The common thread that weaves each episode of Fringe together is the fundamental truth that every action has a reaction. Nothing goes without consequences. Throughout season 3, we have observed the continuous butterfly effect of Walter’s decision to keep the alternate version of his son Peter. As a result, the balance of both the alternate universe and our own have been significantly unhinged with tragic disasters on each side. However, the alternate universe has experienced far worse damage to their world. Quarantined Amber sites have become permanent reminders of the sacrifices they have made in order to ensure their survival. In an unprecedented verdict by Walternate, the decision to go forward with the destruction of our universe has begun in this week’s Fringe, ominously titled 6:02 a.m. EST.

We are still left to consider many questions. Which universe will survive and which will pay the ultimate price in order to restore balance? Is there a possibility that instead of destruction, the machine can create a world in which the two universes can exist harmoniously? These last three episodes are of the seasons promise to be most intense yet and I can hardly stand it. To say I’m not biting my nails at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, while on the edge of my seat, would be a lie. Fringe is just so cleverly written that the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place, leading to what could possibly be the most exciting of all conclusions.

This week’s episode contained various accolades to past episodes, with each of them being essential and fitting in their own way. Beginning with a quote from J. Robert Oppenheimer, Walternate fights an internal battle, clearly troubled with the decision that lies before him. In the eyes of some viewers, Walternate may be seen as the villain, ruthlessly pursuing methods in order to destroy our world. But his unvarying apprehensiveness suggests otherwise. He has not only dealt with the kidnapping of his son, but the ultimate crumbling of his world as a result of his alternate’s actions. The sacrifices made to protect his people have led him to the point where he is willing to be responsible for the death of an entire universe, parallel to his own. “Now I become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this phrase. Back in season 2, Carla Warren mentioned this phrase to Walter before he crossed over to the other side. Only this time, the quote has more meaning in Walternate’s case.

At approximately 6:02 am, the machine intended for the destruction of one universe was activated causing a series of catastrophic events in our world. Using the chromosomes found in Peter and Altlivia’s newborn baby, Henry, Alt-Brandon was able to uncover a way to initiate the machine using only half of Peter’s genetics. Everything from the decimation of vegetation and organic life forms to the mini quakes and seismic activity occurring in all parts across the country has begun to occur over here. Before the activation of the machine, an entire flock of sheep, including two farmers, disappears due to the opening of vortex over their farm. In a past episode, ‘Immortality’, it is revealed that sheep no longer exist in the alternate universe. The same occurrences happening over there is beginning mirror what is to happen over here.

There were already existing soft spots in our world that were beginning to rip, causing potential vortexes to open on both sides. With the activation of the machine, our world is beginning to deteriorate, with tears constantly popping up in numerous areas. While the team at Massive Dynamic scramble to make early detections of possible danger zones, the Fringe team in the lab continues to find alternatives to shutting down the machine. Each suggestion is shot down due to the fact that their knowledge of the machine’s mechanics are weak at best, but Peter knows another way, one that Walter has been avoiding at all costs. Peter reveals to Walter that he must merge with the machine and try to stop it from destroying our world. He’s willing to sacrifice himself in order to ensure the survival of everyone else. A poignant Walter recollects the moment in the episode ‘Firefly’, where the observer tests Walters’s ability to let go of his son. “Give me the keys and save the girl.” Walter was able to let Peter go then and a touching look between the both of them reveals that Walter must do the same again.

The moments between Peter and Walter are my favorite. Their relationship is revealing and not of the conventional sort, but they love each other despite everything they went through as father and son. Walter’s love for Peter is one that has taken him from one universe and back. He has crossed over twice, risking the world’s safety and his own, just to save his son. As Peter preps to enter the machine, they share their potentially last moment together. No words are said, but nothing has to be. ‘I love you’ doesn’t have to be said, it is understood. Broyles, Astrid, Walter, and the team of workers watch Peter as he is carried up to the machine. His hand reaches out to touch the mechanism in hopes that it would respond to him as it has in the past. Instead, he is shocked and thrown so severely that he is knocked unconscious. In the hospital, it is made known that Peter is physically okay, but the doctors cannot seem to wake him up.

Walter takes the news particularly hard and makes his way to the chapel. In season 2’s episode ‘White Tulip’ Walter bonds with a fellow scientist who is also on a mission to save a loved one that has died in the past. He reveals to the MIT professor that he believes God is punishing him for his actions and that maybe with time; God would forgive him for disturbing the balance between both worlds. John Noble was so incredibly moving and powerful in his conversation with God. Walter admits he found solace in believing that God had forgiven him. “I’ve changed. That should matter!” He was willing to let Peter die when he couldn’t do so before. On his knees, he prays to God to punish him, not Peter and to spare our world. This emotionally driven scene was the highlight of the episode. Walter’s evolution as a man, a scientist, and most importantly, a father has not only profoundly enriched his character, but will eventually give Walter the strength and determination needed to redeem himself for what he has caused.

Meanwhile, Olivia desperately searches for the increasingly mysterious Sam Weiss, who has gone missing since the activation of the machine. Weiss is shown doing several observations. When we first see Weiss, he takes out a Newton’s Cradle and places it on a desk. He watches the iconic device and eventually the metal balls start moving on their own. Perhaps there is another unseen force present? Could it be there was a significant change in energy to cause the cradle to be set in motion? The next time we see Weiss he is continuing his observance on the effects of the machine, while solving a mathematical equation. If you watch closely, his equation equals zero. The look on his face suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the way events are unfolding.

Olivia is distracted from her hunt for Weiss, when she hears the news about Peter. As she sits and processes what she has just learnt at the hospital, she observes the shadows on the ground. She walks outside to see the sunrise, her favorite time of day, when the world is full of potential. At the moment, Sam Weiss appears and tells her to trust him because they don’t have much time. Desperate for answers, she follows him as Weiss takes her to the machine.

On the other side, Altlivia learns of Walternate’s plans to destroy the other universe. The information doesn’t sit well with her, as this would mean the annihilation of people from the other side, not to mention that the father of her child is over there as well. In a bold attempt to bring Peter back, she tries to cross universes with the device stolen from Alt-Brandon. Her attempt fails, resulting in her lockup in the same cell that Olivia was once in. Walternate explains to her that she has the luxury of sticking to her ideals, while he must remain realistic. Walternate feels as if this is the only solution to their crisis. He then says she will remain there until all of this is over. Although, I have a strong feeling she won’t remain locked up for much longer. She’ll escape either on her own or with the help of Charlie and Lincoln.

On a side note, Altlivia could also be easily seen as the villain much like Walternate. Nevertheless, after her complicated relationship with Peter and the birth of her baby, she has become a more likeable, complicated character. She’s out to protect her loved ones as much as Olivia is protecting hers.

Although unprepared for the final events that are unfolding right in front of them, the Fringe team seems to be where they need to be in these tragic times. Walter taking huge strides to let his son go, Peter bravely facing his destiny with the machine, and Olivia preparing to hear answers from Sam Weiss. This episode sets the stage for the countdown to the end of one universe. Next week’s Fringe marks the episode right before the season finale. From the looks of it, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Fringe airs on FOX at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST

Article first published as TV Review: Fringe – “6:02 a.m. EST” on Blogcritics.

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Fringe review: LSD

April 18, 2011

It took me 3 weeks to catch up on Fringe season 2 and finally season 3, but it was well worth my time. From the moment I popped in a season 2 DVD, I couldn’t stop watching. Every episode is captivating in its own right, continually building on the one before it. The originality, as well as the suspense and imaginative nature of the show are what make it most intriguing. What strikes me most is that I genuinely love every single episode, even if some are not as substantial as others. They are all important, as if each one were cleverly woven into an intricate web of events all connecting one to the other. It’s a show filled with a plethora of bizarre, scientific occurrences that seem to break the laws of physics every time. And now in it’s final episodes of season 3, in which the storytelling is on a creative high, everything is about to come to a heart stopping collision.

In this week’s Fringe, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or referred to as LSD, there are many vital matters stirring. The Fringe team must find a way to extract William Bell’s consciousness from Olivia’s body before she becomes lost within her mind permanently. It is of Bell’s own suggestion that they go into her mind to retrieve her after a failed experiment in which he tries to inhabit another body. I must add that Anna Torv’s impression of Leonard Nemoy is not only fun to watch, but surprisingly accurate with mannerisms, eyebrow movements, and all. After an indirect comment from Peter, Walter realizes that they could utilize LSD as an access drug into Olivia’s subconscious.

The beloved Dr. Bishop and quite possibly my favorite character is no stranger to drugs as seen in several episodes. He is rather unconventional, but ultimately brilliant and at times, a much needed comic relief. (On a side note, after all Walter has done, from essentially destroying one parallel universe by taking a son that wasn’t his to disrupting the natural balance of things, it is exceptionally hard to be angry with him for what is his doing. All of this was done out of the love he has for his son, one that expands beyond two universes.) Walter gives himself and Peter LSD in a form of a sugar cube with an accelerant to speed up the process. With the gateway drug in their system, they enter Olivia’s mind and find themselves in a Matrix meets Inception like world. Detected as foreign invaders, the inhabitants of Olivia’s subconscious chase Peter and Walter as they try to make their way to the Two Towers where they received a signal from Bell.

After they reach their destination, they are surprised to not only find Bell, but that he is only in the form of a cartoon. In fact, when both Peter and Walter step into the room, they both become animated. I think that the purpose of unfolding the rest of this episode in animation was to instill the fact that they are still heavily under the influence of LSD or perhaps it was because Olivia resorted to being in the form of a child, therefore everything takes place in a cartoon fashion. The great thing about Fringe is there are so many theories and speculations that one could come up with as to why things are occurring. There could be many explanations as to why they choose to do the majority of the episode in animation, but I have a strong feeling that LSD was the biggest contributing factor.

As they resolve to find out where Olivia might be hiding, Peter suggests they look in Jacksonville based on the fact that’s the last place people would look for her. While having this conversation, Massive Dynamic zombie scientists bust the door behind them ready to get rid of the invaders. (Yes, Massive Dynamic zombie scientists, just when you thought you’ve seen it all.) Peter fights them off as Walter and Bell escape into the Zeppelin. To be honest, I thoroughly enjoy an ass-kicking Peter, even in cartoon form. They successful escape the zombies and begin their journey to Jacksonville. On the way, Walter reveals to Bell his insecurities about how to save Peter from the machine as well as his fears about repairing the damage that he has caused between both universes. One very important aspect to take away from this scene was that Bell admitted that Walter has something now that he hasn’t had before: humility. Back when they were partners in the lab, we got a sense that they experimented for their own personal gain without a regard for the consequences that were to follow. Walter has not only seen for himself the damage done by his actions on the other side, but also has had an observer show him the consequences of crossing over. In the episode ‘Firefly’, it was revealed that because Peter caught a firefly instead of a little girl, she went missing. Her worried father went out looking for her in the rainy weather and as a result, hit a young man on the street and killed him. The son was of a famous keyboardist that was directly introduced to Walter by the observer. These series of events would have never occurred if Walter had never crossed over. Walter’s sense of humility has substantially grown since then and when the time comes, I believe he will make difficult choices that will significantly impact the route of the story.

During their ride, a mysterious man is seen sabotaging their journey by cutting their fuel. As Peter goes to investigate, he abruptly meets the man. We have never seen this character before. He is an older man, wearing a white t-shirt with an X on it. I have my own theories about who he is, but I will watch the next episode first before I really start speculating about this. All we know is that he is integral and is somehow a part of Olivia’s mind. Could it be that the X stands for “X marks the spot” or “I’m it” scenario? There are so many things to ponder. Walter finds Peter with the man after he wanders after his son. The X man blows a hole through the Zeppelin propelling both himself and Walter out. Walter falls into what seems like the place where he crossed over for the first time (Hmm) and awakens to reality.

Peter and Bell continue without Walter and eventually find Olivia in her old house. Peter is, at first, extremely relieved to find Olivia safe, but after looking into her eyes and examining her, he concludes that she is not Olivia. He passes the test and a little girl approaches him from the dining table and reveals that only Peter would recognize who she really was. Peter has now learned to recognize “his” Olivia after everything he went through with Altlivia. His recognition of her is a true turning point for them after their ordeal with the parallel universes. After they make contact, a subtle lullaby comes on in the background and Olivia’s stepfather walks intently toward them. Peter and Olivia run out of the house only to find danger awaiting them. They run desperately away from the cars that seem bent on running them over. Peter loses his grasp on Olivia while running and eventually pushes her out of the way before a car nearly crashes into her, resulting in Peter getting hit and being thrown back into reality.

It is now up to Bell to save Olivia from the dangers of her mind. As they continue to run, Bell falls and tells Olivia to keep going. Olivia then turns around, a look of determination and realization on her face, and tells the projections in her mind to stop and that she is no longer afraid of them. Her stepfather and the army behind him come to a hault and are seemingly, no longer dangerous. Our view pans to a now adult Olivia, in which Bell makes his final conclusions of what has happened. He thought by inhabiting her consciousness, she would be safe within the realms of herself, but that is not the case. Bell points out that she has never felt safe and that she is her own worst enemy, deeply haunted by her past. She couldn’t be safe inside her mind because that is where her fears are intensely rooted, which have since overwhelmed her at times. Despite this, Olivia found the courage to fight back against her demons, finding that she is strong enough to overcome her deepest fears.

Bell then reveals to Olivia that she must return to her body, but that he would not be returning with her. He leaves a message with Olivia before she goes: “I knew the dog wouldn’t hunt.” The sound of thunder reverberates around them and she is sent back to her body, greeted by the faces of Walter, Peter, and Astrid. Walter quickly goes to see if Bell has transferred himself to a computer as originally planned but is devastated to find that Bell did not return to them. Olivia then delivers the message to him, in which Walter reveals that Bell would only use that phrase when he knew an experiment wouldn’t work. Bell is now gone, but I think that the purpose of bringing him back was to be Walter’s temporary anchor. As colleagues and lab partners, they have found themselves experimenting with the impossible and beyond. If there were a person that could inspire Walter and give him hope and the information he needed to save his son and the two universes, it would always be Bell. Now that he is gone, Walter must do this on his own with the research that Bell has left behind at Massive Dynamic.

The episode concludes with Peter and Olivia in her apartment, both at ease after what had happened earlier. As with any typical Fringe episode, the mind-boggling twist that only spurs more questions is at the end, leaving you thirsty for more. Peter looks at a picture that Olivia has drawn and it is of the man that he had an encounter with on the Zeppelin. Curiously, he asks Olivia who the man is. Olivia, very calmly and without any fear at all says, “I think that’s the man that’s going to kill me.” At this moment, I nearly drop my remote. Could it be that Olivia has been stripped of all her fear? If so, how will this affect her natural survival instincts in the future? Who is this man that she declares will kill her? How in the world does she even know that fact? There are so many questions that I find myself waiting impatiently for next Friday. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain, she is no longer afraid and it doesn’t look good for what’s about to come.

*on a side note, Broyles was absolutely hilarious while under the influence of LSD. Such great comic relief for what is understandably a very serious episode*

To be honest, my initial pull towards ABC’s newest show, Mr. Sunshine, was having the opportunity to see the fantastically hilarious Matthew Perry gracing my television screen once again. Why not give it a shot? It looks funny, clever, and my DVR is rather lonely. After watching more episodes that followed, I found myself not only enjoying the charm of Benjamin Donovan, as well as the other charismatic characters, but also finding the time to tune in every week at 9:30. As a viewer that takes a chance with any new television show, I want to be entertained, sucked in, and hungry for more. The last thing I want to think about is how to get back that hour of my life. But that was not the case with Mr. Sunshine. Ever since the pilot, I’ve been instantly drawn to its humor and ready for more.

In this week’s episode, simply named, “The Assistant”, loyalties and boundaries are put to the test. Under pressure from Alice, who has been apparently asking for an assistant for some time, Ben finally gives in and hires her the most unusual of all assistants: Roman. An optimistic, patient, and overall innocent personality seems like an unfit match, but Alice finally accepts.

Meanwhile, Crystal confronts Ben about the inappropriateness of the arena’s PR person during recent events. During their conversation, Ben reveals to Crystal that one of her employees, Nadia, has passed away. She quickly decides to have a funeral for her in the arena at the same time as the rodeo.

As Ben escapes into his office, his own potentially crazy assistant, Heather, reveals that she went through his email and found a message sent to him by Alice. Ben reads eagerly and finds that Alice feels as if the two of them had drifted apart and she misses him. Could it be that she actually misses him? Heather suggests that Alice is “open-minded” in having both Ben and Alonzo. Confused, he instantly juggles with the idea that there still might be something between the two of them. Unbeknownst to him, that email was meant for her current boyfriend Alonzo.

Accidentally sending a personal email about her relationship issues to Ben sets in motion a wave of hilarious problems. Alice’s true email to Ben was a question about having lunch with the Pizza King people, which was mistakenly sent to Alfonzo instead. When Ben arrives at her office, he surprisingly finds Alice, Alonzo, and… Alonzo’s ex wife? The interactions between all of them are awkward to say the least with Ben trying to find out more about the suggestive email and the presence of Alonzo’s ex wife, Tanya, creating an odd atmosphere in her office.

Without success, Ben recruits Roman to find out more about the email, while Alice finds out that Alfonzo is not yet officially divorced. This comes hot on the heels after feeling uncomfortable with the amount of time her boyfriend is spending with his ex wife. Roman divulges this truth to Ben, unaware that later Ben would ask Alice what was going on in her relationship and if it had to do with the email. Alice realizes that the only person she revealed that information to was Roman. Understandably let down, she storms away from Ben. Not so much sunshine at the Sunshine Center.

In the meantime, Crystal continues to mourn the loss of her close friend and employee by bringing in her family. She notices that most of the family’s clothing and belongings are familiar. Where has she seen those items before? The truth dawns on her as she realizes those items are her possessions. Her cleaning lady has been stealing her jewelry and fur. Ben suggests she cancel the funeral, but she doesn’t think canceling would be the best option. She decides she’ll take the high road, the dignified path, and “[rip] that old potato-peeler a new one in her eulogy.”

Afterwards, Ben finds Roman grouchy and sad welcoming employees at the entrance of the Sunshine office. Roman tells Ben that Alice has fired him for betraying her trust. Ben goes straight to her office to ask about Roman and the email. After much hilarious banter between the two, Alice informs Ben that the email was sent mistakenly to him, which was truly meant for Alonzo. After watching these two character interact for several episodes, it’s hard for me not to cheer them on and wishfully think that someday they will be together.

Before the funeral service, Crystal meets the granddaughter of Nadia, which to her great surprise, is named Crystal. By the look on her face, the audience can deduce that she’s had a mild change of heart. We close the episode in the arena, where the funeral is taking place. Of course, everything inappropriate that could happen indeed happens. It’s not everyday that you attend a funeral, in which the deceased is called a skank. But at the close of Crystal’s speech, she acknowledges that her cleaning lady was her friend and that she will be missed.

Crystal, acknowledging that Nadia had been disloyal, ultimately decides to forgive her. In the audience, Alfonzo apologizes to Alice and promises her that his focus will remain on what he has in front of him. Apologies are served all around. Ben expresses regret that he took advantage of his friendship, which resulted in the firing of Roman. His apology is sincere and even offers to find his friend another job. Roman is cheerful and accepts the apology, noting that he had been rehired by Alice to continue his job as the good-natured assistant.

Ben is, dare I say it, changing for the better. In the first couple of episodes, it was expressed by many that Ben was selfish, self-centered, and egotistical. In the recent episodes, however, I find that Ben is slowly evolving. He’s becoming more aware of people’s feelings and their perception of him. By being receptive, he is proving to others and himself that he can be thoughtful and considerate, despite his own needs. As a character, his evolution is just starting to pick up off the ground, but with time and more character development, I truly think that this show can be a hit and find a proper footing with a regular audience.

My upcoming review

March 31, 2011

Going to do my first review ever tomorrow! I’ve decided to write a little something about the new comedy Mr. Sunshine starring Matthew Perry. I find myself growing attached to the show, not because Mr. Perry is once again on my television screen (a big yay here), but because I honestly think that this comedy has potential to be so great.

I need to re-watch the episode to get the details and observe anything that I missed, but hopefully I will have it up tomorrow night.

-J