Recap / Fringe S02 E15 "Jacksonville"

Season 2, Episode 15:


In Manhattan, a building from the alternate universe is transported into the prime universe, merging with its counterpart with catastrophic consequences for everyone inside: one man finds himself fused together with his counterpart and somehow still alive despite suddenly having too many limbs and organs. As Olivia investigates and learns that Newton is responsible, Walter theorises that due to the method used to cross one building over to the other side — based on the original methods used in Walter and William Bell's earliest experiments in which objects of equal mass in both universes swap places — a building from the prime universe Manhattan will disappear into the alternate universe with the space of a day or so.

To identify the building that will disappear and save the people inside, Walter suggests that he and Olivia revisit the cortexiphan experiments from over twenty years ago, they travel to small daycare in Jacksonville Florida. The cortexiphan, which had allowed her to identify objects from the other side (by their "glimmer") and even travel between the two universes. Since the ability was dormant, Walter tries to reawaken it with a fresh dose of cortexiphan. The ability is subsequently triggered by Olivia's emotions, specifically fear, but the result of a lifetime's worth of physical, mental and emotional abuse has caused her psyche to harden to the point of being fearless. Considering the experiment a failure, the Fringe team return to New York and work with Massive Dynamic to try and identify the building using other means, such as identifying a building with the exact same mass as the one that appeared from the other universe.

As the expected time of the building's disappearance draws closer, Olivia becomes increasingly guilty over the failure of the cortexiphan experiment and afraid for the people she's unable to save — which triggers the ability and allows her see the "glimmer" of the other side and identify the building. The FBI evacuates just in time, so that there are no casualties when the building disappears. Later, Olivia goes to the Bishops' house, planning on going out for celebratory drinks with Peter. When she sees the glimmer around Peter, she realises that he's from the alternate universe. Walter begs her not to tell Peter.

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.