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Fringe Review: Olivia Dunham, Superhero!

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Well now. Was that the shortest hour of television in the history of television or did I somehow miss half of "Brave New World, Part 1?"

The last few episodes have all been quite similar in that respect. Before I have time to wrap my head around the enormity of what's happening, the credits roll! That's an incredible combination of my somewhat thick skull and the extraordinary craft that goes into making an episode of Fringe.

Blast to the Past

We were duped!
I  have to give credit to producers who can hold a press conference and successfully retain the big secrets. As a writer, I've come to trust Joel Wyman and Jeff Pinkner when they say something, so I didn't think twice during a recent Fringe interview when they said they had so far been unsuccessful in begging Leonard Nimoy to return to acting and had resorted to planting signs in his yard. A slight exaggeration, maybe.

But when a legend in his field retires, to come back is one hell of a nod the material being written for him.

William Bell was undoubtedly pulling the strings of David Robert Jones.

The viewers knew that for certain, but it was anything but easy for Walter to convince others what we already knew was true. It was absolutely comical watching Walter in the institution, smelling the visitor logbooks and taking tentative licks like a monkey in an attempt to determine if Belly had been there after his death, as he surmised. You had to wonder if that was written into the scene or if John Noble just came up with that Walterism on his own. Either way, it was a hoot to watch.

The bishop without a capital B
It was odd that David Robert Jones planted the nanites device in plain sight, don't you think? He didn't even make the slightest attempt to mask his appearance. Of course, if he had, it would have taken longer for Walter to track down Belly, and that wasn't want dear Mr. Bell wanted, was it?

While Jones had normally been played tough and impenetrable by the ridiculously talented Jared Harris, we saw instead a man in awe of William Bell and easily bendable to his whims. He greedily lapped up the lesson given to him by Bell on how to plan a long-term vindictive revenge plot, and he didn't hesitate when told to take out the bishop afterward.

William Bell: In this game of skill one must have above all else, Patience. The board changes, but very slowly. The art of chess, the art is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, being willing to sacrifice it. For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds, influences maximize, and desire becomes destiny. For example, on this board, the most valuable piece is the bishop. Therefore, for the game to be won...
David Robert Jones: The bishop must be sacrificed. I'll attend to it.

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Jones learned a painful lesson. Diabolical mentors aren't the most trustworthy. The bishop wasn't a Bishop, but a Jones, and he was the sacrificial lamb.

Alex the asskicker!
Well, we all know her as Astrid, but Walter was on a roll and she was Alex. It's so wonderful to see things back to normal; as normal as they can be when your arch nemesis and the only other person with a brain capacity equal to yours is found to be alive and well. Astrid finally admitted to Walter that she enjoys her role as his mother hen and asked him to just let her enjoy it. That feeling came in handy when they happened upon Bell's lair and guns started blazing. Using some fancy footwork, she bought them enough time to run.

Unfortunately they were easily out manned and just as a severely shot Astrid fell into the arms of Walter, William Bell appeared to Walter to say hello to his old friend.

Olivia and Peter play Wii
When Jones was dispatched to take out the bishop in Bell's 20 year game of chess, there were two choices. One was to literally take out the Bishop. Peter. But there was a little detail revealed with one of Walter's experiments using pig brains and lemon cake - cortexiphan is regenerative. That's quite the puzzle piece to have lying on the floor, so I jumped right on that one! Who would be Jones' bishop?

In the end, we knew it was Jones himself, but Jones believed it to be Peter. I wasn't sure why Peter and Olivia had to be on two separate rooftops to lose the reflection of the sun through the antenna, but it served a great purpose. Olivia had to watch Peter get pummeled from across the street. She was aiming to shoot Jones, but two mall cops stopped her in her tracks.

Earlier in the episode we witnessed some of what the cortexiphan shots had unearthed in Olivia. She's no longer relegated to turning light bulbs on and off, but could stop computers, and nanites, in their tracks. Even armed with that fun fact, watching her crease her brow and become a Wii controller for Peter to fight against Jones when he was injured and couldn't continue was beyond what I expected of the dynamo that has become Olivia Dunham.

What's next?
First, another thank you FOX for the extra 13 episodes, because I don't think I could imagine having only one episode left in this stupendous series. When it's said you won't see something coming, you most likely won't see it coming. How often is that bargain held up? Rarely.

Astrid's life was left hanging in the balance. Does Bell have a reason to deny her treatment? I can't imagine why so my fingers are crossed that she will receive it. Think of it as hospitality. We've been told repeatedly that Olivia has to die, but until tonight we didn't see a lemon cake laced with pig brain lace itself back up. Why does that matter? Because if cortexiphan is regenerative, and with the extra doses Olivia has received as an adult, perhaps fate has been rewritten. If she is injured, will she regenerate? If a lemon cake can, why not the human Wii?

What about regeneration from death? Even in the first universes Massive Dynamic had learned to siphon memories from the dead. With as much cortexiphan as Olivia has flowing through her system, maybe the bullet we believed Olivia took to her death in 2036 lead to her seclusion or isolation instead. My head is spinning with ideas on what's to come, and I can only imagine the great thoughts you are having. Share them in the comments!

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (132 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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so ... uh .... about Broyles, the Shapeshifter ... with DRJ dead, is he gonna just kinda slip into being good guy Broyles and ride out this existence, or can we expect him betraying the Fringe team in some spectacularly inconvenient way down the road when we have, you know, forgotten, as it seems everyone has, including the writers ... THAT HE IS A FRIGGIN SHAPESHIFTER!!!!!

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The writers in the writerroom: We all forgot to write for Olivia Dunham since Firefly last season, we spent all that time on Walter and Walter and Peter.
Quick, before we kill her off, some powers.Who cares about having Olivia some episodes dealing with that power. BTW Johm Noble does not write his lines, nor does he invent the aprons and the smelling, and in this episode he was playing the wrong Walter, I saw the one from the begining of this season most of the time. Anna Torv is the one doing miracles with nothing, and I cannot see anyone else giving so much depth to a character of which you only have a few facts as information.

Watchestoomuch

@echyone: "I didn't understand the need for the Rube Goldberg setup to get Walter either." In hindsight, the Rube Goldberg setup was probably not intended to call Walter down to Bell's warehouse. The purpose of the nanites and the killer sunbeam and the sacrifice of Jones was to get Olivia to exercise her powers so that she would be ready for whatever Bell is about to throw at her. Bell would not consider it overkill because Olivia would only be pushed to use her powers in highly stressful situations. Of course, he could have gotten her to do so much more reliably with a couple of better designed (and less lethal) events ... but, hey, NANITES! and KILLER SUNBEAM!

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@WatchesTooMuch - I didn't understand the need for the Rube Goldberg setup to get Walter either. @Mr. Wayne - I can suspend disbelief about the science and multiple universes on this show. However, some of the plot devices used on this episode were just ridiculous. Walter licks the sheet of paper and knows Bell is at the Almond Importer? Come on.

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recks they're going to use the cortexiphan re-generation thing on astrid. or at least i hope...

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What can I say. Brilliant episode, Belly is back! I mean seriously it had to be him behind Jones.
Kick Asstrid and Wii Olivia! John Noble is such a brilliant actor!

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Hey! Let me say I laughed a lot with te "Human Wii" !!!!
but, to something more suspiscious... Did anyone remember back in 3x19 the guy that was trapped in the zappelin who, Olivia's word: is who is gonna kill her. ? Well he had a t-shirt with a cross on it, THAT SAME CROSS was on last nights episode's nanites design!!! So it's clearer then ever that Olvia's death will be on Bell's hands! Which makes me hate hate hateeeee him!!!!!

Niks4u

After some weeks of truly great television, for me, this episode had some very glaring plot holes to be called a "Great Fringe Episode" but it was saved by the awesome acting of the cast and has set the tone for a great finale. Hope it lives up to the expectations.

Watchestoomuch

@Mr. Wayne: "you're talking about a show which has multiverses, a woman who can control other peoples bodies and nanite-induced spontaneous combustion. The entire show is ridiculous...ridiculously awesome! So shut it..." Ah. So impossible science is BETTER when it is accompanied by silly dialog and sloppy plotting. NOW I get it. Thank you.

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As always I was blown away by what happened in this episode. Every single time I watch Fringe there's a moment where I ask myself :what the hell is going on? And with the adrenaline boost come MY predictions (needless to say I'm always wrong, which is what I love the most about the writers). I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the storyline is superb, but I'm not sure I would be so into Fringe had it not been for John Noble, Anna Torv & Joshua Jackson. Can you even imagine anybody else playing Walter? I'm both excited and gutted that we are about to reach the end of this season! And for all of you out there, trying to tell the rest of us how lame "this or that" was, I only have one comment : WHO CARES! (after all this is not meant to be a Discovery Science show!!!)

Fringe Season 4 Episode 21 Quotes

Jessica: What are you?
Walter: I'm human, what are you? Is this some sort of alien invasion? Are you part of a strike?

Peter: Three bedrooms and a dog run...
Olivia: Nursery?
Peter: Nursery?