2.22 Over There Part 1
After watching Over There (Part 1), I was left with an almost overwhelming sense of both awe at the quality of the writing in this show and more than mild frustration that they didn’t show part 2 immediately afterwards.
As is hinted at in the title, we’ve reached the point in proceedings where many of the plot points from the first two seasons must converge, and their intersection point is in the alternate dimension. We’re given a tantalising glimpse of this in the opening sequence, where an entirely alternative Fringe division, staffed by Olivia, Astrid, Broyles and even the late Charlie Francis are called into action to stop an incursion from our dimension. Their world and characters is subtly different, yet totally recognisable.
We then have a flashback 36 hours to explain who came through and what their plan is, before coming back to the start point chronology and then progressing the story forwards.
We soon learn that Peter is now ‘over there’ and the alternate Walter has plans to use him in some massive machine to fuse the two dimensions together, presumably destroying ours in the process. It’s therefore imperative that they get him back, and they assemble a team of dimension travellers from the children that Walter previously experimented on, who now, in adulthood, can now control their powers. This has a slightly odd, almost X-Men feel to it, with super-powered humans sent to battle the evil in another dimension.
Actually, it was a quite fun, but I did find myself having a little trouble suspending my disbelief when, to dimension shift, they simply formed a circle and wished it so. Perhaps I’ve become addicted to Walter’s marvellous contraptions, meaning just thinking themselves there seemed an overly simple mechanism.
However, once they’re on the other side, things immediately start going wrong, as the super-powers they had no longer seem to work properly, and they’re generally unwell. Soon we’re down to just Olivia and a bullet-wounded Walter, which did make the whole X-Men gang contrivance something of red herring.
If I’m sounding a little negative, then ignore that, because the story moves at some pace and there is so much information to take in, at times it overwhelmed me.
Peter meets his real mother, and we also find out that his real father is Secretary of Defence in this dimension. He’s oddly at ease in this new environment, presumably because he has yet to work out what plans they have for him.
But where Over There really flew for me was in the glimpses that Olivia gets of an alternate, less inhibited version of herself. The alternate Olivia is obviously getting much more sex and is less weighed down by her responsibilities. Olivia’s envy at her life is very obvious, and could alter her character in the coming season. But before she gets to dwell too much on that, Leonard Nimoy pops up as the mercurial William Bell, for a quick update on how much trouble Walter is in and how little time there is to intervene.
I predict that Olivia will, with the application of a long wig, end up exchanging places with her double, although she might not get all of the fringe benefits, so to speak.
We’re given one last image of alternate Walter and the diabolical Peter-powered machine he’s built, before we’re asked to be patient for one more week.
My only real complaint here is that, in terms of a complete narrative, the story just stops like a train hitting the buffers. There is no natural break in events or even a notional cliff-hanger. We’re left dangling from one of those alternate dimensions zeppelins, metaphorically.
Part one was a big gamble in many ways, because it’s a massive setup for the finale, which, if it doesn’t deliver, will be a enormous letdown. But given how well the first season ended, I can’t see that it will be unsatisfying and I remain highly optimistic that wonders await us on the other side of the divide.
Whatever happens, it will be an epoch piece of TV, not least because it probably represents the last time we’ll ever see Leonard Nimoy, who has now officially retired.
Myself, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Read our review of episode 21 here.