Monday, January 31, 2011

'Fringe' 'Reciprocity' Recap and Review: The Mystery of the Shape Shifters

Fringe continues to stick to this universe as it explores Peter (Joshua Jackson) and his relationship to the machine. On Friday, January 28th, the FOX drama aired "Reciprocity," an episode that seemed to have two story lines until they inevitably crashed together.

What is the relationship between Peter and the doomsday machine?
As previewed, "Reciprocity" focused a great deal of the hour on Peter. In the first few minutes of Fringe, Peter walked into Massive Dynamic where scientists were working on piecing together the first people’s doomsday machine. Until that moment, the machine didn’t work. It wasn’t reacting to power sources and couldn’t transmit power.

But then the machine starts moving, drawing office objects closer--and Peter’s nose starts bleeding. So starts the tests on Peter to find out how he’s connected to the doomsday machine. Yet, Dr. James Falcon (Charles Parnell) can find no relation. Peter is in perfect health.

That doesn’t stop Walter (John Noble) from worrying about Peter. Also as previewed, Walter turns to Nina (Blair Brown) for help. She finds some serums that could rejuvenate his brain. Yet, Walter takes a serum intended for chimpanzee brains first. While it doesn’t help him much, it provides some much-need comic relief.

Who’s killing the shape shifters on Fringe?
While Peter is going through all sorts of tests, Olivia (Anna Torv) is called to duty. Someone is killing shape shifters, all of whom are in Faux-Livia’s computer, which Astrid (Jasika Nicole) has been working on. The killer is also removing the data storage disks.

The team agrees: Walter-net seems to be cleaning up loose ends. After all, they assume the shape-shifters know something about his plans with the doomsday machine.
As they sort through a long list of names, they realize that whoever is killing the shape shifters has been in Faux-Livia’s computer. That means they have a mole. Yet, a search at Massive Dynamic and the FBI leads to nothing but a false lead.

Then a woman is chased down an alley. She shape-shifts, and the killer appears. Here is where the two story lines collide. The killer is none other than Peter.
The first person to realize this is Walter. After a distressing call from Nina, he goes into Peter’s room and realizes Peter discovered a letter substitution code among the files. Wanting to protect his son, yet again, he finds Peter in the home of a shape-shifter, a shape-shifter who has been expecting Peter. The two are rolling around on the floor when Walter walks in.

Peter wins, but he’s clearly not himself as Walter looks on. “They’re soldiers, Walter,” Peter says to explain his actions. “They’re here to kill us.” Peter also says he’s tired of being reactive and he’s been looking for information. He’s found none on the disks, but he thinks he’s done no wrong. As Walter points out, if he’s doing nothing wrong, then why didn’t he tell the team?
Even after the confrontation between Fringe son and father, Peter doesn’t tell Olivia. She’s left stunned that they were always one step behind, but she doesn’t connect the dots. Things are definitely more distant between Olivia and Peter than ever before.
So, how is the machine related to Peter’s killing spree? Walter has his own theory, one that explains the episode title Reciprocity. “Every relationship is reciprocal,” Walter explained. The machine changed Peter and weaponized him.

The future of Fringe
That relationship between man and machine is obviously not over. As the season continues to unfold, more will be revealed about Peter’s role on Fringe. To do this, viewers should expect more flashbacks to Peter’s childhood on the other side, as the show explores why Peter is so special.
Other spoilers were hinted at toward the end of the episode. Massive Dynamic has now collected three more ‘First People’ books. They’re in three different languages but basically say the same thing. The important part of this book search though? William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) did the same exact search just a few years prior. With that reintroduction and reference to Bell, viewers can now look for him to appear in future season three episodes.

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