fringe season two: the complex begins to get even more confusing

With such a large cliffhanger at the end of season one, fans were anxious to have their questions answered. But in typical Fringe fashion, it took a few episodes to answer most of them. We found out that in our universe, Olivia had been in a car accident–the same one we believed she had avoided in season one–which meant that most of her memories with Bell were vague and unreliable at best. However, with each question answered, ten more seemed to arise. Season two also began to explain why Fringe was unlike other typical “Monster of the Week” sci-fi shows.

New Characters:

Shapeshifters: Here from the parallel universe, these humanoid machines are capable of taking on the physical appearance of anyone they kill with a handy little transforming device, which looks like a three-pronged plug. It is unclear why they are in our universe–the one that Peter, Olivia and Walter are in–but their intentions to wreak havoc on our universe is clear. The only way to tell the difference between a shapeshifter and a human is the fact that shapeshifters have extra mercury in their blood, causing it to look silver.

The Observers: Their purpose becomes a bit clearer in this season. Although their background is still unknown–and their powers and gadgets are still amazingly strange–we learn that why they are here. September and August seem to be the main observers, with an entire episode revolving around August–aptly named “August.”

Thomas Jerome Newton: Leader of the shapeshifters who was reanimated in the last season. His reasons for leading the shapeshifters into battle against our universe is unclear.

Sam Weiss: Played by Kevin Corrigan–he is recruited by Nina to help Olivia get past her limp and remember her memories–both of which are caused by her car accident. His background and intentions are unclear.

The Plot:

As the season progressed, more of The Pattern’s backstory was revealed. Olivia returns “home,” having forgotten most of her conversation with Bell. Her transition back into regular life is slow, with side-effects including temporary amnesia, a limp, and–for a short while–super-sonic hearing. Olivia is also given more depth as a character–we see her struggling to overcome her trauma and meet her sister Rachel and niece Ella. Her rather cold demeanor, partly because of her partner/lover Agent Scott’s deception and death, explains her unwillingness to open up to others–in contrast to her relationship with Rachel and Ella. This aloof attitude is only furthered by the fact that a shapeshifter replaced her new partner, Charlie–and she has to kill the Charlie-shapeshifter.

Olivia is still struggling with her memories, so Nina Sharp suggests that she begin meeting with a pseudo-psychiatrist/bowling alley manager Sam Weiss. As Olivia’s memories begin to return, she remembers Bell’s warning about something he referred to as “The Storm,” a time when the two universes would collide–and only one universe would survive. Olivia’s powers–which Walter explains comes from the Cortexiphan she was tested with as a child–have grown to include semi-reliable teleportation and mind control. She also has the ability to see things from the other universe when she is afraid–something only she can do. Things from the parallel universe are described as having a glimmer.

Walter remembers that he had Bell remove parts of his brain, as he was scared with his abilities and knowledge (a problem I can relate with).Walter and Peter are seen growing closer in this season, with Peter trying to look past Walter’s past mistakes and Walter continuing to reach out to his son. Peter’s relationship with Olivia begins to become more personal, and they are about to kiss when Olivia sees him glimmer. Walter later confirms that Peter is actually not from this universe–he was taken from the other universe as a child.

The episode entitled “Peter,” flashes back to 1985–the year that our Peter died. Walter had invented a “window” into the other universe, and saw the other Walter–termed Walternate (Walter+Alternate)–find the cure to save Peter, which our Walter was unable to do. However, an Observer walked into Walternate’s lab, distracting Walternate, which meant that Walternate was unaware that he had found the cure. Despondent with grief that the other Peter would die, Walter determines to cross over to the other universe, give Peter the correct dosage, and return home. However, things do not go as planned; Nina tries to stop Walter from crossing over, which is how she loses part of her arm. Walter lands on his medicine, breaking the bottle. Walter is still adamant that he can save Peter, so he takes him and crosses back into our universe with the intention of returning him once he was well. Walter crossed over on frozen Reiden Lake, as the water would absorb the energy emitted. But when they cross back to our universe, they fall through the ice, and almost drown. September saves them just in time. It is implied that after saving Peter, both Walter and Elizabeth, Peter’s mom, cannot bring themselves to let Peter go–although they know that it is not really their son.

Olivia wants to tell Peter as soon as she finds out, but Walter begs her not to. Despite this, Peter finds out while working a case and is furious. He runs away, leaving Walter heartbroken. When he is gone, he is tracked down by Newton, who has helped Walternate cross over. Walternate convinces Peter to come back home–to their universe.

The Cliffhanger:

This two-part finale was definitely some of my favorite episodes. Walter and Olivia find out that Peter has returned home to his universe; an Observer tells gives them a paper which shows Peter’s body as the key to saving–or destroying–universes. Determined to save Peter, Olivia and Walter decide to cross over as well. With the help of Nick and Sally, two others with Cortexiphan-driven powers, all four are able to cross to the parallel universe. Bell gives them coordinates to meet at Central Park, but they are unaware that the parallel universe has no Central Park in New York. Sally and Nick are killed, Walter is injured and taken to the hospital, where Bell comes to rescue them. Their parallel universe is much more high-tech than our universe–they had cell phones back in 1985–and Walternate is the Secretary of Defense.

Peter, unaware that Walternate is using him for his body (in an I-want-to-destroy-the-other-universe-with-your-body kind of way), is amazed by the differences and similarities between the two universes. He is reconnected with his real mother–our Elizabeth committed suicide while Walter was in a mental hospital–and meets their Olivia, dubbed Fauxlivia. Olivia and Fauxlivia go head-to-head in a fist fight before Olivia knocks Fauxlivia unconscious. Disguised as Fauxlivia, she tricks Alt-Charlie and manages to get to Peter, who has realized Walternates less-than-welcoming welcome home plans for his son. Olivia reveals her true self and her true feelings fo Peter, causing him to choose to return to our universe. On the way back to their rendezvous point–where Bell and Walter are waiting–they are ambushed by Walternate. With all the chaos, there is no time to set up a stable door for them to return home, so Bell sacrifices his body as the stabilizing device. All is well, and Peter grudgingly tells Walter that if he was willing to cross universes twice to save him, that must count for something. The last scene is of the parallel universe. A blonde Olivia–our Olivia–is seen in a holding cell, begging Walternate to let her out.

Mindblown AGAIN. I love you, Fringe. 

Fun Facts:

  • In an effort to help promote Fringe, whose ratings had steadily dropped from 9 million season one to a heartbreaking 5.6 million, The Observer was not only spotted in every episode, but on other FOX shows as well–including American Idol (And yes, he looks as out of place as it sounds).
  • Some differences between the two universes:  The alternate universe’s Statue of Liberty is bronze, The Empire State Building is used as a Zeppelin dock, and the Twenty dollar bill, which has Martin Luther King, Jr. on it.
  • Don’t forget to check out my favorite Fringe episode ever, White Tulip. Besides the white tulips being a recurring theme, it was a touchingly poignant and all-around wonderful episode.

Emily enjoys all mediums of speculative fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi–especially reading, writing, and watching them. A Fringe fanatic, she is convinced that one day she will meet her parallel self, aptly nicknamed Femily (Fake Emily), and save both worlds from their inevitable destruction.

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