Fringe is back to five-star form(opens in new tab)
Writers: Monica Owusu-Breen, Alison Schapker
Director: Joe Chappelle
THE ONE WHERE The alt-universe Fringe team take David Robert Jones into custody – and soon realise that he’s the one holding all the cards.
UNIVERSE Over here and over there – both orange versions.
VERDICT While you’ve got to pity any newcomer who inadvertently tuned into this episode (they’ll have been totally and utterly bamboozled), this is a real treat for long-standing fans of the show. Indeed, you’ve got to admire any US network series that has the guts to completely cast aside the current trend for standalone stories and plunge headfirst into its arc plot.
Here Fringe ’s grand plan is the case of the week, as David Robert Jones allows himself to be captured – and then manages to outwit Fringe divisions in two different universes. Jared Harris gobbles up the scenery as a villain whose motives remain tantalisingly ambiguous, toying with everyone he meets (with the notable exception of Peter). He’s ruthless (killing one of his beloved shapeshifters to make a point), manipulative (tricking the Fringe team into giving him the information he needs), a first class escape artist (his in-broad-daylight getaway is a work of genius), and a master of deception (best way to evade the Feds? Get them to look for you in the wrong universe). In other words, he’s a truly brilliant adversary.
It probably needed a baddie of his calibre to bring together the respective Fringe teams. While the thought of having duplicate characters appear alongside one another is probably prompting the birth of many kittens in the households of the visual effects team (the scene with the duplicates gathered around a boardroom table is fan nirvana) it’s a great new dynamic, as differences are put aside in the pursuit of a common enemy – even the previously want-away Peter now seems happy to hang around and help out. It’s also a testament to the actors that they’re able to bring something distinct to characters that, in some cases, they’re playing the third and fourth iterations of – Joshua Jackson gets it easy with his solitary Peter.
There’s some wonderful moments, too, between Walter and Elizabeth, as she convinces the other version of her husband to help Peter. Then there's the brilliant relevation that Nina’s the one pulling DRJ’s strings. Best episode of the season so far.
SPECULATION As you’d hope from such a mythology-heavy episode, there’s plenty to ponder:
Would the substance in alt-Broyles’s syringe have killed Lincoln had Walternate not turned up? Why does nobody in this timeline have no knowledge of David Robert Jones? Did DRJ survive his season one transition between universes because Peter wasn’t there to slice him in half? Was DRJ working for Nina Sharp in the original Fringe timeline too? And was Nina referring to Olivia with her remark that “She’ll be ready”?
OBSERVING THE OBSERVER Back to his usual elusive ways this time out, walking behind Agent Lee during DRJ’s audacious escape. Except, this time it’s not our usual friendly neighbourhood September. Did he die from his bullet wound last time out?
Fauxlivia: “Why’d you do that?”
David Robert Jones: “Because you don’t know me or what I am capable of. But if I’m willing to do that to someone I love dearly, imagine what I’ll do to people I don’t care about.”
See all Fringe season four reviews (opens in new tab)