With the good news earlier this week that "Fringe" has been picked up for a fourth season, it frees us up to watch each episode without the dark cloud of potential cancellation hanging overhead. It also means we no longer have to analyze episodes like "Bloodlines" through the lens of impending doom.
Specifically, without the news of the pickup, the story about Fauxlivia's pregnancy being accelerated (for whatever purposes) would have seemed like a "they need to resolve everything before they get the axe" development, but instead we're able to simply take it as another of the amazing, weird twists on "Fringe".
I thought this episode was really good in two major ways. First was the acting of everyone involved, particularly Anna Torv, who's had to put on so many different masks this season. The balance between fearing for her own life (both in the beginning with the pregnancy-related virus, and after the kidnapping) and the life of her unborn child was well done. Torv had some great moments with her on-screen mother too, something that we've seen very little of in the past with this show (since in the primary universe, Olivia's mother is dead).
The second thing I really loved about the episode was the expansion of Walternate's objection to experimenting on children. It's pretty obvious that in the alternate universe, safe childbirth is not a given, which means that each child's life would be even more valued than it is in the primary (our) universe. Interestingly, even with that in mind, what transpired in this episode would have to be considered a FORM of experimenting on children, as Walternate was behind the kidnapping of Olivia and the accelerated pregnancy experiment.
Of course, in a way, Walternate was probably responsible for saving either Olivia or the baby's life, since it turns out she was a carrier for the virus that would have made her pregnancy fatal, and the only way they both survived is because the pregnancy moved faster than the virus. Still, it's pretty obvious that Walternate's ready to throw his whole "no children" rule aside if his grandchild will power the machine. It's a whole "needs of the many" thing, which, of course, ties into Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock, aka William Bell.
I also liked the return of Henry, the taxi driver, and how he ended up being the key to Lincoln and Charlie unraveling the mystery of Olivia. His whole thing about Olivia not recognizing him after she returned from the other side (because, obviously, she wasn't the same Olivia), was touching in a bittersweet way.
I think the only thing I didn't like about the episode -- aside from the creepiness of the accelerated fetus moving around under Fauxlivia's skin -- was the onslaught of "little" differences between the two universes. These were cute the first few times they popped up, but now it seems like the writers try to cram in a bunch of them each episode regardless of whether they're relevant to the story. Does it matter that in the alt-universe, Coppola, not Scorsese, directed "Taxi Driver"? No, and it really only serves to pull the viewer out of the story, rather than immersing them in it.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.