Friday, May 21, 2010

Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

A superb finale to the second season of Fringe last night, in which the series has reinvented itself into the best science fiction series on the air, and one of the best of the decades.   The story and the action all centered around the two realities, in particular, the adventures of our Walter and Olivia in the alternate reality.   Among the crucial developments -
  • We learn much more about William Bell, who has been living and working on the other side.  His alternate self died in car crash years ago, and so there was never an Walternate-alternate Bell collaboration.   Bell reveals that he took out pieces of Walter's brain at Walter's request.  And in a great final act, Bell uses the mercurial atoms of his physical existence - rendered super-kinetic due to all of his travels between the realities - to keep the door to the two realities open long enough for our people plus one to get back home.  Outstanding, energetic performance by Leonard Nimoy, by the way, and the scenes between him and Walter - the conversations - were instantly classic.  (My wife said they reminded her of Spock and Kirk.)
  • More details on the alternate reality, including there was no Lindbergh kidnapping, JFK still alive (we saw this last year), and Obama is President (which we already knew).   This world also has dirigibles in the air (so, presumably, no Hindenburg disaster), advances in a variety of technologies (including a great little touring aircraft that Peter takes around New York City), and a rash of warped areas across the United States, including a lot of the Harvard campus, where people have been frozen in amber.   These are the result of the intermingling of the two realities - caused by our Walter - and account in part for why their Walter is such an angry, militaristic dude.   The intermingling had a much worse impact over there.  And their Walter of course hates our Walter because our Walter stole his Peter.   (Excellent acting by John Noble as Walternate, and his coldness in comparison to our Walter.)
  • Peter and our Olivia on the other side finally passionately kiss.   I've been saying since last year that I expected the two to get together.   One of the best lines of the finale was Olivia telling Peter, "you belong with me," after Peter says he belongs in neither reality.
  • But there's no happy ending here.  After our Olivia gets a lot of mileage out of dyeing her hair red, and pretending to be alternate-Olivia -  Peter says he likes Olivia better with red hair, and I agree - alternate-Olivia uses the the identical appearance to come back with Walter and Peter to our reality.  This, it turns out, is as per Walternate's plan, and the last scene shows our Olivia in a cell on the other side.
Alternate-Olivia will not be able to keep up the pretense too long - Peter will no doubt soon sense the emotional difference (he'll feel something's missing with alternate-Olivia), and so will Olivia's niece, sister, Walter, and even Broyles.    The only question is exactly how will this happen, and with what consequence.   (I guessed that alternate-Olivia had made the switch - she was too quiet on the other side.)

And this will be just part of the fun on Fringe this Fall and beyond.


5-min podcast review of Fringe 2 finale

See also Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best

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