This season of Fringe has been probably its strongest so far – certainly for fans like me who have loved seeing the alternate universe and the growth of Olivia. This episode sees the return to a sort of normalcy – Olivia back in our reality and no sight of BOlivia, Walternate, Charlie and the alternate gang. It is also back to a weird case of the week procedural, but with some heart wrenching emotional stuff too.
The case itself is one of the creepiest in a while – an obsessive man reassembling his dead love by removing her transplanted organs from various innocent recipients. The guest star (Mark Ivanir) is very chilling and creepy as he makes the Marionette of the title out of the dead girl, stringing her up and making her dance. Very effective and eerie.
However, the emotional heart of the episode is Olivia’s reaction to learning that Peter was involved with her doppelgänger, and the way she deals with returning to find no one seemed to notice the difference. Anna Torv and the character of Olivia has been criticised at times over the years for being too emotionally distant and cold – not a view I shared mind you. To me, the buttoned up Olivia is what made her interesting, and a good contrast to the extremes of nuttiness from John Noble as Walter. Torv did a terrific job of playing the alternate Olivia, making her face and gestures just a tad more cagey and cautious and somehow more dangerous. Our Olivia is definitely less open, more closed off, but then she has the childhood traumas of Walter and Bell’s cortexifan trials in her past. She also lost her mother (not sure how old she was when that happened though.) She was also betrayed, don’t forget, by her lover and partner John Scott way back in the pilot making her even more cautious.
Anyway, there is an absolutely terrific scene with Olivia and Peter in a hospital cafeteria when Peter finally fesses up. Anna Torv does some of her very best work in a shot where the the truth sinks in. We see her smile and say ‘it’s ok’ as Peter begins to explain that they didn’t realise she wasn’t herself, but as he reveals his intimate relationship with BOlivia, Torv’s smile drops and the devastation on her face is evident. Wonderful acting. Olivia’s brushing off of everyone’s apologies becomes more and more forced as the episode goes on.
Later we see Olivia finding her double’s washing in her dryer, and throwing all her plain black FBI woman jackets on the floor. As she later reveals, she doesn’t want to wear her clothes or sleep in her bed anymore. She feels her life has been taken over by this interloper, and what kills her is no one, and especially Peter could even see it wasn’t her! (Just wait til she realises BOlivia killed that deaf guy in her bathroom!)
When the mad criminal of the week is caught after temporarily reviving his love, he tells how he looked into her eyes and saw nothing of the girl he wanted back. These words ring true for Olivia when in the (almost)final scene she repeats them to Peter. How could he look into her eyes and not know? Olivia coming to terms with the way her double took over her life is going to be a fascinating ongoing story.
It was also nice to see Astrid and Olivia talk about it too, when Olivia quizzes her. Did Peter seem happier with BOlivia? Astrid tried to help her see that it was HER Peter fell for. Always good to get Astrid scenes.
All in all this was an excellent episode. As much as I have enjoyed the over here/over there stories, it is nice to have out gang back together and I love the complexities of the relationships now. Seeing how they all work out along with how they can try to stop the war with the alternate universe is going to be fascinating. Great writing and acting in the emotional scenes and an X-Files-like mystery of the week that had high creep factor.