Now that Fringe is miraculously renewed for a fourth phenomenal season, the show is back to blowing our minds. I counted four clever misdirections in last night's episode.
Actually, "Bloodline" could have felt ridiculously contrived — but unlike last week's episode, Anna Torv totally sold this one, and once again it's harder to know where our sympathies should lie. Spoilers ahead...
So we're dealing with the issue of Fauxlivia's baby already. And last night's episode managed to fake out the viewer a few times as to where exactly it was going:
1) Fauxlivia's pregnancy is going to go horribly wrong due to something called Viral Propagated Eclampsia. Which, apparently, is a made-up disease that is both familial and viral. Because Fauxlivia's sister died in childbirth from the condition, she has an 80 percent chance of being a carrier too. The early scenes of the episode, where Fauxlivia talks to her doctor and her mom, are some of the best acting Anna Torv has ever done. Like when her mom says that Fauxlivia would make a great mother some day, and Fauxlivia says "Mom," with a smile that just falls apart after a second. So you sort of expect that we're going to be dealing Fauxlivia's choice of whether to keep the baby in spite of the health risks. But no, because
2) Someone has kidnapped Fauxlivia. And whoever it is, they're super well organized and know about the secret GPS trackers installed in all Fringe Division agents. And it's important enough that we see an Observer watching Fauxlivia's building when it goes down. And the perps are experimenting on Fauxlivia's baby! The scenes of Fauxlivia drugged and strapped to a table while the medical bastards poke her and inject her with stuff are pure medical horror. The weird lights trained on her stomach and the loud churning of the fetal heartbeat... It sets up the expectation that we're going to see them trying to do something monstrous and possibly deadly to the unborn baby. Are they trying to harvest something?
3) And then you start to think that the baby isn't a normal baby any more, what with all of the weird shapes bulging out of Fauxlivia's stomach. While she's trying to escape from her medical horror show, using all of the raw cunning and resourcefulness at her disposal, her stomach is looking very facehugger-y. And meanwhile, the nasty doctor keeps pushing the drugs and crap, even though the nurse keeps warning that they're going Too Far. The body horror gets more and more extreme, while the facility they're in looks weirder and more repulsive, with the flickring lights and tents and weird posters for Typhoid shots. And the doctor talking about her ligaments becoming supple and using a "joint expander" on her as much as her bones can stand. Are they trying to make her have some kind of mutant Cthulhu baby?
4) And then you sort of think Fauxlivia's going to die. Which would make things a bit tidier, and get rid of the whole "Peter has to choose between the two Olivias" situation. Fauxlivia escapes from the Evil Medical Warehouse and is stumbling around Chinatown where people are randomly wearing nightmarish masks and there are carcasses and red lanterns everywhere, and it all looks deathly and weird. And Fauxlivia's suddenly like twelve months pregnant, and talking about how they accelerated her pregnancy, and Charlie warns that she won't make it through delivery. And Liv makes Lincoln promise to save the baby, and then it's born, and Fauxlivia's laying completely still and doesn't seem to be breathing.
But of course, then it turns out that Fauxlivia survived – and we realize the truth, which is that this was all Walternate's game. Because Walternate knew, somehow, about Fauxlivia's VPE and he was determined to save his grandson. (And yes, even though Walternate remains steadfast in his determination not to experiment on children, he was willing to do this bizarre "pregnancy accleration" thing on his own grandson, because the alternative was probably an abortion – although that word is never mentioned, this being network television.)
The only real question is, was Fauxlivia meant to survive the procedure? I mean, they seemed vaguely concerned about how much joint expansion she could stand, but the medical team seemed way more concerned about the baby than about the mother. In any case, it turns out that accelerating the pregnancy enabled both the mother and the baby to survive, because the virus couldn't replicate fast enough to keep up.
So once again, we discover that both Walters are morally gray and capable of immense unethical behavior, and they both especially love to subject Olivia to their weird experimental treatments.
But what does the Observer mean at the end when he says, "It is happening." Ominous!
The main through-line of the episode is that Anna Torv manages to make us care absolutely about Fauxlivia, as much as we would about the "real" Olivia. Even though we've seen 'Liv do some horrible things, we still want her to be okay and we want the scumbags who are strapping her down and doing evil medical stuff to her to die nastily. And that makes it easier to sympathize with 'Liv's friends who all care about her as well.
Meanwhile, in the process of investigating the kidnapping, Lincoln and Charlie find Henry the cab driver, who leads them to the truth about last fall's Olivia Substitution Strategem. (And we also learn that Charlie is dating bug girl! That makes me incredibly happy.) Lincoln and Henry make almost as good a team as Lincoln and Charlie. And it's cool to see Henry being brought on the inside a bit more. By the end, Lincoln and Charlie are pretty close to piecing together the truth about what happened to alt-Broyles.
And Lincoln finally tells Fauxlivia that he loves her! You have to wonder if the love triangle with the two Olivias and Peter will really become a proper Love Parallelogram or something.
Also: In the other universe, Bloom County is still going, but it's called Opus the Peahen. And The West Wing is apparently still on the air! Also, Francis Ford Coppola directed Taxi Driver, and it's not all that well-known a film – at least, Lincoln Lee's never heard of it.
So what did you think?