This is the second time this season now that “Fringe” has decided to take a few weeks off, and again its last episode before the break is one of those that keep the fans watching through all the standalone garbage.
“Fringe” is about parallel universes; you wouldn’t know that from watching nine out of 10of the episodes, but that’s what it is about. The knowledge of how to cross between the parallel universes is why Walter was in a mental institution for so many years, and is the lovable mad scientist he is. They are why Walter and William Bell experimented on Oliva, amongst others, as a child, which in turn made her the fearless FBI agent she is. The opening of an alternate world is the reason Peter exists in the show.
Finally, in “Jacksonville,” we get back to the engrossing mythos in the “Fringe” universe.
For the first time we get a glimpse of what the other side is like. It looks pretty much like the world we know, although it seems that real coffee is a scarcity and Manhattan is only spelled with one “t” (either that or “Manhatan” was an embarrassing typo). What’s strange is the earthquake tremors that have been going on recently. Apparently, on the other side, Manhattan has been having some strange seismic activity. After these little tremors, the big one comes and wrecks the whole building. Being “Fringe,” these tremors aren’t natural, but all part of a plan.
Back on our side, Fringe division is called in to investigate what happened. When they get in the building, they see all these people dead, but many fused together. The lone survivor, Ted (Jim True-Frost, “The Wire”), wakes up to find himself with more limbs than anyone has. Looking around, Walter finds blueprints to rebuilding to Pentagon, and before Ted expires, Walter asks him what buildings were attacked on 9/11, to which he responds “the Pentagon and The White House.” Walter then looks underneath Ted’s shirt only to find another head.
Those little earthquakes weren’t earthquakes, but the opening of a gate to the other universe. In that office building, the two worlds collided.
After realizing what had happened, Walter remembers the experiments he and Bell did when they were younger. What Walter remembers is that when an object is transferred from one world to the other, an object of equal mass must return for the universes to stay equal. Now aware that a building will soon disappear from their world, Walter knows the only person who could spot that building would be Olivia.
Having been the only successful subject in Walter and Bell’s house of horrors all those years ago, as a child, Olivia demonstrated the ability to see objects from the other side by seeing them glimmer. To regain her ability, Walter takes her and Peter back to his old lab in Jacksonville to pick up where he left off.
For the first time in months, Olivia actually feels like the main character of the show, which is refreshing since she is supposedly the only one who could stop the impending catastrophe. There’s finally some added dimension to the character, as we learn a little more about Olivia’s childhood encounter with Walter and William Bell and that experience has shaped her into the person she has become.
Strangely, perhaps the biggest moment in the episode was a little side-note by Walter when opening the lock to his lab in Jacksonville. The combination Walter and Bell always used was 5-20-10, but Walter couldn’t remember the specific reason.
“Fringe” comes back on April first with eight straight episodes which means the finale is on May 20, 2010.
Everything just feels right in episodes like this. The plot, the glimpses into the past and the ominous moments are so refreshing compared to the standalone episodes which don’t answer questions or even ask them.
The return to the “Fringe” mythos is always a good thing, and the few episodes that do deal with the overall storyline are some of the best hours of television you can watch. “Jacksonville” is no exception, and we can only hope the final eight episodes fulfill our “Fringe” fix.