Season 3 Episode 11


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jan 28, 2011 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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  • Ghost in the machine

    The third season of "Fringe" has been all about embracing the mythology more and more, and this episode continues along that trend. This episode introduced a few unexpected wrinkles that ought to have some massive repercussions for the future of the team.

    Peter's reaction to proximity to the Vacuum (the big machine) is quite interesting, and not just because it builds on the suggestion that the machine itself is some kind of advanced organic technology. If the Olivia switching didn't do enough to challenge the team dynamic, Peter's personality conversion truly threatens to undermine it. For all that Peter has been trying to convince Olivia that he was really in love with her, and not her counterpart, Olivia may have to deal with a Peter that is no longer himself.

    Of course, there's also the small matter of Fauxlivia's journal. (And I am pleased to see "Fauxlivia" as canon!) The characters all make a convincing argument for reading the journal with respect to the case, but they (and we) are a lot more interested in what it can reveal about Fauxlivia, her resonance with Olivia, and what that implies for the relationships in both universes. Hopefully this source of intel will not simply disappear!

    In discussing this episode (and the previous one) with fellow fans, it occurred to me that the writers may be setting up the audience with some thrilling misdirection. The Vacuum has the power to destroy both universes, and yet, thus far, the Observers have done nothing to prevent its construction in either Fringe Prime or Alt-Fringe. Instead, while they seem dedicated to repairing the damage caused by Walter's actions in the past, they are intent on allowing (and even fostering) Peter's use of the Vacuum in Fringe Prime.

    Taking into account the speculation that the Observers are related in some way to the First People, either the Observers believe that the Vacuum is going to repair the damage done or they have far more sinister goals than previously indicated. One might even speculate that the presence of the First People in both universes, and the lack of evidence of other universes beyond Fringe Prime and Alt-Fringe, might point to the Observers trying to repair something the First People did to create both universes in the first place!

    That may be taking too much of a reductionist view on the plot elements thus far, but I would wager that the writers are doing their best to keep the series' mythology within relatively well-controlled limits at this point. As I've said before, these are the same people who worked on "Alias", and they have first-hand knowledge of how a complex mythology can get out of control.

    This is why, despite the speculation on the mythology, I started the commentary on the character implications. Because what undermined "Alias" was the growing gap between the plot and the characters. Too many character choices were dictated by plot demands. "Fringe" is using the plot to challenge and reveal aspects of the core characters, and that is why it is succeeding.
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