Episode Title: "Bloodline"
Writers: Alison Schapker & Monica Owusu-Breen
Director: Dennis Smith
Previously on "Fringe":
While on a mission to save Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in an alternate universe, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) was kidnapped under orders from the counterpart of Dr. Walter Bishop aka "Walternate" (John Noble) and replaced by her own double, hereafter referred to as "Fauxlivia." Fauxlivia infiltrated our universe and pursued a romantic relationship with Peter as part of her cover. She was eventually exposed and forced to flee, but not before conceiving a child with Peter as well.
In the alternate universe, the real Olivia was brainwashed into believing that she was Fauxlivia and she joined the alternate Fringe team of Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) and Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo), both of whom had no idea who she really was. Eventually, Olivia regained her memories and enlisted the aid of a cab driver named Henry Higgins (Andre Royo) and the alternate Colonel Broyles (Lance Reddick). Broyles helped Olivia return to our universe, but at the cost of his own life when Walternate discovered his betrayal.
Fauxlivia waits at a doctor’s appointment with her mother, Marilyn Dunham (Amy Madigan). The younger woman is being tested for viral propagated eclampsia (or VPE), the condition that killed Fauxlivia’s sister when she was pregnant. Fauxlivia is fully aware that she may be a carrier and that the virus will likely kill her and the child if she allows the pregnancy to go forward. Her mother and friends believe that the father is someone she met in a bar rather than the truth. Once home, Fauxlivia phones Lincoln and mentions feeling like she’s being watched. When she hangs up, two masked men render her unconscious.
Lincoln sends a security team to watch over Fauxlivia, but they discover her absence upon arrival. At the department of defense, Walternate’s subordinate Brandon (Ryan McDonald) once again argues in favor of experimenting with children, which Walternate rejects out of hand. Lincoln then alerts Walternate that Fauxlivia was taken, but her transmitter is removed during the pursuit by the Fringe team. Shortly thereafter, a masked medical team straps Fauxlivia into a bed and examines her pregnancy with a high tech device. Back at Fringe HQ, the team runs through leads and discovers that Henry Higgins’ cab has driven by Fauxlivia’s apartment too many times to have been by chance.
Charlie and Lincoln confront the startled Henry, who blurts out his entire past with the real Olivia and his role in helping her escape. Stunned, they arrest him but realize that his story must be true. At home, Marilyn gets the call from Fauxlivia’s doctor confirming that she is a VPE carrier. When the Fringe team speaks to her, she passes on the news that Fauxlivia can’t have that baby without dying herself. Fed up, Lincoln confronts Walternate about what’s happening and he admits that the real Olivia was placed on his team while Fauxlivia went to our world and became pregnant by Peter.
Walternate pledges whatever resources they need to find Fauxlivia. Elsewhere, Fauxlivia’s first attempt to escape is foiled when her pregnancy is wildly accelerated, causing her great pain. Once fully pregnant, Fauxlivia tries to convince one of the nurses to help her escape, but she is coldly rebuffed. Finally, she breaks free and escapes into Chinatown, placing a call into Fringe division. Just as Lincoln is letting Henry go, he takes the call. Henry offers to get him there quickly and they race out together. In front of a store, Fauxlivia begins to go into labor as a crowd looks on.
Henry and Lincoln arrive in time for the rest of the labor. As Fauxlivia seemingly lies dying in his arms, Lincoln professes his love for her while Henry safely delivers the baby. Surprisingly, both mother and child survive the ordeal. Later, Walternate congratulates Lincoln and Charlie on a job well done. But the two men are now distrustful of Walternate. They also note that Broyles disappeared around the time that Fauxlivia came back. Brandon receives a blood sample from one of the disguised kidnappers and takes it to the man behind the incident: Walternate himself. With the results in hand, Walternate smiles like a crocodile at his new grandson.
The recent fourth season pickup of "Fringe" was earned by episodes like this. Not only was this another solid standalone story that advanced the plot, it essentially made protagonists out of the entire alternate Fringe team, except for Walternate.
Seth Gabel has made a major impact on the show this year as Lincoln Lee in the alternate universe, before making his regular universe debut last week. And in this episode, Lincoln finally stepped up to main character status both through his pursuit of Fauxlivia and his willingness to question and challenge Walternate. Lincoln and the alternate Charlie have been a good team from the start, but their shared purpose at the end makes them even more compelling. In theory, their origins in the alternate universe make them antagonists towards the characters we know and love. But here, Lincoln and Charlie are heroes in their own right.
The scene in which Lincoln declared his love for Fauxlivia during her near death experience was one of the more moving sequences on the show to date. Lincoln clearly had a thing for her prior to this, but Gabel was very convincing in making Lincoln’s genuine emotions shine through. It was also terrific to see Henry the cab driver back in an unexpected way. I honestly never thought that we’d see him again and I appreciate that he wasn’t brought back just to be killed off for helping the real Olivia. In fact, Henry is in so deep now that it seems more likely than ever that he’ll be back at some point. We haven’t even met his regular universe counterpart yet!
Although, knowing "Fringe," I doubt that regular universe Henry is a cab driver. My guess is that he’ll be a scientist.
As for Walternate, John Noble is always great the role. I was just starting to accept Walternate as an alternate protagonist as well, but it was clear early on that he was behind the kidnapping of Fauxlivia. There simply wasn’t anyone else in a position of power who knew what he did about the baby’s origins. And it did seem strange that the episode never attempted to hide that fact. I’ve criticized other sci-fi shows like "The Event" for not having compelling or strong villains. But Walternate is the gold standard right now. He’s the villain that you know you should hate… but he’s so entertaining to watch that you don’t care that he’s plotting the destruction of our universe.
Even if you’re not caught up on "Fringe," you should still make an effort to catch up to this show. It is consistently fantastic and one of the best series on TV, by far.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.