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Friday, April 16, 2010

Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train

Trains and time travel are two of my favorite things to write about - see The Consciousness Plague and The Plot to Save Socrates, for example.   I've also combined them in a short story or two.  Fringe 2.18 does the same, in a beautiful standalone episode that also moves the Walter-Peter story powerfully along.

Allister Peck (played by the inimitable Peter Weller) materializes on a Boston train.  His appearance kills all of the passengers, and not because they died of the shock.   Rather, as Walter eventually figures out, they died of having all of the energy sucked out them.  Quantum mechanical manipulations which enable the time travel are energy sinks - which drain batteries as well as people.

The good news is that Peck is a repeat time traveler, and each time he travels, the people in the previous energy hole are restored.   Nonetheless, Broyles and company understandably want to stop this.

But why is Peck time traveling?  He's more than a mad or curious scientist.  He wants to save his beautiful fiance from a deadly car crash that he helped send her to, with a nasty argument that sent her driving away.  Walter pleads with Peck to stop doing this.  "It's not our place to adjust the universe," Walter says, of course thinking of the continuing pain his own adjustment of the universe - taking Peter from the alternate reality - has caused him and others.   Walter even reveals to Peck what Walter did with Peter.  But Peck is not to be moved.  He travels back to save his fiance anyway, with tragic results, not for the world, but for him and his fiance.

The episode has other good touches, such as the past being re-set and slightly changed each time Peck travels back.   And there's a nice bit with a letter that Walter wrote to Peter - explaining Peter's past - almost falling into Peter's hand.   I consider this one of best time travel hours in a series on television, almost as good as "City on the Edge of Forever" from Star Trek: TOS and "Yesterday's Enterprise" from Star Trek: TNG.

Walter decides at the end that he can live better without telling Peter, and that will be better for Peter.  But the coming attractions promise something different...

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?

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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