This is a little later than usual but I’ve been travelling back and forth between dimensions. I’m currently transmitting this to you electronically. So, without further ado, here is my final ‘Good and bad’ review of the season – 1.20 “There’s More Than One Of Everything”:
- I like that the episode actually referenced how inter-reality travel is possible for the non-Cortexiphaned – earths “soft spots”. It reminded me of one of my oldest perceptions of “Fringe” – a story in which mother nature is fighting bravely to protect herself against the ambition of mankind. Or, a story in which mother nature is helping (tricking?) mankind into destroying all iterations of himself. Ultimately, in seasons to come, I think the writers will focus more on the earth being a sentient entity..much like the island is in “Lost”.
- Jared Harris – He was exceptional as David Robert Jones. I shall miss him and his nonchalance!
- Some touching father/son moments shared between Walter and Peter. Really well portrayed at times, especially the scenes in the beach house. It was quite moving to see the tapestry of their memories stitch together and beyond their respective recollections. It brought back the concept of identity – who is Peter, what kind of man was Walter? These are powerful themes in which technology has played a role. Fringe appears to be balancing the ‘good and bad’ of technological advancement, and the father/son scenes, alongside our knowledge of what Walter did and Peter’s ignorance, help marry that together.
- Nina was back – things always get interesting when the mischievous Nina is around. As an aside, I swear her hair is getting redder by the episode – that despite being in hospital after Jones attacked her. I guess her people retouched her roots whilst they fixed her hand? We also got to see the man, the myth that is William Bell, which was probably worth the wait, albeit set-up for season 2.
- The Observer – it was great seeing the Observer with a few lines. Cerveris has the character down to a Tee, and there was one line that I particularly loved: “I’ve said too much, I’m not supposed to get involved”. That gives us a lot to play with. I love how he played it – almost as if he had forgotten himself (the rules he’s supposed to follow) as he empathetically tuned into Walter’s need for answers. It humanised him a little bit, which wont hurt (although I wouldn’t like to see him completely demystified).
- People actually spoke to each other. Yeah, it makes a change! Nina finally collaborated with both Broyles and Olivia, although I suspect she was having a hoot leading Olivia down a certain rabbit-holes. Someone finally sat Charlie down and explained to him that these crazy things are ACTUALLY happening. It still took him a while to wrap his brain around it, but I think he’s getting there. And..AND..not only did Broyles speak to Astrid but Nina swaggered into the Lab too! Astrid’s surprise was fun to see and she held herself well amongst all of that power. All we lacked was Nina doing the rounds to meet Gene, perhaps stopping by to milk her or something.
- Symbolism. I enjoy looking out for thematic clues and symbolism. This episode featured quite a few which helped convey one of the messages behind this first season – we are not alone. Not only are ‘Observers here’, but we are also on the other side, we are one and we are many. These concepts are not new to me but I was satisfied by how the writers portrayed this sense of duality. Even the small moments like Olivia, Broyles and Charlie’s phones all ringing at the same time was a nice touch.
- Some of the visuals were great, especially Walter and The Observer outside of the beach house and Jones ripping open universe gateways. The end scene of the alter-Twin Towers was also a nice, positive sight.
- Some of the lines were over-cooked. It’s a fine line to tread when making the ending of a scene have that ‘umph’, but on a couple of occasions they went over board. So much so that it felt a bit cheesy. I’m not quite sure what to make of Nimoy’s “I’m William Bell!” delivery – he was awesome in Star Trek though.
- I’m not entirely happy with how they portrayed the motivations of David Jones. This was a character who was so awesome because of his ambiguity and the possibility that he was doing these terrible acts out of some kind of altruistic, grand, objective. Maybe that was wishful thinking on my part, but I definitely feel as though they ‘dumbed down’ his character in this episode. I didn’t buy the idea that he wanted to kill Belly because he didn’t see how “special” he was. Nor was I particularly impressed with the idea that he was filling up Massive Dynamic’s answer phone with abusive messages. That doesn’t seem like his style. He seemed above all of that prior to this episode, now, suddenly he’s degenerated into a spoilt brat? Did he lose his mind as well as his face? And what happened to his “saving” Olivia by abducting her in “Safe”? Not to mention the purpose of the ‘light test’, and his delight at her having “passed”? Suddenly all of that meant nothing to him. Really? Whilst I will always love the character I can’t help but wonder ‘what if?’ when it comes to Jones. He was a fantastic addition to the show and to see him disintegrate into Jack Shepherd with ‘daddy issues’ was frustrating. Furthermore, does anyone really believe that Bell would be scared of Jones? Special or not, Bell has surely encountered worse. That said, I thought Jared Harris did fantastically, he still pulled of a fun and enjoyable performance and I hope there’s an alter-Jones out there some where. Heck, half a Jones is better than one whole Harris!
- Unless I missed it, they didn’t even attempt to explain how the universe plug worked. Normally I don’t mind too much since I see Fringe as operating in the entertainment industry, but some explanation would have been nice.
- I’m fine with the idea that the previous ‘pattern events’ were strategic ‘blows’ to weaken the fabric between worlds – that actually explains quite a bit. But it’s a bit hard to believe that they only just now noticed this. Nina has the top people working on extrapolating pattern information, and yet it takes Olivia and 5 minutes on PowerPoint to work it out?
- William Bell reveal. For those who don’t follow the online chatter it must have kicked a punch. But even the spoiler-free amongst us must have known that Nimoy was going to be appearing in the finale. I get why Fox/Bad Robot did it, but JJ often talks about the ‘mystery of the mystery box’ and not taking away from the value of suspense, and yet the alter-world and his grand mother knew that Spock was beaming down to Fringe. Maybe I’m just a purist, but for me it ruins the surprise element when the people who run the show tell you who’s going to appear a month before they appear. It’s not as if they couldn’t have kept that little scene a secret. And what was with Belly stepping into the shadows like Batman and stepping out like The Joker with that smile on his face? Seriously, that was really weird – it just about worked, but compared to the clever use of lighting with Peter and Walter at the beach house it took me out of the show a little bit. I mean, the office wasn’t that big, I hardly doubt Olivia wouldn’t be able to see/tell/guess who it was – especially since she was expecting to meet, um, William Bell.
- When Walter gave Peter instructions on how to use the universe plug he said “It’s simple, a child could do it, you just twist this”. What does Peter do when confronting Jones, yep, he presses the button. What ever happened to the instruction to twist, Peter? Can we twist again, like we did last summer? In all seriousness maybe he did have to push the button – that being the 2nd part of the instructions given to him off-screen? The part that piqued my interest though, was Walter actually saying that a ‘child could do it’. Interesting…could a young Peter have closed the portal once his father grabbed him from the alterverse? Should we be keeping Ella AWAY from all universe plugs??
- As well as blue lights appearing when Peter closed the portal, the patch devise also appeared to emit a beam of blue.
- Are we going to start next season in the alternate reality world we ended the season in? It could potentially be interesting to see a few of the decisions in that world that lead them down the road not taken by ours. Speaking of which, are we ever going to have flash backs of our characters in their younger days? Zachary Quinto could play a young William Bell. Sign him up, JJ, no-one can ignore your call!
- More of my thoughts on this episode can be found here and here.
On the whole I found this to be a satisfying wrap up of the first season. It wasn’t as elaborate or tear-jerking as your classic Lost season-enders but it still worked. It achieved what it set out to do by contextualising the previous 19 episodes and, wrapping up a few mysteries and giving us a bridge (pun not initially intended but I’ll take it) into next season. Not only has this season given us an alternate look at realities, but it’s provided an alternate way to portray serialized TV – by melding it with stand-alone episodes. I would say it has been a successful venture, but I can’t help but feel the show would benefit immensely from going more serialized – the culmination of the characters journeys in this final episode may also have been more ‘epic’ had we had a tighter arc. That said, I don’t have many complaints (aside from a quibble or two) and I commend the creators for trying something different in this first season.
It has been a very enjoyable season, as a fan I am so proud of this show – I’ve followed it for 15 or something months now and to see it grow from a mere idea in JJ, Kurtzman and Orci’s heads, into this potential classic which has captivated millions..well, kudos to Bad Robot, they know how to imagine and realise stories that are fantastical, yet relevant to the times we live in.
As far as story-telling goes, I think it’s poignant that we began this journey with Peter not wanting to be his fathers son and ended it with the reveal that he’s not actually his fathers son. This is the type of thing we needed to give Peter more relevance in the world of the show. It’s been a long road for Dunham too, she’s gone from being super to super human. We all have idealised images of our favorite characters, the image I have whenever I think of Olivia is the scene where she’s leaping across the rooftops in pursuit of Richard Steig who had just comatosed her man – that was from the Pilot, and the image has only become more vivid and important as the season has progressed. Like any idealised image, I hope she doesn’t lose that mix of fearlessness and sincerity. Whilst Nina is still my favourite, Olivia has been an awesome addition to Bad Robot’s collection of great characters – she’s entered the rabbit-hole and she’s taken us all with her – from dreams to dreamscapes to new dimensions, she’s been our guide. Now we stand with her, looking through the glass and inn o a world similar to ours..yet different. It sounds kinda familiar..I want to do this again.
Episode rating 9/10 – not my favourite of the season but a fitting end.