Now that Fringe has been relegated to the Friday death slot starting in January, the pressure is on for the writers to pull out all the stops in what has generally been an extremely strong season. The ratings have taken quite a hit in an already competitive night, and complaints have been mounting about the decision to split these first batch of episodes between universes. The onus was on the production team to do something. And the pressure has been mounting in recent weeks inside the show too. Our Olivia has been tested to the breaking point, momentarily crossing over but not long enough to actually do something. And Faux-livia (my chosen designation for the otherworldly imposter) has been cutting it close with her actions.
Thus we have “Entrada”, which Google clarifies is “an entryway between rooms”– an appropriate designation both in the show and as a metaphor for the next phase of the season. It’s the first episode back after a couple weeks off, and the one that finally smashes the snow globes together. The episode got off to a strong start, with Peter getting a midnight phone call from a woman telling him that the Olivia he’s sleeping in bed next to is not who he thinks she is. This little bit of information causes Peter much distress, as he sneaks about the apartment and ultimately gives Faux-livia a little Greek lesson, which she fails. Weeks of tension about “will our team find out?” or “are they going to do anything?” are relieved, as the jig is up and the stakes are raised. It was an effective, tense scene that set the tone for the episode. Cut to the opening credits, which mixes the standard opening with that trademark Alternate Universe Red (look out, Coca-Cola) in an effort to signify that the stuff is, indeed, about to hit the fan.
Or at least that’s what we would be led to believe. While this was definitely an important, well-done episode, I can’t help but feel that it was ultimately not as big a step forward as I thought we were going to make. There wasn’t an Olivia-on-Olivia clash or a major plot to enact the switcheroo. While it was a welcome break from the “baddie of the week” formula, “Entrada” was more, dare I say it, lower key than I would have thought for the big crossover episode. That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of action, but it was of a different tone than I would have predicted.
The normal universe’s race to get Faux-livia the heck out of Dodge was fairly straightforward once her cover was blown. A misplaced laptop gives our Fringe team the leg up, chasing down Faux-livia around the New York area, even discovering the mystical typewriter between worlds. (Surprisingly, they dwelled on it for a total of of ten seconds. “Lost” levels of mysticism this is not.) The doppelganger ends up meeting with a shapeshifter that looks a bit like Jake Gyllenhaal in Penn Station, which leads to a tense shootout with a nicely done fake out.
Meanwhile, on the creepier side of things, Walternate decides that our Olivia is no longer needed, and the rules of transferring bodies between universes doesn’t mind if that mass was dead. His scientist lackey, however, wants to study Olivia for science and proceeds to treat her like a Botox patient, marking her face for brain extraction and strapping her to a creepy spinning ER table. It should be noted that if you liked needles, you loved tonight’s episode.
Anyway, just before Olivia gets a buzz saw to the back, alternate Broyles saves the day, thanks to some seeds of doubt planted by Olivia’s actions last week. Olivia thinks that if she can make it to the testing tank, she can cross back into our universe. There are complications, and a Plan B must be enacted, so Broyles helps Olivia into a non-descript freezer, fills it up, and allows her to cross over…
…into our Walter’s lab! Sadly, the other Broyles bit the dust, but that’s the price of plot momentum! It was at this point that I hoped for the aforementioned Olivia-on-Olivia conflict, but it was not meant to be. Instead, Faux-livia crosses over from the back of an armored truck cell (thanks to a certain new corpse), and the reset button is pressed on character dynamics. I really hope this isn’t the last extended look we get at the other universe. These first few episodes have set up such a rich mythology for the other side that it would be a shame to not see that until the inevitable clash in the season finale.
Overall, “Entrada” was a nice, action-packed episode that was ultimately a reset button for both universes. An action-y, suspenseful episode was a nice break from all the talking these past few weeks. One of the Broyles is dead and there was an intriguing final scene where the typewriter shop owner traded a piece of the doomsday device for a shot that cured his paralysis, but with both Olivia’s where they belong, what is next? Will Faux-livia’s experiences change the status quo on the other side? See you next week.
Article By: Mark Ziemer