Recap / Fringe S02 E15 "Jacksonville"

Season 2, Episode 15:


A localized earthquake in New York City damages only one building, killing nearly all inside. The Fringe team discovers that a second building appeared at the same location as the first, fusing the structure and people inside together. Walter realizes that the second building has been pulled from the alternate universe by Thomas Jerome Newton, using the technology that Walter and William Bell developed years ago. Walter warns that, because of conservation of mass, a building of similar mass will be taken from the prime universe to the alternate one sometime in the next few days.

While Massive Dynamic offers its computing resources to identify possible buildings of similar mass, Walter implores Olivia to recall her childhood Cortexiphan-induced ability to see objects from the alternate universe, believing she will be able to foresee which building will be affected and warn everyone in time. He takes her to the disused child-care facility in Jacksonville, Florida, where the Cortexiphan trials were performed. Walter first puts Olivia under heavy sedation, and she experiences meeting her younger, frightened self, but is still unable to trigger her ability. Olivia begins to remember the gruesome trials she experienced, including footage from one test where she exhibited pyrokinesis. As Walter's deadline nears, he realizes that Olivia is no longer frightened and thus she cannot engage her abilities, which were triggered by fear.

They return to New York City as small micro-quakes occur, indicating the onset of the event. Though a few buildings have been identified as possible targets, there are far too many to evacuate without starting a mass panic. Olivia, unable to help, goes off privately, but Peter follows and comforts her. Olivia soon recognizes she is frightened again, and races to a rooftop, seeing a building shimmer in the distance. The building, a hotel, is quickly identified from the list of candidates, and is evacuated in time, moments before being pulled into the alternate universe.

Agent Broyles provides a cover story of an unexpected controlled demolition to explain the disappearance of the hotel. Olivia later meets Peter at his house prior to them going out on a date, but when she arrives, she sees the same shimmer on Peter. Walter quietly asks Olivia not to tell Peter that he is from the other universe.

Tropes found in this episode:

  • Alternate Reality Episode: Or at least an Alternate Reality Opening Act. Clues that the first scene in the office building is from an alternate universe include:
    • The spelling of Manhatan in the 3D location signature.
    • The excitement about real coffee.
    • Blueprints for a New Pentagon Annex IV.
    • The fact that Ted Pratchett has a wedding ring.
    • Photo of the Twin Towers on the wall.
    • Micro-quakes in NYC.
  • Artistic License Medicine:
    • It is unclear why a peripheral IV injection in the right or left arm would make a difference in how quickly the drug works. In either case, the injection must go through the right heart, pulmonary circulation, and then left heart, before reaching the brain.
    • Olivia does not have any ECG leads on but we hear beeping which seem to indicate heart rate and see a monitor displaying cardiac telemetry.
    • The monitor shows Olivia's blood pressure as 55/37, which is certainly low enough to cause concern, but Walter does not seem upset. Of course, we never see a blood pressure measured so perhaps he knew this data was inaccurate. Even when Olivia is stressed, her blood pressure only went up to 78/50. It is not till she reaches a heart rate of 147 (her baseline heart rate was 70) that we get a normal blood pressure of 120/77.
    • The EEG consisted of about 7 electrodes along the hairline, unlike the 20 plus electrodes placed over the scalp in a real life EEG. However, this was a step up from most television EEGs as the electrodes were the small metal discs applied with an adhesive that are actually used for EEGs.
    • For unclear reasons, Walter only looks at one channel of EEG data. The recorded data shows only episodic negative potentials instead of the continuous polyphasic potentials one would expect from active neocortex.
  • Cool Car: Double decker cars.
  • Different World, Different Movies: Mammoth toy figures from the Ice Age movie which aired in 2002 are seen in the classroom that is supposed to have been locked up since 1985, suggesting these items were from the Alternate Universe and this movie occurred much earlier in the other universe's timeline.
  • Equivalent Exchange:
    WALTER: The universe seeks balance. We sent a car over there, so a car of equal mass came back.
    • Why the 35 hour window? The law of of conservation of energy demands instantaneous payment and doesn't take IOUs, as far as our universe's laws of physics work.
      • Because the energy required for the transfer takes that amount of time. Transporting matter from one universe to another requires massive amounts of energy. It's also another foreshadowing to how the laws of physics in both universes are becoming unstable.
    • When Walter took Peter from the alternate universe, did another child of the same mass disappear from our universe? And what about when Olivia or Wlliam Bell went to the alternate universe?
      • Maybe not. The Equivalent Exchange seems to apply only when using a certain method of interdimensional travel or teleportation. Walternate states that every method the Red Universe has of crossing to the Blue Universe has its own risks and consequences; Walter's machine didn't cause anyone to vanish, but it shattered the laws of physics, causing quantum decay on the Red Universe. Likewise, Bell's method of transportation made his molecules unstable, making him a walking time bomb, while the method used by Walternate left him bedridden for quite a while. And the "Tuning Fork Beacon" method utilized by Walter and Newton in this episode has the Equivalent Exchange issue. Olivia's use of Cortexiphan is the only one that doesn't have any consequences when used correctly.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Barking dogs.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail:
    WALTER: Five... twenty... ten... I always use the same combination, though I can't remember the significance.
    • Season two's finale aired on May 20, 2010.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Olivia going out for drinks.
  • Playing with Fire: Olive
  • Psycho Serum: Cortexiphan
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: Richard Nixon on a silver dollar.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Squick: Astrid reaches her limit with Misters Pratchetts.
  • Techno Babble:
    WALTER: Quantum tectonic event would be my guess.
    • Quantum refers to atomic or subatomic particles. Tectonic relates to the earth's crust.
  • These Hands Have Killed: A literal example where Walter is wearing blood stained latex gloves while holding the phone may foreshadow Walter's guilt for the events causing the clash of the universes.
  • Wham Episode: Olivia realizes Peter is from the Other Side