TV Review: FRINGE 4.11 “Making Angels”

Astrid meets her troubled double, and The Observers raise more questions than answers.

Jasika Nicole nabbed more screen time than ever as Astrid met a grieving Alt-Astrid on this week’s episode of Fringe.

Nicole proved she was up to the challenge of playing dual Astrids meeting face-to-face for the first time. Her assured performances sold the idea that both Astrids were completely different people, even if they did share the same DNA and cute curly ’do. One of the biggest pleasures of this episode was watching Astrid and Alt-Astrid relate and provide comfort to one another. It was a nice change of pace to see these two instantly trust each other after so much conflict and distrust between the two universes.

The tender, well-acted scenes between Agent Farnsworth and her Over There counterpart helped us learn a little more about Astrid, who has become a fan favorite despite her somewhat one-note role(s). Despite her constant exposure to death and unspeakable acts of nastiness, our Astrid has managed to keep her big, loving heart intact. That was clear in how she related to and cared for her troubled double. She even lied about her relationship with her father in a final comforting show of empathy for Alt-Astrid.

This episode was packed with short, effective scenes featuring the characters pairing off and discussing themes of family, friendship, relationships, and, of course, death. It worked better in pieces than as a whole. I appreciated all the great character work here, especially Astrid’s agreeable reaction to Alt-Astrid’s ticks and stilted body language (and to her own use of the word “sweetie"), and Olivia schooling Bolivia on why she never gives up. Most of the fun stuff this week took place in Walter’s lab, where Alt-Astrid was busy using her super observant brain to help crack the case of the week. Her perceptive eye also helped Walter come to terms with his muddled feelings about Peter and Bolivia, aka “The Viper,” or “Mata Hari.”

Walter was acting like a petulant child – well, more so than usual – around Peter and Bolivia. Luckily, Alt-Astro was around to decode Walter’s bad behavior and remind him that, “anger seems to be inevitably conjoined with emotional investment.” Translation: Walter is a big softy who kinda sorta loves Peter and Bolivia, despite the fact that they’re not his Peter and Olivia.

In one fascinating scene, Walter revealed that he suffers because Peter reminds him of the son he lost -- the son who died as a boy and who he wishes was still alive. Astrid suggested that Walter should believe that Peter is his son in order to end his own suffering and find happiness. Perhaps the show is asking us to do the same thing – to view the Timeline 2 characters as the same people we’ve come to know and love over the past three seasons (or to at least accept them as valuable extensions of the original versions of the characters). Like I wrote a few weeks ago, the details of these characters’ lives have changed this season, but their hearts remain the same. I’m looking forward to seeing the original timeline restored, but I also hope everything our heroes have experienced in Timeline 2 will somehow carry over with Peter once he eventually returns home.

This week’s A-story distracted the team from helping Peter return home again. The case of the week offered little more than by the numbers procedural elements, but there was enough mystery to keep me interested. We met a man who allowed his unique knowledge of the future to turn him into a monster. Unlike last week’s doomed prophecy girl, who tried to save the people she saw die in her visions, this week’s visioneer, Professor Neil Chung, murdered people who were destined for a life of suffering. It was his way of sparing them years of torment. (Nice thought, Prof. But as it turns out, killing people kinda makes you evil!)

The mystery surrounding Chung’s knowledge of future events was intriguing, and things only got more interesting when an Observer stepped out of the bendy glass and started following him around. I’m not a huge fan of The Observers (Their blank expressions and inconstant actions starting getting old last season), but I liked the idea that a mere mortal could somehow steal their power and use it to play God. Watching Chung take on the Angel of Death role reminded me that The Observers are gifted with massive power. Of course, they rarely use that power to do any good in the world(s). (They mostly just stand around and don’t save people from drowning in Redien Lake, except, of course, when they do.) But it seems the more we learn about The Observers, especially the rebel September, the closer we’ll come to solving the alt-timeline riddle and restoring the original timeline.

Other Thoughts:

- Olivia on Astrid's initial shock when seeing her double for the first time: “I always wondered why nobody does that.” I've been thinking the same thing.

- Walter started patching things up with Bolivia, one Red Vine at a time. (I guess he was out of eggs.)

- No Lincoln, Mr. Jones or Nina Sharp this week. But at least we got a double dose of Olivia and Astrid.

- Loved the blue glowy stick Chung was using. It reminded me of Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver (except The Doctor doesn't use his sonic to murder people).

- I found it odd that The Observers weren't aware of Peter's return. It looks like September was trying to keep it a secret.

- "Kirk out!"

- “Actually no, it turns out I like the nice guys.”

- The “Previously On …” sequence showed events that didn’t happen in this timeline in order to set up the conflict between Walter and Bolivia. It bugged me, but only a little. Did it bug you?