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Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the Fringe episode “There's More Than One of Everything", which originally aired on May 12th, 2009.
Fringe wraps up its first season with “There's More Than One of Everything”, which proves to be a fitting title on multiple levels. In last week’s episode Walter explained the concept of multiple universes to Olivia and Peter, the belief that every choice we make is a pivot point where our reality fractures, giving birth to alternate universes where we made other decisions. It’s a fascinating idea, and like so much of the science on Fringe it’s not a stretch to believe it could be possible.
Nina Sharp took a bullet to close out the previous episode, and we don’t have to wait to learn her fate. She survives, in large part due to her Massive Dynamic-built cybernetics, and while she recovers in the hospital the Fringe team gets to work on figuring out who was behind her attempted murder. Using security footage they identify the leader of the attack as none other than David Robert Jones, whose face is covered in bandages.
While Olivia and Broyles work on locating the elusive William Bell so he can be questioned on his connections to ZFT, Peter and Astrid busy themselves with finding Walter who has gone missing. The audience knows that Walter is with The Observer, so while his son and lab assistant check Walter’s usual hangouts we’re taken to a graveyard where the elder Bishop stands before an unidentified tombstone. Is this Walter’s wife, who we’ve heard so little about? Perhaps a sibling of Peter? William Bell? At this point, the possibilities seem endless. But Walter doesn’t get much time in the cemetery before The Observer takes him to a beach house, where the hairless man tells him that there’s something important inside that he must find.
Nina recovers enough to speak with Olivia, telling her that not only was David Robert Jones a former employee at Massive Dynamic, but that he viewed William Bell as a father figure. Olivia demands that Nina reveal the location of Bell so he can be interrogated, to which Sharp cryptically responds by saying Bell isn’t available and that he can only be reached electronically at the moment. When coupled with all the talk of parallel universes it’s becoming clearer why Bell has been able to stay out of the public eye for so long.
Meanwhile, David Robert Jones and his crew are up to their old tricks again, this time setting up some strange scientific equipment in the middle of a New York City street. We get our first up-close look at Jones and he doesn’t look well, yellow pus is bleeding through his facial bandages and one of his eyes has lost all its pigment. The last time we saw Jones he was beginning to show negative side effects from his prison escape but he looks terrible now, teleportation clearly comes at a high cost in the Fringe universe. And perhaps that’s what makes the show so captivating, while the science borders on magic at times using it is never free of consequence.
Jones is able to open a portal to what appears to be another reality, but the science experiment ultimately fails as the bridge between two worlds proves unstable. A truck is traveling through the portal when it closes, severing the vehicle in two which draws the attention of Fringe Division. There’s no record of the VIN number on the truck, meaning that it was never built, at least not in the core reality that Fringe’s narrative exists in. While Olivia and Charlie are busy investigating the scene Jones moves onto a soccer field for another test, but once again finds failure. Only this time there’s a casualty as a young boy is cut in half when the window to another world slams shut.
Peter tracks Walter down at the beach house, finding his father in an agitate state as he can’t find what he’s looking for. This ends up being a rather heartwarming scene as we see just how far their relationship has come over the past twenty episodes. When we first met these two characters Peter had no space in his heart for his estranged father, but here we see the young man exhibit both patience and love for Walter. Memorable characters are constantly evolving, and the writers have done a fantastic job exploring the unique father and son dynamic the Bishops have.
The episode becomes a three horse race at this point, with the finish line being a place called Reiden Lake where reality is thin enough for Jones to use his equipment. As the antagonist makes his way there Olivia uses all the events we’ve witnessed this season to identify the location, taking a team of FBI agents to the lake to stop Jones. Walter is eventually able to find what he’s looking for, which turns out to be a device that can seal a dimensional portal, and with it in their possession the Bishops head towards Reiden Lake as well. The season’s climax is now set with everyone converging on the same location, all with contrasting motivations. By the time Olivia arrives on the scene Jones has already opened the gateway, and whatever is ailing him has made him impervious to bullets as he easily shakes off her gunfire. Jones makes it halfway through to the other side before Peter uses the device to slam the portal shut, and just like the truck and soccer player Jones is split in two. While I’m sad to see such an interesting antagonist die it’s a fitting end for David Robert Jones, a villain that offered so much duplicity this season.
As great as all that action was, the episode manages to fit a powerful coda in as well. We return to the graveyard with Walter, and this time we get to see the name on the marker that so captivates him. The stone reads Peter Bishop, 1978-1985, a powerful shock to the viewer’s system as it changes everything we know about the father and son duo. Earlier in the episode Walter had told Peter that he had once traveled between the realities to take something that he’d lost, and now it would appear that this revelation had been made to the very thing he’d stolen. Absolutely perfect storytelling, the writers have been weaving clues in for awhile but since they’ve used subtlety the reveal delivers the intended impact.
And Fringe isn’t done yet, as Nina Sharp makes good on her earlier promise to Olviia of arranging an interview with William Bell. Olivia travels to New York City but finds herself apparently stood up by Sharp, and she leaves in an agitated state. While in the elevator it becomes obvious that she’s once again bouncing between realities, as one moment the elevator is empty and the next it's full of people. The doors eventually opens on a hallway where a young woman escorts Olivia into an office, where she finally meets the elusive Bell. Olivia inquires as to where she is, to which Bell responds by telling her that answer is complicated. In perhaps the most-memorable image of the entire season the camera pulls out from the window she’s looking out of to reveal that the meeting is taking place in one of the Twin Towers, hamming home the fact that Olivia is no longer in the world she knows. Wow, what a way to close out not only an episode, but an entire season.
“There's More Than One of Everything” brings Fringe’s inaugural season to a close in entertaining and efficient fashion, simultaneously wrapping up story threads while taking the show in a whole new direction. There’s just as many questions as there are answers to be found in the season finale, which feels like the end of the show’s prologue. Overall the opening season has been a lot of fun, there wasn’t a lot of obvious filler or abandoned story threads. With a firm grasp on the show’s interesting characters and an understanding of how the strange world of Fringe operates we can expect season two to take the narrative into an even higher gear.
Observer Sighting: Just like last week he plays a promient role in this epsiode, taking Walter to the beach house.