'Fringe' recap: Feelings, nothing more than feelings?

Fringe was almost all about feelings, wo-o-o-feelings, in the hour titled “6B,” in one of the most Twilight Zone-ish episodes of the series. The storytelling gave equal weight to the lurching romance between Olivia and Peter, and the romance between an elderly couple separated by death and the vagaries of the universes. The hour began with a scene set in Park Slope, Brooklyn — an apartment building seemed to expel some party-goers against their will out a seventh-story balcony. (There was an exaggeratedly comic moment early on, when we saw a woman dragging her suitcase out of the building, acting as though the place was haunted — very Rod Serling; very un-Fringe-like.) An occupant in apartment 6B, played by Phyllis Somerville (The Big C), was glimpsed reminiscing about her deceased husband, yearning and sadness creasing her face.

This was then contrasted with a scene in which Walter prepared a romantic breakfast-by-candle-light for Peter and Olivia, hoping their love would be warmed by his blueberry pancakes. Never subtle  about these things, Walter even had a crooning version of “Feelings” streaming out of his record player to set the mood. But as much as Peter and Olivia want each other, Olivia’s feelings of betrayal surfaced once again.

The two scenes were brought together by the Fringe Division case, as Walter theorized that the Brooklyn phenomena had to do with “the energy after death.” Walter said William Bell used to think this energy might be harnessed if he could create “soul magnets.” Trying to make a connection with the dead, Walter asked for the files from an earlier case — the one we know as the third episode of the series’ first season, called “The Ghost Network,” although in “6B” Walter seemed not to detect the mysterious radio frequency that broadcast the emanations of death as they did in that episode.

Using their combined knowledge of the Other Side, Walter and Olivia conjectured that this case might be more evidence of the ever-thinning membrane separating the two universes, and that over there, a widower was trying to contact his dead wife — the flip side of the romantic coin: “Quantum entanglement,” permitting people to connect between worlds. The result, they feared, would be a vortex, a gaping hole, into which Park Slope might disappear, much to the dismay of hipsters throughout Brooklyn.

This opened up something else in Fringe: an excuse for our side to use the amber material that immobilizes such rift activities over there. Where is it being manufactured? At Massive Dynamic, of course, as Nina Sharp and Brandon showed us. The hour built to what I thought was rather minimal suspense, with Broyles yelling for Peter and Olivia to get out of the shimmering, glimmering building before “the amber device” would have encased our heroes. Come on — did you think for a second that was going to happen?

Instead, Peter and Olivia convinced the elderly lady to disengage from her Other Side husband, there was a nice, quick scene of Lincoln Lee and Bolivia answering a “class-four event” alert at their apartment 6B, and Walter pondered whether he might be more like Walternate than he’d thought, or wanted to think he is.

And the episode circled back to the same sort of Peter-Olivia scene that started the hour, this one more successful. Putting aside her misgivings, Olivia said, “I want what you want,” they kissed, and ascended unto Peter’s bedroom to pursue their love.

All in all, not the best Fringe, primarily for the reason I stated at the start: Its Twilight Zone construction, with a supernatural event serving as a big, obvious metaphor for something else — in this case, the rift between lovers (Peter and Olivia; the elderly couple Alice and Derek).

Me, I worry about the imbalance between the series’ romantic, family, and mythology ingredients. If there’s one thing I was hoping all of this season’s alternating-universe episodes would cure, it was the sort of scene that unfortunately popped up here: Anna Torv forced back into season-one-Olivia poker-faced dolorousness, moaning this week about her fear of being “incapable of being vulnerable.” I thought Fringe had moved beyond having to become ponderous to convey its serious romantic agony.

By contrast, the preview next week’s episode looked like a potential doozy. A flashback to a young Peter and Olivia, who might have met as children? It’ll either be a classic Fringe, or just a superior version of an episode of Smallville. I am hoping for the former, of course.

Fringe benefits:

• Walter’s blithely heartless initial theory about the splattered sidewalk bodies: “A flash-mob for suicide.”

• Broyles knows the President; in fact, he has beaten Obama at golf.

What did you think of this week’s Fringe?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (221 total) Add your comment
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  • JC

    I thought it was a terrific episode! I even watched live to help boost ratings. But I do agree…season 1 Olivia was back and I prefer the mythology to their romance. The other-side shot of Lincoln and Olivia had me expecting something huge, like a kiss between the two of them, but it was still cool to see them responding to the same thing.

    • Hel

      Haha. I dvr’d it, but watched 5 minutes of it before midnight, also to boost ratings. Fox always seems to cancel my favorite shows, ie: Dollhouse and Sarah Connors Terminator series. It would be great if they put Human Target and Fringe on Fri Nights, or maybe even open up the 10pm slot to a TV series and stop canceling wonderful, interesting shows. shows…

      • stevio

        Hate to Rain on your Parades JC & Hel, But Do you have a Neilson ratings box installed in your house? if not you watching DOESN’T COUNT AT ALL! That’s the problem! 1 out of every 30,000 people has one so the Ratings are Ridiculously inaccurate!!!!

      • Karen

        I agree Hel, my favorite shows seem to get canceled too. I’m afraid the first sign here is that Fringe was moved to Friday nights.

      • Jennifer TruthTeller

        They are trying to turn this into a chick show.
        What a waste.

      • Dippidy doo

        It was a good episode, hardly a chick show, but they should cut down on the romance angle. All in all, it is a far superior show than X-files ever was.

      • Dicazi

        Jennifer, I HATE chick shows. Fringe is so not one.

      • davey

        What the HELL is a chick show?

    • Zoe

      I loved it too! Come on Ken, where’s your heart?

      • dadslife

        The episode was so iffy that the observers stopped watching.

      • Gandalf47

        Did anyone spot The Observer in this one?

      • Brian

        I liked it a lot too! And there’s no need to take shots at “Twilight Zone” and “Smallville” either.

      • jen

        The Observer walks past the couple on the way to the dinner party. It’s about 10 seconds into the episode (not counting the “previously on Fringe” recap).

      • thorswitch

        Agreed, I thought it was great!

        I never felt that the show expected me to think the threat of using the Amber in this episode was going to happen – it felt like they were just setting it up for future tension, so that we know they have it now.

        I also enjoyed the two stories of love – P&O and the couple in the building(s.) Having seen my Dad grieving for my Mom, I think if he could will her image from an alternate universe, he would, even if he couldn’t talk to her or anything else.

        I was glad to see Olivia decide to open up. Having her back to Season 1 Olivia made a lot of sense – in Season 1, she had loved John and believed that he had betrayed her and all they believed in. Peter’s betrayal – though inadvertent – was no less painful (perhaps even moreso) and it made sense she would take emotional shelter in her dour stoicism before pushing herself forward into this new and unknown (to her, anyway) romantic relationship.

        I have to say, though, the big quest for me after this week’s episode is what happens if Peter gets BOTH Olivia’s pregnant? And how on either Earth would those kids be related? They’d be at least half-siblings since they share an actual father, but their mother(s) are each an “alternate” version of the other. Would that make them full-siblings or maybe even twins of some sort? It’s fun to contemplate :)

    • Jennifer TruthTeller

      This was an excellent and honest
      Thank God that Tucker is doing Fringe now instead of “Doc” Jensen.
      Jensen would have written another 5 or 6 superflous pages, 95% of which would just be sheer narcissistic prattle.
      Again, THANK THE LORD.

      • no

        tucker always has done frine reviews

      • jinq2

        To me, trying to compare Ken Tucker and Jeff Jensen is like comparing really crisp, delicious apples to… well, some luscious exotic fruit that hasn’t been invented yet. They are both pros and great at their professions. Granted, Jensen’s style isn’t to everyone’s taste… but his coverage of ‘Lost’ enhanced the whole viewing experience for many readers, myself included. Plus, ‘Lost’ was a show that invited wild speculation and flights of fantasy. I doubt if Jensen *were* covering ‘Fringe,’ we’d have gotten the same style. In the end, what makes a review ‘excellent and honest’ is the writer doing his/her own thing ~ not simply that *you* happen to agree with it.

      • gataroo

        I would welcome Jensen’s reviews. I rarely agree with Tucker. I loved his lost coverage.

    • JaySin420

      Yea I thought it was a great episode too. I think the end of the series will be Walter having to give Peter back to Walternate.

      • kaydevo

        Uh, Peter is an adult. I don’t think anyone could “give him back” to Walternate. Peter might choose to go, or be kidnapped, but he’s not a child or a gift.

  • Elisabeth

    This episode was mindnumbingly cool… I absolutely loved it. But to deprive us of seeing Olivia and Peter getting it on, was not so cool.

    • Altair

      ‘mindnumbingly cool’ – Bit of an oxymoron there. No matter, I thought the episode was great, regardless of rushed romance storyline.

    • SueN

      I too thought it was cool. Although seeing Olivia lead Peter upstairs while she was still wearing her coat and scarf was a little disappointing.

  • Melissa

    Just to add to the soap-operainess of the Olivia-Peter-Fauxlivia triangle, I bet Olivia will also become pregnant with Peter’s baby.
    I love Fringe, but I’m just rolling my eyes at the thought.

    • JC

      Yea that’s the problem with a lot of these shows…they always dive into the romance between the two main leads. That’s why I stopped watching Bones and House (do NOT get me started on “Huddy”)…Fringe probably won’t be around long enough though for me to worry about Peter and Olivia.

    • tipsy

      That`s totally happening. Since there aren`t two Peters, but each Olivia is destined to be with him, there will be two children. Plus, that complicates peter`s choice because he will have to choose one child over the other. yep, it`s a done deal, folks. Besides, why do you think that apple has two fetuses? Not just a symbol of two universes.

      • Karen

        Good insight Tipsy.

      • KFlowers

        I think that in the end the show will come full circle and Peter will have to do what originally Walter couldn’t and that’s give up one of his kids forever.

    • Leanne

      Does anyone else think Lincoln is into Fauxlivia? Maybe she’s pregnant with HIS baby!

      • Leithen

        If just liking someone meant you got to impregnate them, well…

        Nah. It’s Peter’s baby.

      • Team Fauxlivia

        He is in to her…he kissed her once and she promptly said I have a boyfriend…so he got rejected. Still obviously in to her, and will prolly still get rejected.

    • robinepowell

      I was wondering the same thing, lol. :p

      It’ll be interesting to see down the road if our Olivia becomes pregnant or not. Maybe she’s a bit smarter and know what birth control is. Unless that part of Faux Olivia’s plan.

  • Megan

    I got the impression from the end scene that perhaps what had happened didn’t occur “Over There” but in a whole other universe?

    • Grumpster

      Could be…a Third-verse, same as the first.

    • abby

      That is an interesting theory. If there are two universes, why not three or four. What make you think that about that scene though? Maybe if Olivia had been shown as a brunette…

    • allie

      do you mean the previews of Peter and Olivia as children or Bolivia and Lincoln? If you are talking about Little Olivia and Little Peter that looked a lot like the woods she was in when she was submerged in the sensory deprivation tank last season.

  • Brad Adien

    Kinda senseless. Why encase a whole builng in amber,thus killing the old woman causing the rift,rather than just offing the old bag?Also,wouldn’t the Other Side-being much better equiped to detect and deal with breaches than This Side- have been on the case PDQ rather than just showing up as the breach is closed?

    • Team Fauxlivia

      I think the point was finding a way to stop the damage naturally. Not giving up. Amber doesn’t stop the problem…what they did is a microcosm of their goal. Finding a way to allow both worlds to survive.

      • Jae

        Excellent observation. I think what you just said is a big clue as to how they plan to save both universes.

      • Dicazi


    • KK

      I was wondering why the other team didn’t amber the place earlier since the husband had been “visiting” the wife for 2 months now…

      • Dicazi

        Many “vortexes” seem to occur on the other side, without opening on our side. Maybe this side was stronger, so it had just started to become problematic on the red side.

  • OMG

    I lurved the ending….the case was kinda meh…but i loved that i brought Peter and Olivia closer together…but i didnt think she would give it up that quick…lol!
    but i think that both Olivia n Holivia will get pregnant..which i dont know if i like or not….i will wait to see how that plays out before i judge.

    • allie

      I’m hoping that isn’t the case. Don’t any of these people use birth control???

      • Just Sayin’

        They can’t afford birth control. The government took away Planned Parenthood’s funding.

      • ACM

        My first post ever, just to say to Just Sayin': PERFECTLY SAID, PERFECTLY TIMED. :)

      • miranda

        Good point.

      • Francini

        I thought of that too! But, clearly the producers have some sort of plan involving the babies.

      • Beth

        Just Sayin’ – well said. Made me laugh, before it made me sad.

    • Cordy

      Olivia will not become pregnant. Peter’s just gonna have to steal his kid and take it to our side. The circle of life. Plus then he cant give walter crap anymore

      • Anne

        You know very well that’s not going to happen. And the whole point of this baby is to replace Peter on the other side-balance out the numbers.

  • allie

    I enjoyed this episode. Olivia was beginning to get a little whiny – glad she stepped up and decided to fight for her man. I am very intrigued about next week. I also wonder why the old man in the Other 6B didn’t tell Bolivia that he recognized her – and wonder if he will call her which could make her realize that if she and our Peter are in the same place at the same time in their universes during a vortex event she could see him again.

    • angel

      Yeah, I was waiting for the old man in the AU to tell Fauxlivia – didn’t I just see you with my wife? I hope this plays out soon when she discovers (through the old man’s revelations in later episodes) that there might me a crack she can “see” Peter again.

      • Liz D.

        He might have noticed her red hair & realized it couldn’t have been the same person he had just seen.

      • Dicazi

        And just because Olivia and Peter could see him doesn’t mean that he could see them.

      • Womi

        Dicazi, watch the episode again. The old man did see Olivia and Peter and asked who they were.

      • kaydevo

        Why would he want to bring Fringe Division down on himself? I’m sure, what with the rampant ambering of effected locations, people “over there” try to avoid FD like the plague.

      • Dicazi

        I’m watching it tonight and I’ll watch for that.

    • Jenna

      Um, he wasn’t going to say “Didn’t I just see you with my wife” because he was obviously-with the wariness and keeping his door mostly closed-lying to them about not having seen anything weird (having just seen through to his wife in the other universe), so he wasn’t going to bring up seeing Olivia.

  • jophan

    I’m pretty sure the intention of showing the AU was that the breach had resolved itself with the widow’s withdrawal, Megan, so the detected problem was gone by the time Lincoln and B-Olivia arrived.

    There’s always been a tie between the Cortexiphan cases and emotions: Olivia’s abilities driven by fear of intimacy (back to the flickering streetlights in the pilot!), Nick Lane’s empathic projections, the terrified firestarting twins. The idea that emotion distress can cause the divide between universes to fray seems a little too far-fetched even for Fringe, though. We’d have holes everywhere from every tragedy. There must be some other contributing factor. Perhaps it has something to do with the nodes on The Pattern (S1 finale)?

    Otherwise, I’m happy to see the will-they-or-won’t-they finally resolved. This show likes to drag core situations out to the edge of too long (or beyond, for the less patient).

    • Dicazi

      It’s probably rare that such strong emotions occur on both sides at the same time in the same place.

    • Gandalf47

      “Less patient” unfortunately translates to the short attention span of the 18- 34 demo, which will determine Fringe’s fate. Anyone who still reads paper books does not count any more. Instant gratification – forget plot development, and substance – just get to the sound bite! It’s all about the Benjamin’s!

  • Team Fauxlivia

    I don’t get Ken’s premise. I think this episode was about reconnecting. Some episodes need to put the romance in the forefront, others the mythology. This show has a lot of aspects to juggle…so idk, give some love to the love episodes. I thought the bar scene was the best…and I kinda dig Anna Torvs take on Olivia. You can see how scared she is…this isn’t a girl who can take another heartbreak and you can really feel that. She is awkward in such a sweet way. Ps Walter needs to make some apology pancakes to astrid

    • miranda

      great point, and i agree.

  • Adam

    Did I miss the episode where our side’s heroes moved shop from Boston to New York?

    • Team Fauxlivia

      They follow the Fringe events…they have been on the west coast, in Pennsylvania. And since Mass Dyn is in New York and Walter owns it, wouldn’t you spend more time there now anyways?

      • Leithen

        I just find it funny that neither Walter or Peter have taken advantage of Walter’s newfound wealth in any visible way.

      • Team Fauxlivia

        I know right? Season 1 Peter would totally be driving some obscenely expensive car. Walter I get…he doesn’t care about money. As long as he can make taffy and ride the bus he’s a happy camper.

      • Gandalf47

        Yeah – THAT’s what Fringe is about. Acquiring wealth and showing it off! NOT!

      • Leithen

        Wow, I didn’t know my joking comment was supposed to be a thematic dissertation on conspicuous consumption in a post-financial crisis world.

        I just thought they might buy a new station wagon.

        Lighten up.

    • avidfan

      That’s one detail that’s distracting me during the shows. They had a lot of cases in the Boston area during seasons 1 and 2, but now it seems like they’re always in New York, and always back and forth to Walter’s lab like it’s just next door. Why would Massive Dynamic be in New York anyway? Seems like all the intellectual capital would be back in Boston near MIT and Harvard and the 128 tech corridor.

      • NYTeach

        I keep wondering how they get back and forth between New York and Boston so quickly. Do they have some sort of ‘beam me up’ or ‘floo’ device? If so, I want one.

      • Gandalf47

        They use the same type of transportation that Jack Bauer used in “24”to get across LA in seven minutes to save the world.

  • Fringey

    Tipsy may be on to something. I think the mythology is a basis for considering the nature of choice and we are being set up for a really big choice between families.

    • Team Fauxlivia

      Walter’s saving grace was that he had no choice. In saving Peter he had to…or Peter would have died. Walternate given the option of dead peter or alive peter would have chosen alive peter. Now never returning him…ok he’s got a legit beef, and Walter made the wrong choice but meh

  • Leithen

    I thought this episode was the setup for how Peter finds out about Fauxlivia’s child without actually going over there, and without Peter having to rely on a shapeshifter or someone telling him, through the plot device of emotional quantum entanglement.

    I’m also wondering who on the other side besides Fauxlivia, Walternate, and Brandon know that her child is Peter’s. In that short scene we got, we didn’t even get an indication that Lincoln knew she was pregnant. I think it’d be nice to see a scene with Faulivia and Peter’s mom, just to give some insight into where we stand on that side.

    • Team Fauxlivia

      Would you bum rush a woman you never met to tell her “So, your son got me Preggers while i was in the other universe ;p “

      • Leithen

        Don’t you think Walternate would tell her? I actually saw it more likely that Peter’s mom would knock on Fauxlivia’s door.

      • Team Fauxlivia

        “Hi, so my son knocked yo up”

      • Team Fauxlivia

        I don’t know Walternate’s motivations. He might just use the baby dna to use the machine which would probably kill it. I doubt Walternate and PB’s mom speak. And honestly I don’t think it would really help her. Her child was stolen, and even though he came back…that scene with them, you could just see that in the end he was a stranger. Her child was this grown up person she didn’t know, couldn’t know…and him being there was almost cruel b/c it just reminded her of what she lost.

      • Leithen

        Awkward, but really…if she knew, wouldn’t she want to meet her?

      • Team Fauxlivia

        As a fan i’d love that scene. Olivia and Peters Mom. But if she finds out…it shouldn’t be like in an obvious way. Maybe she betrays walternate in some way to help the baby…idk.

      • Jeff

        “Maybe she betrays walternate in some way to help the baby…”
        Especially after that scene from the previous week which showed Walternate has a mistress.

    • Francini

      As we saw last week, Walternate is cheating on his wife. From an earlier episode, Peter’s parents seem to still be living together, but I wonder how much interaction they actually have.

  • sharlin

    I don’t know what you are smoking Ken. It was a great episode.

    • Johnification

      Also, quick clarification for Ken: Walter got the “ghost network” file not because of anything to do with the dead…he got the file to learn more about the stuff that immobilized the bus, so he could therefore make some “Over Here” amber.

      • kaydevo

        AND Ken was wrong about Walter ever thinking a ghost was involved. He doesn’t believe in them. It was Belly who was interested in ghosts, he said.

      • Brian

        Exactly! Walter flat out said they didn’t exist.

      • YH

        kaydevo is right about Walter’s feelings about ghosts, thus prompting the funniest line of the night by Peter, “So ghosts is where you draw the line?”

      • Liza

        That’s 2 celrve by half and 2×2 clever 4 me. Thanks!

    • Dicazi

      I agree. I loved it.

  • Amy

    I have to agree with Ken Tucker on this one. I’ve never seen a legitimately bad episode of Fringe, but this is definitely one of the weaker. While I’m always up for some romance, and the case was rather touching, I agree that it had little of the suspense and tension I’ve come to expect from Fringe. I was surprised by how quickly Peter and Olivia got together, but it could be really interesting to see where this goes. Next week looks pretty promising (though, having started in season 3, I haven’t gotten around to seeing any flashback episodes yet).

    • Team Fauxlivia

      It’s been like 6 episodes now since she got back…quickly getting together is not really a fair statement. There has been only one flashback Season 2 “Peter” its a doozy

    • kaydevo

      Wow. Some people think the plot is too rushed, like Amy, who must’ve missed most of the season or something. Other, more impatient viewers, complain that it’s proceeding too slowly (“when will Olivia quit whining and move on?!”). I’m satisfied with the pace of the story.

      • jules

        I am too. Although I was not expecting to see Olivia and Peter together yet.

      • Francini

        I wasn’t expecting it yet either. Just that morning, Peter and Olivia couldn’t even sit down and eat breakfast together, but that night, they were sleeping together. That’s kinda fast.

    • samara

      I don’t know how anyone could call this a weak episode. It moved the entire storyline forward in a major way – I’m talking about Walter pondering the use of amber. Ken Tucker isn’t on point with this review.

      • shan

        I agree. Ken is so off. I loved this episode. And I wish people would stop complaining about Olivia. Her feelings are perfectly understandable for what she went through. She’s trying.

  • jordan

    Small thing I noticed: the car in the previous episode where the guy was killed and the cockroaches were falling out and the weird crazy guy was catching them; the license plate was 6B. The apartment in this episode: 6B.

    Loved the episode too!

    • Sarah

      I noticed the license plate, too! I wonder if “6B” has some other significance, yet to be revealed..

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