Episode Title: "Immortality"
Writers: Ethan Gross and David Wilcox
Director: Brad Anderson
Previously on "Fringe":
FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) traveled to an alternate universe to save Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) from his real father, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), whom the residents of our universe have dubbed "Walternate." Although Olivia successfully convinced Peter to leave with her, Walternate laid a trap for her and replaced her with her own alternate counterpart (hereafter referred to as Fauxlivia) before she, Peter and the real Walter escaped back to our universe.
While infiltrating our world, Fauxlivia began a romantic relationship with Peter as part of her cover. When Peter eventually discovered the truth, he angrily rebuffed her attempts to convince him that she had real feelings for him. Shortly thereafter, Walternate transported her back to his universe and in exchange, sent back the dismembered body of Colonel Broyles (Lance Reddick), who betrayed Walternate and helped the real Olivia return to her world. However, Peter and Olivia have not yet been able to move past what was done to them and Olivia recently learned that he still has feelings for Fauxlivia.
In the alternate universe, Fauxlivia is reunited with her boyfriend Frank Stanton (Philip Winchester), who has returned from dealing with an outbreak in North Texas. Elsewhere in the docking terminal, a man named Dr. Armand Silva (Alon Aboutboul) distracts a man sitting next to him and switches their water glasses. Minutes later, the man runs to the restroom and violently vomits before beetles come out of his body. Silva calmly collects his bugs as he watches the man die. Back at Fauxlivia’s place, Frank notices that she seems distant. But she is soon called in to investigate the death at the terminal, much to her relief.
Elsewhere, Walternate observes the progress of the cortexiphan chemicals derived from Olivia’s brain which can produce humans with superpowers, but kills all adult subjects. When his underling suggests experimenting on children, Walternate flatly turns him down. While following up on the bug investigation, Fauxlivia and Charlie consult with Mona Foster (Julie McNiven), a bug specialist with an overt crush on Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo). She identifies the bugs as skelter beetles, which have been extinct since they died out with all of the sheep ten years ago. In his lab, Silva realizes that his latest samples still haven’t delivered what he’s looking for. Meanwhile, the alternate Fringe team is clued into Silva’s expertise on skelter beetles and quickly identify him as a possible suspect.
Before they can find Silva, he infects another man who dies horribly from the bugs; but Silva still can’t get the result that he wants. At the Fringe team headquarters, Frank assists Fauxlivia and her team on the case. He also lets slip to Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) that he plans to ask Fauxlivia to marry him, which Lincoln quickly spills to her. Later, Frank tells Fauxlivia that Silva claimed years ago that the skelter beetles may have been the key to curing the Avian flu and he helps her identify a new lead. He also asks for her hand in marriage on the spot and she accepts his proposal.
Lincoln and Fauxlivia eventually find Silva’s lab, but she accidentally falls through a floor and knocks herself out while Silva locks Lincoln in the freezer. As Fauxlivia wakes up, Silva gives her a glass of water before seeming to reveal that he infected her. Lincoln breaks out of the freezer and calls for backup, but Fauxlivia tells him to not to shoot him, since they need him for the cure. As the paramedics and Frank speed away with Fauxlivia, they prepare to give her a powerful drug to kill off the bugs, which might also endanger her life. But Silva reveals that he infected himself with the final batch of bugs and wants Lincoln to make sure they spell his name right before dying convinced of his everlasting fame.
Later, Frank visits Fauxlivia in the hospital and he gets her to admit that the baby’s father is someone else… who she happens to be in love with. He rejects her and starts packing his things from their home. But Walternate arrives to reassure her that she will have everything that she needs… as the mother of his grandchild.
All of the "red" or alternate universe "Fringe" episodes this season have been really well crafted stand alone stories that also advance the series arc. And "Immortality" was no exception. I think the alternate universe is inherently more interesting than the standard "Fringe" universe because of all of the differences between them. The skelter beetle infestations and extinction of sheep are unique to that world. The only skelter beetles you’re likely to find in this universe was a song by the famous rock band.
Dr. Silva had one of the more unique motivations that I’ve seen from a villain for a while. He may have begun his research out of a desire to help people, but he became so obsessed with the idea of achieving scientific immortality for his discoveries that he basically committed murder at least twice and felt no remorse for his actions. Nothing mattered to him but getting the credit he thought he deserved. I loved that with his last words, he just wanted to make sure his name appeared correctly in the history books.
As for the twist of the episode, I think we all kind of saw that one coming as soon as Peter started sleeping with Fauxlivia. It was a little more surprising that she sent Frank packing, so to speak. But this episode gave us a more human view of Fauxlivia than we’ve gotten before. When she’s not out to destroy our universe, she’s not that different than the Olivia of our world. And she does seem to be torn between Peter and Frank for most of the episode.
Of course, the revelations about Walternate also deserve some inspection. It’s telling that the same man who had his friend killed and dismembered for aiding Olivia has at least one thing he won’t do: experiment on children. Whereas our Walter doesn’t seem to have had any reservations about doing that at all. It was also telling that Walternate has a much younger lover, despite the fact that his wife is still alive in this world. In many ways, he’s less moral than original model Walter. But he’s not as black and white as a villain as we expected him to be.
The alternate "Fringe" team is also starting to grow on me as viable supporting characters in their own right. Lincoln’s inability to keep a secret was pretty funny as was Charlie’s horror at his bug groupie. I thought I recognized Julie McNiven in that role and she turned out to be the same actress who portrayed Ginn on "Stargate Universe." Hopefully, we’ll see her again on this show.
This season of "Fringe" has been amazingly consistent. If the rest of the year is this good, it could be one of the all time greats.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.