In Manhattan, some sort of architectural design firm has a little power flicker as the result of a "micro-quake," which have apparently been happening frequently in New York, in advance of a macro-quake, which rattles the building. The lights go out, and Jim True-Frost of The Wire suddenly has a beam sprouting from his shoulder, and an extra half-arm, and three-to-four legs, depending on how far above the knee you consider the leg to start.
The Fringe team arrives on scene to find a building that looks rearranged on the outside. Inside, they find people fused together, fused with inanimate objects. Walter figures it's a "quantum tectonic event" — atoms fly apart, the go back together, not always the way they're supposed to.
They find Mr. Pratchitt (True-Frost), still alive, freaking out, and question him. He talks about the tremors that have been plaguing New York, but no one on the Fringe team has heard anything about that. Pratchitt keeps asking to see his wife, only it turns out he doesn't have one. Walter asks him questions to determine if he knows where he is. It's 2010, Obama is president, but on Sept. 11, the terrorists attacked the Pentagon and White House. Then Pratchitt dies, and they find a second Pratchitt head growing out of the torso. We're in two buildings, declares Walter: one is from an alternate universe.
Astrid goes through effects from the alternate-universe building: Richard Nixon on a silver dollar and a double-decker car, which triggers a memory for Walter, who thinks he knows what's going to happen. He remembers a prank that he and Belly pulled in which they zapped a car into another reality, and shortly thereafter, a car from the alternate universe was sent over, since the universe seeks balance. Which means that a building from this universe is going to be sucked over to the other side. Of course it does! Fortunately, Olivia being special and all, should be able to see the glimmering of the building that's going to disappear. She did it before: during the cortexiphan trials! Walter wants to go to Jacksonville to recreate the circumstances of the original experiment.
So they go back to the original testing centre, where Walter takes Olivia into a classroom and tells her that sixteen objects in the room are from the other side, which should shimmer for her. She looks around, but can't see anything unusual, so it's experiment time! Walter puts her on a cortexiphan drip, which he says will create an "obstacle," and overcoming it will raise her emotional state, and it was his and Belly's theory that perception is largely a function of emotion: how we feel affects how we see things.
Olivia, on the drugs, finds herself in a forest. There's someone else there, though, a little girl, which naturally turns out to be Olivia's scared young self. Olivia comes out of the drug hallucination, and gives Walter guff for doing this to little children.
And it's back to the classroom, but Olivia still can't see any glimmer. And Walter figures that it's a specific emotional response they need from Olivia: fear, like the fear she had when she was a little girl but is incapable of now that she's an ass-kicking FBI agent, but she's going to need to get scared if she's going to save the people about to disappear.
Massive Dynamic's on board to try to track the quakes, looking for a pattern. Olivia's freaked out that she can't see what she's supposed to see. So hey! Suddenly, she's scared! And she can see which building's going to be sucked into an alternate dimension. And they evacuate the building and everyone's saved.
And later, when Olivia comes by the Bishop house because she's going out for drinks with Peter, she sees him glimmering. Walter asks her to keep the secret. And it's going to be two months before we know anything else about what's going on....
Inside, a dude (played by Jim True-Frost of The Wire, but you may also remember him -- if I may date myself -- from Singles), carries a cup of coffee as he tells a co-worker that "it's gonna be a late one." She asks him, "Is that real coffee? Where did you get that?" He mysteriously says that he has his sources, and then reveals that he has a cousin in Hawaii with a secret stash who sends him stuff. An odd conversation, that's for sure. Noticing that this was Manhatan might have clued me in right here. Originally, I just chalked it up to the fact that I don't drink coffee, so conversations about it are always mysterious to me anyway.
In the middle of it, though, the power in the office flickers and the building trembles. "This is getting nuts. What is that, six since yesterday?" says the dude, and the woman says she's from California, so she's used to it. "But this is New York. Don't you think it's strange?" he says, and she kind of shrugs. They talk about how they've heard on the news that they're just little "micro-quakes" that are "probably some byproduct of global warming."
Anyway, she's heading home, but not before telling the guy to call her if he has any extra coffee. In this case, coffee also means sex, I think.
Dude says goodnight to "Pauline," and then gets back to work, looking at blueprints. I love looking at blueprints. When I was a kid, I had a book of Batman blueprints: the Batcave, the Batmobile, everything. I totally thought I was going to build my own. I suppose there's still time...
ANYWAY, the building shakes again, harder this time, and while buddy covers his real coffee to prevent ceiling schmutz from falling into it, we see he's looking at blueprints for the "New Pentagon -- Annex IV," which is where, if you're like me and missed "Manhatan," you went, "Que?" Well, that and the fact that in the "Previously on Fringe" clips they showed Nina Sharp and her little snowglobe-smashing demonstration.
And then everything goes to hell: lights shatter and fall from the ceiling, pipes burst, and buddy's real Hawaiian coffee spills all over the blueprints for the new pentagon. The room fills with dust. Eventually, the shaking stops, and all goes black. When buddy wakes up, he's got a couple of problems. One is that there appears to be a support beam lodged in his shoulder. Like, not that a support beam fell and pierced his body, but that he is now fused with the beam. The other problem is that buddy now has a couple of extra arms and legs. His scream indicates that he is understandably perturbed.
After the opening credits, Olivia is calling Peter to let him know that they've got to go to New York, but she has to flirt with him doing it, telling him that he's won an "all-expenses-paid trip to New York City." The joke goes on for longer than necessary, with Peter demanding to speak to Olivia's supervisor, etc., and then Peter tries to keep it going by waking up Walter and telling him, "We just won an all-expense-paid trip to New York City." Walter is delighted: "That's fantastic. I've never won anything before." He's absurdly touched. He sounds like he's about to cry.
The whole Fringe crew is driving to New York, with Broyles at the wheel. Walter expresses skepticism over the possibility of an earthquake in New York and suggests a small comet is more likely. "Witnesses outside felt the ground shake, but no one saw what happened," says Broyles.
Outside the building, Broyles tells them Emergency Services didn't find any survivors. Olivia and Walter stare up at the exterior of the building, which looks slightly askew. "It looks..." says Olivia, and Walter finishes it for her: "...rearranged. Extraordinary." They head inside.
The first thing they see is a body with its faces fused together, like conjoined twins. Conjoined fraternal twins. "Oh my god," says Olivia. There's more like that through the rubble -- hands fused to heads, stuff like that. Walter's guess is that it was a "quantum tectonic event" which he says has only ever been a theoretical phenomenon. Broyles doesn't know what Walter's talking about, so Walter explains: "Imagine a sudden momentary disturbance at a subatomic level. The energy disperses the atoms, literally tearing the very fabric of reality itself." Peter clarifies: "Meaning that all the atoms come apart, but when they reassemble, they come together all wrong." Olivia wants to know the chances of this happening naturally. I don't know how Walter's supposed to quantify that, given that up until now this has only ever been a theoretical possibility, but he figures it's possible. "But if so, God has a far more disturbed sense of humour than even I could have imagined," he says. Nice that he's able to keep cracking jokes in the chamber of horrors here.
Then the emergency services guys are yelling and running because they've found a survivor, named Ted Pratchet, who's whimpering for help, while the paramedics do their best to keep him panicked by saying things like, "I don't know if we can cut him loose from that beam. He might not survive." Pratchet asks for someone to call his wife, because he just wants to hear her voice. Broyles calmly introduces himself and Olivia and says they're going to do everything they can to find his wife and get him out of there.
Broyles goes off to "call this in" because that's certainly a good use of Broyles' time, while Olivia asks Pratchet to describe what happened. "Tremors. Just like the other ones. Then a really big one that just kept getting worse," says Pratchet. He's thirsty, but the paramedic says he can't have any liquids, just some ice, which Peter goes to fetch. Daniels says, "Did Buddy have them on display to the left or the right of the cash register?" and Pratchet says, "How would I know that?"
Meanwhile, Walter's looking at a dislodged painting, and peels back a flap of the canvas. There's another painting underneath.
Olivia asks Pratchet if anything unusual happened before the disaster, or if he saw someone who shouldn't have been there. "No. Just the same things everyone saw. Yesterday, the dogs all started howling. Then all those little tremors, the microquakes," says Pratchet, but neither Peter nor Olivia have heard about any tremors in New York. Meanwhile, Walter examines the blueprints for the new Pentagon annex.
When Broyles comes back, he whispers to Olivia that Pratchet doesn't have a wife. Never did. Olivia's ready to chalk that up to delirium due to trauma from his injuries, but Walter disagrees, because that possibility would make far too much sense.
He starts asking Pratchet questions, like what year is it? Who is the president? Two-thousand and 10, and Obama, says Pratchett, respectively. I realize this episode was filmed long ago, but I'd like to think this is a shout-out to the commander-in-chief from J.J. Abrams for moving the state of the union address so as not to conflict with the Lost season premiere.
Anyway, then Walter apologizes for what he's going to ask next: "On September the 11th, when the terrorists struck, which buildings did they attack?" The Pentagon, says Pratchet, and then: the White House. And then he dies. "I think I know what happened here," says Walter, but there are still more surprises in store before Walter can explain: specifically, a big lump moving underneath Pratchet's shirt. Walter unbuttons the shirt to find another Ted Pratchet head imbedded in Pratchet's torso. It opens its eyes, opens its mouth, gasps and goes silent as well. Walter closes Pratchet's eyes (both sets) and then says his theory was wrong: "This wasn't a quantum event at all. We're standing in two buildings, one of which comes fro