When I wrote last week that Fringe was basically a guilty pleasure now, I wasn’t being hyperbolic. I really meant it. The show is doing so much wrong right now that the fact that I’m still enjoying it a lot is somewhat of a miracle. In fact, though I can’t identify much that was good about “Everything In Its Right Place,” I had fun watching it.
Last week, I complained that Our Lincoln was a cipher and that his lack of personality made him difficult to care about. Fringe’s producers must have gotten inside my brain, because this week featured an episode that was all about Lincoln Tyrone Lee and his quest to avenge his dead partner, Robert Danzig. (How much do you want to bet that Danzig is behind it all? Muah-ha-ha!) That brought Our Lincoln over to the Other Side, where he was surprisingly well-received considering what he did the last time he was Over There. But no matter; I was itching to see what was going on in the alternate universe so much that I didn’t stop to care about continuity. Of course, this was an opportunity to bring the two Lincolns face to face and have them compare personal histories. Illustrating their contrasting personalities finally gave some insight into Our Lincoln’s character. Lincoln 2 is brash; Lincoln 1 is meek. Lincoln 2 is overconfident; Lincoln 1 is humble. Got it. Why Fringe waited so long to do this, I’ll never know, but better late than never, I guess. Too bad the show undid a lot of characterization when Our Lincoln roughed up the shapeshifter towards the end of the episode. So I guess he’s brash and aggressive too? *sigh*
That’s one of the biggest problems facing Fringe now: consistency. That Our Lincoln was a welcome presence in the Other Side’s Fringe division is the least such problem. We were practically told at the end of last season that both Sides had a lot of work to do in repairing the universes, but in this episode we found out that the universes have began repairing themselves. Alt-Olivia said it was because of the Bridge. (Well, at least it’s not the magic of love, right?) In the same vein, Our Lincoln’s crush on Our Olivia and his quest to avenge Danzig were ignored for so much of this season, and suddenly, they’ve become his main motivators. Where did this stuff come from? It’s all so abrupt, as if it were pulled out of thin air. (Also jarringly abrupt: Alt-Lincoln’s death. No, we didn’t need an extended death sequence. But killing off a major character in Off-Screensville seems kind of unceremonious, no?)
And since I’m complaining, I might as well pile on my usual gripes: we have no clue what Jones is doing, and we have no idea what Alt-Broyles’ or Alt-Nina’s motivations might be for helping him. But I’m beginning to doubt that we’ll ever get any explanation on that front.
So why am I still enjoying the show? I don’t know for sure. I think it has something to do with the fact that I feel a sort of attachment to the world that Fringe has created, and I like the themes and concepts that it explores, even as it does so in an increasingly ham-fisted way. (The two Lincolns’ conversation over their radios was cringeworthy.) The title of this episode seems to indicate that Our Lincoln’s rightful place is helping out on the Other Side. With the lab on Our Side returning to its pre-season-4 status quo, there’s no place for Lincoln Over Here. Thus, he feels adrift, without an anchor. So much of Fringe has been about people finding home. Peter, Our Walter, and Our Olivia found it in each other. Our Astrid found it with her father. Heck, even Alt-Charlie found it with Bug Girl. Perhaps, Lincoln’s home is Over There, bringing the perspective of an agent in Our universe to Fringe Division’s investigations on the Other Side.
This is the kind of thematic resonance that Fringe continues to pull off so well, at least in the abstract. (In execution – like I said, at times, cringeworthy.) And that thematic resonance is one of the main reasons I continue to enjoy this show. The other? Hidden lairs full of goopy, disgusting, shapeshifted corpses, obviously.