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Friday, September 24, 2010

Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia

Fringe returned for its 3rd season on Fox last night with a just perfect gem of science fiction.

As you'll recall from the Season 2 finale, Walter and Peter have made it back to our universe with Olivia, but she's alt-Olivia, badder than ours, who's now embedded in our universe as per Walternate's (bad Walter's) plan.   In last night's story, we find out what Walternate has planned for our Olivia, now trapped in the alternate universe.

Walternate is having a med-tech deliver an injected treatment to Olivia, designed to replace her mind, memories, loyalties, etc with alt-Olivia's.   It has apparently not worked, and Olivia escapes.

She's determined to get back our universe, but that's not easy.  The portal used by Walter, Peter, and alt-Olivia has been amber-sealed.  The alt-Fringe unit, in which Charlie is still one of Olivia's partners, is in hot pursuit.   We get more delicious glimpses of the differences between ours and the alt-universe, in which President Obama appoints former Pres-JFK to head a commission (JFK had been UN Ambassador), daily flights go to the Moon, and Martin Luther King and Eldridge Cleaver worked together ("we had a dream").   As I mentioned in my reviews last season, it's in many ways a better universe than ours.   But Olivia, of course, does not want to stay there.    As long as she continues to be our Olivia, that is ...

In a fine, classic kind of science fiction twist, it turns out that Olivia's very attempts to get back to our universe have changed her into the alternate Olivia - given her the talents, memories, etc of alternate Olivia.   As the med-tech explains to Walternate at the end of the episode, the adrenalin pumping through Olivia as she made her escape pushed the treatment already in her blood stream past the blood brain barrier, where it could do its work of replacing our Olivia's mind with alt-Olivia's.   Our Olivia is now a sharp shooter like alt-Olivia, happy to hug her mother (who died when Olivia was a child in our reality), welcomed back in the fold by alt-Charlie, etc.  (See my novel, The Consciousness Plague, for more of what you can do with the blood brain barrier in science fiction.)

Only one person, other than Walternate and the med-tech, now knows something of the truth about our Olivia, trapped now not only by the alternative universe but by her own transformed mind in the alternate universe.   The cab driver, first forced by Olivia to drive her when she she still had her right mind, eventually helping her of his own accord, has seen the true Olivia.   He's played by Andre Royo, who brings the same power and sensitivity to the cab driver that he did as Bubs on The Wire.  It will be fun to see how he helps get our Olivia back to her senses and universe this season (or whenever, eventually).

Fringe has now set itself up for what could be a break-through season, just as last season's was in contrast to the first.  The differences between the same characters in the two universes - especially Walternate and Walter, and alternate-Olivia and Olivia - have been drawn in a way that calls for the unexpected.   Evil Walternate, after all, hates our universe because our Walter stole his Peter all those years ago.   Does this mean that there is some good in Walternate - some of our Walter - which could come through at a crucial moment?

I'll be watching ...

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 ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

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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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
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