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TV Review: Fringe: Countdown to the Season Three Finale

This third season of FOX’s Fringe has been a wild ride from start to (almost) finish. It started with Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) kidnapped on the other side and replaced by Fauxlivia (also Torv). Olivia’s memory is altered to believe she is Fauxlivia, while Fauxlivia makes love to Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and, without him knowing, gives birth to his child. Meanwhile, Walter (John Noble) and Walternate (Noble) both work to save their universes, knowing that one or the other must perish. Peter is in the middle, raised by Walter, but son of Walternate. With the season finale, “The Day We Died,” airing this Friday, I’d like to take a look back at the three most recent episodes and try to figure out what to expect.

“Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” Aired April 15, 2011

The name of this episode is the scientific title for LSD, the hallucinogenic drug used occasionally on Fringe, as well as in the real world, mostly circa 1960′s. With William Bell still trapped in Olivia’s body, and seeing no way to get out, Bell takes LSD. Peter and Walter do, too, traveling inside Olivia’s brain to try to find her before she is lost forever. A cross between Inception and The Matrix, the trio battle the dark parts of Olivia’s psyche that try to kill them, all the while searching for their hiding comrade.

What Bell is forgetting when he thinks Olivia will be fine inside her head while he borrows her body is that Olivia has more reasons to be scared than practically anyone. Experimented on as a child by Bell and Walter, then raised by a mean step-father (Chris Bradford), Olivia’s mind is anything but a safe haven. Instead, her subconscious has created a terrible world, out to kill her, and her friends that dare to venture inside. I get why her step-dad leads the mob, but why is Nina (Blair Brown) also evil? What does Olivia see in Nina that the rest of us are missing?

What results is that Olivia must defeat these dark feelings and take control again, which she does. This episode is one of the best because Olivia overcomes one more obstacle on her way to becoming a true hero. She is more powerful than she can imagine, which I’ll touch on again later in this article, but she has a number of stumbling blocks before she finds her potential. Dealing with the demons within her own body is a major triumph on that road, and a turning point for Fringe as a series.

The biggest mystery of the episode is the mysterious man with an X on his t-shirt that ‘kills’ Walter in the dreamscape. Peter brings him up to Olivia, who calmly replies that, while she has never met the man, she knows who Peter is talking about, and he will murder her. This is something Olivia has apparently thought a lot about, but remains unworried. What is up with that?

As Bell, Peter, and Walter flee, they become cartoons, a really neat element to add to this episode. While the animated versions are not exact replicas, they are recognizable enough. Perhaps it is done because Leonard Nimoy did not wish to guest star, though he did lend his voice to the animated Bell. No matter what inspired the cartoon, it is very cool.

Extremely welcome is a small subplot where Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) accidentally ingests LSD, too, and must be taken care of by Astrid (Jasika Nicole). While the two rarely get meaty stories, it is exceedingly nice to have them in a few fun scenes together. Reddick masters the comedy to be had from the scenario, examining liquorice. He also unleashes some serious dark demons in his rant about death. Is it inspired by seeing the hacked up body of the alternate Broyles, sent over from the other side months ago? Either way, these moments beg for more Broyles and Astrid Fringe stories in the future.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com