FRINGE 4.20 ‘Worlds Apart’

The Fringe teams race against time before making a drastic decision to stop David Robert Jones' apocalyptic plans.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Worlds Apart"

Story by: Graham Roland

Teleplay by: Matt Pitts & Nicole Phillips

Director: Charles Beeson

Previously on "Fringe":

Episode 4.19: "Letters of Transit"

Story:

At the Bridge, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) gives a presentation to the Fringe teams of both worlds as he lays out his belief that David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) is trying to collapse both universes to create a new big bang in which he will be able to rewrite reality to suit his whims. Jones and his loyalists may even be able to survive the cataclysm in a safe zone, using his experiment in Westfield as his test run. The teams are skeptical about Walter's conclusions when he admits that they came to him in a dream. But Walter's alternate counterpart aka Walternate isn't so quick to dismiss Walter's theory. At that moment, individuals across the world begin assembling in pre-set locations.

Suddenly, the individuals somehow cause 27 simultaneous earthquakes around the globe… in both worlds. When word reaches the Fringe teams, they know that Jones is behind it. Back in our world, Walter demonstrates the universal vibration to his son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv). Further, Walter explains that the earthquakes were designed to make the universes vibrate at a common frequency; which will collapse both worlds into each other if done enough times. In the alternate world, Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) is approached by Nick Lane (David Call); who assumes that Lincoln the same Lincoln from his world whom he grew up with.
 
As Lincoln listens to alterNick describe witnessing the earthquake in the New York of our universe through his own counterpart's eyes, he contacts the prime Fringe team and shares what he's just learned. Olivia instantly recognizes Nick as one of the children who experienced the Cortexiphan trials with her when they were children. Olivia also identifies Sally Clark (Pascale Hutton) as both one of the individuals causing earthquakes and a fellow Cortexiphan survivor. Walter's new theory is that the Cortex-men are forming mental links with their counterparts in the other world through the weakened barrier between the universes. Peter realizes that the Bridge may actually be aiding Jones' plans and he suggests shutting it down.

However, Walter is quick to note that the Bridge may not be able to be activated again if it is turned off and it will also halt the healing process on the alternate world. Before taking that drastic step, the two Fringe teams commit to finding Jones first and they even bring alterNick to our world, so that Walter's machines (and LSD) can allow OIivia to locate the Nick of our world through their previous mental link. In a private moment, the alternate Olivia aka Fauxlivia tells her counterpart that she appreciates her team's efforts to keep the Bridge operational. Fauxlivia also admits that she's come to enjoy visiting our world.

Walter's plan works and allows Peter and Lincoln's team to capture Nick. But they don't prevent another round of earthquakes around the world. Olivia handles Nick's interrogation herself and to her surprise, Nick reveals that Jones has led the Cortexiphan survivors to believe that they are fighting a war against the alternate universe and that the other side will be forced to surrender soon. And despite Olivia's assurances that the two sides are currently at peace, Nick won't believe her. Meanwhile, Lincoln speaks with Peter about the possibility of being permanently cut off from the other world while Peter examines Nick's countdown watch.

Peter says that home is where the heart is as he explains why he will stay in our universe despite having been born in the other world. Then Nick's watch becomes active again, counting down to another round of earthquakes. When asked how many more earthquakes it will take to collapse the universes, Walter admits that he's surprised that it hasn't happened already. Once again, Olivia pressures Nick to turn on Jones and he reveals that he is a reverse empath, whose own suicidal thoughts accidentally led his sister to kill herself. Nick is loyal to Jones for teaching him how to use his power to defend our world, but Olivia finally gets through to Nick and convinces him to give up Jones' location.

The Fringe team converges on a seemingly abandoned warehouse, with Nick in the custody of a single agent during the operation. As the Fringe team searches the complex, Nick uses his ability on the agent guarding him to make him suicidal. By the time that the Fringe team figures out that Jones was never there, they find that Nick has slipped away and his escort has badly injured himself. Faced with no other options to stop Jones, Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) puts the decision into the hands of both Walters. And the choice is made to turn off the Bridge. During the process, Walternate voices his admiration for Peter; which causes Walter to emotionally excuse himself.

But Walternate follows Walter into the hall and points out that they are both worried that the machine may be the only thing holding Peter in their reality. To Walter's surprise, Walternate is extremely conciliatory and even forgiving towards him, which moves Walter to tears. Meanwhile, the two Olivias reveal a mutual admiration for each other before parting, while Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) also says goodbye to her double, Kick-Astrid. Minutes before the final shutdown, Lincoln approaches Peter and tells him that he will be staying in the alternate universe because he thinks he's found his home working alongside Fauxlivia. Peter shakes his hand and thanks Lincoln for his friendship.

When Lincoln approaches Fauxlivia with the news, she seems pleased that he intends to stay. The two Fringe teams face each other from across the room as the Bridge powers down, before the alternate team and Lincoln disappear. Much to Walter's great relief, Peter remains in our world. But Walter admits that he will miss the people from the other universe more than he would have imagined.

Breakdown:

Before we move on to this week's episode of "Fringe," I want to briefly revisit my opinion on "Letters of Transit." My initial reservations about last week's  time-jumping episode were that the plot threads introduced there could have left us all hanging if "Fringe" had been canceled after the current season. But since we now know that "Fringe" is coming back for a fifth and final season, I'm more firmly of the belief that "Letters of Transit" was a brilliant episode.

"Worlds Apart" was also a terrific episode, but not because of the worlds ending scenario. Instead, it was the way that the characters reacted to it that made the story so engaging. In particular, Walter and Walternate got the redemptive turns that both characters needed. Prior to this season, Walternate was one of the best villains on TV and he was a man who was clearly wronged by our Walter years ago when he took Peter to our world. Walternate was a cold, vengeful man who wasn't above endangering the life of his own son and grandchild to get his revenge and save his world.

The new timeline created by Peter's removal may have changed Walternate more than anyone else. Can you picture the Walternate of season three having such a cordial and even warm conversation with Walter about Peter? Somewhere along the way, Walternate reclaimed a great deal of his humanity and that sequence was among the most moving scenes of the season. Likewise, Walter has been badly in need of redemption almost from the start of the series. For years, he's lived with the guilt that his actions may have doomed the alternate universe and the people who lived there. That may be why Walter was so quick to speak out against turning off the Bridge that was healing the alternate world. It may have also been that the hope of fixing his mistakes helped keep Walter going.

And while Walter may never see that dream fulfilled, he was clearly affected by Walternate's conciliatory gesture. And the man at war with himself across two universes finally has hope of peace and forgiveness. The entire alternate Fringe team has become like an extended family for the Fringe team on our world, and their parting reflected differing degrees of closeness. The two Astrids act more like sisters towards each other while the two Olivias are only now getting around to admitting that they like aspects of each other. Lincoln's departure to the other side was pretty telegraphed, but it was a good send off for his character and Seth Gabel added a lot to the show this season.

The conclusion of this episode definitely felt like the end of the two Fringe teams actively working together on cases; which was one of my favorite aspects of the fourth season. Even with the renewal for season five, we may not see them directly team up again. That would be unfortunate, but "Fringe" has a tendency to drastically change from season to season and this may simply be the transition period to its final incarnation. And judging from last week's episode, that may involve a significant leap to the future to fight the Observers.

I also really enjoyed the way that Nick's power was described as "reverse empathy" and used as a weapon against the agent guarding him. I'm not sure if that power has been used before in other fictional stories, but it seemed like an original take on an old concept.

I couldn't be happier with "Fringe" right now. In an ideal world, this show would be a huge hit on the order of "Lost" and run for as many seasons as the creators wanted it to. But if we're only going to get five seasons, then it at least seems to be on track to end well.