Fringe recap: 4×20 – ‘Worlds Apart’

Courtesy of FOX

After last week’s high concept episode, it was all business this week on Fringe. Even though we went into high-speed exposition mode in laying out David Robert Jones’ (Jared Harris) master plan, we still managed to some stellar emotional beats in this week’s offering.

Let’s take a closer look after the jump.

First off, if you haven’t already heard, Fringe fans can breathe a sigh of relief followed by a happy dance as FOX has ordered 13 episodes to close out the series in a fifth and final season. This is fantastic news as it gives the talented Fringe writers some time to craft a satisfying finale. And, I have no doubt that they will as, in these past four seasons, they’ve given us nothing but truly innovative narratives, rich with intrigue and mind-bending twists while still maintaining a strong character base. Of course, the amazing cast of actors (even guest actors, as I’ve mentioned several times before) plays a huge part in taking those scripts and creating absolutely incredible television. And this week’s episode is no exception.

The nitty gritty: Walter (John Noble) heads a collaborative meeting with our fringe team and the othersiders. He illustrates Jones’ master plan to everyone (in wonderfully Walter, magic-marker slides): Jones plans to recreate the big bang (Hey! My guess was right!) by having the two worlds implode on themselves, thereby creating a new universe where he controls the laws of nature and physics.

Remember ‘Welcome to Westfield” where the entire town started to merge with its other side counterpart, eventually destroying itself on both sides? That was merely a small-scale experiment testing out Jones’ larger plan. He intends on being in the ‘eye of the storm’ with his Dr. Moreau-like creations that we saw on that freighter a few episodes ago. Apparently Jones is a twisted kind of Noah, set on starting his own Jones-landia.

Courtesy of FOX

Eventually it’s discovered that he’s using Cortexiphan subjects to cause mini-earthquakes on both sides to start the mutual destruction. The only way to stop (or, based on next week’s preview – stall) Jones, is to close the bridge between the two worlds. So this means no more interaction between the sides, and more importantly – possibly no more Peter (Joshua Jackson). Since no one is really certain how Peter reappeared after the reboot, both Walters fear that if the machine were turned off, it wouldn’t be able to sustain Peter’s presence in either world.

Though it’s nice to have the Jones’ plan laid out for us, the strength of this episode comes when we consider the implications of closing the bridge between the two worlds. Though all the actors clocked in solid performances this episode, (notably, guest star David Call returning as Nick) really, John Noble steals the show once more. The scene shared between Walter and Walternate in the middle of the bridge just before the link is close forever, is the definition of quality television. There’s so much layered emotion in Walter as he wrestles with the actions of the past, and the possibility of losing Peter once more. Walternate just intensifies the scene by adding in a voice of reason, while still bringing aspects of Walter’s consciousness into the mix. We get the true culmination of the character in this scene by seeing the two counterparts sharing a moment, so eloquently performed, written and executed. The seamlessness of the green screen work adds yet another level of quality that further enhances the scene. It allows us to be immersed in this exchange. It’s just a quick little scene shown the episode’s final minutes, but I cannot express the resonance it had. Viewers like myself who have been with the show from day one are likely to acutely feel the gamut of emotions going on in this scene with very little dialogue.

When the two sides are saying their goodbyes, the bittersweet sentiment is continued. Although distinct in many respects, the othersiders have  allowed viewers to get a more comprehensive understanding of our protagonists, deepening our attachment to them. It’s sad to see them go, and I hope it’s not forever, but the episode seriously presents this moment as the last time we’ll see them. Overall it was a very satisfying way to say goodbye.

Perhaps it’s because I see an end in sight, but Fringe has quickly become one of my favourite shows of all time. I’ve always enjoyed it, but these past two season especially, have allowed me to start appreciating how wonderfully all the aspects of the show (writing, performances, direction, cinematography, special effects, heck even the credit sequences) work harmonious together to produce some real quality television. I don’t want the show to end, but I’m ecstatic that FOX has honoured Fringe fans and the show itself, by giving us these last few episodes to close things off properly. No doubt, they’re likely to lose some cash on this endeavor – so it’s heartwarming to see them think of something besides the bottom line.

Courtesy of FOX

Other observations:

  • How did Broyles (Lance Reddick) and Olivia (Anna Torv) get cell reception (when they were informed about the mini-earthquakes) while in their meeting on the other side? That must be one helluva network they’re on.
  • If we consider that the bridge between the worlds did indeed close, then the Broyles we saw in last week’s flash forward as indeed our Broyles and he’s turned to the dark side! But at least he had the wedding ring on, so we can hold out some hope that Broyles was able to find love again before working for the evil Observers (or perhaps working as a double agent for the resistance!) This also explains why we didn’t see any othersiders in last week’s episode either.
  • Although it was quite contrived, I still found it sweet that Lincoln (Seth Gabel) will likely end up with Faux-livia. I was even happier about it when all Olivia did was smile at him before he disappeared from her life forever. Yeesh! Couldn’t she have at least given him a hug? Although he’s likely better off on the other side, this is a major downer because it means we’ve lost Lincoln, and therefore, Seth Gabel, from the Fringe family for good. Sad face.
  • Peter doesn’t end up disappearing once the bridge is closed, which comes as no surprise. I think we’ve had one too many Peter disappearances for a lifetime. Are we now to assume this as confirmation that Peter doesn’t have another timeline to get back to?
  • Now that we have knowledge about Observageddon and who is encased in amber, we don’t have to worry about the fate of everyone but Olivia going into the final episodes. We also know that Jones’ plan to destroy the world isn’t going to be successful, otherwise we’d never get that 2036 narrative. So, as much as I loved last week’s episode, I wonder – was this a MAJOR spoiler for any episodes that take place in 2012-13? I guess it’s alright for us to know ahead of time that none of our beloved characters will be in mortal danger aside from poor Olivia.

So what did you think Fringe-ers? Did this episode feel adequate after the infamous episode 19? What do you think will happen in the two-part season finale? Any thoughts on how the series will end? Sound off in our comments section!

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

One thought on “Fringe recap: 4×20 – ‘Worlds Apart’

  1. So our take on it, as offered by our Fringe teams, is that David Robert Jones has a God complex and just wants to start a new world that he controls. As sinister and creepy as DRJ is, I find it difficult that this is all that is driving him. Consider Nick’s take on it – that DRJ is using the cortexiphan kids as soldiers to stop the invasion. For a long time, we’ve thought the invasion was from one world to another. But both DRJ and the Fringe teams have been working on both sides – so is the invasion from somewhere else? does this relate to last weeks’ episode – i.e. maybe DRJ trying to stop the watchers from invading. Maybe it’s just me overthinking b/c the motives behind DRJ seem too simple for the show.