Fringe Talks About Its Feelings
Let’s start this off with good news: Fringe saw a jump in ratings last Friday as we continue the great Ratings Watch of ’11. The show enjoyed a slight uptick to a 1.5 rating among adults, and with Fox’s adoration for the show and fan support through the roof (except for that pesky ratings part), I’m officially declaring Fringe‘s chances of renewal as cautiously optimistic. But what do I know, I’m just a hack.
Actually, what I do know is this: The ratings bump came at a great time, because more people got to see a fantastic episode in “6B.” This was Fringe firing on all cylinders, tying mind-boggling mythology, a believable love story, and a case-of-the-week of epic proportions together spectacularly. “6B” was right up there with the greatest episodes of this resurgent season.
Each of our main Fringe friends took major steps forward, and while the focus will remain mostly on Peter and Olivia’s budding (and bedding) Petelivia/Oliveter relationship, let’s start with Walter. It’s not easy to spend time in the alternate universe because when we do we miss Walter so much, but he came back in a big way this episode. He uttered the season’s best line with “Like a flashmob… of suicide,” adorably debated pancakes versus fritattas as love drugs, and dealt with some serious internal and trans-universal conflict.
We’ve always been led to believe that Walternate is a bad guy, that his motives are selfish and he abuses power. But Walter is really the first of the our-universers to think things out further than just “there’s a copy of me over there.” Is Walternate that much different from Walter? Would Walter do the same thing—order an Amber bomb and change the lives of everyone forever—if he was in the same position as Walternate? Walter’s answer is, reluctantly, yes, and it gives him the heebee-jeebies. We’ve even seen a softer side of Walternate in recent episodes. Unlike Walter, Walternate would not use children in his experiments. So who is the bad guy? Walter isn’t sure anymore. That’s going to be an important idea that Fringe explores moving forward.
To say that Olivia and Peter’s relationship made some major progress would be an understatement. Bow-chick-a-wow-wowwwww! Olivia finally thawed her heart out, dropped her guard, and took a difficult leap of faith by going for it. After a first lip-lock, Olivia did the usual “run away! run away!” thing like Sir Robin, which pushed the story forward thanks to Olivia’s fear-sensitive ability to see things on the other side. Once Peter delivered that final speech about love, Olivia’s fear went away, and she was able to give herself (awww, yeah) to a non-sparkling Peter.
It was a sudden change of heart for Olivia, but somehow it worked. Maybe it’s because that’s what we really wanted to see, or maybe it’s because these things take time and Olivia’s grieving period expired. Either way, we’re all thinking the same thing: Will Peter’s super-sperm put a bun in the oven of Olivia, forcing Peter to jump universes in order to pay child support? Will this triangle of feelings between the Olivias and Peter and the unborn children turn a soft spot into a massive hole in the fabric of space and time, destroying all we know? Will Peter’s potentially unborn children each grow up to rule their respective universes only to face each other face-to-face in Fringe fan fiction five years from now? Asking these questions is pretty ridiculous, but the fact that we are able to ask these questions at all is a sign of how rich the Fringe mythos is.
Even with all these possibilities and sexy time between Peter and Olivia, the single most important bit of information I got from this episode was echoed by Walter. In the grand scheme of things, the stability of our universe is paramount, and it’s not looking too good. We’ve always felt protected by the idea that the worst things are happening over there, but the trouble came over here and the s*** plastered the fan. “Today was a vision of things to come,” said Walter. Let’s hope he wasn’t just talking about the riveting drama of our universe falling apart, but also of the rest of Season 3 being as good as “6B.”
Notes from the other side:
… As the LA Times put it, “6B” backpedaled from science in favor of emotion. I’d counter that the season has always been building up to an emotional climax (eww!) and that “6B” did the series mythology just fine. But I would understand if a couple of you out there groaned about the older woman opening up a soft spot (eww!) through simultaneous grief with her alternate universe husband. This idea will come back to Fringe, and duh, Peter and Olivia will be at the center of it. For me, the end justifies the means.
… One more time: “Like a flash mob… of suicide.” (Or was it “…for suicide”? Or “…with suicide”?)
… Peter’s booty song is The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” which contains the Fringe-y lyric “down for you is up.” Nice touch.
… And just in case you thought, “What a happy ending!” the final scene flashed over to the Other Side, where the old man is still grieving, and Fauxlivia reminds us that she’s still here.