Fringe season 4 episode 2 review: One Night In October

Is having an alternate dimension a cool crime fighting tool? Altivia seems to think so, in the latest episode of Fringe...

This review contains spoilers.

4.2 One Night In October

The premise behind this story is an interesting one, as it again explores the similarities and difference between the parallel dimensions. But early in the story I wondered if it was more an excuse for the marvellous Anna Torv to show her acting skills by arguing with herself. She appears with Altivia lots in this story, and it must have been something of a production nightmare because of that.

I find her fascinating to watch on a number of levels, as she works on the signature details of Altivia that make her different from Olivia: the head scratching, open body posture and Cheshire-cat smiling. The problem here is that they’re both dressed identically and have the same hair colour, so as not to confuse the audience. Thus, she’s got to be pretty liberal with these hints.

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But back to One Night In October. The story of a serial killer hunted in the alternate dimension by his alternate form works pretty well, although its overall success entirely hinges on the acting skills of John Pyper-Ferguson, playing the brilliant but disturbed John McClennan. He sells the inner struggle fought by both versions of the character well, and the eclectic nature of very smart people.

If there was a weakness in the narrative it’s that while Professor McClennan has an IQ of over 200, nobody in either Fringe division seems to be matching his intellect, or even considering the fact that he’s that smart.

They also don’t consider the impact the shock of discovering that his parallel personality had progressed into the full blown sociopath might have on the nice Professor. There’s a premise here that ‘nurture’ can override nature, in respect of how we all develop. But despite the inherent power that acts of kindness can possess, from the outset this meeting of dimensions looks unlikely to turn out well, for anyone. Fringe aren’t very smart here, and the results aren’t pleasing.

There is, however, embedded in it an important message, that probably bears some connectivity to the Peter scenario. What saves one of the John McClennans is the love of the women Margery, who even when he can’t remember her, left an ‘indelible mark’ on him. Is this the bit of Peter that haunts the world, the mark that he left on Walter and Olivia? Very possibly.

This side of the story is pretty much stand-alone, as it doesn’t alter much to do with the Fringe relationship with ‘over there’.

Interspersed throughout it, we return occasionally to Walter, who is being driven increasingly mad, if that’s technically possibly, by the apparitions of Peter. It didn’t really progress that narrative thread as such, although it did make me wonder how much longer we’re going to go on with this until Walter works out precisely what and who is doing this to him.

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One aside, that I noticed last week, was that Walter now gets Astrid’s name right, but has now moved on to calling Lincoln Lee all manner of presidential names. As a running gag it’s one of the better ones in Fringe, long may it continue.

Another point of interest was that since the timeline has altered to reflect the non-existence of Peter, then some characters are now alive who were previously dead, such as the alternate Phillip Broyles. The problem for me, and I guess most Fringe viewers, is now working out what happened in the last season that still did occur. Or will this no longer matter if Peter dematerialises?

On the basis that I don’t like headaches, I’ve decided not to think too hard about that, or exactly what events from all three previous seasons we can now absolve.

Next week, Fringe investigates yet more mysterious deaths, and Walter tries to deal with his ‘hallucinations’ I’m told.

Read our review of episode one, Neither Here Nor There, here.

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