'Fringe' recap: 'Over There, Part 1' is one great half of a fantastic finale

The first half of the two-part Fringe season finale, “Over There,” hurtled us over there — to the alternate universe, where Peter was following his true father, and where alternative versions of Olivia, Broyles, and even Astrid existed in cleverly different versions of the ones we know.

Over there, Olivia is an auburn-haired, wisecracking, jack-booted member of a Fringe Division that’s overseen by the Department of Defense, headed up by the Man Formerly Known As The Walternate, Secretary of Defense Walter Bishop. The opening moments played like a little action movie, following a black-uniformed team of Fringe Division soldiers headed up by Altivia, Charlie (yes, Kirk Acevedo, back in fine form), and Lincoln Lee (Dirty Sexy Money‘s Seth Gabel). They’re under the direct command of a “Colonel” Broyles in a tight black t-shirt; his assistant was an Agent Farnsworth who had a black military beret and a glassy, savant affect.

What they eventually find is our Olivia, along with our Walter, plus three more of those luckless souls dosed with Cortexiphan by Walter and William Bell when they were kids. The trio includes Nick Lane (remember the “2” scar on the side of his familiar face?), pyrokinetic Sally Clark, and the cancer-clogged James Heath. The latter take the trip as “extra energy supply,” in Walter’s phrase — the Cortexiphan patients have that extra glow that enables them to move between universes better then you or I might.

“Our” team is “over there” to get Peter to come back. Why? Because an Observer left Olivia a piece of paper that included a drawing of some complicated machinery and a picture of Peter with what looks like fire or smoke (maybe both) coming out of his eyes. Walter takes one look at it and says Peter “is going to be responsible for the end of the world” if they don’t get him back. And Peter, bitter about our Walter’s paternal deception and eager to see his real parents, is (at this point anyway) an unwitting pawn in that process.

The episode was a complete success and a blast at giving us a fully lived-in alternate universe. In general, I have to say that the other side not only looks looks more funky and gritty — yes, more militaristic, but, dang it, also more fun than our world. Yes, Altivia doesn’t drink liquor over there, but unlike Olivia, she’s not miserable or worried — i.e., driven to drink. In fact, the Alternate Olivia smiles a lot more and has a nice, ripped boyfriend; not John Scott, but a smoothie played by Philip Winchester, who once portrayed Robinson Crusoe in the 2008 NBC series Crusoe.

There were many exciting, even moving moments last night. The meeting between our Olivia and Leonard Nimoy’s Bell was typically fraught with cryptic ambiguity. (The question always is, should she believe what he’s telling her, and the answer is always put off, but Nimoy knows how to play cryptic ambiguity with the skill of a Mr. Spock.) The reunion of the Cortexiphan kids was a comics-geek’s heaven: It was like witnessing an alt-Legion of Super Heroes meeting. More emotional was Peter’s reunion with his Earth-2 mother (an Orla Brady with gray streaks in her hair). It’s one thing for a fellow to be reunited with a mother who he’d thought had committed suicide; it’s another thing to be a young man one version of whose mother really did kill herself, and who he can now hug as his true mom. That’s a great, humantistic use of a sci-fi trope, and a powerful motive to abandon the rest of the stars of your TV show.

Still, duty calls for the rest of those stars. John Noble was once again superb at juggling Walter’s brain- and emotion-rattled scenes, as well as at pulling Walter together to do what Walter does best: interpret that Observer-dropped piece of paper as a plan for an Earth-1 killing device.

I could go on and on, parsing this episode, but instead I’ll add a few other points below and await next week’s part two of the finale. I know a lot of you Commenters are saying that, when Lost ends, Fringe will be your new obsession. I really hope the show breaks through next season as a more mass-audience phenomenon. (Dear Fox network: Give Fringe a better time-period when you announce your fall schedule next week!)

Added details:

• Our Broyles accused Nina Sharp and Massive Dynamic of creating weapons for “the other side” near the start of the episode. How much of that is true?

• The new blood-red drenched Fringe opening credits added some nice, danger-sign flash to this red-alert episode.

• Secretary Walter wrote the ZFT Manifesto, which is a big thick trade paperback over there (no Kindles!), and something of a hoax book — the author admits he made some stuff up to further the cause of Bishop and Bell. Maybe there’s an Oprah over there (a “Noprah”?) who’ll host William Bell when and if he decides to publicly apologize for his literary sin.

• Martin Luther King, Jr., is on the other side’s $20 bill. “Who’s [Andrew] Jackson?” the alts ask when they come across one of our world’s double-sawbucks.

• I know it was contrived, but I loved the two moments when cast members had to explain to the audience what goes on between worlds: When Secretary Walter called on hot-dogging-mercenary Olivia like a teacher calling on a student, to explain the alt-Fringe Division; and when our lab-rat Brandon (don’t you love Ryan McDonald’s performance?) took us through the molecular strain of moving from one world into the other.

• In the alt-uni, The West Wing is still broadcasting new episodes, but with a different cast, which explains why Allison Janney was free to pop up in this week’s Lost.

• Line of the night, from Walter: “I think I’ll go have a bit of a cry.”

What did you think of “The Other Side, Part 1″? What do you think will happen in part two next week?

Follow: @kentucker


Comments (222 total) Add your comment
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  • Velma Dinkley

    Amazing, amazing, amazing! I noticed they have McDonalds on the other side too :) Loved this episode and was really moved when Peter came into the kitchen and met his Mom all over again. How sweet was it when she asked him if he still loved bacon? I kind of like this timeslot and I don’t know if moving it would give it more viewers…

    • Yaha

      Yes, loved the sweet interaction between Peter and his mom. And, agreed, why is Thursday night a bad timeslot?

      • Rush

        Because it’s right up against Grey’s Anatomy.

      • Teresa

        I wish it was moved to another night as well. I have to watch it online because I watch Supernatural on Thursday nights. I didn’t watch this epi yet, but after this recap I am looking forward to seeing it.

      • Jeremy

        I love Fringe, Fox should move it to Tuesday or Wednesday night and make it like a geek friendly block of programming – Legend of the Seeker followed by Human Target, finishing with Fringe

      • John

        Ditto. Love it but watch Supernatural at this time slot then catch it online at either Hulu or Fox. I have to agree with moving time slot for one of these two shows. It’s just too crowded on Thursday at 9. And there’s nothing on Wednesday night. With Lost leaving Tuesday night and 24 leaving Monday those will be wide open too. It makes no sense to have every good show on Thursday at 9.

      • Von

        A Super Good and very creative and risk taking season capped off by a
        clever part one season final. Eager
        for part two ! Part one packed so much excitement and fun into one hour. Finely acted as well !
        Fringe is my favorite show again this year.
        Kudos Fringe you rock my worlds!!

    • jc

      Because the proof is in the ratings…when the show was not on Thursday the ratings were better. Thursday night at 9 p.m. is a glut of heavy competition with Grey’s Anatomy and CSI.

      • James

        And it’s going to get worse. CBS is apparently moving CSI and putting The Mentalist in the 9 pm ET slot.

    • Tajah

      Change the time next season so momentum will pick up! It was a great show and am looking forward to next week.

  • Laura

    Yeah, mindblowing is pretty accurate! I absolutely loved this episode! William Bell just seems creepy!

  • lilian

    It was fantastic! A nice treat to see Charlie again. But the part that most got to me, was Peter’s reunion with his mother. I cried my eyes out! What an unbelievable show. I was never much into Lost, and I realize now that it was mostly because I could never bring myself to care for any of its characters, although the plot intrigued me. But with Fringe I feel completely involved, on an emotional level. And the sci fi is just out of this world! Can’t wait for next week

    • nas

      totally agree with u here!

    • courtney

      did anyone notice charlie and his obsession with bugs, some were actually crawling under his skin.So can we assume that they never got those parasitic worms out of him and he has to inject himself to keep them in check?

  • CountryClub

    Great episode. We can only hope the second half lives up to the promise the first half gave us.

  • ana

    It was amazing! Can’t wait till next week’s finale and next season.

  • ZackBauer

    Wasn’t that Richard Nixon on the coin at the beginning of the episode?

    • Rush

      Yes, in the alt-verse Nixon beat Kennedy in the 1960 election. Could have also been a nod to Watchmen.

    • Garry

      Yes, that was Nixon on the quarter.
      I had to laugh! What in the world is their history in the alt universe?

      • Barb

        it was a .50 cent piece

      • sonia

        I thought it was a dollar coin.

    • justin

      Wow, I didn’t even see that! Thanks, man!!!

  • Yaha

    Wasn’t it The Secretary who had alt-Olivia explain the Fringe Division? Maybe I’m wrong.

    Loved the ep, as usual (this show keeps getting better and better), but the whole Cortexiphan kids reunion was a little too X-men for me and took away from the “reality” feel of the show. Loved Alt-Olivia. I see the two of them have a fight scene next week…Why can’t we all just get along???

    • Yaha

      Also, I loved that MLK was on the $20. I wish it was!!!

      • jackson

        Great touch when we saw that the picture on the “Jr” was MLK!! I absolutley love this show!

    • Ken Tucker

      yes, you’re correct, of course–the Secretary, not Broyles–thanks!

    • Rush

      And it’s tragic that the Cortexiphan kids (C-Men) had to die. Further colateral damage due to our-Walter’s dead son obsession.

      • David T

        If the events of last night are any indication, I think we are going to learn that AltWalt’s obsessions have been even more destructive (just guessing he is at fault for the reality fissures causing problems in the Altverse, and wants to fix them by collapsing Universe1)

        I wonder how much history we are going to get in the second parter….Nixon must have been assasinated similar to Kennedy to be on the bicentennial 50-cent piece. MLK must have been an official of some sort (doesn’t have to be president) to make it on the $20. We know there were terrorist attacks that destroyed the White House and Pentagon – are they caused by Muslim extremists, or will they be caused by eco-terrorists blaming the US for the reality fissures?

      • MB

        Walter doesn’t have a dead son obsession.

  • amanda

    Is there anywhere to rewatch this episode? Of course my power went out from severe thunder storms? HELP :)

    • Yaha

      Hulu.com, baby!

    • Nic.

      Fox.com

    • dedicatedx

      iTunes… just watched it myself.

    • donuteyes

      you could download THE episode for free if you were a PIRATE and could keep the authorities at BAY…

      • Jersey Jeff

        BIT if he did that, he could catch a TORRENT of trouble. :)

    • Barb

      fox.com

    • Linda

      Amanda, If you have Comcast with On Demand, I believe there are Fringe reruns under “TV shows”. Hope that helps.

    • josephrileyland

      yeah, just go to hulu… i watched last week’s episode there.

  • Daisy Steiner

    I was hoping for a little more of a cliffhanger from this week to next week’s show, but the episode was still amazing. What about Lincoln Lee being burned to a crisp but able to survive? And the fact that he knew Nick Lane? Do we get to know what that’s about?

    • Cuse

      Yes! I had forgotten how Lee muttered “Nick Lane?” and yes- being burnt to a crisp over there isn’t that big of a deal???? Just a few months in a “whatchamacallit” chamber and *poof* you’re good to go!

    • Gator

      I was wondering how he knew Nick Lane too! I hope that comes into play next week. And once again we see that their technology far surpasses ours, 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body and he will be fine??? WOW!

    • bprokopy

      Not only wondering how Lee knew Nick lane, but also wondering who Lee’s father is. Seceratary Walter mentions him. Have we seen him before? Was he killed in a previous episode?

      • Daisy Steiner

        I forgot about that. Maybe he was the shape-shifter dude that didn’t quite make it.

    • chibby

      I’m wondering if he just knows the altverse’s Nick Lane.

    • justin

      I KNOW! Nannite regeneration chamber?! Three months after being burned to a crisp?! Incredible!!!

  • Claire

    Amazing Episode! I loved the red beginning, and the alternate universe is cool. Anyone have any theories about what exactly Walternate wants Peter to do?

  • Matt S.

    Amazing episode for sure. For me, this episode furthers what was suggested by the episode “Peter”. That Walternate was the absentee Dad, the one who didnt care. For all his flaws, our Walter loves Peter dearly – while it appears evident Walternate may very well try to condem his son to death, or at the least use him to destroy the normal universe of the characters, which is a pretty heartless thing to do.

    • Donna G.

      Totally agree with you Matt S. Alt-Walt retrieved our Peter to destroy Earth 1. How about the air ships and the missile-shaped building next to the Twin Towers? Glad to see Charlie — what was the thing about the “worms”?

      • bp5simp

        Yeah … what’s with the worms? I didn’t understand that.

      • Jill H.

        Remember the episode in Season 1 where some college animal rights activists broke into a testing facility and let out that weird hybrid animal? Charlie was “impregnated” when he got stung by and Walter had to inject some worms in him to kill the hybrid babies growing in him I think. I’m not sure I remember that completely right, but I’m pretty sure that’s close :) hope that helps!

      • Cutter

        There is a building in Tokyo that looks exactly like the missile buildings

      • Worms

        No, no, no Jill. It’s because the Charlie from the other universe was dead and buried, ie “in the ground with worms feeding on him”.

      • Annie T

        Jill H. is correct. Our Charlie was incinerated, so no worms in a grave unless, of course, you consider worms in ashes to ashes, that would kinda work.

    • Hannah

      Good point! You really get a sense in this episode that he doesn’t care that much about Peter. Am I weird in wishing Peter and his Mom go back to our universe? They can be a multi-universe family again with our broken but caring Walter!

      • Cass

        Nice thought, but I don’t think the woman would forgive Walter for stealing her son and depriving her of him for years and years… even if Walter is the reason Peter is even alive.

  • CJ

    J.J. Abrams has put sci fi thriller back on the map with Fringe. I can’t recall when I’ve been so engrossed in such a fantastical, imaginative show. And this first half of the season finale is just a highlight of why.

    I do miss the Peter/Walter interaction and look forward to see how that evolves with all that has happened.

    Great to see Charlie again. And Alt. Broyles is as kick-a** there as he is in our world.

    Looking forward to next week and next season.

    I will second the Dear Fox — please move Fringe to a different night!

  • DGH

    Hope they do more of the sides crossing over I love seeing Charlie again!!!

    • Nic.

      I know–I cried out “Charlie’s back!” I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy….

      • tictactardis

        I actually let out a mini-scream… >.>;

        I was so excited! I half hope they can bring him back over or something… xD

  • Sofia

    They showed the Richard Nixon coin in a previous episode. And yes it was Walternate who asked Alt-Olivia to explain the Fringe Division.

    Anyway- wonderful Episode! Can’t wait to see the Olivia’s duke-it-out next week! I loved how Peter explained he thought he was just imagining he loved Bacon cause his mom never cooked it because she was a vegetarian.

    that meeting between Peter and his real mom was heartwrenching…and a situation never explored before…yes we have all seen “reunions” between parent and child- but this was so different- love fringe!

    • tipsy

      Anyone noticed that peter`s mom isn`t a big fan of her husband Walternate? I`m wondering if Peter will get a real family in the form of his real mom and our Walter in the end?

  • ken

    i’m really enjoying fringe these days only confused about the whole ‘crossing over’, some days it seems easy, some days impossible, sometimes it has ramifications sometimes less so. did olivia move herself over at the end of season one and not even realize it? why is walters method unstable, it seemed the ‘ramifications’ came from stealing peter, not the physical travel itself?
    otherwise, welcome back charlie and an emmy for noble, looking forward to next week

    • Yaha

      Yeah, and also what about the “If something from here goes over there then something from there has to come over here” issue?

      • zp76

        I think the difference is that Walter opened a “door” and that’s different from the method Massive Dynamic and the cortex kids use.

      • What?

        Then what about the whole episode with the building from this universe disappearing, the one where we learned things from the alt-universe had a shimmer? Walter didn’t trigger that with his door thing. I agree, it is weird how suddenly that whole theory was thrown out the window in this episode.

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