The title of this week’s episode of Fringe was quite literal. In the final minutes of the episode, the Bridge was deactivated, severing the link between the universes. Now, the two Fringe teams will be unable to cooperate and communicate, and the Other Side may never continue healing. We’ll take a closer look at this episode and the implications of this development after the jump.
A few weeks ago, Jones’ plan to collapse the universes seemed insanely stupid, but Walter clarified things for us at the start of the episode: Jones is trying to create a third universe, one where he rules over the laws of physics. Fitting for a megalomaniac like him, no? But in order to do that, he would need to make the two universes vibrate at the same frequency, so he recruited 27 Cortexiphan children to help. The Cortexiphan kids could use their unique abilities to form a psychic connection with their doppelgangers on the Other Side. The result: simultaneous worldwide earthquakes.
Imminent dimensional collapse is a great way to insert some tension into an episode of TV, and “Worlds Apart” was no exception. With a tip from Alt-Nick Lane, the Fringe teams were hot on the trail of Our Nick Lane. At this stage, it’s more cutesy than clever that Fringe keeps finding ways to tie everything back to the Cortexiphan kids, but David Call, the actor who plays Nick, has such a good handle on the character that I don’t mind seeing him back on the show, even as a brainwashed version of Nick.
As was to be expected, the plan to capture Jones based on Nick’s information failed, and in fact, he used it as an opportunity to escape. Thus, the Fringe teams were left with no other option: they had to close the Bridge. We’ve seen the Fringe teams building up their cooperative spirit over the course of this season, going from mutual distrust to mutual understanding. At this point, they’ve become used to working together. They’ve even become attached to one another. Put simply, they’ll miss each other. When Our Olivia told Alt-Olivia to “keep looking up” or when Alt-Astrid gave Our Astrid a little wave, they weren’t giving perfunctory goodbyes. Our Olivia has seen the devastation on the Other Side. Alt-Astrid found a true friend in Our Astrid. These goodbyes were full of meaning.
There’s also the flipside of this, which is that being able to Cross Over was a luxury for the Fringe teams. In fact, most regular folk never even knew that the Bridge existed. It’s tempting to dismiss the Fringe teams’ goodbyes as silly, seeing as they had an immense privilege that few others had. But it helps underscore just how deeply personal this was for the two teams, that they shared a unique experience that few others shared. Plus, it’s not as if they were Crossing Over like tourists taking a stroll. They were actually, y’know, trying to catch criminals.
With the two universes separated now, it seems as if Fringe has choked off some narrative possibilities. Maybe this is a risk that won’t pay off, but I’m interested to see where it goes. Obviously, Jones hasn’t been using a Bridge to Cross Over, so this isn’t limiting for him. With the two Fringe teams unable to coordinate, universe-hopping should be an easy way for Jones to elude the authorities. Heck, maybe that was his plan all along. We’ll probably know for sure in a couple of weeks. In any case, “Worlds Apart” was a tense, exciting episode – the kind I’ve been waiting for all season – and it was a great way to kick off the home stretch of the fourth (and not final!) season.