Fringe: One Night in October (Review)

FRINGE: One Night in October

Since its freshman campaign, the alternate world has been the primary driver of the Fringe universe. Two sides of the same coin, these worlds have stark similarities while offering equal amounts of uniqueness thrown in. Certain aspects of technology are more advanced in one world than the other. Historical events aren’t always the same, nor are the people. And this is the most satisfying and intriguing aspect of the nature of parallel worlds. Last season’s arc, for the first time, introduced the audience to doppelgangers of the main characters Olivia (Anna Torv), Walter (John Noble), Broyles (Lance Reddick), and Astrid (Jasika Nicole). Olivia’s former partner, Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo), killed in our world, serves a prominent role in the alternate Fringe division. The writers have never played a character as diametrically opposite of his/her alternate world counterpart, an idea that is no more clear and eerie as this week’s episode, “One Night in October”.

More of a psychological profile, “One Night” examines human development and the primary factor in shaping a person into the finished product of who he/she ultimately becomes. The question arises, are our destinies predetermined based more on our biological makeup or is our surrounding environment, those people who enter our lives, the things that happen to us along the way?

Fauxlivia (wigged up) working with McClellan to catch the killer: his alternate world self.

John McClellan (John Pyper-Ferguson) becomes the focal point for this particular experiment in thought. A genius in both worlds, the man who is a criminal forensics expert in our world is a serial killer in the Alternate Earth (A/E). As the Fringe teams from both worlds work together, the episode’s apex revolves around the two McClellan’s talking about their lives, identical throughout save for one pivotal moment where the kindness, love, and understanding of a stranger re-directed the murderous urges of our world’s McClellan. A/E McClellan, in attempts to fill the void that was never tended to with the happy memories of others (their deaths are the natural byproduct of his procedure), discovers the missing love firsthand when he steals his other self’s warm memories. Guilt over his actions consumes him and the A/E McClellan takes his own life.

When Olivia gets McClellan back to our world, scars remain. His memories of Margery, the woman that changed the direction of his life, are gone. Their fears of him becoming the monster from A/E are assuaged with his final words to Olivia: “You know what they say. That even when it’s the darkest, we can step into the light.” When Olivia asks Broyles how McClellan can remember Margery’s teachings but not her, Broyles replies simply “I’ve always thought there were people who leave an indelible mark on your soul. An imprint that can never be erased.”

It’s a fine transition to the secondary tier of this episode, though a much more important arc to the season overall: Peter’s (Joshua Jackson) current whereabouts. Erased from the time line in “The Day We All Died”, a whisper of his soul (or something) remains, appearing to Walter in glass and mirrors, calling to him for help when no one is around. How can a man whose total existence was wiped out maintain a presence in the world? Does it have to do with the convergence point he created between the two worlds? Is he tethered by Olivia’s and/or Walter’s love? Is there something a bit more divine directing this? Fringe revolves around fantastic of science, bordering the gaps with technology, so the divinity angle is not involved. Though Broyles’s statement about the soul and indelible marks brings forth several intriguing thoughts, science fiction/fact will continue be the foundation of the Fringe. And the answers to the questions surrounding Peter’s existence will be answered like most Fringe questions.

By the science namesake for which the show is titled.

Fringe Bits:
  • The Olivia/Fauxlivia battles bring out the best of Anna Torv. Though her original character started showing signs of life sometime in season two, Torv’s characterization of Fauxlivia is so much fun to watch. A credit to Torv for mirroring her original character while at the same time, inserting several unique mannerisms to make Fauxlivia her own character, and not an extension of the Olivia, Version 1.0.
  • I’ve loved Seth Gabel’s Lincoln Lee from his first introduction. Driven and good at his job, as well as being in love with Fauxlivia, his introduction into the our world as a similarly driven, yet a bit more nerdy version of his alternate self provides a very interesting avenue for the writers to venture down, especially with the absence of Peter in Olivia’s life.
  • How long before Walter breaks down completely? Already more than a bit mental, hearing voices and seeing the ‘ghost’ of a man he’s never seen before? Conversely, will there also be a moment for him where something inside Walter will recognize the connection he has with this man who was, in another time, his son?

Rating: C+

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– Darryl (follow @djasper07 on Twitter)
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