Fringe 4.18 “The Consultant” Review

Last night’s episode of Fringe continued to see the two universes collaborating to find and stop David Robert Jones. Seeing the two universes working together has become one of my favourite aspects of the show, and I’m thrilled that the collaboration doesn’t look to be ending any time soon. We also finally started to get some hints as to what Jones’endgame might be: Jones’efforts in this episode would have, according to Walter, allowed him to use the Machine to collapse the two universes.

I’m still a little lost as to why David Robert Jones would want to collapse both universes. Doesn’t he still have to live in one of them? In ‘Nothing As It Seems‘, we saw some genetically engineered creations of Jones’who are ‘better’species and could, I assume, be part of his plans for a new world. That being said, we do know that the Machine can be used for both destruction and creation. Perhaps Jones thinks he’s figured out a way to destroy these two universes while creating a new one to be his blank slate.

One thing I’ve always loved about Fringe is the science of it, some of which is actually a lot less ‘fringe’science than you might think. Even when the science is a little more out there, the writers and producers do a great job of staying true to the rules they’ve created. This episode demonstrated that quite well when it came to Jones’use of frequencies between the universes. We saw similar principles at work in season 2 when Newton was working on Walternate’s orders. In the episode ‘The Man from the Other Side’, Walter explains how making a location in our universe vibrate at the alternate universe’s frequency merges the two sides together and allows a crossing over. I wonder if this is, in part, what contributes to linking these two specific universes: theoretically, there should be any number of other universes, but we continue to see only two of them different timelines aside. If Walter’s transuniversal window just happened to be tuned to the right frequency to let him see into this particular alternate universe, his subsequent actions in crossing over and opening the doorways then served to inextricably tie the two universes together.

Ever since the timeline was rewritten, there have been many moments that mirror ones we’d already seen in the original timeline. One I particularly liked this week was a scene between Walter, Lincoln, and AltLivia after Walter has crossed over to consult: Walter sees a board that reports on hot-spots where damage to the other universe was the worst. I found it reminiscent of the scene in ‘Over There: Part 2’when Walter is driving with William Bell through a wasteland and sees the damage to the other universe with his own eyes.

What I found particularly interesting was that even though Walter carries so much guilt and has seen first-hand the consequences of his actions, he still tells Colonel Broyles that now that he’s gotten to know his adult son, he doesn’t know that he’d do anything differently. Colonel Broyles is himself carrying around a great deal of guilt: he’s been betraying his own people to David Robert Jones, and in ‘The Consultant’we finally got an explanation. In the season 3 episode ‘The Abducted’we learned that Colonel Broyles’son was dying due to the actions of a serial killer, and Olivia helped save his life when she was impersonating AltLivia. Since Olivia and Walter never crossed over to save Peter in this timeline, Christopher Broyles was still dying, and David Robert Jones was able to exploit this by offering the Colonel a cure for his son. Perhaps now that Olivia remembers the previous timeline, she can think of another way to save Chris since the Colonel turned himself in and is no longer working for Jones.

The willingness to do anything, even betray everything you stand for, to save someone you love has been a long-running theme in Fringe. I found it quite fitting that love for a dying son was Colonel Broyles’motivation to work with Jones, and equally fitting that he found the line he would not cross. As William Bell used to say, ‘Only those that risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go’ and evidently the possible destruction of both universes was too far for the alternate Broyles.

It’s always intriguing, and often hilarious, to see the ways in which the Other Side is different from our own. Last week the revelation was that they don’t have Batman, but rather ‘Mantis’; this week, that Over There ‘domesticated badgers’are common household pets. Does anyone else now really want a badger as a pet?

All in all, I quite loved this episode. From seeing both Astrids working together again, to Walter attempting to console AltLivia while wearing a sparkly housecoat, to Colonel Broyles’heartbreaking scenes with his son, it was solid all around. Even though ‘The Consultant’was, in some ways, a little slow-paced, I get the feeling that it’s laying the groundwork for the final run of episodes of the season. A-

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