‘Fringe’ Season 4 ‘One Night In October’ Recap & Spoilers Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 26th, 2013 at 7:09 am,

fringe orange titles Fringe Season 4 One Night In October Recap & Spoilers Discussion

What makes you, you? Is it your DNA, your brain chemistry, your upbringing, your memories? If your life had been changed in an innumerable amount of tiny ways, would you still be the same person?

These are the questions that season 4, episode 2 of Fringe, “One Night In October,” attempts to answer.

It probably goes without saying, but the following contains major Fringe spoilers!

As the episode opens, we’re treated to a dank, dark room, where two men are talking. One is strapped into a chair, terrified. The other is asking him about his happiest childhood memories. It’s slowly revealed that both have tubes of blue liquid surgically inserted into the back of their skulls, leading to a home-made device.  As the camera pans away, the victim’s face, including a single tear, freezes solid. Cue the nifty new orange title sequence.

Back in the lab, in the primary universe, Walter continues to struggle to focus on his work. While Astrid attempts to calm his ranting at the members of the alternate universe, Astrid and Olivia have a frank discussion about her love life, or lack thereof – and, apparently, Walter has as hard a time remembering Agent Kennedy Linclon’s name as Astrid’s.

In the FBI field office, Broyles describes to Olivia dozens of victims killed in the process seen in the pre-roll. Their brains were frozen solid with electrical discharge damaging the tissue around the traumatized area – and the holes in their skulls didn’t help either. When Olivia asks why she hasn’t heard about this yet, Broyles tells her that the victims in question are from the other side, and this will be the first case handled by both Fringe divisions in a joint operation.

fringe mcclennan John Pyper Ferguson Fringe Season 4 One Night In October Recap & Spoilers Discussion

Broyles and Olivia travel to the bridge facility where they meet with the alternate Olivia (Bolivia) for a debriefing. She describes a brilliant serial killer, John McClellan (guest star John Pyper-Ferguson, Drive) who’s been on the run from the FBI for five years. Bolivia wants to take the same man from the primary universe into the alternate one, to see if they can use his insight (into his alternate self) to track down the killer. The lack of trust that Olivia has for her alternate, and by extension the rest of the alternate world, is on full display.

Olivia goes to visit the primary-universe McClennan. In our universe he’s a mild-mannered  forensic pathology professor who, appropriately, is a world-renowned expert on serial killers. To keep the secret of the alternate universe safe, they politely drug McClennan to take him through the bridge.

When they reach the alternate universe, Professor McClennan is handed over to Bolivia, who’s dressed up to look like her primary counterpart. (She should be good at it by now.) The killer McClellan is seen stalking a mother and her young daughter at a gas station.

Back in the Harvard lab, Walter recreates the famous Maxell hi-fi ad with a bit of Mozart. It’s clear that he’s falling apart mentally, even more so than usual. Professor McClennan and Bolivia investigate killer McClennan’s home, where he describes his own alternate as a brilliant but deeply flawed individual. The killer had a horrible childhood. They discover that the psychopath has a fixation on the structure of the brain, and he’s ordered parts from various foreign countries for a device of unknown function.

olivia bolivia lincoln fringe Fringe Season 4 One Night In October Recap & Spoilers Discussion

At the gas station, killer McClennan deftly kidnaps the anonymous woman and steals away with her to an unknown location. Bolivia and professor McClennan continue to explore the house, where they find a wall full of photos of smiling people. The professor concludes that the killer kidnaps people at their happiest moment. When the professor discovers a chair that used to be in “his” old house and a picture of his own father, he panics, running outside to see the Olivia… and a neighborhood that’s been buried in the temporal bonding agent, Amber.

Olivia explains the truth to professor McClennan, who is understandably upset that his alternate self is a serial killer. McClennan extemporizes on how he and his alternate self are different – and alike. He himself has dark, violent urges stemming from an abusive childhood. But he was taught to control them through the kind influence of a woman called Marjorie. The professor explains that he studied the brain to try and help people like himself. McClennan concludes that his alternate self had no Marjorie to help him, and instead of feeling angry at his murderous actions, he feels pity and a desire to assist (himself).

The Fringe division then learns that killer McClennan has captured another victim (the woman at the gas station). When they go back to retrieve the professor, he’s escaped, presumably to find his alternate self before the Fringe team does.

Alternate Lincoln and the Olivias rush to the field office, where Alternate Broyles is, without explanation, alive, well and whole (seriously, shouldn’t he be extremely dead after being zapped between universes? More fallout from Peter’s actions). Alternate Astrid uses her super-Aspergers powers to find out where, in all probability, the professor is. Olivia uses the photograph of McClennan’s father to track down a secondary (and correct) location at an abandoned farm.

bolivia mclennan John Pyper Ferguson Fringe Season 4 One Night In October Recap & Spoilers Discussion

The professor finds and confronts his alternate self just as he’s about to drill into his new victim’s skull. He tries to convince his panicked alternate that there’s another way, a method of suppressing his dark instincts with self-control. He describes the night that his abusive father found his stash of slaughtered animals when he was a boy. While Professor McClennan ran and found his salvation in Marjorie, the killer didn’t, and continued his life of abuse. The professor tries to convince the killer that he can help, but instead of accepting, the killer knocks him out and hooks him up to the machine.

The killer activates his machine. As the professor slowly recounts his happy times with Marjorie, the killer experiences the same memories, physically drawing them out of his alternate’s brain and into himself. In a few moments he experiences years of life-changing kindness and understanding.

After some wrong turns, the Fringe team finds the killer McClennan dazed, processing the memories he’s stolen from himself. He feels instant remorse for the first time in life, and concludes that these memories are the only thing that separates the two of them – and now, he suddenly feels an intense empathy and sorrow for his many, many victims. The killer can’t handle the grief and shoots himself while Olivia watches.

The primary Fringe team takes Professor McClennan back to their universe to recover. The damage to his brain is not fatal, but he can’t remember the last few weeks – or his experiences with Marjorie. Olivia and Broyles are worried that without those positive memories, he’ll become just like his alternate self and begin killing people.

fringe alternate lincoln olivia Fringe Season 4 One Night In October Recap & Spoilers Discussion

While McClennan can’t remember Marjorie, he feels her influence on her life. In the same way that the addition of Marjorie to the killer’s psyche can’t overcome his lifetime of taking and giving pain, the subtraction of Marjorie from the professor can’t undo the good that she put into his life. Broyles observes that there are people who leave an indelible mark on a person’s experience, whose influence cannot be erased.

…and for Walter, that person is Peter. As he sleeps in his lonely apartment in the Harvard lab, he continues to hear Peter’s disembodied voice. A voice that he can’t identify, that he doesn’t remember… but that he can’t shut out, either. The stress drives his fragile mind further into darkness.

The episode is a return to form for Fringe, and frankly, a much mor engaging forty minutes than the season premiere. The observations on human nature, that people are not just the sum of their parts or even their experiences, are definitely some of the more subtle and heartfelt moments that the show has had for some time – and while there isn’t much to continue the universe-hopping arc (or explain Peter’s disappearance and the full scope of what it’s done), there’s just enough to keep me excited for next week.

Fringe airs Friday nights at 9 PM on Fox.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider

TAGS: Fringe
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  1. Not Bad.

  2. i would love to

  3. Did I miss something? When did they start calling her bolivia? I thought they called her “fauxlivia” or however it is spelled meaning fake olivia

    • I think it’s probably another instance of things that have changed slightly with Peters absence

    • ‘Bolivia’ isn’t new. It’s been around for as long as ‘Fauxlivia’. Both are just nicknames and a means of differentiating between Olivias

  4. One question…didn’t coronel broyles from “the other side” died in the last season?how is he alive now?

    • I don’t understand that either..

    • good to see that you too noticed that! I could not understand it! Firts I thought that was caused by they forgetting about Peter, but Broyles died way before that… who knows…

  5. The name is Fauxlivia as in false Olivia. Don’t know where anyone came up with “Bolivia” as it makes no sense, and no one has ever called her that.

    What else doesn’t make any sense is how the alternate Broiled is still alive. Peter didn’t change what happened in the past when he used the machine,he just saw what was to come in the future,which really “shouldn’t” have any physical effects of what happened before he got into the machine.

    Don’t know how there are going to write their way out of this one.

    • he did to change the past in the season peter died on both sides as a kid now.

      • this season*

        • Did they explain why they can flip flop between the universes? Peter was the ultimate reason why it all started, but since both Peter’s “died” when he was a boy, I don’t understand the actual need to go from one to the other. If Peter never existed, “The Machine” should have never been created; therefore, doesn’t exist either because Peter was the main source to make it work. Olivia make’s remarks on how Fauxlivia lived in her shoes for 2 weeks, but it doesn’t explain the motivation for Fauxlivia being on our side. Also, when Olivia was trapped on the other side, Peter was the reason why she knew she didn’t belong over there. The Fake Broylas should be dead regardless, because his death was due to helping out Olivia going back to ‘our’ side. Peter didn’t have any part in his death, therefore it should stick. Also wondering why we having seen Walternet yet.

          • In this reality, Olivia was kidnapped and held on the other side. She wasn’t experimented on or made to think she was Fauxlivia (or joined their team, which is why Olivia doesn’t recognize our Lincoln when she met him in the season opener). Walternate had Fauxlivia take her place so that she could find the parts of the machine to assemble it. That’s why she was on our side. In this reality, turning on the machine on the other side is what created the bridge, not Peter. Something else that needs clarified: It’s not that Peter ‘never existed’, he just never grew up into the Peter we knew. When Walter and Peter plunged into the icy water, they weren’t saved by the observer, Peter died and that’s why Walter is even more messed up. He lost his own son and then led to Peter’s death after he took him from the other side. That is why Walternate still hates him, because not only did Walter kidnap his son, he killed him. As far as Alt-Broyles, since Olivia was just kept prisoner all that time, he didn’t have to help her escape or develop a soft spot for her. So he wasn’t killed and is still pretty gruff. I’m not sure if they said, but I assume that once the bridge was created, either they just let her go, or a team went in and got her.

  6. Not the biggest fan of character reboots in general (they just mess with my level of investment) and the way they are handling the overall continuity on Fringe just seems arbitrary at this point (Broyles), but I really enjoyed seeing how the story of the two Johns unfolded and how thoroughly they explored the impact of having a permanent bridge between the universes. The story would have probably come off a lot more hokey if JPF hadn’t done such a brilliant job playing John. The man is just frakkin’ mesmerising to watch, in anything.

    All in all, definitely one of the show’s strongest episodes yet. Hope to see more Olivia/Fauxlivia stuff in the future. It’s done more for my enjoyment of the show in these last two episodes than all the Olivia/Peter stuff combined.

  7. what music was walter playing in the lab in the beginning and in the end. i cannot find what the name of it was for the life of me.

  8. The original name is “Bolivia” for plot B its in the script. We are the ones that came up with Fauxlivia (used in Entrada to show that the show runners heard us). As for One Night in October, it was better then the premier,lots of unanswered questions and plot holes not too happy about that. I seriously miss Peter and Nina and I would have loved to see more Walter as well. Ratings was seriously down not good.

    • but every episode leaves unanswered questions lol

  9. @hannah I think its Mozart’s Requiem D Minor..I hope that helps :)

  10. At the End, when you see the New Yor Skyline and the Universes switch, was that the “SS Normandie” in the parallele Universe laying in the New York Harbour??!!??