Fringe: The Box (Review)

Showing the other side of the mirror, so to speak, from last week’s season premiere, episode 2 of Fringe takes place entirely in our world. This is an exciting premise as we get to see Bolivia firmly entrenched here, though to her exact purpose…

Fringe The BoxThe episode starts with a family tied up in their living room, being watched by an obvious intruder while his partners are digging up something in the basement. It doesn’t take long for them to find what they’re looking for—an exotic looking box with bizarre symbols etched along the surface. Too curious for their own good, the men open said box and are immediately bombarded with some type of pulse that incapacitates them as well as the family bound and gagged upstairs. The third man (Russell Harvard) is unaffected. When he sees what has happened, he is rightfully freaked, but has enough wherewithals to pack it up and leave the premises.

Cut to Bolivia, the sassy and fun alternate version of Olivia (Anna Torv), getting the intel she needs to pull off her infiltration into our world and Fringe unit. Aided by the Thomas Newton (Sebastian Roche) from last season, she now has dossiers on the major players involved in her life. After questioning Newton on the box and the hired hands he’s used for the op, a brief power struggle occurs where Bolivia reminds Newton in no uncertain terms of her authority in this mission, one that he relents too, albeit a bit too casually for someone as important as his recovery was during last season.

A bit after explaining the doomsday machine to Broyles (Lance Reddick), Peter (Joshua Jackson) finds himself at the bar with Bolivia. She comments on a song playing, something that he finds a bit out of character for her. Her response is more than understandable; meeting her “alternate” has made her look at things a bit differently. She caps this off by dragging Peter to the dance floor but they are soon interrupted by her phone.

This is the start into the primary vein of the episode. The Fringe team is called to the house where they try to piece together what happened. A bit afterwards, Bolivia goes to see Newton who tells her that he only contracted two men for the job. They know that a third man was involved but not his whereabouts.

Back in the lab, Walter continues his work on trying to ascertain just what the box does, when he finally reaches an epiphany as to how it works; it emits an ultrasonic frequency that induces a trance-like state and affects the inner ear before killing the victim. They surmise that the third man must have been wearing headphones of some sort to prevent exposure. Astrid (Jasika Nicole) then again tells Walter that he needs to talk to Peter.

The identity of the third man is no longer a mystery when he shows up on Bolivia’s doorstep with the box in hand. Bolivia calls Newton over and he takes the box away while she quite coldly—despite a whispered apology—shoots the third man (whose deafness rendered him immune to the box’s effects) in the back of the head.

Fast forward to Newton initiating what one could call a large scale test of the box’s capabilities in a subway station. The Fringe team is called in and when they realize that the box may still be active, Peter volunteers to search for it in the subway tunnels. Knowing the effects the ultrasonic nature of the box will have on his son, Walter thinks fast and, with the aid of Bolivia, temporarily deafens Peter with gunshots close to his ear. Peter finds the box and immediately recognizes the symbols on it as a part of the doomsday machine created by Walternate and for which Peter looks to be the primary cog. Peter disarms the box and narrowly misses getting flattened by a train, saved just in time by Bolivia.

We also get to see some of the repercussions from the end of last season. Not only has Walter (John Noble) been unable to talk to Peter (Joshua Jackson) about taking him from Walternate and his mother but there is also William Bell’s (Leonard Nimoy) death and subsequent will reading. Only Nina Sharpe (Blair Brown) and Walter are present for this and we find that Bell and Sharpe, at one point had a romantic involvement, at least for a time. Bell’s words to Nina are that she was his “right hand, and I was yours…”, leaving her a bell in part to commemorate their trip to Tuscany; whether there is a deeper, more important meaning to this as it revolves around the season, we will have to wait and see. To Walter he leaves an envelope with a letter and, later we find, a key to a safe deposit box.

Astrid continues to urge Walter to talk to Peter, something he finally does though it does not go quite as planned. Their talk starts off well enough but the anger, betrayal, and guilt soon make their appearances and Peter walks off, unable to face his father.

In the penultimate scene, Walter goes to Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and confides in her just what William Bell has left in his possession: Massive Dynamics.

The episode ends with Bolivia going to the “gateway typewriter” (allowing her to communicate with the alternate Earth) and sends a message to the other side that Peter is “actively engaged”. The reply then tells her to “Begin work on Dr. Bishop.”

Fringe-bits:
  • There is something so refreshing about Bolivia. Where our Olivia was a bit more uptight and less in touch with herself (or less inclined to show it) Bolivia has no problem expressing attitude or allowing herself to have fun. I love Anna Torv’s flair that she’s able to show as Bolivia. I’m almost disappointed thinking of the return of dry Olivia. Of course, just how her transformation via injections to Bolivia will affect her may change all of that.
  • Walter is now sole owner of Massive Dynamic! That is Wow to the Nth degree. How in the world is he going to be able to handle this? How will Nina take this and just what did Bell’s cryptic words “Don’t be afraid to cross the line” mean?
  • Another piece of the doomsday device has come out. A theory on it? Will it cause some sort of resonance in our world that will literally shake it apart? If so, how will that not cause repercussions into Walternate’s own world?!
  • Love Walter’s humor. After commenting on the “silent but deadly” effects of an ultrasonic frequency, he remarks on his own silent but deadly gaseous emission.
  • My original, naïve thought was that Bolivia saving Peter was partially motivated by a romantic interest she had developing for him but only knowing him two days as well as her mission as infiltration soured those thoughts. Further proof was during her communication to the other side by way of the “gateway typewriter”. What is this plan on having Peter and Walter being “actively engaged” and how does it tie into Walternate’s end game?

Rating: B+

– Darryl (Follow @djasper07 on Twitter.)


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