It seemed a bit silly to stop and write this anywhere before Fringe 3×08, as the first eight episodes were part of a mini-arc: The tale of Fauxlivia and the dumb people around her, featuring real Olivia in trouble.
Does that opening paragraph give you a sense of where my feelings are at?
I guess we have to start with her, with the fake Olivia. I really don’t like the name Fauxlivia, but I guess we’re going with it just because it’s been around for years, and everyone’s used to it. And here’s my conclusion on Fauxlivia, after eight episodes, a bunch of trickery and her catching some feelings for Peter at the end: Fauxlivia sucks.
She really, really does. Because, if you think about it, she took advantage of Peter. And yes, we can go into the “should he have known” of it all, which always ends up being the point of these storylines. But even if he should have, even if he saw some signs and decided to willfully ignore them, none of that changes the fact that Fauxlivia conned Peter, and everyone around her, really.
The fact that she caught feelings at the end doesn’t change that.
In fact, it might even make it worse, because it says a lot about the thinking in the writers room at the moment. And the thinking seems to be: this isn’t that bad.
Except it is. This show has always been clear about what Walter did to Olivia as a child being abuse, and this …what Fauxlivia did to Peter, is abuse too. Worse, it has as sexual component to it, because Peter slept with Fauxlivia without knowing he was sleeping with Fauxlivia, therefore he never consented to sleeping with Fauxlivia.
Sci-fi shows love this doppleganger trope, they really, really do. But they don’t often stop to think about what it means to have one of their characters involved in an intimate relationship with said doppleganger, and that’s a problem. If you’re going to do this storyline, you might as well own up to the really, really problematic parts of it. If not, then you’re just sending a really bad message.
That isn’t all, though, part of the reason why this whole arc doesn’t sit right with me is that …well, even if it is done better than most other shows, it still, as default, has to rely on coincidence and willful ignorance to work. The reason other characters don’t notice Fauxlivia isn’t Olivia is because they don’t want to notice. Period. They, after all, know that there’s another version of her.
Another thing this batch of episodes made me miss was Olivia having, well …friends outside of work. People who know who she is, people who might have questioned her. Not bringing Rachel in during this stretch was a bad call – availability notwithstanding – and not having Ella mention that weird phone call feels like a lose end in a show that doesn’t really leave lose ends.
Sometimes these storylines require plot over characterization, I get that. That’s why they’re my least favorite storylines of all. I prefer character driving the plot, not the other way around. Hell, I would take a show that made less sense, big picture, if the characters were all perfectly developed.
Maybe that’s just me. That’s not JJ – or that wasn’t JJ back in the day, I don’t even know if I can say that’s still him, because his latest work, The Rise of Skywalker, makes no actual sense plot wise, and yet a lot of sense character wise, if you think about it.
If I have to say one thing about the alternate universe, though – as much as I’m sure that, were I watching live, I would have hated the switching universes by episode gimmick – is that the Fringe team worked. I liked that Charlie better than I ever liked our Charlie, and Lincoln Lee has basically stolen my hear to the point where I will need the other him to show up sometime soon, please.
But in the end – or in the end of this stretch of episodes, at least – Olivia saved herself, basically, as she always does, Anna Torv proved she was indeed a powerhouse, and we are now forced to try to forget every second Fauxlivia spent with Peter, because yuck thank you no.
Oh yes, and I guess angst is coming our way. That was the point of all of this, wasn’t it?