This week on Fringe we go back to the ‘other side’ as Lincoln (Seth Gabel) tries to define who he is, we get the triumphant return of tight t-shirt (TTS) Broyles (Lance Reddick) and we learn a tad bit more about the human shapeshifters.
Let’s take a closer look after the jump.
Now that Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) are back together, Walter (John Noble) delights at his newly formed family. But as we saw last week, there really isn’t a place for Lincoln anymore (or at least, the show positions it as such). I’m not too sure how I felt about this episode – although we got some deeper insight into our Lincoln, a lot of other things seemed to be a bit too convenient or glazed over.
First off, getting Lincoln over to the ‘other side’ felt a bit contrived. Olivia, Peter and Walter go off to their “favorite pasture” (because, we all have one of those…) to hopefully bring lab cow, Gene, out of depression. Conveniently, no fringe events have popped up so the Bishop-clan (aka the No Lincolns Club) is completely free to take a picnic. It’s a bit questionable, as I’m certain Lincoln would have had downtime before and I don’t see how this instance is any different, but somehow this time, he’s clearly feeling obsolete.
Rubbing salt in the wound, Olivia gives Lincoln back his bracelet charm not remembering the sentiment around it. Lincoln’s dead partner had given it to him as a reminder that Lincoln would always have a home with his family, and in turn Lincoln wanted to say the same to Olivia. She not only doesn’t remember this sweet gesture (I will always hold onto my “Team Lincoln” banner) but she doesn’t take the memento back either. Poor Lincoln!
But he’s got a way out of the awkwardness. The ‘other side’ is harping on Broyles to give them a debriefing about David Robert Jones’ (again, an unseen Jared Harris who clearly is tied up on Mad Men). Lincoln petitions to go over instead of Astrid (Jasika Nicole) because she too, has familial obligations and Lincoln has no one. It was a bit heavy-handed considering Fringe‘s normally subtle approach.
Over on the ‘other side’, Lincoln probes his counterpart on his upbringing, wondering why Capt. Lee suffers from an “unwavering self-confidence bordering on self-grandising narcissism” while he is spending night after night alone in 24-hr diners pining over an amnesiac partner. We later get the answer explicitly spelled out for us by Capt.Lincoln – it’s all about free will. Don’t be a product of your circumstances; make the decision of who you want to be. If you want to be a badass, stand-up your collar up and own it!
All of this pop psychology takes place in pursuit of one of Jones’ human shapeshifters, who coincidentally, was manipulated by Jones because he too didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. Though it’s touching to hear the shapeshifter’s story and that’s he’s actually got feelings, ultimately it didn’t hit the mark for me. I’m glad the Lincoln found a kindred spirit and it ultimately leads to the shapeshifter working for the “good guys”, it comes at the expense of getting more details of Jones’ endgame. Instead of any exposition, we just see evil Nina monitoring more shapeshifters in pods on Jones’ behalf, and find out that TTS Broyles in indeed the mole in cahoots with them. We don’t understand what the motivations for all this diabolical evil. I fear that we’ll have this all crammed into a couple of episodes come finale time because we spent this whole episode talking about how Frankenstein’s monster has “feelings” instead of progressing the larger narrative/mythology of the season.
More evidence to support this – Capt. Lincoln gets shot with the sniper’s bullet that was meant for the shapeshifter, and it’s revealed near episode’s end that he doesn’t survive it. We don’t get any tearful hospital goodbyes despite Faux-livia’s strong relationship with him and that we’ve gotten to know this Lincoln longer than our Lincoln. I felt that this character deserved more than a swift and sterile off-screen death (remember when he helped deliver Faux-livia’s baby? Swoon.) Indeed, we did get a moment where Faux-livia peruses his locker and sees sweet snapshots of the two of them together, but then our Lincoln interrupts and they exchange ambiguous glances. Obviously we’re meant to see potential in these two becoming a couple to ease our sorrow that our Olivia is back with Peter, and Faux-livia and Capt. Lincoln never had the chance to tell each other how they felt. So if these two hook up then everyone’s happy! Again, it seems far to contrived for my liking. Yes, I do hope that Lincoln can find a more meaningful role ‘over there’ but does it really have to be because his doppelganger is now dead?
Overall, this was a pretty lukewarm episode despite some really solid performances from Gabel, Torv and the multiple actors playing the shapeshifter. Ultimately, I do believe Lincoln has a place in our already established Fringe family and I’m hoping that we don’t lose this great addition going forward simply because he can’t make it in a relationship with Olivia.
- What to say about that extremely phallic, veiny tube thingy that the shapeshifter uses to suck the life out of his victims? Quite the step up from the shapeshifters we’ve seen in the past don’t you think?
- There is no Batman on the ‘other side’. Instead we have the ominous Mantis. I appreciated the exchange between the two sides pointing out how neither a flying rat nor insect is particularly terrifying.
- It turns out Faux-livia is an excellent shot.
- Collectively, John Noble had all of three minutes of screen time, yet he still gave the best line of the night – “I’m really looking forward to studying–helping you…”
What did you think Fringe-ers? Were you more enthusiastic about this Lincoln centric episode? Any ideas of how David Robert Jones’ endgame will play out? What do you think TTS Broyles’ motivation is for going to the dark side? Is it as simple as, he’s a shapeshifter, or do you think there’s a more complicated reason behind it? Sound off in the comments section!