Fringe could use a bit of tightening up. When it’s on fire, it’s really on fire, providing some of the best drama on television. But there are also stretches when it’s eye-rollingly awkward. The show usually hits the right plot points and emotional beats, but all too often, there are scenes that run a bit too long, lines of dialogue that sound stilted, or poorly-explained occurrences. “6:02 AM EST” was an up-and-down episode that included all of those problems. The best parts worked like gangbusters, but the other parts…well, they worked less well.

The Machine has been lurking in the background all season long, and the audience knew that the show would eventually get to the point where Peter would have to touch it. Or get inside it. Or tickle it. Or…you get the picture. And if you didn’t think it was going to happen now, that scene of Peter and Olivia’s early-morning bliss should have clued you in.1 I mean, it’s practically a rule that no one can stay happy for more than five minutes on Fringe.

So, bringing back the Machine was necessary at this stage. Any longer and viewers would have started asking what the hell happened to it. But bringing it back had the unfortunate consequence of making all the Over Here episodes from “6B” to “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” seem kind of pointless. I mean, what was the point of the whole Bellivia arc? Heck, couldn’t we have just gotten here maybe 2 or 3 episodes after “Entrada?”2 It got to the point where during the scene that just wouldn’t end where Peter was about to step into the Machine, I wanted to yell, “Just touch it already!” (Seriously, Astrid. Did you need to say goodbye to him twice?) Unfortunately, the show wasn’t exactly clear about why Peter had to step into the Machine. That lead casing idea that Walter suggested seemed like a really good idea. Why didn’t they try it?3 And when it actually did happen, Peter just went flying off. If dictionaries could include video clips, that would be featured under “anticlimax.”

Olivia’s side of things didn’t fare much better. She spent a lot of this episode separated from the Bishop boys. First she was with Nina, who provided the lamest possible excuse for not telling the FBI about Sam Weiss’s knowledge. So what if Sam threatened to run if Nina spilled the beans? How would Sam know? It was an empty threat. Then, Olivia was on a wild goose chase searching for Sam Weiss, who ended up finding her. How did he know she was at the hospital? That was all a little too sloppy for my comfort.

But man oh man was it exciting. The weird plot lines and overly long scenes were easy to overlook because of all the tension and suspense. Hey, when a show doesn’t make much sense, it should try to keep my eyes glued to screen, and “6:02 AM EST” succeeded wonderfully in that regard. I loved watching Our Fringe Division and Massive Dynamic deal with the impending threat of tears in the fabric of the universe.

There was also a lot of suspense and action in the Over There plot.4 Alt-Olivia decided that she was going to stop Walternate’s plan to destroy Our universe by bringing Peter Over There to deactivate their version of the Machine. She held Alt-Brandon at gunpoint and stole a device that would allow her to cross over. It was a lot of fun to watch all of that unfold, but I had a hard time believing that Alt-Olivia would commit treason in an attempt to save Our world. Has motherhood really softened her up that much? I also cringed a bit during the scene at the beginning of the episode with Walternate and Alt-Brandon. Seriously, people don’t name-drop and quote Oppenheimer when they talk. Someone really needs to edit some of the dialogue on this show so that everyone talks like normal people.

But overall, despite its sloppiness, the excitement and tension made this a pretty darn good episode of Fringe. When people are running around trying to save the universe, I can excuse a few plot holes and awkwardly written scenes. I mean, I’d hate for Fringe to reach Hawaii Five-0 levels of nonsense,5 but at least it won’t be boring.


1 Of course, there was also that brief but hilarious scene where Olivia ran into a naked Walter. Props to John Noble for having the balls to walk around in the buff.

2 I acknowledge that the characters wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind for that to be possible. Just let me be unreasonable, okay?

3 Seriously, Peter. Listen to your dad more often. (Yes, I’m aware that Our Walter is not Peter’s biological father.)

4 Speaking of Over There, because it figured so heavily in this episode, I’m surprised that the combined red/blue opening credits from “Entrada” weren’t used.

5 It’s actually an apt comparison. Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci created both series. And to be honest, I kind of love Hawaii Five-0 and its ridiculousness.

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