We’ve had some fine encapsulated stories in Fringe recently, but the bigger story arc was looking decidedly back-burner until Jacksonville put it centre stage once more.
The signature start had some entirely odd seismic occurrences happening in an architects’ office, before it and the people in it merge with their counterparts from the parallel dimension. It’s like a very bad transporter accident, the ones that Star Trek never actually had the budget to show us.
It doesn’t take Walter very long to work out what’s going on, and that, in response to this action, another building of corresponding size will be sucked from our dimension to the alternate one within a couple of days.
From experiments Walter and William Bell once did, they also know that Olivia can see objects from the other dimension and identify them, with what she described as a ‘glimmer’. But that was when she was a little girl. So they take her to Jacksonville where the original experiments were conducted to try to sensitize her once more, so they can find and evacuate the building before it goes dimensionally travelling.
Where this starts to get downright creepy is when Walter starts trying to recreate the experiments he did on Olivia as a child, which frightened her a great deal. We also find out that at a young age her response to being scared was to exhibit pyrokinesis, and burn everything around her. She doesn’t do this now, but she obviously has the potential to do this at some point.
Where it strikes a narrative boundary between what came before is in how Olivia now views Walter, as she gets to relive the fear she felt as a child, and Walter knew she was experiencing. After this, her and Walter’s relationship is unlikely to be as cosy, I’d say.
The confrontation scene where Olivia accuses Walter of abuse was quite exquisitely handled and acted by both parties. But this conversation is also the key to unlocking her perception power, and finding the building before it shifts dimension. The problem, and there’s invariably one in Fringe to resolve, is that Olivia needs to be scared, which, as an adult, she generally isn’t. It’s finally her fear of failure that pushes her over the edge, and almost into kissing Peter.
While the development of Olivia’s character in this was interesting, especially how it changed her relationship with Walter, there was one aspect to this story I was less than thrilled with, her final realisation that Peter is from the other dimension. She knows this because he ‘glimmers’. But this got tacked on at the end in an entirely sloppy and predictable fashion. I’d been expecting that revelation from the point where Walter asked her to look for the items from the other universe, and yet, it was held to the end. Surely, she’d have been able to see him from the point she realised she was scared, not an hour later?
What we then don’t get time to do is find out how knowing Peter is from the other dimension alters how Olivia feels about him, as the two had slowly been coalescing. Walter specifically asks her not to tell him, but I wonder how long that will remain a secret?
Unfortunately, we don’t get the answer to that or the million or so other questions that this show asks until April at the earliest, as Fox has decided that the Winter Olympics is a force of nature it just can’t fight. This is a shame, because this show has generated some great momentum recently, and the viewing figures reflect that!
Read our review of episode 14 here.