It may be too early to talk about this, but sooner or later we're going to have to start forming opinions on which Fringe universe is better: the "over there" universe or the "over here" universe. Obviously the correct answer is neither, as both work in concert for the show as a whole, but that's the safe answer and I like to stir things up. Thing about itwe'll get back to this question later in the article.
"The Plateau," Fringe's third episode of Season 3, was the second so far this season that highlighted the alternate universe (producers will be bouncing back and forth between universes with each episode). It was also the first episode of this season to move the alternate universe (let's call it the Red Universe, after the color scheme of the title sequences that comes with these episodes) into case-of-the-week territory. If there were questions of whether Fringe would go 100 percent mythology this season, they were squashed last night with a very entertaining episode focusing on a creepy guy who would absolutely destroy Bobby Fischer in a game of chess.
But that part of the episode, as good as it was, isn't what we need to talk about because, as with most cast-of-the-week episodes, the case was open and shut by the time the closing credits rolled. The good guys got the bad guys, and we can all sleep safe (except for those of us who went nuts on spicy food at a Southeast Asian restaurant last night... oh, how it burns!).
The talking point here is how deftly the producers weaved the mythology into the episode. Whether your prefer the long-running storyline or the self-contained whodunnit, "The Plateau" pleased all. Old-livia is undergoing an identity crisis that would even make The United States of Tara's lead uncomfortable. The question isn't whether Olivia will snap out of it, but when. And given the final minutes of the episode, it won't take long. Things are moving fast in Season 3; there hasn't been a single minute of filler yet.
I guess I have to bring up the romance-y stuff at some point, so I may as well do it now. Olivia has her hands full, with three potential suitors in two universes. There's Altlivia's boyfriend, Agent Lee (who is healing quite nicely when he's not out of the oven for too long), and our knight in shining armor, Peter. Obviously Peter is the frontrunner, but if any of you have a theory about how either of the other two can become her main squeeze, sound off in the comments section below.
Now it's time for the main event: Do you have a favorite universe yet? "The Plateau" made a great case for the Red Universe, or as I like to call it, "Canada." The slight and major differences never get old for me, whether it's something small like an Aruba war vet (I'd enlist for that paid vacation!) or Olivia's dead sister (and as a result, no niece). The tears, the depleted-Oxygen pockets, the weird movies, they all keep my attention. The Alternate Universe has become a new character, its nuances clearly affecting the actions of the flesh-and-blood characters.
The Red Universe Fringe agents have quickly made themselves at home as well. Agent Lincoln Lee is a nice X factor for the other Fringe division, and I'm very excited to see his other-universe counterpart turn up and blow our minds. The new Charlie is also a more likable Charlie; I never thought I'd be glad to see him back.
But then we have our beloved "over here" universe, the Blue Universe, where we grew up. The instant wow factor doesn't exist for the Blue Universe like it does for the Red Universe, but the Blue Universe boasts the two things that got us into Fringe in the first place: Peter and Walter. Fringe without Walter is like, as my man Oran Juice Jones said, Corn Flakes without the milk.
There is no right or wrong answer here. I'm leaning toward the Red Universe simply because it's taken the show to the next level and done so splendidly. I get a little more excited for Fringe every other week just knowing we'll be headed back there. But jumping back to the Blue Universe is like seeing your old friends, and that never gets old. It's Biggie Smalls vs. Tupac.
Question of the Day: Which universe do you prefer at the moment?
... Do the producers of Fringe love The Wire or what? They have Lance Reddick as a regular, have brought in Andre Royo for guest appearances, and now they name the monster of the week Milo Stanfield, a nod to The Wire's Marlo Stanfield! I'm looking forward to the appearance of a duster-wearing shotgun-toting gay man.
... Anna Torv is really dealing this season. She's come a long way from the actress we saw in Season 1 and is handling the double duty expertly.
... Alterna-Astrid scares the pants off me. Watching the bubbly Jasika Nicole play cold just doesn't seem right!
... I'll say it: Fringe is the best serialized sci-fi drama on television right now. But will I say it's the best network drama on right now? Sci-fi or not? Maybe!