I said last week that the ‘Fringe’ episode in which Olivia finally returned home from the alternate universe felt very much like a finale, or at least a “fall finale.” I was surprised to see one more episode scheduled before the holiday break. And now that I’ve seen it, I’m still just as mystified by the decision. Not that it isn’t a good episode, though. In fact, in some ways, it may be one of the season’s best.
In ‘Marionette’, Olivia attempts to re-adjust to life back home, which is made very difficult by the realization that someone else had been sleeping in her bed, wearing her clothes, and living her life for the past several months. She understands intellectually what happened, but emotionally she’s a wreck all the same. This isn’t at all helped when Peter comes clean to her about his relationship with Fauxlivia. Olivia says that she doesn’t blame him and acts like she can just brush it off, but underneath she’s clearly devastated.
Attempting to get her mind off these problems, Olivia goes back to work and focuses on a new case-of-the-week that has nothing to do with the alternate universe. A man has been going around repossessing the organs from people who’d had transplant surgery. In the first, he pulls out a man’s heart, yet the victim continues to live for several minutes afterward for reasons that Walter can’t quite explain.
The perpetrator has developed a way to stall decomposition, and has been rebuilding the body of a young ballerina who killed herself. Strangely, he wasn’t her boyfriend or father. He’s just a man she barely knew, who nonetheless became obsessed with her. Now, he believes he can reverse-Frankenstein her back together and bring her back to life.
He even succeeds, sort of. But revived body doesn’t survive more than a few minutes. Worse, when he looks into her eyes, he’s terrified by what he sees. After Olivia arrests him, he explains, “I don’t know what I brought back, but it wasn’t her.”
This really hits Olivia hard. She has a little breakdown later and confronts Peter, demanding that he explain how he could have not known that Fauxlivia wasn’t her. If he really loved her, he should have been able to tell. “She’s taken everything,” Olivia says. She doesn’t want to live in her apartment anymore, she doesn’t want to wear her clothes, and she doesn’t want to be with Peter. Everything’s been stolen from her, and she can never get any of it back.
As far as plotting goes, this is a strange episode to end the year with. It doesn’t feel like a finale at all, whereas the previous one did. The case itself is pretty interesting, but nothing exceptional by the show’s standards. However, the episode really packs an emotional whallop, and that’s something that ‘Fringe’ rarely even attempts.
The series will return at the end of January in a new Friday night timeslot. That must be a consequence of its slipping ratings, and doesn’t signal much faith from the network that it will ever recover. I hope the producers are planning some sort of closure for the eventual season finale. The way things are going, the show probably won’t be renewed for a fourth year.