‘Fringe’ is finally getting down to business. This past Friday’s episode is heavy on the show’s “mythology” and takes big strides to move the war between universes forward toward the season finale. I still don’t really like some of the goofier parts of this storyline (many of which are a big part of this episode), but I definitely feel like I need some resolution to them anyway.
Episode ‘6:02 AM EST’ bounces back and forth between the two universes. In the alternate dimension, Walternate has taken the blood sample from Fauxlivia’s baby and extracted the half of the DNA that came from Peter. This is enough for him to turn on the doomsday machine. Doing so causes the machine in our universe to turn on as well in some sort of sympathetic response. This triggers “vortex gravitational events” in our world, much like those that have torn apart the alternate universe. The first occurs at the title time over a farm. When more start appearing, the government tries to cover them up with a severe weather warning.
Although Nina and Massive Dynamic have been working on an amber containment system like that used in the alternate universe, they only have enough raw material to stop 8-10 of these rifts. Walter declares that this is the end of the world. “Walternate has won,” he says. Peter isn’t so ready to give up, and volunteers to get in the machine. He thinks that, if the machine was designed to respond to him, he may be able to shut it off. Walter isn’t at all happy about this, but understands that he has to be willing to sacrifice his son to save their universe (a lesson taught by the Observers earlier this season).
Back in her universe, Fauxlivia realizes that something fishy is going on when Fringe Division detects a Class 10 event on Liberty Island that Walternate immediately tries to cover up. She confronts Walternate about the doomsday weapon, and he basically tells her to shut the hell up about it and leave him alone, in only marginally more polite words.
Having developed a conscience, Fauxlivia leaves her baby with her mother, breaks into Liberty Island, and steals some doohickeys that will help her cross over to warn Peter. The way this episode is written is really weird, in that no one (including Fauxlivia) seems to remember that she’s done this crossing over before. They all act like it’s a new thing that’s never been tried. Anyway, the device fails and Fauxlivia is captured by Walternate, who locks her up in the same cell that he’d previously held the other Olivia in.
On this side, the machine violently rejects Peter when he tries to get in. Some sort of electric shock knocks him off a scaffolding. He falls and gets a head concussion, and has to be rushed to a hospital. Out of any other options, Walter pleads with God to save his son.
This episode also features the return of Kevin Corrigan as the mysterious Sam Weiss, author of all those books about the First People. After the first vortex event, Sam recognizes that something has begun, and goes missing for a while. We see him later observing and measuring one of the vortexes. At the end, he finds Olivia at the hospital and asks her to come with him to the machine. That’s basically what we’re left with as a cliffhanger.
Considering how lowly I think of the First People storyline, the prophecies about Peter being some sort of messiah, the ancient doomsday weapon that’s been designed to respond only to his DNA, and the completely arbitrary and nonsensical rules for how characters cross between universes, this is otherwise a pretty good episode that begins to bring all of the season’s disparate plot threads together.
I fully expect the season finale to be a bullshit cliffhanger letdown, but wouldn’t it be really cool if this year ended with Walternate winning, our universe being destroyed, and all of next season taking place entirely on the other side? I doubt the show’s writers would ever have the balls to do that, but it would sure perk up my attention.