Review: Fringe Season One Finale: “There’s More Than One of Everything”

I just finished rewatching the Fringe finale, “There’s More than One of Everything,” and it actually was better the second time around. I was able to pay more attention to a few things that had been sitting in the back of my head stewing. I did not notice any glaring inconsistencies, but until I am able to sit and watch the entire season in a few sittings rather than on airdates or at DVR convenience, I am probably not the best qualified person to make that claim. This, like most of my reviews, will be less summary and more analysis, going into things I felt were done well, done poorly, and simply done.

I might as well just start with my favorite part of the episode: Leonard Nimoy as William Bell. Yes, it was a very small part, but I have high hopes that it will be expanded some for Season Two. But it wasn’t the performance Nimoy gave that blew me away (it was typical Nimoy, to be honest, which means it was stellar); it was the fact that he was there at all. I think Leonard Nimoy’s appearance on Fringe speaks volumes of how great a working environment J.J. Abrams creates. After just coming off the set of Star Trek (or it could have been filmed during Trek for all I know), Nimoy guests on Abrams newest TV foray, and it makes me happy. It’s not only a shout out to science-fiction fans, but a testament that both Nimoy and Abrams care about their franchise and working relationships. I hope this kind of collaboration continues; it is this kind of casting that really makes shows like Fringe develop communities not only off-set among actors and creators, but with fans who might have never noticed a particular series. Hats off to Leonard Nimoy and J.J. Abrams for this one.

As for the episode itself, the title comes straight from the Observer’s mouth when he talks to Walter about how the alternate realities work. What is interesting, though, is the wording. He says “there’s more than one of everything,” and hands Walter a single coin, implying two. However, the idea that there are only two of everything seems like a false one. The sentence is so deceptively and purposefully worded, that the Observer must be opening up for a reveal sometime in Fringe Season Two that déjà vu and the soft spots don’t work as a binary, but more as a hub. Perhaps each soft spot opens into a different reality?

Another piece of evidence for this is in the final scene when Olivia is in the elevator heading toward meeting William Bell. Not only does she flicker a few times into an alternate reality, she obviously flickers through multiples. In the reality she belongs to, there were no people in the elevator. In the reality she meets William Bell, there is no one in the elevator, either. However, as she transitions between universes, there are people crowded into the elevator, implying that there is more to the story than Walter and Nina have let on, which points back to the purposeful wording the Observer used when talking to Walter about what he must do. He could have easily said “There are two of everything” and handed him the only other coin in existence that held a tie to his son, but instead he said “there’s more than one of everything,” leaving it open to interpretation and further reveals next season. I am slightly disappointed in the elevator shifts because I was really hoping for a 13th floor moment, and the elevator stops and flickers on 15. Oh well.

And then there’s Peter only having lived from 1978 to 1985. It’s implied in this episode that he was a sickly child, and when he died, Walter went into an alternate reality and did some kidnapping to get his son back. What makes me really wonder about this, though, is how Peter doesn’t remember this at all. I understand Peter not remembering things that happened to Dead Peter, since he never lived those experiences. Peter and Dead Peter’s childhoods would obviously diverge, making all of Walter’s references and Peter’s consistent “I don’t remember that, Walter” responses true. However, I am curious how Peter does not remember something along the lines of his dad coming home one day, telling him he had to pack a few things and travel into the woods and go through a giant, shimmering window of light and living in a house on a street that the show admits is “slightly different.” Even at seven, I would remember something like that, especially when I had to go back in my 30s and plug the exact same hole up. I really hope that this is addressed during Season Two at some point. Maybe he was sedated or something because saying that a child of seven would not remember something like that seems absurd to me.

Something very small that bothered me from the beginning is how Jones deals with the energy cell he took out of Nina’s arm. He is so delicate with it, almost like it could explode at any moment. I think this is a little off because it was in her arm for an indefinite amount of time, and she obviously was not that delicate with it in her arm. She was living life, using her robo-appendage like everyone else uses our natural ones. It just seems out of place to have Jones be so careful while Nina has always been nonchalant with the use of her mechanical arm. It’s nothing major; perhaps he was just making sure he didn’t ruin his one and only chance at crossing over, but it still took my attention for just a second out of the narrative.

I also wonder about the driver of the semi that was chopped in half. They never say he died, and they say his fingerprints were taken, so what happened to him? Did Massive Dynamic send him back home? They obviously have the power to do so since Olivia was purposefully transported to William Bell’s alternate office (or is it his real one?). The receptionist knew exactly when she would be arriving and called her by name, thus making sure the audience understands it was a controlled shift. If they can do this, did the truck driver get sent back home or is he being forced to live out his new life on an alternate Earth? I certainly hope that kind of thing is addressed later because these megacorporate, fringe ethics make me all giddy in nerd-glee.

On that same topic, does Walter still have the ability to open up windows into another reality? When we see him open the lockbox containing the patching device, there are other gadgets in there. I wonder if one of them is a device that allows him to open the window he used to bring Peter across when he was seven? If so, this opens up all sorts of interesting narratives and questions for coming seasons. If Bell has a working device, then it only stands to reason that Walter would have one tucked away as well.

Fringe is one of those shows that never gives any information that will not be needed elsewhere, nor do they have filler scenes that hold no weight. In “There’s More Than One of Everything,” there is a scene near the end that very likely flew under many people’s radar. Olivia is driving toward meeting Nina to have her introduce William Bell. As she drives, a car nearly pulls out in front of Olivia, nearly causing an accident. Olivia swerves, the car brakes, and Olivia continues to her meeting with Nina no worse for the wear, just flustered. I think this particular scene happened in an alternate reality as well, except that in the alternate reality, Olivia was either severely injured or killed, thus throwing that reality out of whack. I can think of no other explanation for it because the scene has no bearing on anything else in the episode or in the greater scheme of the narrative. The creative team is too deliberate with Fringe to have a scene that means nothing. I expect Olivia’s near crash to play a part next season.

And then there’s my final point: Broyles says they have to stop their investigation into William Bell because he was told to by “the kind of people that when they give you an order, you don’t question it.” I don’t think he means the higher ups in DHS or the government, either. I don’t even think he means people with clout at Massive Dynamic. I think there’s a faction involved in Fringe that we haven’t even been able to factor in yet, though when they are finally introduced, their influence will be greater than we can ever expect. I am hoping for an Illuminati kind of group, a controlling group that has power and influence so far-reaching that even the United States government seems small in comparison. Hopefully Season Two will enlighten us about what kind of people Broyles was talking about, and if he did mean someone other than his direct governmental supervisors or contacts at Massive Dynamic, how far to Broyles personal connections go? We already know he has a personal relationship with Nina Sharp because of their ease at being on a first-name basis (as seen with her relief when she sees him in her hospital room and calls him Phillip). Does it go further than that? Does Broyles have connections and clearances we’ve not been able to fathom yet? I think so.

So those are the most pressing things I noticed in the Fringe finale, “There’s More Than One of Everything.” To be such a new show, it certainly leaves viewers with a lot to think about. When I first started watching it, I really expected little more than an X-Files rip-off, even though I’ve never been disappointed by J.J. Abrams. I was certainly surprised to find that his new show has me every bit as enthralled as LOST, and it has just as much hidden detail to dig for as LOST does, too. The first season was fantastic, posing questions, answering some of them, and then opening up entirely new lines of inquiry after you already think a subject has been closed. I greatly look forward to Season Two. Look for more Fringe posts as I have a chance to cook up ideas and write them down semi-coherently.

Comments

  1. Jack Greenwood

    One question I have about the elevator scene (and I agree with your multiple realities idea, because of that scene) is that in the other episodes, where Olivia has gone to the other reality, she’s been in exactly the same place in both. If she got out of the elevator and walked into William Bell’s office in the World Trade Center, then she certainly wasn’t in any building on the same spot in our reality, right?

    Another observation: the “twin’s” drivers license, from the ep before the finale… it expired in 2017.

    Anyway, I agree with you about this not being a rip-off of X-Files, althouth many of the circumstances resemble each other… I’m currently watching X-Files Season 5/6, and there are similarities (the people with all body orifices sealed off, etc.)

    Haven’t seen any season 2 eps, just watched season 1 on DVD. Not sure if I’m going to slip into the alternative universe to see what happens next or just wait until July in this one when Season 2 comes out…