Episode Title: "One Night in October"
Writers: Alison Schapker & Monica Owusu-Breen
Director: Joe Chappelle
Previously on "Fringe":
One week after Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) created the bridge between worlds that allowed a shallow chance of peace, both versions of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) sniped at each other while exchanging classified documents from their respective Fringe missions. Elsewhere, the Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) of our world saw the death of his FBI partner, Robert Danzig (Joe Flanigan) at the hands of a shapeshifter. After being interviewed by Olivia and shut out of any chance to avenge his partner's murder, Lincoln tracked down Olivia to the laboratory of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and Lincoln essentially blackmailed Olivia into letting him help find the killer.
Lincoln's insights proved to be very useful and Olivia gradually gave him more information and clearance before their final confrontation with multiple shapeshifters. Unknown to the Fringe team, one of the shapeshifters survived and escaped. To Lincoln's amazement, Olivia took him with her to the bridge and where she met her counterpart (here after referred to as Fauxlivia). Olivia gave a piece of tech recovered from the shapeshifters to Fauxlivia, who promised to look into it. Back at Walter's lab, the older man was frightened by a recurring apparition of Peter in reflective surfaces. However, Walter no longer remembered that Peter was his son…
John McClennan (John Pyper-Ferguson) has a man hooked up to a horrific device connected to the back of his head as John coaches the man to talk about his childhood memories. John pumps a coolant into the man's brain while he speaks, causing his death. At Harvard, Lincoln listens to Walter rant against his double (Walternate) and the alternate universe while Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) tries to remind Walter that the Fringe teams of both worlds are now attempting to work together. Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick) soon summons Olivia and relays the report about John's killing spree. When she asks why she hasn't heard about his double-digit victims in the news, Broyles tells her that John is a killer in the alternate universe.
In our world, John is a forensics psychology professor who specializes in serial killers. The alternate Fringe team has requested his expertise to help track his alternate self down. Olivia is immediately suspicious of the alternate team's intentions, but Broyles orders her to comply. She approaches the John of our world in his office and he is eager for his first real chance to assist the FBI. John doesn't even flinch when he is told that he can't know where he is going and that he must be drugged to get there without his knowledge. In the alternate universe, Fauxlivia dyes her hair blond so she can pass as Olivia.
Olivia soon arrives with the unconscious John and she trades places with Fauxlivia, who has John awakened before escorting him around the house of the alternate John. Our John notices disturbing similarities between himself and the killer, while delivering an accurate assessment of his counterpart's mindset. But when he spots a picture of his father on a wall of photos, John demands to know what is going on. Just after he storms out of the house, Olivia and Lincoln Lee get out of the surveillance van to stop him, but John soon realizes that he has no idea where he is.
Inside, Olivia explains the alternate universe to John and she tells him what his counterpart has been up to. Fauxlivia listens with interest as Olivia reveals that she suffered an abusive childhood like John in order to get him to open up. Elsewhere, the alternate John kidnaps a woman named Nooren (Enid-Raye Adams) from a gas station as his latest victim. Back at the house, John reveals that he had the same dark cravings to kill and that his dad tried to beat it out of him with cruelty. Only a woman named Margery reached out to John in kindness and she helped him overcome his urges. Outside, Lincoln and the two Olivias learn that the alternate John has taken another victim.
Unfortunately, our John has escaped the house and his escort, leaving two Johns on the run. At the alternate Fringe headquarters, the alternate Broyles is alive (?!) and pissed. KickAstrid charts John's possible movements, but Olivia has a better idea. John's father was a farmer and was pictured with a tractor. She suggests that they run the registration of the tractor, they may find the killer John. However, our John beats them to his alternate self just as he was about to plug Nooren into his machine. The alternate John doesn't know what to make of our John, who attempts to make him believe that they are the same person.
Our John shares the story of how his father first found his collection of dead things, but in our world John ran away until he met Margery. The alternate John is fascinated to learn that Margery helped our John suppress his urges. In fact, he's so impressed that he knocks out our John and hooks him up to the machine instead of Nooren. On the way to farm to confront the alternate John, Fauxlivia asks if Olivia was lying about her abusive childhood. However, Olivia says that it wasn't a lie and she casually admits killing her stepfather over the abuse. In the hideout, the alternate John makes John recite his memories of Margery, including her greatest lesson for him: "even when it's the darkest, someone can step into the light."
At the farm, Olivia and the alternate Fringe team come up empty, but she and Lincoln find a hidden basement underneath where a house used to be. They find our John unconscious and the alternate John remorseful for his actions. He explains that he took our John's memories of Margery and now he can't live with what he's done to so many people. The alternate John commits suicide in front of her. Sometime later, Olivia has returned John to our universe and she tells Broyles that his memories of Margery may have been the only thing keeping him from becoming a killer himself.
When Olivia speaks to John, he has no memory of her, Margery or of his time in the alternate universe. He is only told that he helped save a woman's life while assisting the FBI. Before Olivia leaves, John repeats Margery's line about entering the light. Outside, Olivia wonders how he can remember that if he can't remember Margery. Broyles suggests that some people leave an indelible mark on the soul, as an Observer watches them in the background. Back at the lab, Walter is haunted by Peter's voice asking him for help. But Walter believes that he is going insane and he turns up the music to drown out Peter's voice.
I've been watching TV most of my life and I've had to deal with the disappointment of losing a lot of great shows. In just the last year, we've seen several fantastic TV series get pulled off the air well before their time. But if that happens to "Fringe" this season… if Fox cancels this show while it's hitting its creative peak, then I don't even know how to react to that.
If you've been paying attention to the ratings for "Fringe," then you know that this episode was the lowest rated in the history of the series. Fox has been relatively patient with this show (despite dumping it on Fridays), but let's face the truth. If more people don't watch "Fringe" then it's not going to get another season. If you want to prevent that, you should start telling your friends how great "Fringe" is and keep getting the word out there. It's not too late to make sure that "Fringe" survives another year or more.
As for this week's episode, it was another amazingly well crafted story that gave us an intriguing look at the new status quo. Having Olivia team up with the alternate Fringe team really made the entire Fringe dynamic seem fresh and exciting. And it's the small touches that are the most rewarding. Note that Olivia only greets the alternate Lincoln with any warmth, but she neglects to mention that his counterpart is now on her team. Fauxlivia even seems to warm up to Olivia by inviting her to ride along to the raid on the farm. It's obvious that Fauxlivia did that to learn if the story Olivia told John was true. And from Fauxlivia's responses, we can infer that she didn't go through the same ordeal of child abuse.
In case you were wondering how Peter's absence changed that bit of history for Olivia, it was shown last year that Peter and Olivia had met as children and that Walter had ultimately stood up to her stepfather to make him leave her alone. Without Peter there to help facilitate that, Olivia must have eventually taken matters into her own hands. It certainly explains why she's a lot colder than she was when Peter was around.
The writers seemed to enjoy tossing in a few meta comments about Peter, through Astrid's line about Olivia's type not existing and Broyles' theory about indelible marks on souls. It also makes it seem like Peter's return to reality may be close, if Peter is now able to be heard by Walter.
Special recognition has to go to John Pyper-Ferguson for a terrific performance as John and his killer alternate. For a one-off guest appearance, it's quite a feat to make the John of our world so compelling and sympathetic even after we met his killer double. The moments in the house where the truth slowly dawned on John had some great tension and his reaction to the other universe felt very believable. The killer John accepted his double a little too easily, but it did give us some genuine moments of jeopardy when our John was subjected to his machine.
"One Night in October" also proved that even the non-story arc episodes of "Fringe" can be incredibly engaging. I just wish more people were tuning in so they could appreciate one of the best shows on television.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.