1 MINUTE SUMMARY
Fringe rips off a new-Who plot wholesale, but they did it with grace and originality so I don't really care. Olivia tries to set a record for how many times she can replicate the exact same conversation about Fauxlivia with Peter (maybe Walter's right! She's been replaced with an android! Liv-bot Smash!) until finally they're both tired of it and decide that making out would be more exciting for the viewers (they're right!).
THE 5 MINUTE VERSION
Fringe is not a show renowned for its small talk; whether in plotting, dialogue, or characterization, nothing is extraneous. Everything happens for a reason (lets leave season 1 out of this). So when the show opened with like ten minutes of small talk by random characters, we knew that the longer they bored us, the more horribly it would all end (karma-Fringe!*). And they're sucked through the floor of the apartment balcony and tossed to their deaths.
Then Walter connives to help Peter seduce Olivia using the magical power of breakfast. Olivia and Peter doth protest, until they get called to investigate the apartment deaths.
So it turns out that the apartment building in question is all wrong; it shakes unexpectedly, water pipes burst when there's no reason, holy lights shine down on all the residents, etc. Walter figures that the Rosencrantz building is the first evidence of damage done to Earth Prime following his earlier shenanigans (I would have loved it if the building was known as the Guildenstern in the alt-Verse). Walter's solution? "AMBER THAT BITCH LIKE MY NAME IS WALTERNATE!"
Olivia and Peter wisely decide to continue investigating again (but can I say, WOW has the power of Massive Dynamic gone to Walter's head?). Peter, however, gets bored before they even start, and suggests they hit the nearest bar instead. Lending credence to my theory that Ourlivia has been replaced by a robot, Olivia does not immediately jump in the air shouting 'yay scotch!' But then they get to the bar, and I swear to God I thought Olivia was going to browbeat Peter again, but she kisses him instead.
But Olivia doth protest (this seems to be her chief role the past few episodes). Peter, annoyed, looks like he's trying to figure out why he ever liked OurLivia in the first place. (Frankly, after last week's awesome Fauxlivia episode, so are we. Remember the wonderful days when OurLivia was incredibly awkward instead of incredibly emo?). Apparently, Peter glimmered, and unlike every other female or gay male in history, this does not add to the magic of the moment, and instead makes her run out of the bar. Where she conveniently notices that...
...One room in the building is especially well-lit, and there we meet Alice Merchant, who literally sits through earthquakes to catch astral glimpses of her dead husband (now repeat after me, "a footprint is not a boot." Of course, as cranky as David Tennant could get, he does not hold a candle to Walter.)
Walter believes this is a sign that the two universes are crashing into each other (or whatever), so he still thinks they should amber that shit up. Then he and Nina make sex eyes at each other, as they do so well, even while discussing the destruction of the universe.
Peter and Olivia converse pointlessly to reveal something the audience already knew: that the alt-version of Alice's husband lost Alice. And then we get 'spooky action at a distance,' aka Einstein also made up shit when he felt like it. But once again, I am impressed because Fringe at least pretends to be grounded in the laws of physics. Except that Olivia decides that the rift is not caused by Walter's actions, but by the strong pull of emotion between Alice and her alt-husband, and that breaking that connection will stop the growth of the vortex (or whatever).
So that's fine then. It's a beautiful and emotional scene as Peter and Olivia try to break the connection between the two, but thankfully alt-husband handily finishes the job for them.
And then Peter and Olivia have sex (I know!). Apparently, the world's most successful pickup line is: "I thought you were Walter."
*Be grateful you're not me, because when karma-Fringe came to mind, karm-Olivia soon followed. And now I'm imagining the ten incarnations of Olivia coming to save the Universe. Don't tell NBC, or they'll make it into their latest attempt to recapture the audience of Heroes.
BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS
This has been my favorite episode of the New Year, because it's gotten back to one of the things that made me love the show: its heart. For all of Olivia's awkwardness, she had an amazing talent for empathizing with the broken and the weak and the sad and the despairing. She is so full of understanding, for so many things, that it felt out of character for her to keep harping on Peter like she has been.
Also, as we learned a season ago, no matter how different you are from your alt-self, you do think in exactly the same way. So of course Walter will end up thinking in the same way as Walternate. And it's possible that they're both wrong. Olivia may yet save the day by focusing on the details (each case, each person harmed) while the Walters struggle with the larger questions and start making decisions based on 'logic' and 'strategy.'