‘Fringe’ Recap: Episode 3.03, ‘The Plateau’

Episode Title: “The Plateau”

Written By: Alison Schapker & Monica Owusu-Breen

Story: A series of unfortunate coincidences unfolds in the world of “over there,” prompting Fringe Division to investigate the deadly string of events. Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), now convinced that she’s the Olivia of the alternate reality, readjusts to life on the task force alongside partners Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel), but a figure from her past wants her to remember the life she’s left behind.

Back to Work: It’s an odd-numbered episode of “Fringe” season three, so you know what time it is. That’s right, it’s alternate reality time! Once again, viewers are thrust “over there” where nothing is quite what it seems. Ballpoint pens are apparently a forgotten relic of the past, and there are casually placed locations around New York City where oxygen is virtually non-existent. Just another day in the town, folks.

Much more of a standalone episode than either “Olivia” or “The Box,” this episode of “Fringe” demonstrated how the mystery-of-the-week format can still be compelling: by taking everything familiar and applying a stark new layer of paint. Watching Olivia solve crimes alongside Charlie and Lincoln, all three of them working within the unfamiliar laws of the alternate reality, is very jarring for longtime “Fringe” fans — jarring, but exhilarating.

Assisting the mystery-of-the-week’s compelling nature was the villain of the week, Milo (Michael Eklund), a man with the ability to predict events ahead of time and thereby manipulate outcomes to his advantage. But his ability only takes him so far, as the Olivia he chooses to go up against is not the Olivia of this world; her consciousness operates on a different playing field, rendering her a completely unpredictable piece on Milo’s chess board. It was very exciting seeing these two go toe-to-toe, and with any luck, we haven’t seen the last of Milo.

Those who are worried that it’ll take a while for Olivia to remember who she is got a little bit of hope in “The Plateau,” as our heroine starts seeing visions of Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Walter (John Noble). They’re subtle reminders of the life she’s supposed to be leading, but isn’t. It just goes to show that even the best of alternate reality medicine can’t win against the sheer willpower of Olivia Dunham. But really, what can?

Walternate’s Weekly Wisdom: “I’m still a scientist, Brandon. I just have a much bigger laboratory.” — Walternate explaining his current occupation.

Next Case: If you’ve ever wondered whether or not shapeshifters dream of electric sheep, you’ll find out the answer in next week’s episode of “Fringe,” aptly titled “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep.”

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