We open in the alternate universe (which will mean we get the wicked-awesome red opening credits), with Olivia (the real one) being clucked at by a therapist for sticking to her story about being from another universe and coming here to get her friend Peter and bring him back. The only people who know (as far as WE know) that Olivia is not actually crazy are Walternate, Alt-Broyles and Alt-Brandon, who works for Fringe Division over there, and is following Walternate’s orders to transfer Alt-Olivia’s memories into the real Olivia.
Olivia escapes from her prison hospital and hijacks a cab, driven by Andre Royo, also known to Wire fans as Bubbles, who ferries her all around “Manhatan,” and we learn that Olivia now has the same tattoo as Olivialt, part of Walternate’s sinister plot to transform her into Olivialt completely -- which is kind of confusing, in that Walternate exposits to Brandon a bunch of guff about needing to know how Olivia can travel between universes in order to win the war of the universes. Seems like replacing her memories with Olivialt’s would be counterproductive, no?
At any rate, it serves the story, as Olivialt was an Olympic marksmanship champ, so Olivia, who has never exactly sprayed wild shots all over a shootout, can now hit valves on a gas storage tank from fifty feet away while aiming out the backseat of an accelerating cab.
Olivialt’s memories are bleeding through into Olivia’s -- kind of like the way the light from a universe flares into the other -- enabling her to find her childhood home and her (in this universe still-living) mother, after futilely going back to the theatre to find a way home, but the theatre winds up encased in amber (much to the chagrin of protestors proclaiming that amber equals death). By the end of the episode, a lobotomized Olivia drives off with alt-Charlie, although there seems to be the possibility that she’s playing along by pretending the memory-transfer has completely taken hold.
Back in our universe, Peter is debriefed about what the hell went on, and then goes on to make out with Olivialt and gets ready for another day of Fringe business tomorrow.
Previously on Fringe: the entire friggin' series. It's a full minute and a half of scenes that run the gamut from the first episode of the first season to last season's finale, a collection of clips that I imagine would somehow be both enlightening and utterly baffling to new viewers. Hilariously, pretty much anything that has to do with the short-lived Cortexiphan Kids is excised from any kind of explanation.
But for good ol' completely-appropriate-to-the-storyline, nothing beats having a character talk to a shrink, which Olivia does for about an hour and a half to open Season 3. Olivia seems kind of zombified, but it's not like she was always the giggliest agent of the FBI. The doctor, a matronly type in a blue cardigan, tells Olivia that she's just trying to help Olivia get her life back so she can back home to her job and family. "This is not my home," Olivia intones. "Because you come from another universe?" says the doctor, clearly having gone over this a time or two.
The doctor pleasantly says, basically, that given all the freaky shit Olivia sees as a matter of course in her job -- plus the bump on her ol' coconut -- it's not surprising that Olivia has come up with this fantasy as a way of processing the trauma. Olivia denies that it's a fantasy, so the doctor winds up throwing a little more background story on the table for all the new viewers who are joining us this year, right? Right?
We see that the practically catatonic Olivia has her arms strapped to the chair she's in, and she has on some kind of zip-up one piece mental-patient suit, I'm presuming. The doctor picks up a picture of Olivia with a woman and asks if this is Olivia's mother. "She looks like her, but it isn't her," says Olivia. The doctor holds up pictures of Alt-Charlie and Agent Lincoln Lee, so Olivia can deny that they're her partners. Or maybe we have this all wrong and the doctor is just playing "marry/fuck/kill" with Olivia, who is being NO FUN.
There's another picture, one of Fauxlivia or Olivialt or Bolivia or whatever nomenclature you prefer, and she's grinning while sporting a gold medal around her neck whilst holding a huge firearm. "And who is this?" asks the doctor. "Another Olivia Dunham. The Olivia Dunham from over here," says Olivia. Back in our universe, that woman's probably looking to unseat a Democrat in the midterm elections.
The doctor asks Olivia how all this "other universe" stuff likely sounds to someone else, and Olivia admits it sounds preposterous, but it's the truth.