Fringe

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Many a Hand Has Scaled the Grand Old Face of the Plateau
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Tonight's episode is number three, an odd number, which means either we're in the alt-Fringe universe or it's one of the crappy Star Trek movies. We're in Hoboken, N.J., and there's a guy who looks like Ethan Hawke's homelier older brother standing on the sidewalk, incessantly tapping his thumb to his ring finger, a tic that is TV shorthand for "mental disorder." Across the way, he watches a woman stroll down the street. Watching her, it seems like the song "Sunshine and Lollipops" should be playing. She cheerfully gives money to a homeless man, literally stops to smell the flowers outside a grocer's, and then there are cartoon bluebirds landing on her shoulders and serenading her, and then this -- is that a fucking elk? -- animal wanders by and stoops so she can ride him down the street of this mystical Hoboken, scattering rose petals as she goes.

After the woman goes inside the grocery to buy a bouquet, the man watches a stoplight change from red to green. He sees a man who for all the world looks like Jeff Bridges reading at a table outside a café. He sees a downtown bus making its way down the street, and he sees a mailbox rattle with the passing traffic.

So: he crosses the street, heedless of the traffic -- he merely points at a car that honks at him. Reaching the mailbox, he smiles as he balances a ballpoint pen on its end on top of it, as a cyclist comes racing around a nearby corner.

The woman comes out of the grocer's, and he starts following her, only to pass her as she stops at the intersection to cross the street.

As the bike asshole slaloms his way around pedestrians instead of being on the street, a passing car splashes the mailbox, and the pen rolls off, onto the sidewalk. Jeff Bridges (who looks slightly less like Jeff Bridges when we see his full face) spies the pen, and he gets up to pick it up, grinning a little more than you'd expect someone to be smiling at the thought of merely getting a free crappy capless ballpoint pen, but the reason for that will become clear later on.

The cyclist swerves to avoid Not-Jeff Bridges -- that's why you should be on the street, you moron! -- but knocks him into the mailbox, which tips over into the street, and he goes flying into the grocer's sidewalk display of flowers and fruit. You see what happens when you bump a stranger in the ass?

The fruit goes spilling across the sidewalk, and I guess the homeless guy, having left the fruit alone up until now, figures it's fair game now that it's street fruit, and he starts gathering it up.

So now there's a big commotion on the street, and the approaching bus driver watches it and forgets that there's an intersection coming up, because that's what people who are paid to drive for a living do. Hey, there's an argument on the street! Think I'll watch that! And the woman is one of those people who -- once the crosswalk signal lights up "WALK" -- crosses the street staring straight ahead and not making sure that the traffic has actually stopped. And that's why, as the weird guy continues on his walk, we see behind him the bus hit the woman, who goes skidding across the pavement.

So Olivia shows up for work at alt-Fringe, looking a little trepidatious. Is it because Olivia knows she's not actually Fauxlivia and is worried about maintaining the deception? We'll see that that's not the case. Anyway, she strolls to her desk, looking around, and alt-Fringe must be some kind of cold place to work, because NO ONE says, "welcome back" or "good to have you back" or even just "Hi, Olivia!" and I have to point out that at the very least you'd think the person who's responsible for collecting money for the office lottery pool would come over to crabbily remind Olivia that she owes five bucks for last week. Or am I confusing it with my workplace?

Finally, alt-Charlie greets her and says, "You do remember me, right?" and Olivia remembers that he owes her $70 and he was hoping she'd forgotten that, and they hug, and he tells her she looks good like when does Olivia NOT look good, and she praises the IV drip and "government-issue anti-psychotics" as being "instant R&R" and he jokes that maybe he should "dive off the deep end" and she wonders if anyone would notice a difference and now he is telling her that he just realized that he didn't miss her at all and she wants him to admit that he was "lost" without her, and this goes on for about 20 minutes and now I realize that the reason no one said anything to her was because they just want to get some damn work done and not get sucked into an hour's worth of playful banter. And I'm just now realizing that alt-Charlie has hair again, and is not the baldy-head he was when we first saw him. Don't know why it took me so long to notice that.

Anyway, they finally leave off with that stuff and get back to work, but maybe it's just because alt-Broyles is glowering at her through the glass of his office. Walternate creeps in to alt-Broyles' office to ask how she seems. "She seems like Olivia Dunham," says Broyles, and Walternate says that for all intents and purposes she is Olivia Dunham, and is testing as such. Broyles wants to know about their Olivia Dunham, i.e. Fauxlivia, and Walternate says she's focused on the task at hand on the other side. Also, the sexiness matrix is still intact. Broyles is still annoyed that Walternate has put an "imposter" on their team, because he feels that's too big a risk, and despite all the tests they've run, they still don't know how Olivia will respond in the field. "We have no other choice. She needs to be completely immersed in Agent Dunham's life. Over time she will reach a plateau, and her new identity will become fixed," says Walternate.

Broyles asks again what they stand to gain from this, and Walternate tells him that while they have discovered some ways to cross to the other side that come with dangerous consequences, Olivia can cross without harm. "The Science Division is working up a series of experiments. We need her to submit willingly, which she'll only do if she believes that she belongs here. Phillip, if we can learn what she already knows..." says Walternate, and alt-Broyles finishes for him: "...we can begin to defend ourselves."

Walternate gets up to go, but alt-Broyles wants to know what happens if Olivia's new identity doesn't hold. "Then she'll no longer be necessary," says Walternate. Which means ... you'll let her go home, right? Right?

Now the alt-Fringe team is on its way to a case, with alt-Charlie explaining that two mornings in a row, Liberty Metro buses have run red lights, killing two people. "Now, 'Lookers' ran the probabilities, and it's a statistical anomaly," he explains. They're on their way to the crash scene, and they don't have tons of information about yesterday's crash, since at the time it was just considered a routine accident, but they do know that the first victim was Cole Arnett, a 43-year-old hospital caseworker on his way to work.

So they arrive on site, with alt-Charlie telling everyone to get their oxygen, so the agents get out their pimped-out asthma puffers, but another agent reports that the air-quality in Hoboken is normal, so no oxygen is needed. Normal for New Jersey, anyway. Alt-Charlie says Agent Lee is meeting them on site and will be calling the shots.

Lee's being dropped off by a nurse, who warns him that he needs to be back in the chamber in eight hours, or his burns will regress: "You can kiss all that healing goodbye," she says. His face does look much improved over the last time we saw him, which means it's still like a pizza, but only with burnt cheese and not burnt extra cheese.

Then it's back to work Lincoln Lee, who missed this, he says to himself, and he gets alt-Charlie to work on a victim ID, and Olivia hands him his field kit and she tells him he looks better. "You look sane," he tells her, and she laughs and he asks if she's doing all right. After the chit-chat is dispensed with, she tells him that when she pulled the gun on him, she didn't kno

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