Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Fringe fans are understandably nervous about the show’s impending move to Friday nights following next week’s fall finale, but if there’s one thing they don’t have to worry about, it’s declining quality. Just as “The Abducted” raised the bar for an already wonderful season of Fringe, this week’s installment, titled “Entrada,” cleared the bar and then some — but it didn’t come without a cost, as poor alternate Broyles learned all too well.
“Entrada” opens where “The Abducted” began, focusing on Peter Bishop immediately after receiving the call that the real Olivia Dunham is still trapped in the other universe. Peter decides to dig a little deeper, not quite ready to take a stranger’s word that the Olivia he’s sleeping next to is actually an enemy agent — understandable after staring into her content, sleepy face — but when she fails to remember a Greek phrase that Olivia uttered to him at the beginning of season two meaning “be a better man than your father,” Peter can no longer avoid the truth. Realizing her cover has been blown, Bolivia coolly forces Peter to inject himself with a carefully measured dose of a paralyzing agent. Before he can wake up, she’s gone.
With Bolivia out in the open, it’s up to the rest of the Fringe team to track her down while trying to overcome their own feelings of guilt over not discovering the fake Olivia’s identity sooner. They’re eventually led to the typewriter store in the Bronx where shape-shifters and other soldiers from Over There are able to communicate with the alternate dimension, and from there, Peter’s able to pinpoint Bolivia’s next location: Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, but she won’t need an express train to get her back to her original dimension.
Over There, meanwhile, our Olivia is scheduled to have her brain and vital organs removed for scientific purposes, with her lifeless body shipped back to our world afterwards as a means of getting the equally sized and shaped Bolivia back home. But Olivia isn’t one to go out without a fight, and to that end, she turns to Colonel Phillip Broyles, the same man whose son she saved just days earlier. Broyles, wracked with guilt over what’s about to happen to a woman he believes to be good and true, visits Olivia to find some inner peace. She gives him none; instead, she makes a passionate plea for her life and his help.
“Despite what you think, my universe is not at war with yours,” she says in one of the most heartfelt speeches Anna Torv has ever delivered on Fringe. “This all began because a man came over here to save a boy, and 25 years later, I came back to save that same boy. But if you let me die, then we will strike back and we will fight — but if you let me go, both universes can survive. There must be another way, and I promise you I will find it.”
Broyles isn’t won over immediately, but later, when Olivia is on the operating table, he arrives just in the nick of time to kill alternate Brandon and rescue Olivia from the surgery from Hell. When their attempt to return Olivia to her home world by way of Walternate’s lab ends in failure, Broyles reluctantly brings Olivia to the quarantined lab at Harvard. There, Agent Dunham is able to access equipment to deliver her back to her original reality, but not before a slew of enemy agents begin invading the lab. With their number seemingly up, Broyles selflessly offers to hold down the fort while she slips through realities.
“Look, I’ve seen war,” he reasons with her. “But if what you’re saying is true — in the end, I have to believe in hope. Please, make this worth it.”
Whether Broyles’ gamble pays off or not is a matter for another episode, but no matter the outcome, he won’t be around to see it. Mere moments after Peter, Walter and our Broyles apprehend Bolivia during a standoff at Penn Station, the other side successfully teleports evil Agent Dunham back Over There; in her place comes the corpse of Colonel Broyles, minus an arm and a leg, the price one pays for treason in the alternate universe. The Broyles we’ve known for three seasons is stunned at the sight of his own lifeless body, and one can only wonder how this trauma will push him forward in the coming episodes.
By the end of “Entrada,” both Olivia Dunhams are back in their rightful places, though surely nothing can ever be the same for either woman. For Bolivia, she fell in love with the enemy before returning to home soil; for Olivia, the man she’s fallen in love with fell in love with her, only a different, considerably more malicious version of her. Peter can scarcely look Olivia in the eye without seeing his own inability to spot a spy, a weight that’s sure to hang heavily over both characters as season three progresses.
Next week brings the fall finale for season three of Fringe, but with both Olivias back where they belong, it’s hard to say exactly where the next episode will take us — but if it’s anywhere near the quality level of “Entrada,” then Fringe fans are in for an awesome ride.
Some leftover notes:
– It’s been a brilliant string of episodes for Lance Reddick as alternate Broyles, and with the character gone, here’s hoping that producers keep the spotlight on the only version of the guy still alive. Here’s an early prediction: our Broyles ends up meeting his family from the alternate universe, providing them with some closure on their deceased husband/father while gaining some closure for himself as well.
– Even though Olivia is back at home, I’m hoping we’ll still see Bolivia and the alternate universe on a somewhat frequent basis. It’s been nice getting to go Over There every other week, and I’ll never complain about Kirk Acevedo getting more screen time.
– Walter’s invention of the word “vigenda” needs to enter the public vernacular immediately.
Fringe airs its fall finale next Thursday (December 9) at 9/8 PM central on Fox.