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Nothing Is Written In Stone: An Advance Review of Fringe's "Bloodline"

What's done is done, but what has yet to happen is far from certain.

This is especially true within the world of Fringe, where anything is possible and where the actions of characters have ripple effects that have impact on not only their lives but on entire universes. A father's love can doom a world or two. A child can become a lifeline to another universe. An ancient device could destroy the future. But the future, for all of its infinite possibilities, is a blank slate yet to be written. We can choose, we can fall, we can fail. But tomorrow is forever in front of us. Nothing, we're told, is written in stone.

This week's sensational and gripping episode of Fringe ("Bloodline"), written by Monica Owusu-Breen and Alison Schapker, is set Over There and it's with a certain amount of relish that we dive through the veil to see the after-effects of Fauxlivia's return to her own world: how she's coping with her pregnancy and the fact that the father of her unborn child is on the other side of that dimensional divide.

If Peter Bishop will truly be forced to choose between two worlds, how can condemn a world without destroying something he holds dear? Over Here, he's finally been reunited with Olivia and they've embarked on a romantic relationship, just as her body has been co-opted by William Bell; but Over There is the child he doesn't yet know about, the continuation of his bloodline, his offspring, and his child's mother. There is no opportunity to choose again, nor possibly to choose both. One choice can save, but it can also destroy...

Matters of the blood loom large over this episode, as Over There's Olivia contends with the possibility that she could be a carrier for VPE, the same virus that killed her sister Rachel during childbirth. As with Peter Bishop, Olivia could be faced with a moral dilemma: her choice can both save or kill. Terminate her pregnancy and live... or carry this baby to term and likely die. But there's no guarantee that Olivia even has VPE, though there's an 80 percent chance she does. But does that mean that her mind has been made up? Are her actions to be dictated by what happened to Rachel? Is her fate already sealed?

I don't want to spoil too much about this fantastic episode, but I will say that there are other factions at play here, conspiratorial forces who might want to force Olivia's hand. This child was conceived between two worlds, the offspring of Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham, and who knows just what abilities this child could have as a result of this pairing. When I say that there are multiple eyes on Olivia, I mean just that: while her pregnancy may be a secret to just about everyone other than Olivia and Walternate, there are those who have their own agenda for this unborn child. And the results are pretty gruesome and upsetting.

(What else would you expect? It's Fringe, after all!)

The tension surrounding Olivia's kidnapping here casts a wide net around the other characters of the series, as we see the lengths Walternate will go to to get his grandchild back and the depth of feelings Lincoln Lee has for Olivia, as he races to try and save her from whoever grabbed her from her apartment. Look for Lincoln and Charlie to come to an understanding about what they face in the days ahead, and for the very welcome return of Andre Royo's Henry.

It's this latter one that's quite interesting. In saving our world's Olivia earlier this season and getting her to safety on multiple occasions, cab driver Henry seemed to be in the right place at the right time. But his involvement with Olivia--and now Fauxlivia--ask certain questions about destiny. Is his fate inexorable tied up with both Olivias? It calls to mind a certain Chinese proverb: "If you save someone's life, you must care for them forever."

It's Henry, in fact, who might be the savior of both worlds' versions of Olivia Dunham, a man who has crossed paths with her so many times that he's now fated to look after her for the rest of her life. A cabbie who transported a woman who can move through worlds. A father who must care for a mother. What's especially interesting here is that he doesn't know this world's Olivia and she doesn't know him, so something bigger than both of them--call it divine intervention, fate, destiny, what have you--has engineered their meetings towards some end. And, given that proverb, it's only fitting that one such meeting should occur within the heart of Chinatown.

The ending of this episode is sure to be controversial in more ways than one, but it presents some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas as well as a better understanding about how each of these characters' inner lives function: the choices they make, the sacrifices they endure, the way they compromise for self-fulfillment or the greater good. And, no, I won't be spoiling it here for you.

What I will say is that I was on the edge of my seat throughout this week's episode, which also presents some further fun differences between this world and ours (pay attention to mentions/sightings of The West Wing and Taxi Driver, among others) and gives some depth and insight into Over There's characters. With the possible end of one of these universes approaching, the writers are making it difficult not to sympathize with both sides of this war, especially with the understanding that one world could be erased by the time this season comes to a close.

Of course, nothing, after all, is written in stone.

Fringe airs Friday night at 9 pm ET/PT on FOX.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I don't understand your comment about the child being born between two worlds. This is the Peter from "over there." Peter from "over here" died, so the child of Fauxlivia and Peter would be of one world.
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous, what I said was that this child was "conceived between two worlds," and that's true: Peter might be from Over There, but Fauxlivia and Peter consummated their relationship Over Here before returning to her world. While the child was conceived Over Here, it's now Over There. Thus, two worlds.
Dan said…
I'm more concerned that Fox will choose to erase ALL these worlds when the season comes to a close...
Old Darth said…
Another juicy preview Jace!

Can't wait till Friday!

And another controversial ending? Bring! It! On!
Unknown said…
Wow. A lot of what you've written could have been said about "Lost", including "Whatever Happened, Happened", and that nothing is written in stone - it's all about choices, and the consequences and interconnected repercussions of those choices; some of the reasons I've come to enjoying “Fringe” each week as much as I once looked forward to "Lost" episodes.

I also enjoy the rich character development, and admiring the multi-faceted acting skills of John Noble. Is it my imagination, or is Walter slowly getting more and more of an edge to him as he strives to think as he used to (before parts of his brain were removed)?
Anonymous said…
I don't see what difference that would make. Conceiving over here versus over there. Seems like a non-issue to me.
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous, if you think that having two parents on two different worlds divided by a war is a non-issue, we're watching different shows...
Anonymous said…
Wow..someone gets pissy when someone disagrees with him.
Jace Lacob said…
Only when the snippy comments are anonymous!
Anonymous said…
I love how you articulate your reviews. Just beautiful. One question that isn't a spoiler; is there any 'Over Here' scenes in this new episode?
Chris said…
Fine is this better?

How is what I said snippy? Your phrasing made it sound like you meant they were from two different worlds.

As for a non-issue, your response made it sound like you think that because the two conceived the child Over Here vs. Over There that this would affect the child physiologically, and I was only saying that I didn't think that would have any physical affect on the child.

If that bugs you then clearly I misunderstood what you thought you were trying to say.

You might want to lower the ego a couple of notches dude. Just because you're some "renowned" critic doesn't mean that other's points of view are less valid than yours.
Jace Lacob said…
Chris,

What was snippy was when you said, "Wow..someone gets pissy when someone disagrees with him." That's snippy in my book.

I didn't ever suggest that there would be physiological implications due to the baby being conceived by parents currently existing in two world, but there are definite implications due to the parentage, where they are right now, and Peter's significance within the mythology of the show.

I always appreciate other people's points of view or I wouldn't bother opening the floor to discussion. Yours, however, came across as a direct attack, as well as a misunderstanding of what was being said here.
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous #2,

Nope, there are no "Over Here" scenes this week. The entire plot takes place in the other universe...
Chris said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said…
Curious what others think:

Is Walter changing?


(And I, for one, vote to have the noise in this thread deleted.)
Chris said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jace Lacob said…
Rightly so, Jonahblue.

And, yes, I do think we are seeing Walter change. The transformation has been subtle, but his experiments to restore the missing portions of his brain (which backfired) and to bring William Bell back demonstrate a more proactive and forward-thinking Walter than has been evident since his incarceration. While he's no Walternate, we're seeing subtle shifts in his characterization. Any thoughts on where this might be leading?
Scotty said…
I think Chris kind of had a point before you deleted his comment. It did sound a little like you were calling him an idiot.

Just sayin.
Unknown said…
William Bell told Walter that it was he who requested that Bell do the brain surgery for fear of what he was becoming. Restoring that path sounds dire.

However, Walter now believes, and convincingly so, that if he cannot increase his mental faculties, he will lose the war to Walternate, and his universe will be destroyed.

I have no idea where this will lead, but it is yet another fascinating, intriguing, "Fringe" dilemma! (I love it!)
Scotty said…
or at least talking down to him.
Mazza said…
@jonahblue: I forgot about that! I also love the moral questions that the show raises.

@Jace: Thanks for another awesome sneak peek. Friday can't come soon enough!
Jace Lacob said…
Jonahblue,

I think Walter will have to decide whether to restore his brain capacity and possibly lose his soul in the process or stand by and let Walternate gain the upper hand. Given Walter's sense of guilt over the situation and the deterioration of their universes, I think he'll have to choose the former. I'm hoping Season Four will show us just what that means for Walter and for the Fringe Division...
Fringie6989 said…
WOW. Great preview!! I didn't know it was possible to be in more suspense than I already was but you succeeded. I am now desperate for Friday to get here.Sounds like it will be just as intense as the promo made it look. Just for the record, I disagreed with the administrator of a website before and he got quite snippy, but I didn't see that here. I think you handled it just fine :)
Unknown said…
i want the spoilers. i want to know what happens.Some people like the ending 1st i mean really life is to short.
maria said…
I do not know if you can answer but I am very anxious someone dies in this episode?
Thanks for review
Lily said…
I also doubt the location of the insemination makes any difference in the development of the fetus. Walternate's machinations though, may give us a repeat of Lorain Daisy, and that would be a welcome change from the overtherians-are-better-than-overherians theme. Mostly though I just want to get past the alt-baby and alt-livia and back to Fringe and our three. Peter has a way to thwart the insistent fate idea, he is smarter than that. We just need to wait a few more weeks to see how he changes things!

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