Episode Title: The Abducted
Air Date: November 18th, 2010
Month’s ago, Olivia Dunham was trapped in the Walternate universe, replaced by her alternate from Fringe Division who crossed over to our world and began doing bad things. In the ensuing weeks, we’ve seen our Olivia go through hell – she’s had another persons memories and personality stamped on top of her own, she’s been tortured, tested, poked and prodded. Eventually, the personality stamp held and she took her place at Fringe Division as an Agent, working cases with her alternate’s friends and partners.
But then, the old Olivia started breaking through and we would see glimpses, usually in the form of a phantom Peter Bishop that only Olivia could see and hear (shades of Quantum Leap…). Last episode, he told her, emphatically, that it was time to leave, to return home – that they would never let her continue on there.
So, Olivia’s alternative universe adventure is nearing its climax as The Abducted begins. Her memory has very nearly returned in full and she knows she has to get back home. Walternate still believes his imprint of that universe’s Olivia is holding but he’s gotten all he needs from her, the secret to how she can move between universes without it harming her. Now that he has that info, he doesn’t intend to ever let her return home.
Warning: Spoilers abound…
In the opening (and creepy) scenes, an old man shaves his head, then consecrates it with prayer and possibly holy water, then takes up a metal mask. Cut to a boys bedroom. He stares at the closet, frightened. He wakes his mom who inspects the closet and the space under his bed, declaring both to be ‘monster free’.
After she leaves, the man in the metal mask appears from behind the door, snatching the boy from his bed and leaping from the window.
Olivia knows that her time is running out. She wants to go home, but in order to do that, she needs to break into the D.O.D. research facility located under the Statue of Liberty (gold and shiny in this universe). The only person she trusts to help her with this is the taxi driver, Henry, who helped her when she first broke out all those months ago. She finds him and, over a cup of coffee, asks for his help.
Due to the kidnapping of Walternate’s Peter so very long ago, the Fringe Division in the alternate reality is always called in whenever there is a child abduction. They arrive and begin gathering evidence, including a strange residue on the finger prints found at the scene. The residue turns out to be sucrose, sugar, secreted through the skin of the suspect.
A serial kidnapper named ‘The Candyman’ has returned. If they can’t find him and find the boy, his ‘youth’ will be stolen from him and he’ll be returned a broken, weak child.
The tension has been building this season as Alternate-Olivia causes mischief in our world while Walternate tortures and messes with our own Olivia in the other world. If you’d told me that I would be genuinely enjoying, and looking forward to, a back and forth, this world that world storyline six or eight months ago, I would’ve pointed you to the craptastic last season of Lost and laughed.
But the writers for Fringe are really pulling off a compelling storyline. I find myself caring what happens to this alternate Fringe Division, to the agents there. This episode illustrates that really well given that Alternate Broyles has a personal investment in catching the Candyman – his own son was one of the kidnappers victims. When Olivia asks to interview him, Broyles responds with a tight lipped, teeth clenched, “My son probably won’t live to see his eighteenth birthday.” He explains that his son’s health has been in steady decline since the kidnapping and you feel for him. It’s a poignant moment.
Just as I find myself caring for these alternate characters, they, in turn, start to care for Olivia despite odd things she says or does (left over remnants at first, unintentional slips as time goes on). As far as I know, only Broyles and Walternate are aware of her true nature – the rest of the team simply thinks it’s their ‘Liv’. Broyles didn’t want her on his team at first, but when she saves a kidnapped child, and then saves his own son, he warms to her.
When Olivia accidentally says she’s with the FBI, an organization that hasn’t existed in this universe for fifty years or so, Broyles overhears it. Her goose is cooked, right?
“What happens now?” she asked.
“I’m going home,” he replies. Giving her the opportunity to run, which she does.
Olivia makes it to the island, hops in the tank and crosses over, but it doesn’t stick. I don’t know why – I mean, she ‘stuck’ crossing over with Peter and Walter last season – why are these recent trips so temporary? Anyway, she ends up in the Liberty Island gift shop, again. No sooner does she appear than things start going wonky and she knows she’s being pulled back. She tells a cleaning lady to call Peter, then vanishes.
This leads up to the climax of the show, the only moment we are in ‘our’ universe. Peter and Alternate Olivia are in bed watching Casablanca. They turn the lights out to go to sleep. His phone rings, a strange woman on the other end.
“I have a message from Olivia. She says she’s trapped on the other side…”
DUN DUN DUN!
…and we have to wait to find out what happens next.
Sigh. Ah, well.
Article first published as Fringe Recap – “The Abducted” on Technorati.