If you’re a fan of seeing Anna Torv get injected with stuff, this week’s Fringe should’ve been right up your alley. In fact, if you’re a fan of Ms. Torv in general, you had to be happy with “Entrada,” which featured ample helpings of Ourlivia and Fauxlivia, each operating on both sides of the dual-universe divide. (Even the opening credits this week were both red and blue.) Torv got to play playful, hurt, scared, ruthless, foxy, vulnerable, and bad-ass all over the space of about 45 minutes. It was a tour-de-force for an actress who’d been widely derided as Fringe’s weak link early in Season One—including by yours truly.
But hey, I’m often wrong. Like, remember last week, when I wrote about how we could look forward to Fringe playing around with the tension of Peter knowing Fauxlivia’s secret on Earth-1 while Broyles worked behind the scenes on Earth-2 to help Ourlivia? Well, I was right about that, but only sort of. I had expected this tension to play out over the course of several episodes. Instead, Broyles helped Ourlivia escape in this episode—and paid a price for it—while Peter and Fauxlivia had their stand-off in the first five minutes, before those bi-colored credits even rolled.
I’d be concerned about Fringe burning through potential stories so quickly if “Entrada” weren’t so gripping. That opening “does he know?”/“does she know?” dance between Peter and Fauxlivia is a masterfully written and staged piece of suspense, with Peter trying to find a way to check on his lover/interloper without her realizing he’s doing it. After Peter gets the phone call from the New York gift-shop janitor, warning him that the Olivia sleeping next to him is not his Olivia, he stares into space for several hours, then gets up and sneaks into the other room to take a peek at Fauxlivia’s laptop. But he accidentally wakes her up, and then lies that he’s been corresponding with a friend in Greece. He throws a Greek phrase at her—the same one that Ourlivia threw at him when she emerged from her coma early in Season Two—and his face falls a little when she doesn’t recognize it. Peter heads into the kitchen and when he comes back out, Fauxlivia’s pointing a gun at him, saying, “I failed the test, didn’t I?” with a rueful smile. Then she ties him to a chair, injects him with a red fluid that paralyzes him for a few hours, grabs a laptop and leaves, but not before Peter warns her, “If I find out that you did anything to Olivia, then I’m gonna kill you.”
That’s not all she wrote for Peter and Fauxlivia though, because she takes off with the computer that Peter wasn’t using, which is his computer. So while Fauxlivia hustles off to the vintage typewriter shop to send a “COVER BLOWN EXTRACTION NEEDED” message to the other side, our Fringe team rushes to analyze whatever data they can extract from her laptop. The answer? Not much, though Astrid proves to be a big help when she notes that the pastries Fauxlivia always brought to the lab are from a Bronx bakery. The team canvasses the neighborhood, and finds the typewriter shop, where he sees his computer. He and Walter check out the typewriter Fauxlivia used to communicate and on the ribbon, they see her destination: Penn Station in Newark.
Meanwhile, on Earth-2—a phrase I’ll never get tired of typing, by the way—Colonel Broyles is wrestling with what to do about Ourlivia. Walternate, perhaps sensing Broyles’ tentativeness, reminds him of their “goals,” which is reinforced later when Broyles is having a drink in a bar and he sees footage on TV of one of the first major Fringe Events. (The bartender then piles on by buying Broyles’ beer, saying, “Times are tough. Nice to know we have heroes.”) But the colonel, inspired by the pleas of Ourlivia, can’t help but think that there’s bound to be another solution to E2’s troubles than just destroying billions of E1-ers, and his wife agrees. Plus, he owes Ourlivia for saving his son’s life, and he can’t let Walternate and Brandon cut out her brain—as is their plan—before sending her back across.
And so we get dueling races against time—on each Earth. On Earth-2, Broyles frees Ourlivia from the bizarre, flippable operating table where Brandon’s preparing to scoop out her grey matter. He stabs her in the heart with a needle full of adrenaline, Pulp Fiction/American Boy-style (while she mutters “ohpleasedontgiveme… [GASP]!”) and then they head down to Walternate’s lab, where they find an empty sensory deprivation tank. So she asks Broyles to take her to Boston, where she’s sure she’ll find another tank in Walternate’s old lab.
On Earth-1, Fauxlivia is rendezvousing with a shape-shifter, who commiserates with her over the good coffee she’s going to miss when she gets back home. (“I thought your kind didn’t care,” Fauxlivia says about her contact’s sudden bout of sentimentality.) She gets injected in her hands and spine, but then Peter and company storm into Penn Station, and quickly suss out that the hostage Fauxlivia is holding is the shape-shifter, posing as a middle-aged mother. (Peter, chillingly, yells out, “What’s your daughter’s name?” and then plugs the shape-shifter in its mercury-filled head when he gets no answer.)
After several consecutive Fringes in a more thoughtful and/or mythological mode, “Entrada” is pretty much all action—and well-handled, I thought. The pace crackles, and a lot happens, but the emotions underlying all the chasing and dodging are fully in play, as evidenced by the final moments between Peter and Fauxlivia. As she’s led away in shackles, they stare at each other, both awkwardly and semi-longingly (mirroring last week's discussion of the ending of Casablanca). She tries to say the right words—“This started out as an assignment …”—but he’s not having it. Still, he’s touched to see that in her bag of personal effects, she packed a strip of photobooth pictures of him and Ourlivia together.
In the end, Ourlivia crosses over into Walter’s Boston tank, where she’s discovered by Astrid. And Fauxlivia, using the resonating chimes in her hands and spine, vibrates her way back to Earth-2, swapping places with Colonel Broyles, who comes over dead and mutilated.
So … where do we go from here? Will Fringe continue to jump between Earth-1 and Earth-2 Fringe cases, and will those cases be related to the Crisis On Two Earths? Or will we pick up from the end of this episode—which has the clerk at typewriter shop passing along a piece of Walternate’s doomsday machine in exchange for new legs—and have stories that deal directly with the two sides at odds?
My prediction: On Earth-2, Fauxlivia will be promoted to the job formerly held by Colonel Broyles, and in that position, she’ll investigate what Walternate’s really up to, with some healthy skepticism about how evil Earth-1 really is. And on Earth-1, our Fringe team will consider strategies by investigating The First People and The Vacuum.
That’s my guess, anyway. Lately, though, this show’s been defying my predictions.
- Nice shot of Fauxlivia looking at herself in the mirror as she types her extraction message. Also, nice visual storytelling in that opening scene, first revealing Fauxlivia’s gun on the coffee table and then revealing it missing just before she pulls it on Peter.
- In the ‘70s, Walter wandered into the wrong house and stayed for two weeks.
- Walter says of Peter’s relationship with Fauxlivia that he “fell right into her vagenda.”
- I don’t know what song was used in the final cut, but on my online screener, Col. Broyles was listening to Joe Jackson’s “Breaking Us In Two” in the bar. If so, that’s a thematically appropriate song, yes?