Friday, March 25, 2011

Fringe: "Bloodlines"

In honour of Fringe being picked up for a fourth season yesterday, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a long time... blog about it the same night of the episode!

Last week’s episode of Fringe featured Anna Torv channelling Leonard Nimoy, and the episode ended with a momentary return of Olivia’s consciousness in her own body, which signalled that Bell’s soul magnets might not be sticking as well as he’d hoped. With a cliffhanger like that, I was disappointed to discover we’d be back in the other universe this week.

But luckily, this week’s episode was amazing, and once again pulled in season 1 elements, making those early “fringe science of the week” episodes even more a part of the larger Pattern at work.

At the beginning of the episode, Fauxlivia is at her ob/gyn appointment with her mother, being tested to find out if she’s a carrier of VPE. This disease, which doesn’t exist in our world (although there’s a test to figure out if the mother has a certain ph balance which, if it’s not neutral, will pass a disease onto the baby as it passes through the birth canal), is what killed her sister, and sister’s baby, in childbirth. Fauxlivia returns home with the suspicion that someone is following her, and she’s right – as soon as she’s done talking to Lincoln, she’s kidnapped and taken to a warehouse in Chinatown, where her pregnancy is accelerated and she endures nine months of pregnancy in a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, Lincoln finds out she’s missing and begins searching frantically for her, and the first person he and Charlie go to is Bubs, the cab driver (you can call him Henry, but he’ll always be Bubs to me). His cab had been spotted driving by Fauxlivia’s house several times, so they question him, only to find out that he knew Olivia... as in our Olivia, and not theirs. They begin to put the pieces together when they go to Walternate, who finally tells Lincoln that the Olivia who’d been with them for several months was from the other side, and Fauxlivia is pregnant. And then Fauxlivia’s mom shows up to say that hey, my daughter’s got VPE and cannot have that baby.

But see... it appears Walternate had his finger on those results long before the ob/gyn got them. He knew she couldn't bring that baby to term, and he was going to do something about that.

Over in Chinatown, the doctors are preparing Fauxlivia to give birth (Me: “Wow, if you could go through pregnancy in one day, your stomach muscles would bounce back immediately!!!” Husband: “Right... and your skin would have probably torn to shreds, not to mention what your muscles would have done under that kind of stress.” Me: “Let a woman dream here.”) and she appeals to an obstetric nurse to let her go, but the nurse won’t. Fauxlivia overcomes her (even as a prego, Fauxlivia KICKS ASS) and gets out into the streets, where she’s found by Lincoln and Bubs. Bubs delivers the baby, and it would appear that Fauxlivia has died (when she was in labour, I said to my husband, “Oh man, they might actually kill her off here!!” and we both thought they had) but she opens her eyes again and she’s just fine.

At the hospital, Walternate comes to see Fauxlivia just as the nurse is taking the blood sample of the baby. The super-slimy and sleazy Brandon (he’s a fun geek in our world, and an evil nerd in the other) intercepts the card, which will presumably be used for DNA tests. We’d guessed early on that Walternate was behind it, so that didn’t come as much of a surprise, but his actions create several questions:
• Why did he do this? Does the Vacuum machine work with anyone matching Peter’s DNA, so his child could also operate it? And did Walternate have the technology to do so and needed to speed things up to get the child to do it now?
• Will the child continue to grow at a more accelerated rate? (Will this be like Gabrielle’s baby on Xena?)
• Does this link back to the second episode of season 1, “The Same Old Story”? In that episode, we see a prostitute become impregnated and move to full term in about an hour, and she’s killed during delivery because the baby is growing at such an exponential rate that it’s a pre-schooler before they can get it out, and it basically breaks her ribs and tears her insides apart. After it’s born, the doctors stare at it with horror as it continues to age before their eyes, and by the time the Fringe division shows up, there’s a dead woman on the table and what appears to be an 80-year-old man on the floor, dead, still connected to the woman through the umbilical cord. It was such a horrific opening to the episode I was almost scared away from the program, but it was too fascinating to stop watching. We find out that the man who impregnated the woman suffers from a rapid aging disease, and his father, Dr. Penrose, has been getting his son to drug women and cut out their pituitary glands in order to slow down his aging. The two of them have been working toward something that will control the rapidity of the aging. Clearly... Walternate’s figured out exactly what that control is. But we can only wonder what will happen to that child now.
• What did August the Observer mean when he said it’s beginning?

Anna Torv continues to be a marvel on the show. Last week my husband and I were chuckling our way through the episode, giggling every time she’d say something with that lisp and the Nimoy slur. It was awesome. And this Olivia is so entirely different from ours, and yet there are moments of sameness. I’ve often wondered this season... is she an example of what Olivia would be like if she hadn’t been administered the cortexiphan as a child?

Did You Notice?
• The glyphs this week spelled out FATED.
• Opus the Peahen!!!!! I think that is my favourite pop culture reference ever. SO brilliant. First, did you notice he had the same enlarged nose that our beloved Opus the Penguin has? The strip was still written by Berkeley Breathed, and it still appeared to be making current topic jokes (the words were fuzzy, but a large woman sits down and appears to say something about Lindsay Lohan... did I see that correctly?... and Opus tells her to hold that thought, brings back some sort of electrodes that shoot out and electrocute her, and he makes a witty comment I couldn’t read). If this means that in the other universe Breathed is still doing that strip, I want to go over to the other universe. Peahen or Penguin, I just want more Opus.
• West Wing is in its 12th season.
• In the altverse, Francis Ford Coppola directed Taxi Driver, not Scorsese. (The protagonist is still named Travis Bickle, though...)


mushoo said...

A friend and I decoded the comic:
Lady: "You have GOT to hear the latest!" "About what?" "Lindsay Loha--" "Hold that thought, ma'am"
*runs, grabs box, runs back, climbs on bench* "You were saying?" "Lindsay--" *pwiiing!* *KRRKCKK!!* "Boy I hope this is legal!"

Old Darth said...

I think the Observer's reference was to the showdown between the universes ending at the Machines.

My inclination is that Walternate originally hoped to persuade Peter to remain on his side. Failing that the baby is Fate's answer to providing Walternate with an alternative energy source for the Machine over there.

The burning question for me at the end of this episode is, was only the pregnancy accelerated or will the baby continue to grow rapidly? Could there be an adult PeterSpawn ready to step into the Machine over there by this season's finale?

Page48 said...

I thought "Bloodlines" was an excellent installment and serves as an example of the kind of show I hoped "Fringe" would be when I tuned in back in 2008.

While it continued the 3rd season tradition of harkening back to early episodes ("The Same Old Story"), my opinion that 1.02 was a pretty ho-hum hour of TV remains intact.

This may fly in the face of all things sacred, but I really appreciate the Over There episodes because they give Walter the night off. Without Walter's oh-so-tiring comedy schtick, the show is allowed to take on a 'you-can-now-take-me-seriously' tone when we spend the night Over There.

As long as Anna Torv continues to embarrass her critics, I can easily live with a scarcity of Walter and/or Peter.

And how cool is it that someone is actually beginning to wonder WTF happened to Broylenate?

Nikki Stafford said...

mushoo: LOL!!! I LOVE that you were able to decode it, thank you so much!

Old Darth: I agree... that was my big question, too, as I said: what will the fate of this child be? Will Olivia actually be able to be a mother (not to mention there's no way the hormones in her body would have changed to the point where she could breastfeed or do anything like that) or will the child be in college by the end of the week?

Page48: I agree... at the time that those first episodes aired, my husband (the sci-fi guy) was the one who continued on and I was the one who gave up and said it was too monster-of-the-week. I thought Walter was over the top and ridiculous, and that John Noble overplayed him. Now I don't think that at all, and Walter's quirks are charming rather than annoying (they really toned them down, I think). And I look forward to the serious scenes with him where he's upset or worried about the future.

Batcabbage said...

I'm late to this one, because of things and stuff. But yay for another Fringe post!

First off, I loved this week's episode. There are shows I watch (like ST: Voyager, which I am watching right now) where there are episodes that focus on subjects other than the main plot line, and I often think 'Great, a whole episode about Neelix and his stupid jealously over Tom Paris and Kes. THROW HIM OUT THE AIRLOCK, CHAKOTAY!' The thing I love about Fringe is that EVERYTHING IS THE MAIN PLOT LINE!!! I'm equally excited by either the blue or the red opening titles - both universes are completely compelling.

I loved that Bubs was in it again this week. (Off topic: watched Southland Tales again today. Never realised the first time I saw it - because I hadn't seen The Wire back then - that Avon Barksdale was in it!) He'll always be Bubs to me too, Nik. That leads me to Alvarez (I think his name is Charlie in Fringe, but he'll always be Miguel Alvarez to me) and Formerly-Burned-Man saying 'I wonder what else they're keeping from us?' I think that will provide an interesting plot line for those two (who are great in Fringe, btw).

Speaking of Formerly-Burned-Man (is his name Lincoln??), Batkitty and I found it sad that when he said 'I love you' to Fauxlivia, she didn't acknowledge it, just told him to make sure Peter Jr was OK. We completely understood it (of course she would say that, she thought she was gonna die, it would be her number one priority for her son to be looked after) but we still felt bad for him. Batkitty and I both thought she would definitely die, and then Batkitty speculated that FBM may take Peter Jr to the other universe to Peter Sr, which I think may have been interesting. Not to be, of course, but still.

I have no idea who Opus is, and I'm hoping in the alt-verse that Aaron Sorkin stayed on the West Wing, because although I loved it until season 7, it was never the same after he left before season 5. (Anyone see 30 Rock this week? Classic! Go Studio 60!!!) Taxi Driver by Coppola would be interesting, although I think I'd rather see The Godfather by Scorsese (I think he would have had the good sense to stop after 2 :).

Thanks for the great post, Nik!

vw: saxests - people prejudiced against saxophonists.

JS said...

YAY! Thanks for posting about Fringe. I have been "raised" on your style of review, and just realized that I compare every other review to that to see how I feel about it. You formed my critical eye!

Though I think the child is going to be v. important, they keep saying Peter is the ONLY one who could power the machine. If the child only has half his dna or electromagnetic properties or whatever makes Peter uniquely qualified to power the machine (Desmond, much?) then it would be somewhat inconsistent to have his child also have the same effect.

If they've solved the VPE problem, and the uncontrolled accelerated aging problem, there is still the mysterious disease Peter had as a child problem. And only Walter has the cure. Hmm, going to be very interesting to see where this goes.

Thanks, Nikki!

EsDee said...

Loved this episode. I am now fully invested in Over, as a viewer, the stakes are definitely higher...good job, writers! OPUS!! Thanks for reviewing, Nikki!!

Fred said...

I have some trepidation with the direction the show is pursuing: the all plot driving force betweent he two worlds. At some point plots have to find their point of end, and I hope that it will not be driving the show towards a limited number of future seasons. I am sure the acting/drama can compel us to watch over the next 2 years, but at some point the trigger has to be pulled and Walternate has to complete his plan (or have it stopped).

I am sure from the fact of Livianate having a child there is a possibility of an alt-Peter, but that wouldn't fly (unless he was a clone). So it's unlikely we'll see Peter-1 and Peter-2, like the other alternates. It could mean a new character introduced in later seasons.

And I'd really like an answer to the ancient people mentioned in the book--how do such people from millions of years ago tie up with the alternate universe? (Shades of LOST with references to times before all the mian action began).

I have one gripe. I turned to my wife and said, "See, mad scientists are capable of affording the latest technology in obstetrics, but can't shell out the money for a florescent bulb that doesn't flicker." And why is it when the victim runs out the door, they're always in China town?

One thing that keeps bugging me, in a Sheldon Cooper kind of way, is that if there is one alternate universe, why isn't there multiple, even infinite numbers? And in such a one, is Walter Bishop made of candy? I might also ask whether or not these universes are truly incompatible, as we've see Peter Bishop migrate from one to the other with little fuss to his well-being? Could not the solution be not to destroy one universe, but simply to merge them. Livia would then get her child AND have her sister and niece. Walter would then be reunited with his son. The beauty of the show is that there are so many possibilities.

EsDee said...

Fred - There is now only one Peter..."our" Peter died as a child, the Peter we actually have in "our" world is the Alt-Peter that Walter stole as a child...thus starting the whole universes crashing issue...the father of Liv's child is the one and only Peter that is left.

Fred said...

EsDee. What I'm saying is might this new child by Livia and Peter become a new Peter? Especially if the machine Walter wanted the original Peter to step into requires an identical DNA match to Peter. This would also give Walter (not Walternate) another reason to steal across to the alternate universe and steal another child.

Beachgirl5835 said...

And I love the way Anna Torv, while channeling "Leonard Nimoy/William Bell", would raise one eyebrow a la Spock.

EsDee said...

Oh it! Sorry, I misunderstood your comment.

Blam said...

I think Opus the Peahen would be a "she".

@Batcabbage: Things and stuff? Man, I thought I was swamped. 8^)

VW: lacti — Milk-producing desert plants.

Old Darth said...

With Nik's approval I am posting a link to my blog - ODONTV.

With Fringe on a two week break until April 15th you may feel the need to fill your Fringe Friday's with something else to tide you by.

If so, you will find at my blog, FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc)Podcasts that cover the third season. They are also available from iTunes for those of you on the go.

There are also 2 written reviews for the last 2 episodes - which I will keep doing going forward - for your perusal.

You will also find these Fringe items, plus contributions from man others, over at FringeTV - a great Fringe site.

Please check them out and I hope you enjoy them.

Once again, thanks Nik for allowing me to post this!

Time to mix up a batch of LSD! :D

Ambivalentman said...

I've finally caught up on "Fringe's" third season, and "Bloodlines" did not disappoint. There were a few moments that I absolutely loved:

1. Opus and Bubs (he'll always be Bubbles to me, too, Nik).

2. Lincoln and Charlie realizing that there must be things they don't know. That was an excellent twist, especially since, up till now, they had consistently towed the company line.

3. The mention of Coppola and Travis Bickle. Awesome! The alt-universe characters, like us, often infuse their conversations with pop culture references, which only serves to make their world so much more real.

I have to say that the best thing about this show is the willingness of the writers to humanize the alt-universe. Initially it seemed they were going to make them bad and us good. By giving us stories focused exclusively on their perspective, they have opened up the narrative and made the stakes involving the machine and the end of one of the universes very high. I really like Lincoln and alt-Charlie. Even Fauxlivia is a great person who is lovable. I don't want any of them to go. "Fringe" has become one of the best shows on TV because of this.

Q: Did we ever learn what happened to alt-Nina? I can't remember.

Thanks for the review, Nik. Here's hoping you'll continue when the show returns on the 15th.

Linda345 said...

Yes, thanks for the review, Nikki. Fringe is partly filling the void left by Lost. And he's Bubbles to me, too, although I hope they name the baby "Henry." I had the same thought: Two months of pregnancy followed by five minutes of labor. Where was Walternate when I needed him?