Fringe season 3 episode 11 review: Reciprocity

Fringe makes an unexpected mid-season course change in this week's story...

This review may contain spoilers.

3.11 Reciprocity

It’s been a while, but Fringe left me genuinely uncertain about where it’s heading after watching Reciprocity. My head scratching and chin rubbing done, I’m still not entirely sure the destination the writers have picked, or what the longer implications of what happen in this story are.

I’ve decided not to spoil it, which means I can’t really say what it is that’s flummoxed me so completely, but it’s reasonably safe to divulge that there is a game changing event that happens in here that could turn the Fringe universe(s) entirely upside down.

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Massive Dynamic has constructed the machine that Peter was drawn at the centre of, and when he approaches, all manner of weird things start to happen. That provides one thread of the story, while the other is spawned from the discovery of a shape-shifter body. At a simple level, this plot is a simple 10 Little Indians rehash, where someone is going around killing off shape-shifters that are embedded in Massive Dynamic, but who is it?

In a typical Murder She Wrote-mode, we’re thrown a series of likely candidates, none of whom are actually the culprit. If this had been the whole show, I’d have been throwing darts at it currently, but there’s so much going on here beneath the surface that the simple detective story elements are almost just gilding.

But what I really enjoy in Fringe is the character interactions, and Reciprocity doesn’t disappoint. There’s a wonderfully obtuse subplot about Walter trying to regrow part of his brain using a retrovirus developed by William Bell. Without labels for the lab samples, Walter tries pot luck and ends up with DNA from a chimp in his system. While he doesn’t climb trees, he becomes very partial to bananas, and there are some wonderful exchanges with Astrid on the subject.

Astrid Farnsworth is probably the least developed Fringe persona, so it was good to see she got plenty of screen time this week.

But the majority of the show rotates around Peter, and Joshua Jackson is working hard here to give his character more layers than the ‘nice guy’ persona he was handed initially. Clearly, the plot has major plans for Peter, and for him to do those things he’s going to need to be quite a different person than the one we’ve met so far. The changes have already begun, but this is the first story in which we get to see the consequences of his transition to the dark side.

The question posed by the events is this story is: now that they’ve built the doomsday machine, how long will it be before Peter can’t resist the temptation to get in it? He looked eager to have a go when he first saw it, irrespective of the potential mayhem it might unleash. It’s a certainty he will end up in it, probably in the season finale. But will it kill him or the entire other dimension?

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On an entirely different subject, it was good to see that Fringe initially did better on Friday in last week’s figures than it had in its previous slot. I’m interested to see if it can maintain the momentum with this story or head the way that Fox intends it to go. If it doesn’t, then some Fox exec is going to be sitting with a Persian cat on his lap asking, “Mr. Fringe, you persist in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you…”

There’s also been tweets from the supposedly retired Leonard Nimoy suggesting he might be returning to the show, presumably to play the alternate William Bell?

No, Fox. Fringe isn’t dead just yet. It might yet be a very lively corpse, from all accounts.

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