‘Fringe’ 4.10 Recap: “Do You Believe in Fate?”

As a Boston resident, I’m frequently amused when ‘Fringe’ tries to pretend that it’s is set in the city, even though the show is filmed in Canada and makes no attempt whatsoever to seem Bostonian, aside from the characters tossing out a familiar location name every now and again. You can imagine my delight when this past Friday’s episode supposedly paid a visit to my very own neighborhood.

‘Forced Perspective’ concerns the case of a teenage girl named Emily who has visions of the future – specifically, of people dying. When she comes in proximity of someone who will die soon, she has a powerful urge (almost like a seizure) to draw the image of their death on an artist’s sketch pad that she carries with her. She comes to the attention of the Fringe team after handing a man a drawing of his death just seconds before he’s impaled by a falling steel girder at a construction site accident.

Considering what the Observer told her in the previous episode about how she had to die, Olivia is suddenly very concerned with thoughts of fate and future cognition. If this girl really can see when people will die, will she see Olivia’s own death? Is Olivia doomed? Is there anything she can do to fight her fate?

Olivia and Lincoln track Emily to Jamaica Plain – which would probably put her in my apartment building, or close to it. The girl’s father initially lies about not knowing her, and is wary of trusting the FBI when they call him on it. It seems that the last time anyone found out about Emily’s ability, she wound up poked and prodded and exploited by Massive Dynamic scientists. The family has been flying under the radar ever since. However, Emily wants to accept Olivia’s help, because she’s had a vision of mass casualties in a big disaster, and she can’t live with herself if she doesn’t at least try to stop it.

This storyline culminates in the discovery of a man planning to bomb a courthouse in Allston. (Attn: ‘Fringe’ writers. There is no courthouse in Allston, FYI, but there is one in neighboring Brighton.) Olivia manages to talk him down from detonating the bomb, which implies that the future is not really set, and it’s possible to change your fate.

Unfortunately, Emily couldn’t change hers. She draws an image of herself sitting on a park bench near a pond. (In fact, there actually is a pond with a park in Jamaica Plain. Good job on this one, writers!) Olivia finds her there, dying. Her abilities caused her to have some kind of stroke. The girl fades away in peace, believing that it was her purpose in life to save all the people from the courthouse bombing.

The episode ends with Peter explaining what he knows about the Observers to Olivia, part of which is that they see everything and are never wrong. Later, an Observer is seen watching her apartment building.

After the show returned from its holiday hiatus with a couple of mythology episodes in a row, I was a little disappointed to see it fall back to the case-of-the-week formula so quickly. On the other hand, for what it is, ‘Forced Perspective’ is a decent enough episode with a satisfying emotional payoff.


  1. Ed, Watertown MA

    The Allston Courthouse sent me over the edge too. I mean really, how much does it cost to send someone out to shoot B-roll of real locations in a city you are setting your entire show in? It can’t be that more expensive to shoot a 2-second exterior of the real Brighton courthouse than to have to have either set designers or CGI artists create an exterior from scratch.

    Rizzoli & Isles does at least some of this in recreating Boston, though my personal preference would be to bring the productions here, like Spenser for Hire did.

    • Josh Zyber

      It would’ve been fine if they had at least called it the Brighton courthouse. A few seconds of Googling could have easily avoided that mistake. As it is, it’s like the writer threw a dart at a map of Boston in order to pick a location name.

      The worst fake-Boston show had to be Ally McBeal. The producers of that show made no effort at all to disguise the fact that they were really shooting in L.A.

      • There’s no Allston courthouse in THIS universe, but there is one in the double, triple or quadruple alternate Fringe universe.

        No fact checking needed. The writers can always say “another universe” and get off the hook.

    • Josh Zyber

      Quite a lot of movies shoot in Boston. Ryan Reynolds’ upcoming zombie-cop movie shot near my office for what seemed like months on end last year. But I think an ongoing production like a TV show really needs to keep costs down, and there are a lot of cheaper alternatives.

    • Ed, Watertown MA

      Leverage is probably in the middle of these three shows. They do use aerial shots of Boston but the street exteriors are never from here.

      While not shot here, at least Falling Skies kept their geographical references pretty accurate as they fought out Route 2 towards Concord.

      Ever since Martin Sheen in The Departed was thrown off the roof of the building while I was working downstairs, I’ve been paying more attention to Boston productions. Boston architecture has too many unique looks to be replicated well elsewhere. Could Mystic River and Good Will Hunting been shot in Vancouver? I don’t think so.

      • Josh Zyber

        My office building at the time (we’ve since moved) is visible in the background of that scene in The Departed. You can see it clearly behind Leo and Matt while they’re arguing on the roof. Leading up to that scene, Martin Sheen steps out of the T station exit right in front of my office.

        Back to the ridiculous Boston movies, that Nicolas Cage crapfest Knowing is set here but was actually shot in Australia. There’s a scene where he’s driving downtown and a building that’s supposed to be the Boston Public Library is depicted as being right next to the State Street T station (really several blocks away and on a completely different train line) for basically no reason at all. However, that movie ends with a CGI skyline shot of the city in which my office is consumed by a massive fireball, which I found pretty amusing.

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