Fringe’s writing staff knew that an entire season of Olivia being stranded in the alternate universe would be unsustainable. Wisely, they decided to put an end to that story arc in “Entrada,” a somewhat shaky but still very enjoyable episode. More details after the jump.

“Entrada” had to accomplish a number of plot milestones. 1) Peter had to find out about Fauxlivia’s deception. 2) We had to find out more about Fauxlivia’s evil plan. 3) The two Olivias had to return to their respective universes.

Fauxlivia’s deception has been a difficulty with this season. Street-smart Peter, normally clever and perceptive, was duped by an impostor, despite all the weird inconsistencies that he should have noticed. (I’ll have more to say about that, particularly Peacoat!Peter, in the midseason report card.) But this episode finally gave us Peter unleashed, something that’s been lacking so far this season. I’m normally not a huge fan of Joshua Jackson – I find him a bit too stiff – but he delivered a great performance here, easily his best of the series (even better than “Northwest Passage”). Some have complained that Peter injecting himself with the paralytic was a plot hole, seeing as Peter knew that Walternate didn’t want him dead, but Fauxlivia could have easily shot Peter non-lethally in the leg or arm, so it was better for him to weather the effects of the drug than to get shot.

“Entrada” gave us some nice bits of mythology. It didn’t explain what exactly the machine was or what Walternate planned to do with it, but at least we know for sure that Fauxlivia was trying to collect all the pieces of the machine on this side. However, the episode also left us with a pretty glaring plot hole. I had a hard time believing that the FBI wouldn’t detain or at least question the proprietor of the typewriter store, so to see him meeting with the doctor at the end of the episode was a little silly. Nonetheless, I’m intrigued to find out what this polio-curing fellow is going to do with the machine.

The Olivia switching storyline was quite exciting, but it was built on shaky foundations. The one thing that just didn’t work at all in this episode was Alt-Broyles’ sacrifice. I get that he was grateful that Olivia caught his son’s abductor, but other than that, he had no good reason to believe a single thing Olivia said. Agreeing to help Olivia, especially when coupled with the clunky scene with his wife in Central Park, was too extreme and very cliché. The problem was the entire storyline hinged on Alt-Broyles’ change in loyalties, so because I didn’t buy into it, seeing his mutilated corpse had very little emotional impact for me.

I’ve probably criticized this episode more than is warranted, and I should emphasize that despite its flaws, it was very exciting. A slightly shaky episode of Fringe is still one hell of a good hour of television.* Plus, it’s impossible to hate an episode that had Walter cutely trying to cover for his son’s affair with Fauxlivia and then ranting about “temptresses” and “vagendas.”** It’s probable that the show will be returning to some sort of status quo in the coming weeks, but I hope that we haven’t left the alternate universe behind.

 

* It feels nice to be able to write that. It’s not something that could be said of the first two seasons.

** That line of dialogue was spoiled for me before the episode aired. I will forever curse the person who spoiled it for me.

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