'The Plateau' - 'Fringe' Episode 3.3


Fringe Episode 3.3
“The Plateau”
Written By: Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen
Directed By: Brad Anderson
Original Airdate: 7 October 2010

In This Episode...

We are in the other universe this week.  When one person is hit by a bus, it is a tragedy.  Two within two days is an eerie coincidence.  Three in two days is a Fringe event.  The team’s investigation leads them to discover a hospital who is testing experimental “smart drugs” on patients with IQs lower than 65.  Nothing sinister is going on there, really, but with every experiment there is bound to be some side effects. In this case, a young man named Milo - 55 IQ - is given one dose of the drug, and reciting pi to the thousandth place.  Each dose raised his IQ exponentially.  Milo was given five.  He was sent to live with his sister, but when it was time to be reverted to his old IQ, Milo fled and began killing those who were “plotting” against him.  Here is where it gets fun.  Milo’s brain is so advanced, he can see 10 or 20 steps ahead in any given situation.

For example, Milo balances a ballpoint pen - a rarity in this dimension - on its end atop a mailbox.  A car in the street rumbles by, shaking the pen to the ground.  A man drinking coffee sees it and goes to pick it up.  A careless bicyclist speeds around the corner and collides with the man.  In the commotion, a bus driver isn’t paying attention and slams into a young blonde - the intended target - who was crossing the street.  Milo’s overactive brain can essentially see into the future.  When Charlie and Olivia catch up with him, in Milo’s eye, Olivia is buried beneath a pile of cinderblocks.  But when the oxygen alarms go off, Olivia doesn’t know to stop for a breath from her inhaler.  She keeps running - an action Milo could not have foreseen - and escapes the accident.  Milo’s surprise is what allows her to catch him.  Milo is returned to the hospital.  The drugs have been in his system too long and the effects cannot be reversed.  His brain works too quickly to put into words, so he is relegated to communicating with a machine.  He ends up with a very different kind of autism.

Walter reveals to Broyles what he wants our Olivia for.  She is the only one who can move between worlds with no consequences.  He wants to study her, and learn what she knows so that they can “defend” themselves.

Cracks are beginning to appear in the “spell” that the alternate universe has on Olivia.  She didn’t know about the oxygen warnings.  She didn’t know she needed an authorization code to use the office phone.  More troubling is that she has occasional visions of Peter.  He tells her why she wasn’t crushed by the cinderblocks,  that she is not of this universe, and cannot forget who she really is.

Dig It or Bury It?

A very good episode, especially because I am not crazy about the “Red” episodes (I fear change).  The notion of someone essentially being able to predict chaos theory is fascinating.  It’s like a more scientific version of someone being able to see into the future. It also made for a fast-paced episode.  Some of the explanations were hilariously complex, like Astrid getting stuck in an infinite loop trying to figure out the probability that Milo was setting up Olivia or not setting up Olivia.  It was craziness.

Somber Walternate

Walternate visits one of the labs at the Department of Defense, and one of the techs asks him if he misses being a scientist.  “I am still a scientist,” Walternate says, “I just have a much bigger laboratory.”

In This Universe....

...Ballpoint pens haven’t been used regularly in over 20 years.  Everything is electronic.  Olivia’s sister is dead while her mother is still alive.  Avocados are a rare luxury item, and Texas is the center of a smallpox plague.


“Smart drugs” are certainly not new.  The idea that they could turn someone into a cartoonish evil genius is pretty farfetched.


Next week we are back in our universe, and are promised shape shifters, government conspiracies, and big surprises.  Don’t promise it if you can’t deliver.