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July 28, 2014

'Fringe' Season 3, Episode 20 Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Apr 23rd 2011 12:10PM
fringe s03e20['Fringe' – '6:02 AM EST']

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel ... tense.

This week's episode of 'Fringe' gave us a lot to ponder as the team hopped out of Olivia's head and back into the warring universes plot.

With only two episodes left this season, one big question still remains unanswered: Which universe will perish and which will prevail? Or -- to add another question to the pile -- is it possible for both worlds to somehow coexist without bringing harm to each other?

There were many appropriate and haunting callbacks to past episodes featured here, starting with an uneasy Walternate quoting J. Robert Oppenheimer: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Astute viewers will recall that Carla Warren uttered the very same quote to Walter in an attempt to sway him from crossing into the other universe in the Season 2 episode 'Peter.' (It didn't work.) Walternate repeated the quote here while pausing to reflect on the seriousness of the danger he was about to unleash on Our World.

Like I mentioned a few weeks back, Walternate has always been a reluctant monster. Here again, he reminded us that he doesn't want to shatter our universe, but he's forced to in order to keep his world ticking. As Walternate told Fauxlivia in this week's final scene, he has to be "pragmatic," and he doesn't have the luxury of his ideals.

Walternate's internal struggle seems to mirror our very real shared fears, safety concerns and personal conflicts in these perilous, war-torn times. His beleaguered face makes you wonder: Would I sacrifice my own soul and destroy lives to keep my loved ones safe?

Of course, 'Fringe' wouldn't be able to successfully provoke such deep questions, feelings and thoughts without such a top-notch cast. It's time to officially join the fan-led #EmmysForFringeAndCast Twitter campaign. The leads have all delivered stellar performances this season, and this ep was no exception. These actors have risen to the season's many challenges and have created some truly unforgettable characters with soul and nuance. Everyone nailed it tonight, but John Noble and Anna Torv were standouts.

It's hard to accept that the show might lose someone before the season ends. It's likely that the character who's marked for death is someone from the Other Side, but that doesn't really make me feel any better. It hurt losing Alt Broyles a few weeks ago, and I don't think I could bear losing, say, Fauxlivia. (OK, I could bear it, but it would really suck!) But, much like the doomsday machine, the plan is in motion and there's no stopping it now.

The end is seemingly near. Baby Henry's blood kick started the machine Over There, which led to a series of disastrous vortexes Over Here. Our World is beginning to resemble the Alt Verse more and more, with dangerous vortexes springing up in random places and Massive Dynamic struggling to contain them with amber. (Kinda makes you wonder if the two worlds will somehow merge at the end of this season? That, my fellow nerds, would be totally insane!)

With the world going bonkers, Peter decided to try and calm the storm by merging with the machine. There was a lot I liked about this development, including that unexpected paralyzing shock Peter received when he touched the metal. I didn't see that one coming thanks to the epic set-up with some swelling music and Peter getting all gussied up in his badass black jumpsuit. But the larger rewards of Peter's decision came in the form of some amazing character moments for Peter and Walter.

Convinced the machine was calling out to him, Peter told Walter that he was willing to risk his own life in order to save the world. Walter was reminded of the events of 'The Firefly,' when he followed The Observer's orders to "give him [Peter] the keys and save the girl." He realized that The Observer was preparing him to let Peter go. By sacrificing Peter, Walter would seemingly get a chance to atone for his sins and to fix the colossal problem he created back in the '80s.

I really enjoyed the emotional beats here between Peter and Walter. These two have come a long way in their relationship this season, and the actors are able to convey the deep love and respect the characters share for each other without having to say obvious lines like, "I love you."

Perhaps the most emotional and memorable scene of the night was the one with Walter alone in the chapel. The man of science sought comfort in faith after Peter was knocked unconscious. That alone was striking, but Noble almost brought me to tears with his conversation with God, which eventually turned into a prayer and a plea for God to save Peter and the world. Walter didn't care about being forgiven at that point; he was willing to take his punishment if it meant the world would be spared.

Walter has changed, as he said in the chapel scene. He's gone from a man who would risk destroying the universe to satiate his own personal desires to a humbled man who is willing to lose everything to put things right. That's some character arc!

In the middle of all the anxiety Over Here, Fauxlivia was acting all sneaky Over There in an attempt to cross universes and bring Peter back. It's hard to know where Fauxlivia's head is now. She's not sure how to save the worlds, but that's not stopping her from trying to return Over Here to find Peter. She has a baby Over There, but she's seemingly willing to risk the destruction of her world to help save us. Maybe she knows something we don't. Here's hoping she figures out how to bust out of Walternate's jail cell.

This ep did feel a little truncated, but that's bound to happen now that the season is coming to a close. We're approaching the end of the arc, which means more week-to-week cliffhangers and uber-serialized plotting. Next Friday can't come soon enough.

So there's one more big question that I want answered before Season 3 is over: Who or what is Sam Weiss, and what's his role in the multiple universes insanity? He's on his way to the machine with Olivia, so hopefully we'll get some answers in next week's episode, titled 'The Last Sam Weiss.'

Oh, and one more burning question: Why does Walter always go naked on Tuesdays?

'Fringe' airs Fridays at 9PM.

Follow @mikemoody on Twitter.

Watch the full episode here:



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Chey

Did anyone notice the scientist in alternate universe mention "Faraday Gauge"? Does that really exist or was it an easter egg nod to "Lost"?

April 24 2011 at 2:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Chey's comment
Mark Cohen

It's a Faraday cage, not gauge:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks out external static electric fields. Faraday cages are named after the English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

April 24 2011 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noseless_wonder

It is noted on Daniel Faraday's Lostpedia page that the character was most likely named after Michael Faraday (the inventor), so the connection's definitely there, even if it wasn't intentional. Fringe has done Lost shout-outs before, though.

April 25 2011 at 3:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob

My impression of the Sam Weiss character,... I think he's a "Guinan" type character (from Star Trek:TNG). Some being that isn't just an observer, but interacts among civilizations over millions of years. IDK,.. just a thought.

April 24 2011 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob

My impression of the Sam Weiss character,... I think he's a "Guinan" type character (from Star Trek:TNG). Some being that isn't just an observer, but interacts among civilizations over millions of years. IDK,.. just a thought.

April 24 2011 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Alan

Another fine, fine outing for the best show on television. Loved the callbacks (you didn't mention the white tulip reference, which was a highlight).

And, yeah, any Emmy voter who doesn't vote for John Noble should pretty much never be allowed to vote again. Sorry I'm not on Twitter, but he's got my support!

April 24 2011 at 2:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ThomK

I guess BruceM didn't get the news that Fringe was renewed for next season about a month ago.

April 24 2011 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jalfrdprfrck

I have always thought the two universes would collide or mesh somehow. But that would be awfully "Dark Crystal," wouldn't it?

April 24 2011 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jalfrdprfrck's comment
noseless_wonder

John Noble was quoted on another site for saying, "You'll see a variation (between his roles as Walter and Walternate)." Considering this quote, I think your theory might have weight to it.

April 24 2011 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BruceM

Amazing how we could have 42 minutes of Fringe and not learn a single new piece of information. Seriously, nothing really happened (just the appearance of things happening). Not in this episode OR the last one, for that matter. It's really frustrating because I like this show a lot. I thought we were about to get some answers from Sam Weiss, but NOPE. Looks like that's for the next episode, but I bet a shapeshifter or someone will shoot and kill Weiss right before he talks and tells us anything informative. Blah.

Since the show is damn near certain to be cancelled (they're already giving away props from the set), I hope they get to wrap it up nicely. Also, I would be really disappointed if the "war of the alt-worlds" plot was resolved and the show DID continue to go on, this plot must be the ultimate end-game for the show. I'm actually surprised we're so close to a resolution (or so it seems). Maybe Fox was kind enough to give the writers adequate notice of the show's impending cancellation. With no 4th season, they're wrapping it up as best they can.

April 23 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BruceM's comment
noseless_wonder

Actually, Fringe was renewed for season 4 quite a while ago. (Source: http://www.tv.com/finally!-fringe-gets-renewed-for-season-4/story/25456.html & 30 seconds of research on Google)

What had to happen to make you happy? There was a lot accomplished regarding the main story in this episode, which was a pleasant surprise after the "filler" involving the soul magnets and the half-season deviation from the main story.

-The rips formed in "this" universe and we saw the first frightening effects of the collision
-Sam started taking action to fix the problem instead of remaining in the role of "distant and uninvolved adviser" that he's enjoyed so far
-We learned Walternate is using his grandson as a genetic stand-in for Peter
-"This" universes' Deus Ex Machina (Peter) completely failed in his attempt to use the weapon
-Fauxlivia tried to go back

This is just what I've noticed and remembered off the top of my head. In any case, this is a set-up episode for the season finale. Episodes this close to the finale in any series are notorious for getting little accomplished but moving the characters a little closer to where they need to be during the finale. The characters all made physical and emotional progress towards the climax.

April 24 2011 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
BruceM

Amazing how we could have 42 minutes of Fringe and not learn a single new piece of information. Seriously, nothing really happened (just the appearance of things happening). Not in this episode OR the last one, for that matter. It's really frustrating because I like this show a lot. I thought we were about to get some answers from Sam Weiss, but NOPE. Looks like that's for the next episode, but I bet a shapeshifter or someone will shoot and kill Weiss right before he talks and tells us anything informative. Blah.

Since the show is damn near certain to be cancelled (they're already giving away props from the set), I hope they wrap it up nicely. Also, I would be really disappointed if the "war of the alt-worlds" plot was resolved and the show DID continue to go on, this plot must be the ultimate end-game for the show. I'm actually surprised we're so close to a resolution (or so it seems). Maybe Fox was kind enough to give the writers adequate notice of the show's impending cancellation. With no 4th season, they're wrapping it up as best they can.

April 23 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
noseless_wonder

I think Fauxlivia's going to be the one to go. The conversations with her mother and partner about keeping the little one safe seem to hint in that direction. I wonder if Fauxlivia will end up being the key to both universe's survival instead of Peter.

This episode really reminded me of why I like Walter (besides the weekly humorous Walterisms). "White Tulip" has remained one of my favorite episodes. I love that they referenced it - and I loved how they wrote Walter's conversation with God.

April 23 2011 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to noseless_wonder's comment
noseless_wonder

Whoops! I don't know why that double posted. Sorry about that!

April 23 2011 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noseless_wonder

I think Fauxlivia's going to be the one to go. The conversations with her mother and partner about keeping the little one safe seem to hint in that direction. I wonder if Fauxlivia will end up being the key to both universe's survival instead of Peter.

This episode really reminded me of why I like Walter (besides the weekly humorous Walterisms). "White Tulip" has remained one of my favorite episodes. I love that they referenced it - and I loved how they wrote Walter's conversation with God.

April 23 2011 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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