Tuesday, 26 April 2011

'FRINGE' 3.20 – "6:02 AM EST"

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

There are only three episodes left this season, and "6:02 AM EST" was primarily an hour that refreshed our memory of pertinent storylines and moved the characters into positions for the big finale. There were some great character moments to savor and a few surprising moments, but overall this episode was only "good" in the sense that it focused on the nitty-gritty of season 3's concerns (the Doomsday Device in particular) and made some welcome adjustments before the real fun begins...

This week, Walternate (John Noble) finally managed to turn his Doomsday Machine on using the DNA of his newborn grandson as a substitute for Peter (Joshua Jackson) himself. The activation then caused a sympathetic reaction from our universe's machine ("quantum entanglement", see), which in turn caused a short-lived vortex that destroyed a local farmer's herd of sheep -- a minor example of the universal damage the Machine's capable of if Walternate uses it so erase his neighbouring dimension entirely (an act that would eclipse Oppenheimer's use of the atomic bomb.) Elsewhere, Nina (Blair Brown) pointed Olivia (Anna Torv) in the direction of bowling alley mystic Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan), who himself has become aware the Doomsday Machine's functioning and busily conducted some ominous outdoor experiments. Meanwhile, Peter decided that the only solution is to hope he isn't the key that can turn the machine on (as they've long assumed), but the fail-safe to turn it off, as he volunteered to enter the machine on a probable suicide machine.

There were some big events in this episode that fans have been awaiting all year for regarding the Doomsday Machine, but in many ways they were handled disappointingly. The use of Walternate's grandchild to cheat the machine was predicted weeks ago, and felt like an undramatic cheat. It remains to be seen if that entire storyline with Fauxlivia falling pregnant only existed because it's almost impossible to get Peter back to the other dimension in a logical way. But there's still lots of potential in the sci-fi soap storyline of Olivia discovering her boyfriend's fathered a child with her inter-dimensional doppelganger, and it was refreshing to see that Fauxlivia has changed her opinion on Walternate and his methodology -- perhaps because she's become a mother and understands the value of life. Maybe it was a mistake to give Fauxlivia a sudden relationship with Lincoln (Seth Gabel) however, as it's neatened the love-triangle into a less prickly square.

If I'm honest, Walter's constant blubbing about his past transgressions and fears that he'll lose his son have started to lose their impact, with Noble expected to deliver another spin on the same basic scene with co-star Jackson. However, having Walter (the epitome of a "man of science") seek some comfort from a nearby chapel, urging God to punish him for his crimes but save their world, was an effecting moment. Beautifully played by Noble, even if the quality of writing didn't quite deliver the knockout emotion that scene was promising. I note that three staff writers are credited on this episode (David Wilcox, Josh Singer, Graham Roland), so it's a shame not one of them could craft dialogue that took full advantage of Walter grappling with his spiritual side.

So where does this episode leave us? Both Doomsday Machines are activated, poised to annihilate their opposing universe (will they cancel each other out?); Peter isn't even able to touch the machine without receiving a life-threatening jolt of electricity (so much for that plan...); Fauxlivia wants to defect to the other universe to warn them about what's about to happen, but has been caught and imprisoned by Walternate (is her warning even required?); and Sam Weiss has returned to help Olivia with the machine in some way. Lots of stuff to keep your mind brewing on what the remaining two episodes have in store for us -- although knowledge Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season would suggest both universes will survive. Or will they perhaps merge? It'll be interesting to see what the writers have in store for us, as every season of Fringe has ended in a way that's rejuvenated the following season. Is there a way for Fringe to pull the same trick again, or are we going to resume the "warring dimensions" storyline without the use of these fortuitous ancient machines?


  • Fauxlivia's son is named Henry, after Henry the taxi cab driver who helped during the birth.
  • I liked the mention of Walter receiving a sign from God in the white tulip he was mailed during season 2. A moment he evidently sees as a miracle, but which audiences know was the result of a complex time-travel storyline he has no knowledge of (see: "White Tulip")
  • Still no sign of an explanation for why Peter (well, his DNA) triggers the Machine, which was built aeons before human civilization began. They do have an explanation, right?
written by David Wilcox, Josh Singer & Graham Roland / directed by Jeannot Szwarc / 22 April 2011 / Fox