Okay! Welcome back! This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “Reciprocity” from Season Three of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Three season premiere episode is here and the posts dedicated to the following episodes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the episode, see you after the cut!

We are welcomed back into an underground bunker in which there is a giant The Machine… and after some expository dialog in which we are introduced to Doctor Falcon, we find out that it doesn’t seem to have a power mechanism or an energy source. Well, as Peter gets closer and closer to it, stuff gets all weird and power surge-y and Peter’s nose starts to bleed as we all realize at the same time: Peter is the power source. Indeed, Peter is the ignition.

Oh, and Walter has officially dubbed the other Olivia from the other universe to be “Fauxlivia”. So let it be written.

(As an aside, I think it’s really, really funny that the newly named character has a surname of “Falcon”. You may not know this but “Mister Falcon” is the term used to replace a much more famous four-syllable “MF” term used in many rated-R films. “Do they speak English in What?” “What?” “ENGLISH, MISTER FALCON!” though I suppose it’s less funny because this guy is a Doctor. “Yippie-ki-yay, Mister Falcon!” “That’s Doctor Falcon.”)

Blue Credits.

We see someone with gloves breaking into a house… only to find that it’s Peter… and it’s his own house. Huh. Anyway, as the show progresses, we find out that Doctor Falcon is running all kinds of weird tests on Peter, we find out that Walter is terrified of what the tests might find out because Walter suspects that Walternate is smarter than he is, Broyles is having Astrid comb Fauxlivia’s files for pertinent info since Fauxlivia spends so much time talking about Peter (if you know what I mean), and *SOMEBODY* out there is killing shapeshifters, one by one by one.

There are some cutesy scenes with Walter getting some inhalants that should allow him to grow his brain back (“I’ve snorted worse” when told that one of the unlabled vials is for rats and another for chimpanzees), Massive Dynamic has a wicked cool lie detector test, and Mister Falcon is a shapeshifter too. A dead shapeshifter. “Alpha Mike Foxtrot… Adios, Mister Falcon.”

Now, it seems to me that the “who is killing the shapeshifters???” storyline was a potentially rich one that could have been played for at least one or two more episodes. Having the big reveal be that it was PETER ALL ALONG was a nice reveal, honestly, but I think that it would have worked better if they had instead strung us along for a couple of shows… but, anyway, we find out two very interesting things: the shapeshifters aren’t allowed to kill Peter (this from the horse’s mouth) and Peter has decided to start killing shapeshifters because he’s tired of being reactive… and that he’s been researching the hard drives he’s been taking from them.

The little speech he gave about shapeshifters not being human made me remember “Do Shapeshifters Dream Of Electric Sheep” and I was vaguely troubled. I got over it, of course, but…

Oh, and I suppose what the big over-arching storyline hint from the show was this: they’ve found several different copies of The First Peoples book, published in different languages. They’ve also found that they aren’t the first to try to dig that book up. The most recent person to do so? William Bell.


Anyway, this show was a good one, but I didn’t think that it was as good as The Firefly. “The Machine” isn’t as interesting to me as the writers had probably hoped it would be. I prefer the other universe, the Observers (remember how off-putting the Observer was in Season One? Now we have an Observer episode and we lean forward?), Massive Dynamic being evil (without shapeshifters), and Shapeshifters being morally ambiguous (rather than being straight-up victims).

But that’s just me.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Guvf vf nabgure bar gung V jnf ernyyl qvfnccbvagrq gurl qvqa’g sbyybj hc. Jr trg n jubyr rcvfbqr gung’f ynetryl nobhg gur snpg gung gur znpuvar vf znxvat Crgre zber ehguyrff…naq gura vg arire unf gung rssrpg ba uvz ntnva. Vg jbhyq unir orra na vagrerfgvat cybg guernq gb sbyybj. It’s made worse by the fact that, as you mention, this episode doesn’t follow up in any way on “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?” – we had a full episode about how these genuinely are people who can feel, and now we’ve got Peter serial-killing them and nobody seems to find it more than moderately disturbing.

    However, I really did like Peter and Olivia’s conversations about Fauxlivia, particularly Olivia acknowledging that she’s not the only one who’s been hurt by this whole situation, and Peter not at all liking the idea of being seen as (and having been) a dupe. I get the sense that anger at having been played is partially motivating his desire to strike out against the other universe in this episode, and maybe also his striking out at shapeshifters in particular, given the similarity of people pretending to be someone they’re not.

  2. I posted before; I don’t know why it didn’t show up.

    Guvf rcvfbqr vf nabgure bar gung fubjf Sevatr’f znwbe ceboyrz jvgu guvf frnfba. Na vagrerfgvat cybgyvar – gur znpuvar vasyhrapvat Crgre gb orpbzr zhpu zber ehguyrff – vf pbzcyrgryl qebccrq. V jbhyq unir yvxrq gb frr gurz sbyybj hc ba guvf va shgher rcvfbqrf, ohg jr arire frr gur znpuvar vasyhrapvat Crgre va guvf jnl ntnva. The problem is heightened by the episode also failing to follow up on “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”. Here the shapeshifters aren’t treated as people at all; if they were, we’d be much more horrified by Peter’s serial killing of them.

    Still, I do like the conversations between Peter and Olivia regarding Fauxlivia in this one. It’s good that it acknowledges that Olivia wasn’t the only one victimized by Fauxlivia’s deception, and that Peter is going to be having some emotional fallout from the whole thing as well. I also get the sense that, in addition to the machine’s effect, Peter’s desire to be more aggressive against the other side is partially motivated by a reaction to having been duped by them. In addition, he’s going after shapeshifters, whose actions in posing as people they’re not is (as episode 4 also covered) a parallel to what Fauxlivia did.

    • Fringe does some really interesting stuff… I mean, in decades past, television writers would take a story (like Fauxlivia and Olivia being in opposite universes) and make an entire season out of them. They did… what? Six episodes?

      So they accelerate storylines out the wazoo… but that comes with the additional price of bringing stuff up and then dropping it the second it becomes inconvenient.

      I suppose I’m disappointed by this less than most because of my affinity for pro wrestling.

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