Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fringe, "There's More Than One of Everything": Peter, Peter, pancake eater

Quick spoilers for last night's "Fringe" season finale coming right up...

I thought "There's More Than One of Everything" was a solid finale to an uneven but promising debut season, enlivened largely by the final few minutes.

First, we found out that the gravestone Walter kept visiting was Peter's from the 1980s, which suggests that Walter's son didn't survive the illness that Walter mentioned a while back, and that somehow (presumably with the help of The Observer) Walter came into custody of the Peter Bishop from the alternate universe. (Which makes me wonder what happened to Alt-Walter, and whether he's mad that somebody kidnapped his kid.) It explains so much about Walter's behavior around Peter, and why he got so excited in this episode when Peter remembered the pancake story -- which presumably was something Walter did with his Peter, and which made Walter feel closer to this one because of the common experience. Beautifully played, as usual, by John Noble.

Second, we finally got to meet the mysterious William Bell, as played by Leonard Nimoy (who's having a good week, no?), and to get more of a glimpse of Earth-2, or whatever we want to call the parallel world. While I've read other sci-fi stories (notably the comic book "Ex Machina") where one or both of the Twin Towers survived 9/11, it was still startling -- and a credit to the "Fringe" visual FX team -- to see the World Trade Center looking so pristine and majestic in the final shot, which was so cool I can overlook the fact that Olivia was obviously not dining on Ground Zero when she jumped from one universe to the other. (The earlier scene with the truck implied that the portal didn't change your geographic location; just what Earth you happened to be standing on.) The newspaper headline about the Obamas moving into a "new White House" suggests that maybe the planes made it to Washington but not New York that day, or perhaps 9/11 didn't happen in any form on that world.

Olivia's trip to this strange new world opens up a lot of possibilities for "Fringe," and I'm hopeful that J.J. Abrams and company can get a better handle on the show going into next season. Right now, Noble's performance, the production values and the number of cool, weird things per episode are just enough to keep me coming back, but "Fringe" has yet to really hook me. Some of that's on Anna Torv (who, as I've said, is a solid enough actress when given something to play, but lacks the charisma to make a low-key character like Olivia interesting in the moments when she's not getting upset), and some of that's on how the writers incorporate the arc mythology with the standalone stories. But I feel like there's potentially a very good show there, and maybe the show can start reaching that potential next year.

What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

I am vindicated!

All throughout the season, I've been noticing the blue lens flare whenever anything Pattern related is occurring. Most Fringe fan sites don't even mention them possibly assuming they are merely there for style (aka Star Trek's lens flare overload is evidence that JJ Abrams is in LOVE with them). But tonight, when Olivia went from one world to the next, we got another healthy dose of the blue lens flare! It's not just a sylistic choice. The blue lens flare is a signal that the two worlds are connecting or something is crossing the divide.

I thought this episode was paced a little too slowly compared to how most of the episodes usually zoom but I was extremely satisfied. The whole parallel dimension story is one I'm really intrigued in.

Cree said...

Walter is why I watch this show and John Noble was awesome in the finale. He has a way of connecting with you through nothing but his facial expressions and it makes watching him feel like a personal encounter.
I thought things were rocky and uneven in the early going, but everything came together over the last few weeks and you can consider me hooked.

Anonymous said...

I give them a pass regarding the location of the restaurant, in relation to the WTC. The split-second glimpse of an elevator full of (apparent) doctors suggests to me that Dunham crossed over, then immediately was teleported from the alt-elevator to the elevator in the WTC.

Matt said...

While the road shift didn't suggest a locational shift was possible with the bridge between dimensions, the open portal at the lake did--it was some place else on the other side of that hole, not that lake.

And, wow, they got away with a surprising amount of gore in that scene for pre-10 PM with the guy being sliced in half.

Anonymous said...

I kind of give the elevator thing a pass, too. If it's Walter or Jones or whoever doing it, then it would seem that a simple jump through the portal would put you in the same place you started. But, Bell's leaps and bounds above them in experience and if he wants to put Olivia in a magic elevator that goes from world A to world B and then jets her immediately over to the Towers then I can buy that.

I do wonder what the consequences of abducting Alternate Universe Peter were, though.

I really liked it. A lot. i've enjoyed the last couple more than most of the others this season. Even at times that it bored or annoyed me, I stuck with it because it showed a lot of promise, because John Noble is *awesome* and because Pacey is hot and I like my eye candy. I was never lost at any point in the series or in the little details of the finale, but I sort of wonder if maybe giving it a second watch over the summer might actually be worthwhile. There are certainly things I missed while flipping over to see baseball scores during their one minute commercial breaks or having to catch the end of eps online when the DVR cut them off or switched the channel on me. If the summer tv seasons turns out to be a bore, then a second look at "Fringe" might be fun.

dez said...

^I also thought Olivia teleported at the end, so that didn't bother me, but I have to admit seeing the Twin Towers made me uneasy.

(Which makes me wonder what happened to Alt-Walter, and whether he's mad that somebody kidnapped his kid.)I wondered the same thing! I would love to see Alt-Walter show up next season--I wonder if he is as crazy as Walter Prime?

I am hooked on this show now and hope it lasts long enough for Peter to find out he's not exactly Walter Prime's Peter (wow, that came out wrong, heh). I wonder who else we've met could be alts and not primes?

Also: TWIST! And one that was way better than the one on "House."

Punnygirl said...

The past 2 eps have felt like a big, honking, Stephen King-Dark Tower shout-out. It definitely makes me want more!!!

RX said...

Ah, Walter, I knew there was a point to all that tripping. We must share a tab together soon, you and I. I am your student, sir.

Erin Wolf said...

I got word of Fringe late into the season and so was forced to catch up in a one day view-a-thon before the finale. Although time-consuming (but really fun), watching the first season all together afforded some big picture perspective. From the beginning I bought into the show and it's x-files-ish penchant for bizarre phenomena. I liked the "science" of Fringe until I began to notice a striking similarity to Stephen King's fictional universe.

Is anyone else out there thinking that maybe Fringe is ripping off Stephen King? The "thin" spots leading to an alternate universe, for example...doesn't this sound a little familiar to The Mist, The Dark Tower Series, 'Salem's Lot, The Talisman to name a few? The writers of Fringe are admittedly King fans, having credited him with inventing the phrase pyrokenisis, but does the fandom end with more than just inspiration?

Doug S said...

Notice the NY Post smaller headlines? Ex Pres. (Ted) Kennedy addressing UN, stock market remains closed for 21st day, Len Bias wins mvp (quite a feat for a guy who'd be in his mid-40's I have to say). Cool stuff.

I give Fringe a lot of credit for the WTC inclusion, which will probably anger a lot of people.

Didn't we see, in a previous alt-Earth scene, lots of mayhem and battling going on, with Charlie involved specifically? Maybe that all had something to do with the new White House, but who knows. I think this show went out with a bang.

Kathie said...

No mention of Olivia's sister & niece, I thought her vaccination was going to lead to something.... maybe they were conducting experiments on her too. That whole story went nowhere.

Wonder why the beach house was set in Grafton......that is located in the middle of Massachusetts NOT on the ocean. Big screw up there.

Mr. Jones was even creepier with his crazy to see him split in half.

I liked the final shot of the twin towers-very surreal.

bsangs said...

The final shot of the Towers at first gave me chills then a big smile. I thought it was brilliant - and immediately, in my best Tina Fey said, "I want to go to there." Great job.

Saw the Peter gravestone coming a mile away though, so that didn't really strike me with the emotional wallop it was designed to -- still, a great storyline for future episodes.

And when Nimoy appeared, I started laughing, thinking about him calling Trekkers that didn't like the new Star Trek a bunch of dickheads on SNL the other night. A good week for him indeed.

I love this show and am looking forward to next season already.

Anonymous said...

Alan I think the story in an earlier episode (104 The Arrival) was that Walter and Peter nearly drowned and the Observer saved them. From the finale it would seem that Peter didn't survive the water (in our world) - not that he died of an illness.

Simon H. said...

I thought that the Kennedy on the cover was actually an older JFK that apparently was never assassinated. My wife also noticed the NY Post was only 25 cents, suggesting the cost of living on the other Earth has not caught up to ours. Great final scene though.

Cameron Hughes said...

Coolest part of Bell's newspaper and why its a better universe: "Len Bias named MVP of the season"

Publius said...

Irregardless of how conceivable it is to win MVP at his would be age, a Len Bias reference is crazy awesome.

Dean Winchester said...

yeah the Len Bias thing was awesome, and then in an odd coincidence Simmons brings up Bias today in an MVP context in his conversation with Malcolm Gladwell over on

Sarah said...

I loved the alter-Peter reveal. It explains so much about his character, and why he couldn't ever stand still or stay in one place--it's because he doesn't really belong, and he feels that on some level.

VERY excited for next season!

Doug S said...

Simon H:

A non-assassinated JFK makes a lot more sense. Thanks for that, I just assumed the photo was Ted.

I quibble though: didn't the explanation of the alt-world say things had only minor differences (paraphrasing). Would no WTC 9/11 or JFK assassination be minor differences?

Also, why would Bell go to the other world?

I love the idea of a super-pissed alt-world Walter plotting revenge for the taking of his son as part of season 2.

Shawn Anderson said...

Len Bias! Man, if he were alive he'd be 45 years old, right? Alt reality NBA must play a different kind of game... or perhaps Bias plays for the Knicks now and was the MVP for that bottom dwelling team?

In regards to the lens flare, I'd been wondering as well whether the flares were the signal to different realities. Considering pretty much all of Star Trek was a kind of alternate reality, should we assume it's a J.J. Abrams alt.reality signature?

I wonder into which brand the lens flare idea was conceived first? Apparently Nimoy agreed to play William Bell before they approached him to reprise his role as Spock -- maybe it's the mere presence of Nimoy that created all the lens flares ;)

Simon H. said...

Doug-The previous episode had Olivia seeing a world where a major biological attack happened in Boston. One man's minor differences is another man's major change. JFK could still be alive because Lee Harvey Oswald was just a few inches off. The Twin Towers could still be around because one man caught the terrorists at the security gate at the airport. Very little changes can cause much different events, and I look forward to Fringe exploring that next season.

And when did Fringe become Sliders? Except a lot less sucky.

Karen said...

Did my usual shouting out loud of what I thought was about to happen (shout out here to the world's most patient spouse) - got the Peter's grave thing a minute before they showed it (along with, a few seconds before that, the realization "Wait, didn't Walter say 'when you were dying'?"), realized where Olivia and Bell were a minute before the reveal. So basically they had me guessing most of the show, which meets my criteria for a success. The WTC reveal did send a literal shiver up my spine, followed by the thought that I just really wish they hadn't done that.

Looking forward to next season - and more of Nimoy, for God's sake (that was nowhere near enough).

Craig Ranapia said...

The writers of Fringe are admittedly King fans, having credited him with inventing the phrase pyrokenisis, but does the fandom end with more than just inspiration?Only if you think King should brace himself to be served by the estates of Shirley Jackson, JRR Tolkien, Akira Kurosawa and the small army of other acknowledged influences on King.

Count Screwloose said...

I was sort of flabbergasted at what felt like the wholesale lifting of those final moments from Brian K. Vaughan's Ex Machina. Mr. Vaughan, toiling away over on LOST, was presumably o.k. with it and that's all that matters. It was a fantastic image but it was still a little startling to see them appropriate the major reveal of Vaughan's book.

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned that the Obama in the Oval Office may not be Barack. It's Michelle that gets namechecked below the photo. Not to mention the fact that they seem to have both a girl and a boy...

7s Tim said...

So this coming inter-reality war that ZFT is preparing for-- is it just the adventures of Walter Bishop Across the 8th Dimension? Will we learn that it's all his fault? I actually hope that by the third season, they kinda phase out the requirement of them to have a Phenomenon of the Week (in that investigating these things is Reactionary, and i want them to be more Actionary), and instead have a show about an cross dimensional war. I want lots of flash-backs to Walter kidnapping Peter (walt's kinda a dick, huh?), and how Uatu the Observer helped. And some alt-reality Mr. Jones to show up with an evil eye and a creepy voice. Also, the coin that baldy gave to Walter-- was that yet another alt-reality Peter's coin that he played with when he was sick, a Peter-3 if you will? Peter-2, seen throughout the season, didn't have any memories of playing with a coin when he was sick, an indication to the audience that he was different from the Peter that Walt Prime had lost back in '85. So whose coin is that?

Thing i like about SciFi shows-- noticed the geographic change of Olivia within the alt-reality so she could be in thw WTC, but as long as it's cool, I can just chalk that up to Science Stuff that Billy Bell did to make her there. Science Stuff covers a lot.
Good finale, but i thought they spent a little too much time explaining, repeatedly, the theory of alternate realities, and that the figuring out a pattern in the Pattern was kinda just annoying. And did Broyles know that Bell was out of this world? Nina kind of shared a look with him. We still don't really know how much Broyles knows, since him and Nina stopped hanging out in that little Cabal from early in the season. His role, as well as the possibility that Olivia's niece is gonna be revealed to have been dosed are sub plots i want them to either get into completely, or just drop altogether. Don't just leave it by the wayside for too long, or else it's just another thing that we'll forget. Ok, that's it, liked it a lot, high hopes for next year, goodbye

K J Gillenwater said...

"Also, why would Bell go to the other world?"

My assumption is that is how Massive Dynamic is coming up with all these brilliant technologies. They have a means to transport themselves to alternate dimensions and take advantage of what other people have discovered. So Bell likes to stay in this world to reap the benefits.

I knew what was coming with Peter not being 'the' Peter, but was chilled nonetheless when we came upon the grave along with Walter. I, too, would like to know if there is a normal Walter in the alterna-verse who would've made a much better father for Peter.

Could it also be all the memories Peter has of Walter being a great dad were never this Walter at all? That when he remembers his past with a screwed up crazy, experimental dad he is talking about when he was switched to this 'new' Walter???

Can't wait for next season!

pgillan said...

This just occurred to me, but what if Walter didn't kidnap Peter, but instead crossed over from the alternate reality? If there were some sort of side-effect, that could explain his memory loss and insanity. It might also explain why Peter wouldn't remember, you know, being ripped into an alternate universe. He would have been, what, about 7 years old? Wouldn't he remember something like that?

Oh, wait- the gravesite was on this side.... well, maybe he put up a headstone for the son he lost in his own universe. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Thought it was a very good finale for a show that's been gaining steam throughout the season.

For next season I hope... Garret Dillahunt joins the cast. Just wanna throw that out there and maybe a rumor will start that somehow becomes reality.

dez said...

^From your lips to God's ears! Or Abrams', at least.

Wilder said...

The larger question upon us is: which is the dark world? Who are the bad guys?

Is ZFT on our side or the other side? There's a war coming, but I don't know if the threat is us ... or us?

All we have seen of Season 1 suggests that the folks coming up with the freaky fringe science are cruel, awful people. And so far, from this side of the magic window.

Not quite the actions of white hats.

Eldritch said...

I'm kinda disappointed by the parallel dimensions thing. It devalues the importance of any plot development.

Mr. Jones died in this episode. But now he can return next season. We know there are 2 Peters. Why not 4 or 5 or a 1,000? Maybe 50 Walters can fight over 100 surviving Peters. Perhaps we can justify taking sons from bad Walters to give them to good Walters.

Perhaps with her mechanical hand and Teflon ribs, Blair Brown will become a robot monster threatening the world? No problem. In the next handy dimension is a anti-robot ray that will save us. Kill Olivia this week for dramatic effect? Then bring back a close copy from another dimension next week and we can continue the story just as though nothing had changed.

Now the writers don't have to worry about continuity anymore. Every mistake is just different dimension.

Fringe's science has always always been flaky. The acting has been the strength of the show. Now it's the only strength.

Eldritch said...

A couple of odd moments that haven't garnered comment yet.

Was anyone else impressed with how quickly Olivia was able to analyze the pattern of events on her wall map? In just a few glances, she discerned the significance, which a team of Massive Dynamic specialists hadn't cracked in two years. I credit the Cortexaphan.

I thought the near auto-accident as she was driving to her appointment with Nina must mean something. Storytelling time is valuable. You don't just toss in wasteful dialog or business. Perhaps we'll learn something important about it next season.

Anonymous said...

There's a video on FOX's website with an explanation of the end and whole alternate reality thing. It's available here:

Definitely an interesting watch.

jim treacher said...

Is anyone else out there thinking that maybe Fringe is ripping off Stephen King? The "thin" spots leading to an alternate universe, for example...doesn't this sound a little familiar to The Mist, The Dark Tower Series, 'Salem's Lot, The Talisman to name a few?There's a fella name of Lovecraft you might want to look into.

Anna Torv is really the weak link for me. There's so much I like about this show, but her painfully mannered delivery just sets my teeth on edge. Walter & Son are the show... can't they get a new keeper?

Hobbs said...

If we're talking about "here" and "there" (aka multiple) versions of Peter, Walter, et al, then it begs the following question:

If Bell is now over "there," is he in that place with another version of himself???

In other words, are there two Bell's inhabiting this alternate universe??? If so, how is this possible? What are the impliations of this?


Nevertheless, I'm eager to see where this is heading.

Count Screwloose said...

And what of the mysterious Robert Bishop (Peter's grandfather) whose headstone reads 1912 - 1944?

David® said...

This finale was like ALIS S1, when Sydney met her mother...for one moment i thought Olivia would say to Spock: "Daddy ?!?!?"

Chip said...

Alan I enjoyed the finale but I'll say it're missing out not watching Supernatural. They delivered an equally thrilling finale this week that left me as hungry for more as Lost did. Something for the summer perhaps?

Eric Coomer said...

I think I agree with the theory that the Peter we've come to know is from another dimension but it is possible that our Peter is the Peter of this universe and Walter is just at the grave in another dimension. If one can travel to the alternate universe as easily as Olivia did through the elevator, then one could assume that Walter could be at a grave in that alternate universe. The new season can not come fast enough.

Even though I'm a massive (dynamic) fan of Lost, I do think it's a bit of a shame that Fringe is venturing further into a mythology show like Lost instead of a strictly episodic show ala Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. That's what JJ and co. said Fringe would be. Then again, X-Files certainly had an underlying mythology and was still watchable for the uninitiated.

Either way though, I'm along for the ride and loving every minute of it!

Bunting said...

Quite late here, but...

"A non-assassinated JFK makes a lot more sense. Thanks for that, I just assumed the photo was Ted."

A non-assassinated JFK would be in his nineties by now; Ted's no spring chicken, but as the youngest of that generation, he makes the most sense (the photo was probably him in any case).

"I thought the near auto-accident as she was driving to her appointment with Nina must mean something. Storytelling time is valuable."

I didn't watch it back to confirm, but the driver of the other car looked to me like it was Olivia. Well, "an Olivia."

domino87 said...

Very late to the discussion but this is an interesting read. It has more pages from the NY Post of the alt universe:

Interesting tidbits:

- New Orleans is the fastest growing city in the south. Katrina apparently never happened.
- Fluoroscent skin and facial landscaping are legitimate enhancements.
- Guns n Roses released "Chinese Democracy" 10 years ago.
- "NTSB witholds contents of flight 719 Black Box"
- "GM Rebounds on green auto sales...setting first quarter record" LOL
- The Obamas are in the White House. But the home has been closed since 2006 do to water damage.