‘Fringe’ Episode 3.18 Review: Push It

Before we start, let’s all celebrate the good news! Lost has been renewed for a fourth season! Wait…we’re talking about Fringe? Sorry. You’d have to forgive me, what with all the “people possessing other people” and pregnancy story lines and “evil organizations who kidnap characters and put them in a lab” going on. At this rate, why don’t we just fuel the Doomsday Device with time-travelling bunnies with numbers on them?

Welcome back to the Other Side, ladies and gents. When we last left Alt-livia and crew, it was revealed that she was pregnant with Peter’s child, much to the horror of Fringe Division and the creepy delight of Walternate. Picking up shortly where we left off, Olivia is being tested to ensure her health, and it is revealed that she has VPE (Viral Propagated Eclampsia) a disorder that has a high probability of killing mother or child during labor. It’s also revealed that this is why Olivia’s sister died in this universe. Alt-livia’s mom is with her through this ordeal, and it’s nice to see a character we only know in one universe fleshed out.

As Olivia goes back to her apartment, she suspects she is being followed. (Quick, did I just see an Observer outside her place?) Lincoln sets up a security detail to track her, but before she gets too comfortable, a team of mystery men kidnap her and take her to a makeshift ER room. They start running a bunch of tests on her and inject stuff into her stomach, remarking about the pregnancy. Sadly, none of these men is named Ethan Goodspeed, nor is this any more interesting than the two times Lost tried to go this route.. Most of Alt-livia’s story line in the middle stretch involves being tested by these creepy scientists. It goes by rather slowly, punctuated by a lot of talking and some creepy “alien baby” visuals. In the end it turns out that these people are accelerating her pregnancy, a very disturbing prospect, but more creepy than intriguing.

Back at Fringe Division, the security detail alerts Lincoln to Alt-livia’s kidnapping, putting everyone on edge. He notifies Walternate, who is in the middle of insisting to Brandon the creepy lab tech for the umpteenth time that experimenting on kids is bad! Nice to know one Walter has a set of morales. Walternate urges everyone to proceed with caution. Desperate for a lead, Lincoln finds that a vehicle has been circling Agent Dunham’s location a lot recently. That vehicle just so happens to be a cab, driven by our favorite otherworldly cabbie Henry!

Like most people when surrounded by government vehicles with an angry agent pointing a gun at your face, Henry spills the beans. He’s just worried about Olivia, and recounts the day they met, noting the peculiarities of her memory. Henry says that he ran into Alt-livia on the street, but she acted different than the last time they met. This plants doubts in Lee and Charlie’s minds and confirms the latter’s suspicions about a universe switch. Lincoln ends up confronting Walternate about this, and he tells him the truth about his Olivia swap. Far from reassuring the two Fringe agents, this plants further doubts in their minds about what’s going on, and should be interesting to see play out. As revealed later, not everything Mr. Secretary says is straightforward.

The end of the episode is where things get, well, messy. Alt-livia escapes her captors, delirious from having been experimented on. She gets in contact with Lincoln and notifies him that she’s in Chinatown. Ballooning into her third trimester and fearing that she will die any minute, Alt-livia staggers down the street until a knowledgeable Henry and Lincoln find her just in time. They find her outside a noodle store (she could have really been more descriptive with her location) and rush inside to try and deliver the baby. Violins play, the tension is ramped up, and Lincoln expresses his true feelings. It would have all been very sweet, but a.) I couldn’t help but wonder why they were ripping off that other J.J. Abrams’ show and b.) she was probably going to die. A beautiful baby boy is born, and just as you think the writers might have the stones to kill off a major character, all is well.

The final few scenes involve Alt-livia’s new child being tested in the maternity ward, but as a blood sample is passed to a mysterious figure, it turns out that the Observer was involved after all. He was working in cahoots with Brandon and Walternate! The notion that Walternate wants the test the DNA of the child and perhaps use him to further his goals is a distinct about-face from the opening, but by the end of last night’s episode, I actually have faith that the writers know what they are doing. (In this universe anyways.) I’m not sure the “Alt-livia is a mother” plot is one I think will work at this point, but how it ties into the war of the universes intrigues.

I am a sucker for the craft of the alternate universe stories, and while for the longest time this week I was convinced we were having our second stinker in a row, one can only hope that it’s a satisfying piece of the larger puzzle. My only issue is with how out of left field these recent developments have been, and what that says about the direction of the show. Fringe is descending the staircase of sanity, but with a whole other season to go now, we can only strap in for the ride.

Article by Mark Ziemer