Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It’s possible that, by this point, you’re wondering just who we’re supposed to be rooting for in Fox’s Fringe, and last night’s episode “Enemy of My Enemy” might have just confused matters even more by bringing back a bad guy who really should’ve been dead. Five questions about the episode? That’s just for starters…
What Is David Robert Jones Up To?
So we know that Jones has the potential – or, at least the material – to “blow a hole in the universe” multiple times over, but why would he want to? Given that he can apparently travel between universes at will – and has the ability to deploy shapeshifters throughout at least two universes – why would he want to destroy one (or more)? And what does this have to do with whatever Nina is up to…? “Enemy of My Enemy” gave us lots of clues about what Jones’ agenda was, but nothing even approaching a real answer… Instead, all we got are far more questions (The one that feels like it’s either the key to the whole thing or a massive red herring: Jones has apparently discovered a way to duplicate William Bell’s ability to synthesize the material necessary to make his universe-shattering bomb – Is this an allusion to his working with forces within Massive Dynamic, or are we supposed to read more into Bell’s now-mysterious-again disappearance in this timeline?). Frustrating? Definitely… but kind of compelling, too.
What Is Happening With Olivia?
And while we’re talking about Nina… Whatever she’s up to in regards to Olivia seems to be part of Jones’ plan, if that final scene is anything to go by. Going by clues in previous episodes, Olivia is continuing her cortexephan trials without knowing it, and all under Nina’s manipulation, but to what end? Is Olivia’s latent ability to travel between universes unaided the key to Jones’ entire plan… and if so, does that explain why the Observer told her that she had to die last week? Is killing Olivia, and removing the one person who can naturally travel around the multiverse the only way to keep the multiverse from being destroyed?
Who Are The Good Guys?
If this episode is to be believed – and particularly Peter’s comments towards the end that Walternate wasn’t who he had thought he was – are we supposed to believe that, in this timeline, Walternate isn’t evil, and trying to cause a war between universes? I feel as if the scene where he and his wife were having dinner and we saw his distress at being unable to help Peter return home was definitely there to make us believe that, but does that even make sense…? I mean, unless I’m entirely mistaken, wasn’t this Walternate still responsible for a previous incarnation of shapeshifters and being behind some variation on events that we’ve seen in the last three seasons? Is it just that Peter’s reappearance and Jones’ plan, whatever it is, has pushed a new, less insane, aspect of Walternate’s personality to the fore, or should we be expecting him to turn around and pull some kind of unexpected Lex Luthor-esque double-cross at the end of the season when it seems least likely? I’m not sure I can really buy the idea of a “good” Walternate just yet, sadly. Which reminds me…
Why Is Broyles Working With Jones?
Again, this could be (a) a sign of the alternate timeline, (b) sloppy writing or ( c ) foreshadowing, but the AlternaBroyles was, last season, a truly decent man who sacrificed his life to prevent war between the universes and help Olivia escape, which makes the idea that he’s working with Jones somewhat difficult to swallow unless he knows something about Jones’ motivation that we don’t just yet. Throughout the episode I waited for a reveal that this AlternaBroyles was actually a shapeshifter – it would make sense, after all – but I’m not sure that that’s the case; he seemed too torn over his loyalties for that in many scenes. So… what’s going on here? Walternate is suddenly a good guy and AlternaBroyles is suddenly a villain? This doesn’t seem off to anyone else yet?
Can Peter Go Home Again?
The scene between Walternate and Elizabeth – And, considering it doesn’t really play into any of the questions, I want to just sneak this in here: Orla Brady has been amazing in these episodes, and the scene where she forgave Walter was just amazing – hinted towards something that I’ve been wondering ever since Peter decided that he was in a parallel universe, and not just an altered timeline… What if Peter can’t get home? What if he’s wrong, and it’s not another Earth, but this Earth really is his, in an altered timeline? Walternate’s anguish over not understanding how the machine could send Peter home may be entirely worthwhile, if it turns out that there’s no “home” for him to go back to. And if there isn’t… What will happen to Peter then…?