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Review #3042: Fringe 4.2: “One Night in October”

Posted on the 03 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Written by Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen
Directed by Brad Anderson

Having delved into the changes to the Fringe Prime timeline in the season premiere, it makes sense that this episode would begin the process of exploring the changes to the Alt-Fringe timeline. The changes aren’t quite as substantial, it seems, so there’s also time for a bit of exploration into the dynamics between the two universes along the way.

Review #3042: Fringe 4.2: “One Night in October”

This is the first time that there was a case that spanned both universes, and it was about as good as one might have hoped. It effectively drove home what the third season demonstrated in terms of the main cast members: while there are clear differences, at the core, those who exist in both universes are very much the same at the core. What changes is the context and therefore the path in life: what makes one version a serial killer, makes another a leading expert on serial killers.

It’s yet another iteration of the storied “nature vs. nurture” conflict, but it works for a reason. Humanity has been obsessed with this question for as long as recorded history can indicate, and we’re no closer to an answer now. Are people just born wrong, or are they molded by the world in which they live? Do people really change, or are they constrained by genetics? To this end, the characters are a microcosm of the same questions that persist regarding views on each universe. It’s a particular brand of debate on the concepts of evolution.

In this situation, the difference between a deranged killer and an esteemed professor comes down to a single night in October. This becomes apparent when the professor allows himself to become the killer’s victim, which is one of the more chilling elements of the story (no pun intended). It’s a kind of murder/suicide in one package. At the same time, it plays into the larger theme by acting as something of a microcosm of the two universes as a whole: common at the core, but ultimately different based on choices.

Meanwhile, Peter is still bleeding through into the Fringe Prime universe, and I’m more convinced than ever that he is only “appearing” to Walter in this manner because of some sort of quantum entanglement generated by Walter’s crossover with young Peter back at Raiden Lake. It makes sense: if Peter was never subsequently saved by the Observer (September), who else would he be “entangled” with? Theirs is the only unusual association. (This also explains what effect the device built by September in the previous episode was meant to do to Walter.)

In terms of revelations, a few come to mind. One big difference is the survival of Colonel Broyles in the Alt-Fringe universe. Instead of being the result of a Fringe Prime operation, it appears that Fauxlivia was part of a plot by Walternate to steal pieces of the Machine. Fauxlivia was never pregnant via Peter, so there is no baby, and Fauxlivia is still with her original boyfriend Frank.

One big question is what will happen when Peter inevitably returns. Will these slowly but surely revealed details of the changes in each universe be wiped out, in favor of the histories established in the first three seasons? Or will there be one final ultimate melding of timelines in each universe? I suppose it all comes down to how Peter is restored.

This was another big episode for Anna Torv, who got to play both versions of herself in some fairly complicated scenes. She has been uniformly excellent with all the various versions of Olivia since the start (which is not a foregone conclusion by any means), but there were loads of subtle little moments in this episode.

I also want to point out that “Fringe” is already up against the all-too-anticipated ratings wall. While fans were pleased by the renewal of “Fringe” well before the end of the third season, we were rightfully worried when the ratings continued to slide right into the third season finale. While it’s still early, and the ratings could flatten out at a reasonable number, there is worry that the show might not reach the end of this season, let alone gain another renewal. Hopefully it will not come to that, but I’m personally preparing myself for the possibility that this is the final season.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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