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July 31, 2014

'Fringe' Season 3, Episode 11 Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 29th 2011 1:15PM
'Fringe' - 'Reciprocity'['Fringe' - 'Reciprocity' Recap]

With all the craziness we see every week on 'Fringe,' it's sometimes easy to forget that at it's heart and core this is a story about three people. And in a more significant way, it's a story about family.

Considering Peter's from an alternate Earth, and Walter's had chunks of his brain removed, they're not the most normal of families. And then there's Olivia. who's as close to them as a daughter and sister, and yet emotionally so much more than even that.

I don't mean romantically, though the undertones are there. It's a connection that only people who've been through what they have can share. That's why this week's episode was so powerful. Something is broken and possibly shattered in one of our family now.

After dealing with the always mind-bending Observers last week, it was nice to slow down and focus on the core of this show. Concepts are nothing without great character to hang them around, and 'Fringe' has developed some of the best the genre has ever seen. The storyline with Fauxlivia alone elevated the characters of both Peter and Olivia onto a new level.

And how about the shout-out on-screen to the Internet's choice for Alternate Olivia's name, Fauxlivia. The people have spoken and the show has listened. No more of that Bolivia crap, hopefully.

'Fringe' also got an unexpected last-minute gift from The CW this week. For those who were curious and don't already know, 'Fringe' did very well on its first Friday outing, after that long hiatus. It held onto more than expected of it's Thursday audience, and if it can maintain these kinds of numbers, it's chances of a fourth season stand much improved.

One of the things people worried about was it going up against 'Supernatural,' which was in repeats last week. Will the competition hurt one or both shows? Well, thanks to 'American Idol' fear, we'll have to wait another week to find out. The CW bumped the mid-season premieres of both 'Smallville' and 'Supernatural' a week so they could re-air their Thursday night lineup. As it turned out, the shows held up just fine, and now The CW just looks stupid.

But their paranoia gave 'Fringe' another week to establish itself on Friday nights, and they couldn't have picked a better episode to do it with. The relationship and love between the Winchesters is one of the strengths of 'Supernatural,' and it is that emotional connection that can hold an audience. 'Fringe' spotlighted the love between Walter and Peter beautifully.

I'll admit to letting my concentration wander a bit as the episode progressed. We'd dealt with shapeshifters dying before. I was far more interested in the machine and its apparent connection to the machine Walternate wanted built, and Massive Dynamic is building. I should have had more faith in the writers and creators of this show. They almost never let me down.

Revealing Peter as the serial killer of the shapeshifters led to so many questions. At first I speculated it could just be him reacting to all that's happened since the reveal of Fauxlivia. In other words, I completely missed the seemingly innocuous peanut butter and jelly session from earlier in the episode. Peter coming in late and admitting to not sleeping well was indicative that something had changed within him.

What that is remains to be seen, but it's now created a split within the family dynamic after Walter walked in on Peter dispatching the last of the five shapeshifters on Fauxlivia's data. At least the five Olivia was able to find with her strange 'Olive' revelation. I'll admit, that particular reveal seemed a little flimsy to me, but then I haven't seen all the data and I don't think like the Olivias.

After Olivia finally took a moment to think how Fauxlivia's deception might have impacted Peter, and came face-to-face with her own feelings about Peter in Fauxlivia's diary-like notes, it was even more tragic to see his stoic expression in the closing scenes.

In fact, Joshua Jackson was downright intimidating throughout this episode. He played the slow boil of whatever the machine has done to him beautifully. The dead looks he gave to Walter when he was discovered in the shapeshifter's house had me actually a bit worried for Walter's safety.

Peter looked dangerous and unpredictable then, and no less threatening in the closing scene when Walter suggested that the machine had weaponized him. He may have verbally asked for Walter's help in figuring out what to do about it, but he didn't reveal to Olivia that he had killed the shapeshifters; a potential lead in figuring out Walternate's plans.

And Walter kept his secret. Much like when Olivia kept Walter's secret about Peter's origin on another world. The problem is that while it makes for great drama when this family unit is keeping secrets from one another, it only leads to heartache later -- which actually is more great television, so what am I complaining about?

They've definitely got me on board now with this notion that Peter can be automated by the machine. Does that mean he could become the "big bad" for the remainder of the season. The scene when Walter walked into his room and saw his plans was such a beautifully tragic moment. Walter saw that the son he loved and knew was harboring a horrific secret. Compound that feeling across the team if Peter started actively working for the other side, even if he wasn't in control of himself.

Then there's that latent guilt once he's inevitably brought back into the fold later. OK, I'm not writing the series, so I have no idea what direction they're going to go in. But it's fun to speculate, and the fact that we do get so invested in what could happen is a sign that they're doing a great job of building their story.

I'm even excited to say that I honestly now have no idea what to expect next. And I didn't even touch on the heavy discussion about the first people and how they might connect to everything, other than the machine itself. Yet another avenue for secrets and connections to be revealed. Who needs Syfy Fridays when you've got 'Fringe' Fridays?

'Fringe' air Fridays, 9PM ET on Fox.

[Follow Jason, @ultraversion21, on Twitter.]

Watch the full episode here:

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Debbie

I am a big Fringe fan and loved this episode. I interpreted the episode a little differently. I didn't take the fact that Peter had the designs in his room as he was working for the other side but that he is really concerned about his role in the machine, war between the worlds. I also didn't take Walters concern as Peter had actually turned into a machine but that the Peter is becoming consumed with the machine and what it is going to be used for and his role in it all.

Besides missing the innuendo in the peanut butter sandwich, you also missed Peter coming in and placing his "bag" down. He had obviously been out and had just made it home.

Love this show and am glad it is keeping its ratings on Friday!

PS sorry if my grammar and plurals are not correct but I wasn't!

January 31 2011 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chuck

you know, Aaron, I am an English teacher. When I write something, I double and triple-check every single thing to look for things like spelling, grammar, "its" vs. "it's" and the "their, there, they're" and everything. I run it through spelling and grammar checks . . . the whole shebang. And sometimes I miss something, and an error gets through. And it's embarrassing, yeah. But you know what's more embarrassing? Being the kind of person who can only communicate online by pointing out other people's nit-picky writing mistakes. You know, someone who does a good job but the occasional thing gets through. Because you'd have to be a complete TOOL to think that something like that matters, or that the rest of the people out there give a rat's crap about how great you are at picking out the faults of others.

January 30 2011 at 7:04 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Ayliss

I didn't even touch on the heavy discussion about the first people and how they might connect to everything, other than the machine itself. http://www.ayliss.co.uk/

January 29 2011 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aaron

"...Walter's had chunks of his brain removed, their not the most normal of families."

They're.

Your writers need better grammar lessons.

January 29 2011 at 6:04 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Aaron's comment
RG_S

Seriously? It was necessary to log in and comment on that? Ech...

Personally, I thought the episode interesting, though a little repetitive. Going to MD, going back to Boston, going back to MD, back to Boston... someone must have a nice stack of frequent flyer miles by now. They need to bring Newton back, so that we can have a legitimate - permanent - bad guy in 'our' universe.

January 29 2011 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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