Fringe season 3 episode 20 review: 6:02 AM EST

Fringe closes in on its season 3 finale with a fine episode, albeit not one of the show's best...

This review contains spoilers.

3.20 6:02 AM EST

After the flight of total fancy that Lysergic Acid Diethylamide represented in the previous story, Fringe needed to come back to earth, and it did so with a distinct bump.

With some small exceptions, 6:02 AM EST was largely exposition, often laced with diversions, as the Fringe team, in general, and Peter, in particular, grappled with the implications of the machine getting activated on the other side.

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The drawing with Peter strapped in the machine foretold, many episodes back, where we would eventually go. It was just a matter of time before we got there, and that time is upon us.

The genuine surprises that they brought us along the way included the turning of Altivia on Walternate and his diabolical but logically flawless plan, the important return of Sam Weiss, and a lateĀ  wist that I’m not going to reveal until the very end of this review, for anyone who hasn’t caught this episode yet.

As a struggled to handle the amount of information that this story pre-loaded my brain with, I was struck by the way that, during the season, we’ve come to appreciate and even like the alternate versions of the characters. Altivia is, for whatever subtle reason, sexier than Olivia, and the development of Lincoln’s character in the other dimension has made him an important component. Even Walternate has his charms, even if he’s the villain of this particular conflict.

While Altivia ultimately fails to stop the machine and contact Peter, I can’t accept her role in all this is over. I’m also amazed that they’ve managed to resist the temptation to throw the spanner of Peter’s fatherhood into the mix, as, predictably, that could have dire implications for Olivia’s relationship with Peter.

After giving us plenty to ponder on, this is a character driven show, and before Peter attempts to enter the machine, we’re cleverly reminded of the subtle relationships between the main characters. The affection Water and Astrid have for each other, which, given their relative ages, could be uncomfortable, seems remarkably unforced, and rather sweet. Equally, the strength of Walter and Peter’s bond, and even Walter’s communing scene deepen our understand of them, or reinforce traits we’ve previously seen.

The ‘spare our world’ scene I found remarkably powerful, even if I’m not remotely spiritual, because, as has often happened on Fringe, John Noble sells it with every fibre of his being. And if he wasn’t convincing enough there, he then delivers some very steely lines as Walternate, chewing the philosophical fat with the incarcerated Altivia.

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So, why does Peter get rejected by the machine? My immediate thought was that he’s from the other dimension, so maybe he can only enter the one on the other side? But then I can see flaws in that argument, and it’s much more likely that it’s something Walternate did on the other side that might force him to return there that’s at play here.

This story wasn’t as wildly entertaining as last week’s, but the cogs in the big narrative machine are turning, and with only two more episodes to go, Fringe is closing on where it’s been destined to travel from the outset. But where that might be is beyond this reviewer’s powers of deduction to determine. Gripping stuff, though.

Read our review of episode 19, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, here.