Ever since the other universe was discovered, every member of the Fringe division has met his or her alternate. Everyone except Astrid. But this week the two Astrids finally meet in an intriguing episode about a man who seems to have the abilities of an Observer.
This is a recap, so there are spoilers.
A man is in a doctor’s office. He learns he has cancer, but the doctor is hopeful that the treatments will work. The man goes to a bus stop. Another man, holding a small rod-shaped device that glows blue, sits next to him and begins to discuss the man’s cancer treatment. The treatments do not go well; although the doctor said the man had a 95% chance, the other says that his case falls into the 5% that result in death. A bus passes; the men are blocked for a few moments. After the bus passes, the man with cancer is dead, and he appears to have cried blood.
Alt-Astrid is in the Bridge Area. She crosses over to this universe alone.
At Fringe HQ in the alternate universe, Alt-Astrid has the clearance to grant permission for others to cross over. Everyone is surprised she went to the other side without notifying anyone and without Alt-Broyles’s permission. Alt-Olivia says that after the day Alt-Astrid has had, they should understand. Alt-Olivia volunteers to go get her.
In Walter’s lab, Walter wants to eat, but Peter wants him to focus on fixing the machine. Frustrated, Walter says he likes Lincoln better. Walter wants to play chess; Peter still wants to work on the machine. Alt-Astrid comes in. Walter thinks it is Astrid, so calls her by the wrong name; she corrects him, and Walter realizes that she is Alt-Astrid because this side’s Astrid never corrects him.
Olivia and Astrid enter. Astrid yells; she is surprised to see her alternate. The moment is cute. The two Astrids look at each other. Alt-Astrid wanted to meet Astrid, and the same is true for Astrid. They discuss how their mother died from cancer when they were young. Alt-Astrid becomes very emotional, and she speaks quickly about not knowing where to go because the park was cold. She asks Astrid if she loved her father. Alt-Astrid didn’t know where to go after her father’s funeral. Alt-Astrid came to this universe because she is distraught about her father’s death.
Walter offers Alt-Astrid food and invites her to stay. Olivia gets the call about the strange death at the bus station. Astrid is a little upset because Walter calls Alt-Astrid by her proper name. Astrid, Peter, and Olivia will go to the scene.
Walter and Alt-Astrid watch the others at the scene. Walter has Astrid check the dead man’s crotch for blood. Walter is not sure what could have killed the man; the only explanation he can come up with is the Tears of Ra, a mythical potion. After the connection is terminated, Alt-Astrid likes how Walter talks to Astrid, as though they are one person. At the scene, an Observer materializes, sees the scene, calls someone on his communication device, and tells the other that something has been located before passing through the building’s solid wall of windows.
Peter helps Walter perform the autopsy. Walter examines a sample in the microscope. He makes a fascinating discovery. The compound is like nothing he has seen before; the chemicals should not interact, but they do. A poison that hasn’t been invented yet killed the victim. Alt-Olivia arrives; Walter immediately attacks her character. Alt-Astrid mentions the Hand of God, and her explanation of the events makes Walter realize that the person who came up with the poison must have god-like powers because the poison’s inventor had to have seen the poison created in order to know how to make it. Basically, the killer could see events in another time and used that information to create the poison. Since Walter needs Alt-Astrid’s help, Alt-Olivia has to stay.
A woman buys gin. Outside of the store, she throws the gin away. The man who killed the cancer patient approaches her and tells her about her miserable future; she will cause a lot of pain, and he sprays something in her face.
At the lab, Walter dumps all of Alt-Olivia’s things on a table. He has been holding on to them, and now he wants her to take her things. One object has perplexed him; it is a small silver box. He seems to not like Alt-Olivia, but she teases him and says that maybe he liked having her around.
What confuses me is how Alt-Olivia took Olivia’s place. Olivia’s Cortexiphan abilities have not manifested. There was no Peter for Walternate to seduce to the other side, which prompted a rescue mission to the other side lead by Olivia. Also, it appears Bell has been dead for a while and the other Cortexiphan subjects haven’t been found, so how did Alt-Olivia switch places with Olivia? Was Olivia just kidnapped so Alt-Olivia could spy on this side’s Fringe division? Without Peter in the timeline, I’m not clear how these events could have happened.
The Fringe team arrives to the scene of the second death. Walter cringes as he watches Peter collect evidence; Walter is used to being the one in charge of collecting and analyzing evidence. Back at the lab, Peter wants to help with the autopsy, but Walter has him do menial chores like sharpen scalpels. Peter leaves. Alt-Astrid watches Walter and asks him about Peter. Walter has agreed to help Peter, but he still struggles with Peter not being his son. She senses Walter’s anger and suggests that he accept Peter as his son so he can love him and be happy. Walter stops what he is doing and considers her words.
Alt-Olivia and Olivia discuss the case. Olivia insists there must be a connection between the victims because dealing with random killings will make finding the killer almost impossible. Alt-Olivia is relaxed, but Olivia is tense and focused.
The killer is a TSA agent. At the airport, he checks the IDs of passengers. He has the glowing blue rod. He writes the name of a passenger in a small notebook.
An Observer watches the events in a parking garage at the airport. The killer approaches the man whose name he recorded in the notebook. The killer, who has the glowing blue rod, tells the man that the next call he makes will cause a car crash and he will be paralyzed. The man tosses his briefcase at the killer and runs. A car hits the man.
Peter and Olivia are at the hospital. The man who was hit by the car is paralyzed and is awake. They question him. He recounts the events; he wasn’t supposed to be in town because the TSA made him miss his flight. He describes the killer as wanting to put him out of his misery, and he wishes he would have had let the killer kill him because of the state he is in.
Astrid offers Alt-Astrid a cup of coffee. Alt-Astrid has never had coffee because Walter’s crossing into her universe caused many problems, including environmental damage that makes certain foods rare. Walter is still angry at Alt-Olivia (he won’t let her have some licorice), and she continues to tease him about it. Walter thinks the killer is using something like the Tears of Ra because the potion is supposed to kill quickly and painlessly. Alt-Olivia thinks the idea of a compassionate killer is absurd, but Walter tells her that some forms of suffering are worse than death.
Alt-Astrid notices that all of the victims went through Logan airport, but Astrid says that they traveled at different times and on different airlines. Alt-Astrid asks about the TSA, and she figures out that the same TSA agent screened the victims. Alt-Astrid’s unique eye for detail provides a vital break in the case. Alt-Astrid continues to enjoy the coffee.
At the airport, Peter and Olivia find the killer, but he slips away. An official stops Peter and Olivia because only ticketed passengers and authorized personnel can be in certain areas.
The killer turns out to be a former professor at MIT. A former colleague tells Peter and Olivia that the killer is a mathematician who believes math can unlock all the secrets of the universe. The killer quit his job after becoming obsessed with an equation and was searching for the solution that would “flatten” the universe, making one be able to see the past, present, and future all at once, like an Observer. The killer became obsessed after a vacation at his lake house. The location of the lake house is Reiden Lake, the place where Walter crossed into the other universe and where Peter returned to the timeline.
The two Astrids discuss Walter. Alt-Astrid turns the conversation to her father. She feels guilty that she could not love her father the way he wanted to be loved; she thinks if she were normal, he would have loved her more. Astrid has no response. Alt-Astrid drops the matter and looks for sugar for her coffee.
Olivia and Peter go to the killer’s lake house; it is unlocked. They search the place. There are equations on the wall. Olivia finds a picture of him and his mother. Peter finds a newspaper clipping about the killer’s family; his father and brother were killed in a car accident.
The killer puts the glowing blue rod in a safe and removes a gun. He is at his mother’s. His mother wants to know what he is doing and where he is going. He tells her that he heard her the night his twin brother and father died. She said that God took the wrong brother; God took her angel. He was always worried that he was never good enough for his mother. Her disappointment motivated him to search for God’s approval, and he tells her that God gave him the gift to see the past, present, and future. He acts like an Observer when he says what she says at the same time. He tells her that he sees God’s plan.
The Fringe team arrives. Olivia enters. He has the gun. He tells his mother, “See you in heaven,” and he turns. Olivia shoots. The killer is dead. After his body is removed, Olivia realizes that he wanted her to kill him. The killer saw himself as a savior, which is why he had pictures of Gandhi and Joan of Arc on his wall. The killer was on a mission of mercy, and he needed to be killed. Suicides cannot get into heaven, and he wanted to become an angel.
Olivia tells Peter that he makes a good partner.
With her permission, Walter hugs Alt-Astrid good-bye; he really grew to like her. Alt-Olivia opens the silver box; inside is candy. Walter takes one and gives her a piece of licorice. She gives him the box of candy. Astrid tells Alt-Astrid that her father is a complicated man; she is not close with her father, and he doesn’t really show emotion. She tells Alt-Astrid that it wasn’t her; it was her father who had the problem. Alt-Astrid is relieved.
Astrid arrives at her home. Her father is in the kitchen. She cannot talk about work. He has made dinner. They hug and tell each other “I love you.” Astrid lied to her alternate to bring her comfort. Astrid has always been compassionate towards Walter, so we know Astrid lied to console her counterpart. Alt-Astrid needs the lie to help cope with her father’s death.
At the killer’s mother’s house, the mother is asleep in a chair. Two Observers enter. They go to the killer’s safe. One easily opens it and retrieves the glowing blue device. The device belonged to September; he must have lost it in 1985 on the night he did not save Peter. One Observer says that September did not follow orders; he failed to erase Peter from the timeline. He says that Peter Bishop has returned.
After four seasons, it was great to see Astrid take a larger role in the episode. The interaction between the Astrids was touching. Jasika Nicole’s performance was brilliant; both Astrids had distinct personalities even when they were both on screen. The performance was so riveting that I forgot special effects were used to make the scenes with both Astrids possible. I would have liked to have seen more of Astrid; I was hoping for a more Astrid-centric episode, but I did enjoy seeing more of Alt-Olivia, especially her scenes with Walter.
I thought the killer was going to lose his hair and transform into an Observer, which would have been an interesting development. I am surprised the Observers have names. I’m concluding the glowing blue rod device is what helps an Observer see time, and I do like how they are not omniscient. The pasts, presents, and futures of multiple timelines is a lot of information to track and process, so it makes sense that each Observer would be responsible for certain sections, and why it would take time for the other Observers to learn of another’s transgressions. The Observers have been in more episodes than usual, so I wonder if they will become more active as the season progresses. It would be fascinating if Peter and Olivia have to outwit the Observers in order for Peter to go home.
If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘Fringe: Forced Perspective’ episode 410 recap.