided to use his ability to become a compassionate Angel of Mercy. Awesome! Why let someone slowly wither away from a battle with cancer? Why let some alcoholic ruin the lives of her friends and family? Why let some prick who talks on his cell phone while driving involve someone else in the inevitable car accident?

Well, it turns out that taking fate into your own hands isn't such a great idea if all you really become is a psycho murderer with an over-inflated sense of worth. The Fringe Division, with the help of Astrid Asperger, closed in on Neil and eventually things came to an abrupt halt with Olivia shooting him dead even though Neil foresaw the event. Neil may have even purposefully fired his gun at Olivia well off to the right to seal his fate, setting up a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. For a second I wondered whether Peter's presence at the scene helped Olivia stand in a different spot, one outside the bullet's path, thus showing Peter the variable that can't be accounted for in these universes and strengthening his importance. I'm not sure that holds any water in this case, though, because though Peter was present at the scene, he wasn't actually in the room when the shots were fired. Probably just a case of me looking too far into things. But it does now leave open the question of that unusual ending, which didn't feel like a satisfying conclusion, especially given the strong start to the case.

Fauxlivia also made a lengthy appearance in "Making Angels," creating some really great moments between her and Olivia and her and Walter. I know I've said this before, but man do I love this stuff. Give me more versions of characters interacting with each other! It's so very telling of who these people are and raises all sorts of interesting questions.

But with all the cross-universe awesomeness going on, I couldn't keep my eyes off Walter Bishop and his fascinating interactions with those from the other universe. He instantly took to alternate Astrid, meshing with her better than with his own Aspirin Asterix Astrid. Even though his talks with Fauxlivia began with verbal barbs and daggers, there was a deeper familiarity between the two than between Walter and Olivia. Despite their rocky past (which we didn't actually see in this timeline), those two just plain got along and had fun with each other. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but it almost seemed like Walter was meant to be with these two alternate versions of his friends. Given how well he fit in with them, here's my crazy thought of the day: Could A/B Walter actually be B/B Walter, and he doesn't know it? Could the Walters have switched places early on in this timeline? How else can you explain how well he got along with alternate Astrid and Olivia? Or am I talking insanity? The smart money is on me = crazy, but there's got to be something more to Walter's behavior and how at ease he was with those two.

"Making Angels" also made some good headway with the Observers. Neil's power came from a device that was apparently misplaced by September at Raiden Lake. Oops! Do the Observers rely on this device to see across time and space? And now December knows that September dropped the ball on erasing Peter, which means no Christmas bonus for September. You may be saying to yourself, "Wait, the Observers are only picking up on that now? Can't they see all time and space?" Well, they are still seeing across time and space, we're just seeing them see it for the first time. We can't take what we see of the Observers from a chronological point of view; in fact, we'd best prepare ourselves for understanding these pale freaks by knowing in advance that their appearances are likely out of order. Will someone gather up all their scenes and put them in one convenient YouTube video for me? Thanks in advance!

"Making Angels" was a great, fun, emotional episode that had only one weakness in the ending of the case-of-the-week. And what a fantastic performance by Jasika Nicole, who can finally shed that "underrated" tag.

Notes from the Other Side:

– Tee hee! Olivia and Fauxlivia scoping out Peter! Giggle giggle.

– I loved the way Fauxlivia got a kick out of poking Walter with a stick at every opportunity. She's a mischievous little lady, that Fauxlivia!

– There was no major progress with the "get Peter home" story, but the episode never felt like filler to me. Fringe's plotting is excellent, but as long as the series can continue to bring compelling character stories, I really don't mind if Peter stays stuck over here for longer.

– Walter getting non-verbal permission to hug alternate Astrid... awww. And Fauxlivia: "Are you flirting with me?" Walter: "In your dreams." Maybe Walter needs to spend more time in the other universe.

– One of the perks of my job is occasionally getting to meet some of the people we see on TV. I've had the fortune of meeting Jasika Nicole twice, and can honestly say she one of the nicest, most enjoyable people to be around on the planet.

– Did you cry? Admit it! You almost did!

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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