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Soft Spots: There's More Than One of Everything on the "Fringe" Season Finale

Look for the soft spots.

Last night's gripping season finale of Fringe ("There's More Than One of Everything"), written by Jeff Pinker and J.H. Wyman and directed by Brad Anderson, pointed towards a new direction for the series, one that is unfettered by the physical boundaries of our world and presents limitless possibility for the second season of the FOX series, which will air this fall.

Revolving around several intriguing plot strands, the season finale followed Olivia as she investigated an incident involving a tear between the dimensional barriers brought about by David Robert Jones (Jared Harris), Nina Sharp recovered from her shooting at the hands of Jones and his men, Walter traveled to his beach house to recover an important device, and we learned the truth about Peter's identity. And, oh, finally got to see William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) in the flesh.

I hate to say I'm right but... I was right about William Bell! As I posited in yesterday's post, William Bell has in fact been in an alternate reality this entire time, which is why he is always "out of the country" and unavailable for questioning by Olivia Dunham and the FBI's Fringe Division. Not only that, but Bell's office is located in a version of the World Trade Center that were never destroyed on 9/11. A pair of Twin Towers that are located in one of the multitude of alternate realities. (Along with a reality where the Obamas move into the "new White House.") It really is a most ingenious place to hide; no one can come looking for you, after all, in another world.

And it's a good thing that Bell had removed himself from our world as David Robert Jones was going to every length possible--from carrying out illegal and dangerous experiments to garner his former mentor's attention to breaching the dimensional barrier himself to locate Bell. So is Bell behind The Pattern? Nina Sharp claims he's not a terrorist and that The Pattern-related incidents were carried out by Jones in order to get his former mentor's attention. So what is Bell's endgame? That's still tantalizingly abstract. He's clear that he's happy to finally come face to face with Olivia but for what purpose? Hmmm...

Meanwhile, I'm glad that the writers didn't kill off Nina Sharp. Throughout her appearances, she's been an intriguing (if at times frustratingly so) character and her past relationships with Broyles and Walter still need to be fleshed out. The impetus behind her attack was so that Jones could obtain an extremely powerful energy cell which Bell had secreted in Nina's bionic arm. A power cell that, when used properly, could power equipment to open a doorway through dimensions. I thought it interesting that Nina upheld her end of the bargain and allowed Olivia to see William Bell, though not without a little trademark subterfuge.

After agreeing to meet Olivia at a Manhattan hotel, Olivia finds herself waiting there for Nina, who fails to turn up after several hours. Olivia gets on the elevator to go down--and one blue flare later (and a flickering light which displays for one brief second that she's not alone in another reality of this elevator car)--she embarks in a high-tech, iPhone-white HQ, where she comes face to face with Bell himself. I'm sure Nina had good reason for keeping all of this a secret from Olivia (and I began to become paranoid too when that car nearly swerved into Olivia's right outside the hotel) but the whole things smacks once again of gamesmanship.

Loved the final appearance of David Robert Jones, who we learn has been much changed from his teleportation-enabled jailbreak. Having opened a doorway to another reality, Olivia fires on the bandaged and nearly gelatinous Jones repeatedly, only to learn that the bullets pass right through him. He's ascended to some sort of higher state of being... but it's not one that can counteract getting sheared in half when Peter uses the patch (more on that in a second) to close the rift. (Ouch.)

So is Jones the true mastermind behind The Pattern? I don't think so. We know he worked for Bell 15 years ago and clearly picked up some impressive skills during his time at Massive Dynamic. But I don't think he's the ring leader, just another foot soldier in the battle. Was he in league with corrupt FBI agent Sanford Harris? I don't know. But I think that there is still much to be learned about the coming war that we still don't know.

This week's episode showed a lot of character development for Walter, who was forced to face up to some ugly truths about his own life and accept some semblance of responsibility for his life. (Hence the note he leaves Peter as he steps out of he lab at the end of the episode.) As we saw last week, The Observer pulls him from the lab and takes him on a road trip of sorts. Clearly aware of David Robert Jones' attempts to breach the dimensional barrier, The Observer tasks Walter with locating an instrument that he concealed at the Bishop family's old beach house. But first Walter takes a trip to a graveyard where he cries over one particular grave. (Hmmm.) And the Observer gives him a coin--rather like one he used to have--as not a token but a beacon to awaken his dormant memories. Walter, after having a fit at the beach house, finally does locate the object he's looking for: a patch, a sort of plug, that can close any doorway opened between the dimensions. And there's another coin. He tells Peter that when Peter was young, he was "very sick" and took to collecting coins, but Peter doesn't remember any of this. (Double hmmm....)

Seeing Walter finally remember not only what he was looking for but where it was allowed John Noble a fantastic moment to catalyze Walter's intelligence and tragic situation. A man whose intellect is second to none who is forced to shoulder the indignity of not being able to remember. And yet that's just what Walter doesn't want to do: remember.

It's not just the coin that there's more than one of, echoing the episode's title. We know that travel between the dimensions is possible, that these realities are inhabited by people very similar to us, and have seen with our own eyes this week that both Bell and now Olivia have successfully managed to cross the barrier. Walter it seems has done so too and he took something back with him, something that he sought to ease his grief. He brought back Peter. We learn that the gravestone he's standing over is in fact Peter's and that his son died at an early age. The Peter Bishop we know isn't our world's Peter Bishop at all... he's the Peter from an alternate reality, one taken by Walter to replace the son he lost. It explains why Peter's memories from his childhood are missing and why Peter is himself so very special. I'd go a step further to say that Nina Sharp knows Walter's secret and that Walter likely turned to Bell for help in "replacing" Peter.

It's a tragic and sad reveal of a father's love and the lengths Walter went to--breaking the laws of physics and every moral and ethical boundary--to bring his son back to life. Just what this signifies for Peter's future remains to be seen. Was this the reason why the Observer rescued Walter and Peter from the frozen lake? Was it the cause of the estrangement between Walter and Peter's mother, who we've yet to meet? How did original-flavor Peter die? And just how soon after his death did Walter have Peter replaced?

All I know is that I am very intrigued by the developments contained in this week's episode and I hope that Fringe's writers realize the strength of their mythology and focus more on developing the relationships between the characters, their backstories (in particular Astrid and Broyles), and exploring the overarching story of The Pattern. Kudos to FOX for using footage from the episode already filmed for Season Two as a lure to get viewers to tune in next season; we all appreciated even that small glimpse ahead to next season.

What did you think of the season finale? Were you surprised by the reveals of Peter's identity and William Bell's whereabouts? What was David Robert Jones hoping to achieve by visiting Bell? And just what does the future hold for Fringe? Discuss.

Fringe returns with Season Two this fall on FOX.

Comments

Hannah said…
I LOVED the reveal that Walter stole Peter from an alternate reality to replace his own son. I didn't see that coming and it adds a lot of depth to the Walter/Peter relationship.

I'm glad they brought David Robert Jones back. He looked pretty creepy and disgusting with his face melting off and his death (sliced in half!) was fitting.

Really looking forward to next season and learning more about William Bell and what happened in the past.
tony libido said…
Not my favorite show but a satisfying finale in that it made you hungry for what can come next.

Meanwhile I continue to pray that fox puts DOLLHOUSE out of its misery. Could they *really* be thinking of renewing it?

Oh and SAVECHUCK.

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