Friday, October 8, 2010

Fringe “The Plateau” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) “The Plateau” put viewers back in the alternate universe, where “our” Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is back to work at the (alternate) Fringe Division. She seems to have been completely assimilated into her alternate’s persona, made possible by the treatments ordered by The Secretary - AKA “Walternate” (John Noble). He wants to make Olivia feel as if she is part of his universe so he can get her to agree to further testing and hopefully help them discover how she can pass between both universes. The episode offered what seems like the typical Fringe case, but things are not always what they seem. I’m enjoying this season as it moves back and forth between episodes, alternating each episode with each universe. It also allows the actors to play two different characters – even though they look the same, they have distinct personalities. John Noble excels in this (as Walter and The Secretary). This week we got a better look at Astrid’s alternate, and she seems to be one cold, testy woman.

The first case she’s called in to work - along with Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) who is still recovering from his burns - involves what seems like a death caused by freak accidents as a result of a series of events. They realize that there is a pattern to these accidents – a pattern that Alternate Astrid (Jasika Nicole) concludes is impossible - and things get stranger when they find a ball point pen at both scenes. It seems that in the alternate universe, ball point pens are rarely used (who knows, that time may come here sooner than we think). When another accident occurs, but no death, Olivia and the team investigate. When Olivia sees a ball point pen rolling around on the ground, she realizes it’s not over. She spots someone who seems the likely suspect and begins her chase. But her target, Milo (Michael Eklund) seems to have already worked out that scenario in his mind. He throws a bike over the edge of the walking bridge on which he is standing, causing a truck to swerve right underneath where he is standing on the bridge, and he jumps onto it, making a clean escape.

While Olivia works the case, she’s also seeing things – images of Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Walter Bishop pop up when she least expects it.

Milo’s ability to predict the outcome of a list of occurrences is a talent that he picked up from drugs he was given as part of a test project to increase the IQ of low IQ people. Milo’s sister helps Olivia by telling Olivia of Milo’s location, and later, this sets off another sequence of events for which Milo has already predicted. He sees Olivia chasing him down, and then getting injured by falling concrete blocks. While Olivia, Charlie, and Astrid try to think of what Milo expects will be their next step, Astrid helps them realize that every step they predict, Milo also predicted. They decide to go to the location where Milo’s sister told them he is hiding out, and of course, he’s there, expecting exactly that.

But, Milo gets a big surprise when Olivia chases him as planned, but doesn’t stop the chase (which would have caused her to be crushed by the falling cement blocks) when the environmental alarms warning of air problems goes off. Olivia somehow subconsciously didn’t know that the flashing alarm meant her to stop and get oxygen, so she continued her chase. When Milo stops and comments that this should not have happened, she apprehends him. Later, he’s back in a special lockup, only able to communicate with a computer, and completely oblivious to his sister’s touch. Apparently he’s been on the treatment too long and it can’t be undone.

Charlie, meanwhile, has been wondering if what Olivia told him before her “breakdown” - that she was not from their universe – is really true. Olivia ignoring the warning signs may also have added another red flag to Charlie’s already suspicious mind.

Olivia herself is starting to wonder when, as her boyfriend is preparing to leave to take care of a virus break out, she sees Peter and he speaks with her about why she is seeing him. When he kisses her, Olivia suddenly seems to understand why. You can see the gears working in Olivia’s head – maybe her delusions and breakdown were not that at all. This has been my hope – that she will recover her original memories, but will also have the benefit of her alternate’s, something what would be invaluable to help her get back home.

Walternate, however, sets an ominous tone when he comments that he is still a scientist, just with a much larger lab. While our Walter regrets his past experiments, Walternate seems only too happy to think that the whole world is his lab, and he doesn’t seem to care who or what he uses as his lab rats.

“The Plateau” was an excellent episode that offered a Fringe case that was interesting as a standalone case, but was made better by the fact that Olivia may realize she’s not who they want her to be. Now, her task will be to use what she knows from both universes in order to get back home and/or hopefully avoid either universe being destroyed in the process. Someone has to stop Walternate, and she may be able to beat him using the very knowledge he gave her.

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