'Fringe' recap: Baby, baby, sweet baby

This week’s Fringe should have come with an advisory: DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. The harrowing pregnancy of the alternative-universe-Olivia was the coursing vein running through the episode titled “Bloodline.”

Early on, it was disclosed that Altivia was a likely carrier of “viral propagated eclampsia,” a condition, we were told, that usually resulted in the death at birth of either the mother or the child. (The other Olivia’s sister had died in childbirth from “VPE.”) Eclampsia is an acute complication of pregnancy; a propagated viral form of it is, thank goodness, something that exists in the minds of Fringe writers who know how to unnerve viewers effectively.

The kidnapping of Altivia, the needle injection that would speed up gestation of the fetus, the race to find her by Lincoln Lee, Charlie Francis, and our favorite cab driver, Henry (Andre Royo) — all of this made for a swift, tense episode. Once Altivia’s tracking device was removed, Lee suspected an “inside job,” a phrase that would be repeated later in the hour by Walternate, in an attempt to throw Lincoln off the trail of clues.

Fringe used this alt-universe episode to establish a strong new bond between Lincoln and Charlie. They’ve mutually acknowledged that Lincoln “has a thing for Liv” (he would later declare his love for her when he thought she was dying). And after Walternate told Lincoln that the baby is his grandchild, as well as a few mind-blowers about the “other” Olivia, they agreed they need to wonder “what else we don’t know.” It’s a good set-up, to have these two agents working together (with the alternate-Agent Farnsworth, unwittingly/wittingly/instinctively sussing out information they need). Once Altivia had been diagnosed with VPE, she was scheduled for “the procedure,” which I assumed was an abortion to save her life. Thus Walternate’s staged kidnapping (for that’s what it turned out to be) prevented yet another prime-time abortion, with all the controversy that can attend such an operation on network television, but with Fringe, this wasn’t a cop-out — it was a way to heighten the stakes for everyone involved, not only Altivia and her son (for that’s what it turned out the baby was).

“Bloodline” was a beautifully modulated hour, written by Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen, that took care to establish the anxiety felt by Altivia and her mother, Marilyn (Amy Madigan) about the pregnancy, freighted as it also is by the fact that the father is not the Alt-Olivia’s boyfriend Frank, but Peter Bishop. Marilyn’s barely-held-in-check disapproval, balanced by worry over her daughter’s health, was enacted well by Madigan.

So let’s tote up some of what we know. Walternate had forbidden any experimentation on children, which we’ve interpreted in previous episodes as a humanitarian impulse. Brandonate reminded us that “Peter is uniquely suited to power the machine”… but is that still true, if he has a son whose bloodline is potent enough to make the same connection to the machine? And why would Brandonate have phrased it this way, if the plan was already in motion to get the baby birthed and confirm its DNA potential? He and Walternate must have had a theory that Peter is not unique in this sense, that his heir could “power the machine,” no?

Indeed, we can still interpret Walternate as a not-evil man — after all, as alternate-O said, she and the baby’s lives were both saved because “the virus didn’t replicate as fast as the pregnancy.” But the elaborate kidnapping to gain the baby’s blood sample was necessary… why, exactly? To distance Walternate from whatever happens next in the assembling of the great machine?

I’m still so flushed with relief that Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season that I’m going to let you sort things out as far as the future is concerned (on our side, did Peter come down with sudden, inexplicable urge to go out and buy some cigars to pass around to his dad and the gang?). As far as this week’s episode is concerned, I was shaken and moved, as well as amused (Astrid’s reaction to Sec. Walter Bishop being grandfather to Agent Dunham’s baby: “Oh. I see.”). Have at it below, please.

Fringe benefits:

• The Observer, with his “It is happening” communication to his fellow Hairless Wonders, was busy standing still, witnessing history.

• The birth date of Altivia’s son on the blood-sample card is “14/02/11″; assuming over there they print dates in the European manner, flipping the month/day as we do it, that would make this… Valentine’s Day?

• In the alt-universe, Francis Ford Coppola directed Taxi Driver.

Also, “Opus the Peahen,” as drawn by “our” Berkeley Breathed and as opposed to Opus the penguin, is read by a chuckling Henry in his cab.

• Over there, a new season of The West Wing has started! I wonder how the ratings for Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip are these days…

• Charlie had a date with Mona, that cute “bug girl.”

What did you think of “Bloodline”?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (222 total) Add your comment
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  • Jay

    Loved tonight’s episode. Really enjoyed the pace and how it made us feel for the Alternative Universe, especially Fauxlivia. Gosh, the ending was moving. And, seriously Henry is the best cab driver ever! Can’t wait for the Fringe-ception episode!

    • ac

      Henry delivering the baby and giving advise on how to ease the delivery was the one thing that seemed too far fetched for me.
      Quite absurd that that is what I would find too difficult to swallow on a show like this.

      The strongest part of this show is always wanting more of the puzzle solved and to know what’s next?

      • Justin

        The man has two kids and was present at their delivery. Surely, he knows something about delivering a baby.

      • serenity is one the greatest movies this Century

        Lincoln is the MAN!!! I would love to see him (his alternate) team up with Peter again. This show has me glued to the screen, the last time I felt this way was watching LOST – which I was doing this time last year and FRINGE is filling the void quite nicely.

      • Bette

        Fringe is the creme de la creme. No void filling is necessary for this viewer.

      • Rush

        It was a bit of a TV stereotype to have a cabbie deliver a baby; as if all cabbies at some point in their career have to deliver a baby.

      • jam

        Didn’t he say he delivered one of his own children in a cab?

      • PMD

        @Serenity… Did not the music while Altivia was giving birth sound so much like Lost music?

    • Marion

      I enjoyed every moment of this episode. I loved seeing Lincoln both last weeks and again in this episode, and I hope we’ll see more. (Although I suspect his days may be numbered because he knows too much now) I’m really happy that Alt-charlie and lincoln are comparing notes. And I’m SO glad that they got the whole pregnancy storyline over with fast and we didn’t have to suffer through it for 8 more months.

    • Pipwr

      Dear Ken Tucker,
      I may be wrong, but wasn’t there an earlier episode where it was established that Coppola was an actor “over there”? In which case he took the place of Di Niro, not Scorcese in “Taxi Driver.”

      • Piper

        Mistyped my own name!

      • Allie

        Agree – I thought they were referencing Coppola taking over for Di Niro as well.

  • Mark

    Fringe at his best tonight. So intense and marvellous acting all around.

    • Ali

      Yes, I loved Lincoln especially! Really hope to see more of him.

      • Lisa London

        Lincoln is amazing – and amazingly hot! Great acting by Seth Gabel. I do hope we see a lot more of him (over-there and over-here)… and Charlie too.

      • rio

        My Lincoln crush has been simmering this season – and now it’s in full swing. Peter who?

      • Lunna

        Yes, I love Lincoln! Peter is great, but Lincoln is for the weekends.

  • tipsy

    This sucked (speed up pregnancies always do – terrible plot device) up until Lincoln professed his love for Fauxlivia so I teared up. I`m in love with the guy. Too bad she didn`t name her son Lincoln. She should have.

    The twist at the end could have been seen from miles away.

    • erin

      i wasn’t too sad about Hoe-livia until Lincoln confessed his love. I love Lincoln.

      I am ashamed that I totally missed that. long day at work I guess.

    • Z

      You’re right, but it’d be absurd if everything was a surprise every time or never explained. The expression on Walter’s face through the panes was just perfectly done, I can’t really describe it.

    • PRbabe

      Have you seen the episode Same old Story? Its no different than what happened to Fauxlivia. Also, its a very FRINGEY thing to do and there is clearly something more to this than the “terrible plot device (I hate taht effin word) you accuse it of being.

      • bb

        You are such a wanker !

    • Casey

      Well, I wouldn’t say it sucked, but it was very predictable. But I agree with you about Lincoln. Best part of the episode was when he professed his love to Fauxlivia. I completely adore the guy now, although I prefer our Lincoln’s look better. I hope he’s a regular in Season 4.

      • tipsy

        Hear,hear! I adore all versions of Lincoln so if theye xpend his role, I`ll be really happy.

      • Sarah

        I third this idea; Lincoln(s) for regular(s), please!
        Brilliant episode; and just because we’re not like “wtf??” when a “plot twist” happens doesn’t mean it’s a tired trope–it means the writers aren’t jumping all over the place with how these characters act and interact. Do we want a character to suddenly commit suicide/turn evil/do some other weird thing because no one would see it coming??

        This episode marks the point where I’m officially over hating the AltUniverse people…except Brandon: he’s creepy.

      • SueN

        @Sarah. Good point. Walternate was staying in character, so the ending didn’t need to be “unpredictable”. And the episode made me like and feel for Fauxlivia and her mother.

      • Ames

        In some ways though, the ending was unpredictable. We assumed Walternate kidnapped Olivia for his grandson. Check. But did we all assume he did this in order to save Olivia’s life (and the child) from VPE? Did we assume Walternate would let Olivia keep her son? There’s more up his sleeve than just grabbing the baby and sticking it in the machine, that’s for sure.

      • Angeleen

        @sarah “This episode marks the point where I’m officially over hating the AltUniverse people”

        I kept thinking that was the entire point for the writers, this is good storytelling. To allow characters some greyness, some good/some bad, makes for much more tension if there has to be only one universe to survive.

        I love this show and I am so glad they kept Seth Gable on, his Lincoln is fantastic. I would also love to see more of the Henry the Cabbie. There has to be a way to get him more involved. He’s great, I love that he’s been checking up on Altivia.

    • fg

      I guess I agree about the speeded up pregnancy. Maybe Twilight ruined that particular device for me. Gotta wonder if the baby’s developement will also be speeded up. Can’t see Walternate sitting around waiting for the baby to get bigger.

      • Marion

        Twilight ruined so many things for so many people….

      • T2

        I’m so glad I never read or watched Twilight. If it had ruined this episode for me, I’d be mad.

  • Gaby

    I thought it was a great episode! I truly thought Fauxlivia had died – and was disappointed that they’d chosen such a facile cop out – and am so glad they didn’t! I like your phrasing of walternate as a ‘not-evil man’

    • Gaby

      (silly ipad) – I think he might be very, very close to actually evil though.

      • bobbi

        Walternate is totally evil. Our Walter is not so-evil.

  • pfitz

    The one key thing about the kidnapping that you overlooked:
    Why speed up the pregnancy? Walternate doesn’t just need the DNA sample…he wants the baby…NOW, not months from now…

    • Leithen

      The reason the pregnancy was speeded up was in order to save the baby (and Fauxlivia’s) life. The VPE virus couldn’t propagate fast enough to impact the pregnancy.

      • Mary

        In terms of the “overall story” – we know she had VPE. But where did it show that Walternate knew that she had it?

      • Leithen

        He’s the Secretary of Defense. He has access to Echelon. He probably knew before the report got to her doctor. At the very least, he knew of her sister and knew the odds. If the odds were 4 out of 5, it was a pretty safe bet.

      • bb

        Agree. Just like Big Brother, Walternate knows everything, especially when it come to the Bishop lineage.

  • Cali

    My heart broke for Linc during the delivery scene. It was shot in just a way to show how he had everything he ever wanted in his arms and it was being ripped away. I loved the way his declaration just fell out of his mouth, no hesitation.
    I don’t get the whole kidnapping though. If Walternate had told her what was going on, she would have gone through with the accelerated pregnancy. She’s a good little soldier girl.

    • Francini

      I agree Cali. Upon hearing the news, Walternate would have said “there is something I can do to help you and your baby survive” and she would have said “bring it on”. And he would have been a hero.
      And if kidnapping her was such a big deal, why did they just let her walk away in the end? One of the workers was right near her on the street and he could have walked up and made her go with him and none of the bystanders would have cared.

      • Jessica

        Yeah, but by that point she’d already called Fringe Division. So even if he did take her where could he take her?

      • Piper

        I think he just kidnapped her to throw people off his own trail. AND, I think as far as the VPE goes, Walternate would have happily sacrificed her as long as his grandson survived. Nurse Ratchet might have been in on that.

    • E

      Maybe she would have agreed, but maybe not, and if Walternate believes in one thing, it’s the lengths parents will go to to do what they think is best for their kids.

    • Cate

      And she already knows about Peter and the machine, right? So it’s not like he can’t explain why the baby’s so important. But MAYBE he’s worried that her maternal instincts would have kicked in and she would not have allowed him to do anything with the baby that might harm him or tie him to the machine. Now, he has officially not experimented with the baby, but has the blood to experiment with. I don’t know. It did seem very over the top. I also wonder how they can speed up a pregnancy like that without killing the mother – all the extra calories, nutrients, energy over a space of a few days would be very hard on the mother.

      • Dicazi

        Altivia knows about Peter and the other universe now, but I don’t think she knows about the machine. And that her baby might end up powering it.

      • Jeff

        “all the extra calories, nutrients, energy over a space of a few days would be very hard on the mother”
        That’s why they had to give Fauxlivia so many transfusions

    • SueN

      Maybe the original plan was to take the baby But she fouled that up by escaping.

  • Myprettypony

    More reasons to love fauxlivia!! And Lincoln, I just cried and cried. He is rapidly replacing Peter in my heart.

    • Ali

      Yeah, he is definitely giving Peter a run for his money. I hope Fauxlivia gets over Peter and falls in love with Lincoln!

    • PRbabge

      Oh let the peter hate begin!

    • Jessica

      I’m starting to wonder if something will break up real olivia and peter shortly in the future and she’ll hook up with the new lincoln we’ve just been introduced to.

  • alice

    alternate-astrid didn’t seem so robotic this time. There were a few longing glances she sent…. in the way of Lincoln or Charile? Couldn’t tell.

    • Jacob

      Do you realize she has Asperger’s? Jasika is acting socially inept for the character on purpose.

      • davey

        Asperger’s? Really? When did we find this out? I too saw her send meaningful glances toward one of the guys at Fringe division.

      • fg

        She may have Asperger’s but I agree that she appears to have a crush on one of the agents. I was thinking Lincoln. Might be setting her up to betray Fauxlivia if she’s jealous.

      • alice

        How do YOU know she has Asperger’s? There are several conditions that can explain her abilities & behavior. Besides, this isn’t set in our universe so like VPE, she might have a condition we don’t know about yet. Regardless, she was sending some meaningful looks towards either Lincoln or Charlie which I thought were quite interesting. Also, I never said anything about her acting – I think she is a fantastic actress.

      • Dicazi

        It was never said on air the alt-Astrid has Asbergers but in interviews with the actress and producters.

    • Erin

      I got that sense too!!! I thought it was Charlie, though. And Im glad to see Im not the only person with a HUGE Lincoln crush, I honestly feel like Im betraying Peter, but hey, I cant help it. Plus I hope Fauxlivia lets Linc kinda become like a dad to Peter Jr, I think hed be good at it, seeing as how I think Peter and Ourlivia need to be together.

      • Foge

        Home run! Great slugging with that asnwer!

  • Pamela

    Loved it. I had called it; I recognized the pattern from 1-2 ‘The Same Old Story’. So glad Bolivia did not die & hope there is love with Lincoln in her future so she’ll leave Peter and Olivia alone & I’d like her to be happy. Grandpa is evil, pure evil.

  • Irishgirl

    I was wondering if I was the only one who caught the ‘West Wing’ sign on top of Henry’s car. (Season 12!) And I love that he was reading the cartoon Opus, yet another piece of entertainment which has ended here, but is still going on there. I do have to say tho, I knew Walternate had something to do with this when he got off the phone with Lincoln, and we got that shot of him and Brandon exchanging looks. It was too telling. I just don’t see Walternate as a not-evil man. I like that Lincoln and Charlie are aware now, and it gives me hope that they will figure out what is happening and the fate of Broyles. I was really curious to hear what Olivia had named the baby.

    • Adam

      One “Opus” difference though- in the altverse, it’s “Opus The Peahen” instead of “Penguin”.

      • Irishgirl

        Yeah…I caught that too! So apparently, he looks like a penguin in the alt-verse, but is really a female peacock. LOL!

  • chocolateislove

    I loved Lincoln so much in this episode. And yay for the return of Henry! He’s a freaking awesome cab driver.

  • Irishgirl

    Oh…and I forgot to mention that I thought Seth Gabel was fantastic in this episode. The end scene when he’s cradling Fauxlivia was just fantastic.

    • Irishgirl

      Ha…I think I need to find my thesaurus!

  • KC

    Loved the episode! Kevin Reilly and Fox-You Rock!!! Great news about renewal for 4th season.

  • anderson

    If the writers think they are making viewers sympathetic to Faux, they are wrong in my opinion. I cannot stand her and want her gone.

    • Ricky

      Too bad for you, I actually like Fauxlivia and was pleased that they didn’t kill her off.

      • Liz

        Yeah, I can’t stand her either. Sorry, can’t find it in me to root for someone who kills innocent people. Also, you know she’s aware of happened to Alt Broyles and she has no remorse. I’m not so sure wouldn’t have done the same thing to Alt Lincoln or my beloved Alt Charlie.

      • Charless

        Liz –
        HOw does she know about Alt Broyles? His mass switched places with hers on “our” universe, so she never would have seen his. Am I forgetting a scene where she is told about him?

    • Denise

      Thank you. I am so tried of reading comments from people saying the like FauxOlivia. She is not a likeable character. They seem to forget she came to our side and killed the deaf man and allowed the older woman to be killed so the shap-shifter could assume her identity. Not to mention how she manipulated her relationship with Peter. She isn’t even a grey area charcter. I just feel like she has no remores.

  • Roberto

    I don’t think the elaborate kidnapping was just to get a blood sample. I think it was about control. What if Fauxlivia rejected his experiment and wanted the abortion? Plus if the acceleration did not work, and he needed to sacrifice Faux to save the baby, he had free reign. Who knows, maybe he intended to get Faux out of the way afterward, but her escape precluded it. The blood test may have been to positively confirm it is Peter’s child. I posted the following elsewhere, but after being critical of recent episodes, I also enjoy gushing over this one…. WOW! Just a fantastic all around episode. If we have to wait 3 weeks, this was wonderful to contemplate in the meantime. The Lincoln/Faux moment was I think second only to “You belong with me.” How much stronger the show often is when we don’t have the mad scientist/overwought metaphor de la semaine. Nothing I would change on this one, but if they had time, Lincoln’s first visit with Olivia would have been very special. There’s still time for that in a future ‘over there’ episode. Can their working relationship ever be the same again? Hopefully, Olivia won’t pretend he never said, “I love you.” He deserves more than that. But she isn’t in love with him, yet. Fascinating that Lincoln and Charlie are connecting the dots about Walternate’s scheming. You get the feeling that Lincoln would come over here to get some answers if he could. Of course he doesn’t need to. He could pick up a lot from Faux’s case files and by talking to her directly. Walternate’s big mistake was murdering Broyles, and second mistake was confiding in a “good agent”. If FD finds out, he may lose their loyalty. So much for Walternate being ‘not so bad’. Of course, there is at least some understanding of his actions. Faux was going to schedule an abortion, which he had to know. THAT was unacceptable. The acceleration worked, but he was prepared at any time to sacrifice Faux to save Little Pete. Not sure the story line goes beyond that, but that’s certainly enough without getting overly convoluted with the device and such. Really clever way to get the baby on board early w.o telegraphing that was kindof the whole purpose. The pregnancy virus thingy was a nice touch that was perfectly set up previously. In my mind, I questioned why Faux would not be on birth control, especially since pregnancy was so bad for her. But it’s often a fact of life that a woman can ‘forget’ or whatever when she’s with the love of her life. The drive to reproduce is very strong. Bringing back Henry to befriend the other Olivia just seems his destiny. “She got to me.” Well, you’re not the only one my friend. I think she’s getting to a lot of critics too. Everyone this ep was strong. Seth knocked it out of the park. And…. the amazing Anna. What else does she have to do to get an Emmy nomination? Absolutely fabulous. Way to go guys and gals. This one’s for the ages.

    • manda

      She may have not heard Lincoln say he loved her.

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