Ix-nay on the Friday Doomsday statements! While I was worrying about the potential blow to ratings from the day change, Fringe has posted record Friday numbers two weeks in a row. If it remains stable a few more weeks there’s no question we will get a much-deserved fourth season! As fears about time slot doomsday subside, they are transfered to an episode all about the increasing doomsday scenario threatened by Walternate’s Peter-powered monstrosity.
We open as Fringe Division is being taken to a secret research facility where, it turns out, the Doomsday Device is being assembled. Dr. James Falcon, lead scientist on the project, is puzzled as the Massive Dynamic crew can not discern a power source to the machine. But just as they are researching, an electromagnetic wave is sent out and the parts start to whir. What could have triggered it? Why, Peter’s mere presence of course! It was a strong start to the episode, but I felt that a bit of the momentum was sucked into the machine itself.
Meanwhile, Walter is trying to re-grow his brain cells in order to figure out whatever Walternate was thinking in the science of the machine. Our Walter has the desire to save the day himself, and it doesn’t sit well with him that Massive Dynamic is running a whole bunch of tests on his son. Unfortunately for Walter, he will have to sit and watch, because the rest of the team is dealing with a slew of shape shifter deaths.
Further complicating things, Faux-livia’s hard drive was cracked, and they discovered a list of names that indicate a bunch of shape shifters. There are fears that Walternate might have a mole on this side feeding information to protect his mercury machinations. Could it be Dr. Falcon? Olivia has a suspicion that he might be involved and they try to call him in for a William-Bell-augmented lie detector test, yet it is discovered he left work early. Hmm. The FBI raid his house, but before they can Falcon Punch the information out of him, he winds up dead in a pile of his own silver blood…
A number of suspects arise throughout the course of the episode. Falcon, Brandon the lab tech, a random lady in the street. Wrong! In a shocking twist, a hoodie-clad Peter emerges from an alley and murders a shapeshifter in the street. He uses his old Iraq War special ops training to sneak into the victim’s houses and murder them. He is almost caught by shifter #5, but Walter tracks his son down just in time to see a brutal point blank kill.
The episode ends with the FBI failing to catch our now-mutual killer. Walter gives a small speech to Peter in private, talking about how all relationships are reciprocated (hence the episode title), and theorizing that touching the Doomsday Device changed Peter. He says it “weaponized him”. It’s a dark end to a crazy episode.
The seriousness of the main plot hid a humorous side plot where Walter tries to find the DNA extracted from his brain by Bell and restart his cortex. Nina Sharp finds a series of vials that may contain the antidote, but before she can bring up the downside, Walter sniffs a vial (while passing it off as a drug-aided move). A few hours later, he’s eating bananas and yawning like a monkey. Never mind that he is “chemically opposed” to bananas, he makes a late night banana sundae. It’s all very amusing and serves to lighten the mood, but then again, that’s what Walter is for.
All in all, the episode started out strong but didn’t end up telling us much, instead further complicating things with Peter’s turn to the dark side and the mystery of Faux-livia’s journal. We did get a welcome look of the machine in action, and hopefully the information on the shape shifter’s data disk will yield something, but the only revelation was in-episode and the only progress a furthering of character distrust. It was still a fun, engaging episode, but I wish there was more. Fringe is never dull, and it’s entirely reasonable to expect the show to step back after a few weeks of major movement, but in that case don’t open your show with a world-killing device and end it with the only killing being a hobo and a jerk scientist. Entertainment, as relationships, are a two-way street.