Fringe – “Everything in Its Right Place”
Fringe is a difficult show to start watching. Tuning in for new episodes is difficult due to the serialized nature of the show, but even starting from the beginning can be rough. Before it reaches its current state of brilliant science fiction, it starts in the muddled area of X-Files-esque science monster-of-the-week nonsense. Maybe that is unfair to say because I never really cared for X-Files. But Fringe did start in that area, especially since it resembled more of a knock-off than anything else.
Until the final episode of the first season introduces viewers to the Other Side, the parallel universe that resembles the point-of-view universe with tweaks. Zeppelins float in the sky, the statue of liberty is made of bronze, and cappuccinos never became popular. (A world lacking in Starbucks?!) Aside from offering a slightly askew world, the Other Side also presents alternate interpretations of the characters and the question of how they got there. We are reaching the end of the fourth season, and every character has been faced with what makes them different.
Except for new regular character Lincoln Lee. Lincoln is an interesting case because his version from the Other Side was introduced to the cast of characters long before the version of him in the POV universe. The Other Side’s Lincoln is confident and bordering on narcissism, as POV Lincoln tells him pointedly in the most recent episode, “Everything in Its Right Place”. Meanwhile POV Lincoln lacks confidence and seemingly lacks self-esteem. This prompts the two versions of Lincoln to start a running dialog about how their lives turned out differently.
Their backstories were basically identical until adulthood. At that point the Other Side’s Lincoln Lee joined the Fringe Division, which is public and celebrated there. POV Lincoln Lee joined the FBI and essentially became a drifter. Was that enough to change them? Or was it due to what the Other Lincoln Lee thinks it is? He said that maybe it’s because he made choice about the kind of person he wanted to be. It could be as simple as that.
We live in a world in which people are constantly looking at external factors to explain their lives. This is called an external locus of control, which is dangerous to believe in because it can be used as excuse for underperformance and never taking responsibility. And up until this pointFringe attributed everything to circumstance. The two versions of the character Astrid Barnes differ because the one on the Other Side is autistic, and there was no choice that could be made by her to change that.
“Everything in Its Right Place” attributes the differences between Lincolns to an internal locus of control. Lincoln, the closest the show has to a character with whom the average viewer can identify, has the power to be who he wants to be. Is he the unsure but effective FBI agent who drifts in and out of people’s lives, or is he the celebrated hero who feels his world would fall apart without him? The end of the episode gives the POV Lincoln Lee that choice. And in doing so it gives the viewers the choice to do the same.
Watch the preview of “Everything in Its Right Place” now, and then the full episode on 4/14/12, on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/348145/fringe-everything-in-its-right-place
Yeah, it would be nice if the episode were made available immediately, but apparently Fox believes the best way to grow the audience of a struggling show is to put additional boundaries in place for new viewers.