The second episode of Fringe’s fourth season, “One Night In October,” was a strong episode, that worked well as a stand-alone story without veering into formulaic “case of the week” territory. There were also nice moments that tied into the show’s overall mythology, and as a whole the episode did well at developing the reluctant friendship between the two universes.
“One Night in October” saw the two universes teaming up to stop a serial killer from “over there” who was killing his victims via a machine that pumped a liquid coolant into their brains that froze them from the inside, out. The “over there” fringe division requested the help of “our” fringe team, upon realizing that the serial killers double in “our” universe wasn’t a killer at all, but a professor at a university, who specialized in profiling serial killers.
The two universes working together is one of the focal points of this series, so this episode, where we saw the two divisions working together directly, was an important one in the overall development of that dynamic. Last weeks premier did this in overt ways. First, the episode opened up with the two Olivia’s openly arguing with each other, with “our” Olivia stating in plain terms that she didn’t trust the alternate universe Fringe Division. Then, all throughout the episode, we heard dire warnings from Walter about how his alternate self was absolutely not to be trusted. And while all of this worked in the episode’s context, this week’s show was far more subtle about developing the tension between over-here and over-there.
A perfect example of this was a scene where “our” Agent Dunham, and “their” Agent Lee waited for “our” version of the serial killer to go through his doppelganger’s house. As they passed the time, Agent lee mentioned to Olivia that it didn’t seem like she enjoyed being on “his” side. Their conversation seemed normal enough on the surface; the two were more or less polite to each other and demonstrated an amount of professional courtesy. Rather then depicting an argument between the two, the tension of the scene came from a very organic place that felt much more natural, rather than characters bickering with each other out of nowhere.
One of the things that Fringe has always been good at is showing the differences between the two universes, and this episode was no different. However throughout seasons two and three, the show focused on the broad differences between universes, such as the differences in technology, and various historical events that happened differently. During this episode, however, the focus seemed to be on the more subtle differences. The majority of this episode was spent “over there” and there were a lot of little things sprinkled throughout every scene that really added to the feeling that we weren’t quite “at home” anymore. For example, when the over-here version of the serial killer (who hadn’t been told anything of the other universe – only that he was going “somewhere” to profile a serial killer, whose identity was unknown) runs out of his doppelganger’s house after seeing a picture of his father, everything, at first, looks normal about the suburban neighborhood that he found himself in. However before he could get off of the front lawn of the house, he spotted a giant dome of Amber, presumably created off-screen by the Fringe Division to plug up a rip in the fabric of their universe.
One of the major themes of Fringe is choice – how the choices we make affect the paths that we take in life. “One Night in October,” did a good job of exploring this theme. While we spent the entire episode learning about the two different versions of one man – one who became a serial killer, the other who became a college professor – it is near the episode’s end that we learn that the two very different paths that these men took in life came down to a single decision.
As the college professor confronted his serial killer alternate, we learned that both of their lives followed the same path, right up until age ten. Both went to the country fair one night in October, and both were confronted at the fair by their father, who had found a secret place where the men had hidden animals they had killed. The man from over-there decided to hide from his father, while the one from over-here decided to run. The version of the man who hid, was found by his father and was beaten non-stop for three days. This experience made him shamed, and the darkness within him that led him to kill the animals as a child, eventually inspired him to kill humans as an adult. The version of the man who ran, however, was found by a kind woman who taught him that he didn’t have to give in to the darkness inside of him, and could chose to “step into the light.” This version of the man dedicated himself to learning about his darkness, and helping others who faced similar dark thoughts. A single choice, run versus hide, decided the fate of this man’s life, with each choice representing a very different path.
The storyline of the professor who would be a serial killer did an excellent job of exploring the theme of choice. It really made me think about how even the choices we make that seem insignificant in the moment can eventually lead to a significant event.
The episode also tied into the larger mythology of the show, notably the question of “where is Peter Bishop?” Like last episode, Walter kept seeing ghostly images of Peter in various places, however this time, it seemed as if Peter actually attempted to reach out and communicate with him. As the episode came to a close, we saw Walter in his lab, preparing for bed. However before he’s able to fall asleep, he hears the Peter’s voice, loud and clear, calling out to him, “Walter,” Peter said, “I’m right here!” While it didn’t provide any definitive answers, it did seem to indicate that wherever Peter is, he’s aware that no one seems to be able to see, hear, or remember him. It was a powerful moment, and it really left me wanting to know more.
In all, “One Night in October,” was a great episode that used a creative storyline to expand on the show’s themes, to develop character relationships, and to add to the overall mythology of the show.