Fringe: The Plateau (Review)
Three weeks into this season of Fringe and we have our first filler episode. Tying the themes from last season and the first two episodes of this year, we know that the overall story arch will follow the Olivia/Bolivia (Anna Torv) switch and Walternate’s (John Noble) plan for our world. Thursday’s episode centered on our world’s Olivia, now fully immersed into the personality of her alternate Bolivia tackling a Fringe case of probability.
The episode starts innocently enough with an eccentric man (Michael Eklund) casually watching a woman as she goes about her business. Quite randomly, he places a ballpoint pen atop a mailbox before walking away. The splash of water from a car causes an unpredictable chain reaction that distracts a bus driver just long enough for him to not see the woman crossing the street before it’s too late. Mr. Eccentric, jittery fingers and all, watches with a satisfied smirk on his face.
When the Fringe division investigates, Lincoln (Seth Gabel) spots the seemingly innocuous pen lying on the sidewalk he’s intrigued as such a tool is rarely seen in this alternate world. When the group does a bit more digging on a similar accident the day before, they find the same type of pen. The idea that both accidents could have been caused by the same random confluence of events are impossible, according to Astrid (Jasika Nicole). Not until they are called to the scene of another, non-fatal accident do they agree that something is amiss.
The division arrives at the scene and when Olivia notices a pen on the sidewalk, she realizes that things aren’t yet finished. The intended victim is hit by an ambulance and Olivia scans the crowd and notices Mr. Eccentric, instinctively knowing this is their perp. She races up to the bridge where he watches on; upon seeing her, Mr. Eccentric tosses a bike onto the road. When Olivia pulls her gun on him, he feigns surrender before inexplicably jumping off the bridge. His random toss of the bike was a planned event that caused a truck to swerve just enough for him to use as his escape.
A bit of research and luck provides the team with the identity of Mr. Eccentric. He is Milo, a mentally autistic man who was part of an experimental program to boost his intelligence. After five treatments of the program’s drug, Milo’s intelligence had grown exponentially. As such they the final step to the experiment was reverting all test subjects back to their original mental capacities. Milo discovered this and targeted the three individuals that would have been responsible for his regression.
Olivia and Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) visit Milo’s sister, Madeline (Kacey Rohl), who tells them about her brother. She then gives them a letter Milo left her, detailing his current whereabouts. After a brief discussion on the probability of it being a trap, Olivia and Charlie make their way to the hotel where Milo has aligned the dominos to not only provide him a way for his escape but to kill Olivia in the process. Milo’s calculations are thwarted by Olivia doing the unexpected. That one move allows them to capture Milo and return him to the lab where it is discovered that the drugs have been in his system to long to reverse the process; he is no longer human in the sense of thought process and emotion.
Though most of this episode does not touch on the overall season arc, there are a few spots that do line up with the show’s direction. Walternate and his staff attempting to perfect conditions to use Olivia to cross over into our world, Olivia not following procedure (something that foiled Milo’s calculations), forgetting Fringe protocol and, most importantly her visions, whisper to her that there are things not quite right with her. She sees both Walter and Peter various times throughout the episode that causes her to question her own sanity. The final scene Peter speaks to her (her second vision of him), telling Olivia that she already knew that she was not from that world. It begs the question of just how long before Olivia realizes just who she really is?
- Have I mentioned just how good it is to see “fun” Olivia? Her interactions with Charlie and Lincoln are so welcome to break up the tension of the show’s serious bits. It’s also interesting just how similar both Olivia’s are when they have to get down to business.
- Watching alternate Charlie only reminds me just how big a mistake it was for the show to write out Kirk Acevedo in the first place. Here’s hoping they keep alt-Charlie around for the duration.
- I’m not a big fan of “seeing visions” in shows, but the way they handled Olivia’s wasn’t over the top and each one had a poignant relation to the particular scene/situation. So long as they are careful with it, things should be fine. The fact that these visions were mostly likely a part of Olivia’s subconscious, they also serve as a message that even powerful science cannot erase the person that is at your core.
- While their ultimate aims are polar opposites, Walter and Walternate are both scientists at heart. One has to wonder (as Walter did sometime last year) just what would it have taken for him to fall down the path of willful destruction that Walternate has designated for himself.
– Darryl (Follow @djasper07 on Twitter)