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The Social Network (2010)
What this generation has come to be?
When you picture a villain in your mind, I guess the most convenient way is to think up a hideous face, and put the many undesirable qualities in your opinion behind that face, so he would speak the same awful languages you've come to be familiar with. I wouldn't be surprised if the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in this movie was come up in this fashion.
With 95/100 on Metacritic, 3 Oscars and so much hype, The Social Network can be called a monumental success in Hollywood. David Fintcher may have again proved that he is not only a storytelling master, but also a mastermind of medias, as evidenced by the convoluted nature of the Social Network project, and the explosive media coverages after-wards. I believe this movie will be discussed, analyzed and staying in its controversial status for the next decade. I, for one, am totally compelled to find out about the real Zuckerberg. However, such interests only garnered me more curiosity in digging deeper about him. After all, the aftertaste of watching a big screen villainous main protagonist is strong, especially if such a figure feels like your unfriendly neighbor who is in possession of similar, uh, admirable qualities.
Liked I said, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the real-life Zuckerberg is quite friendly, and easy to get along with. However, the real issue here, is how I should live with the fact that, as a fellow geek/nerd, would what Zuckerberg wants to say be similar to what I want to say? Having been following the discussion board here, I cannot help but notice that people are generally offended and raging out against Mr. Z portrayed in this movie, pulling no punches in calling him "douche-bag" "self-absorbed" and so on. Some also said he's probably autistic and even aspergers. Moreover, some went on to say that being autistic doesn't justify what Mr.Z has done in the movie, which I totally agree. But still, under all these fancy terms, these extravagant wrappings, what would Zuckerberg feel? Is he really comfortable with being a modern day Butch Cassidy, aka a role model for renegades and rebels?
Thus I remembered a time where all people felt compelled to justify themselves to their subjects. The rich wished to justify his wealth either by appearances of hard-working or good heritage; the religious would wish to justify themselves by their deeds, as holy as possible; while rebels generally overlooked, or lived in the limbo created by other people's justifications. If Mr. Z was a 1st-century Jew (actually he's a 21st-century Jew), he would most likely end up as someone like the prodigal son in the Bible's "Prodigal Son Parable", instead of the billionaire he is now. The sheer difference of these two outcomes drives me to ask, if Mr. Z in the movie, a rebel and a billionaire, felt the need to justify himself? Or more personally to us commoners, would he feel totally free and more-evoluted if he reaches a point of completely no need to justify himself, when he's crowned with all these paramount achievements? To my disappointment, when I saw his business card, which said, "I am Mark Zuckerberg, Bixxx", I knew instantly he was still compelled to justify himself and his legacy, just like the old-fashioned religions. This business card is essentially saying, "I am the Lord of this business, and this is my Ten Commendaments for you, which is actually only One-commandments, that I AM Mark Z, and you're my Bixxx." Why is that? Aside from raising more brows and attract more medias, wouldn't 2 Billion dollars have made him feel safe already, that he needs stunts like this? That's when I realized that, the sheer irony for people like Sean Parker and Mr.Z in the movie, is that they went so far in denying their religious nature, and the fact that by saying something like "This is our generation, our rules", they're essentially creating new religions, for both themselves and the others . The prodigal son in the Bible, despite his rebelliousness and reckless, childish behaviors to destroy himself, saw no point in gratifying his own namesake, or writing down his own legacy and epics. However, we modern people are so into raging against the old values and creating our own, that when something backfires at us to make us feel there are after all something wrong with the whole idea, we are only left in a position to regret (or like Mr.Z did in the movie, expressing his contempt to the judge and jury).
The movie ended with the friendship between the two lead roles presumably broken forever, while the lawyer got some insight into Zuckerberg's deeply troubled self, which he seldomly leak to his 500 million Facebook friends. Once a friend of mine told me that, justification is for reconciliation, at least that's what happened in the Prodigal Son parable that the Father reconciled beautifully with his prodigal son. The Bible told me that whether you're an authentic A-hole or just someone who tries very hard to be one, you're welcome to accept Jesus' love, and be reconciled with him. I truly wish Mr. Z and Saverin can be reconciled in a graceful fashion, too.
Garnering enough dedicated fan base, and you can feed them with Dick Roman's syrup and make them watch another season.
Talking about double standards, I never really dropped my skepticism for another CW show "Nikita" cause every time I try to buy myself into its logics and twists, I was made aware of the premise of that show which is essentially two skinny Barbie dolls trying to save America and teach us low-life's some true colors. They are just directed to their destined triumph where there always are Ken dolls waiting to kiss them in sunsets. Supernatural, however, entertains me in multiple facets while logics boil down to pretty much like, "Nah, this is all just demented supernatural stuff, yeah?" Which is why I keep referring this show to friends of mine as "guilty pleasure" since I could be aware of the culmination of bad theology and blatantly offensive parts of the show. So the fact is Christianity takes center stage as the laugh stick, while nearly all other religions took shots in their backs. This "screw all you religious hypocrites" vibe reached an all time high in the episode "Surviving of the Fittest", where we got a upright nun's bone in a cynical's hands as an ultimate weapon against the "another most difficult monster to take down". The show seems to be so eager in claiming itself as unredeemable, pulling no punches at these jokes in excellent (I tip my hat to the writers, again) sarcasm. Interesting enough, people with their cynical pop-corns choked on their chills somewhere in the show's plot, sadly.
So you may have noticed that most negative criticisms come from the audiences who're aware of the "lameness" where Cas was reconciled with Dean and Dean's cause when he sensed a thread of Dean's forgiveness. I smiled through that part because having a Ghandi-quoting, "make-love-no-war" Cas returning to his normal angel awareness takes some serious guts from the show-runners, and some over-the-top absurdity to add to the show's already-paramount, uh, absurdity. Now you've dropped your cynical pop-corns because after all the 24-episode story is still a reconciliation and redemption story, and the show-runners opted to diffuse the absurdity, a bit. Now those who care about the characters have more to worry about, which is the fate of Cas and Dean in, ahem, purgatory.
This instantly turned a lot of people off. But to me, honestly it's not a big issue, since I somehow figured out that the way you make "guilty pleasure" works for me is to somehow balance the scale between "totally guilty" and "totally complacent" with pleasure. The show-runners are smart enough to pull this trick off again and again, while preventing from appealing too much to my daily-weakened religious conscience. After all, keeping the fate of the main cast in a hunting reserve does make a fan's heart squeeze a bit, doesn't it? The cumulation of the nihilist ego in the trend of this new story arc of "Supernatural" does make me wonder how Season 8 would come into light. My point, that the writers essentially takes the spitting if they keep writing that there's a sovereign God and such God is a jerk, still stands. Also, if you declare a troubled kid a lost course, and decided to add more trouble to him, well, you'd be careful about things taking a dramatic turn, Deus Ex Machina style. Such a comment is irrelevant to a delusional angel at all.
Fringe: Brave New World: Part 2 (2012)
The residual value of a TV show, the residual value of dedicated fans.
Being the Season finale, this proves to be a decent, tight episode that reconciled with many pivotal moments in previous episodes and seasons. There would be so many "told-ya" moments that make the fans jump from their couches.
Just my opinion, but did anyone suspect that the Fringe division was fooling around when they clearly knew where did the Belly-gang disappear from, but didn't even try to check the surveillance footages to narrow down the possibilities? Aside from some moments like this that knocked me out of my suspension of disbelief, I could live with this episode and even say it is greatly watchable and entertaining. We got some totally wicked and creepy dead person interrogation and one-very-gruesome bullet extraction. In fact, you can still sense that there must have been a last-minute save for the show to be renewed, that many scenes were serviceable as series finale, too.
It is an episode where all core relations and connections that we fans come to care about are all put to test. The relationship between Walter and Olive, Walter and Astrid, Olive and Peter and most notably, Walter and William Bell. From some mainstream critics' reviews I can already smell the detachedness they experienced when Belly invited Walter to a verbal wrestling of metaphysics, one that concerns with the Biblical God and the justification of his creation, and so on. As religious as the main cast (most notably, the remarkable John Noble) might be, this is almost bound to be bashed by the internet community, since what absorbed the fans into this show in the first place was the politically-neutral nature of this alternate-universes-ridden, pseudo-scientific-boasting story. Injecting some stoic, evangelical conversations into the middle of the story is as preachy and comic as it can be. Yet, I wish to read it as a desperate move to be reconciled with the lost Godly traditions the ancestors of these young audiences once had, which would shed some light onto the current turmoil the world is driving into(one that not too much better than depiction of Fringe). I guess the show runners know their business in terms of where to tread carefully and when to retreat to safer territories.
That led to my assessment of the currently existing 4 seasons of Fringe, which came with some pleasant closure by today with "A Brave New World Part 2". The core of the struggle depicted might be far-fetched and unconvincing, but through this exotic looking glass, one can expect to get warm and cozy in the core relationships the fans have come to know. It felt like every show (or movie) from J.J.Abrams would end in this fashion, with main characters and their significant others gaining some closure/resolution/reconciliation, while the mythology/science/exotic worlds take a backseat, like the so many mysteries from "Lost" never getting straight answers. Granted that human questions can be potentially tricky to answer (wait, is human the only being that's capable of asking questions?), but paralleling them with engineered (read:directed) perspectives of different mythologies is bound to be beautiful, isn't it? Why do I want to refer to Fringe, or "X-files" or "Supernatural" for insights of difficult or unexplainable phenomenons (timeloop, for one thing) when I can actually go to the library for a whole archive of documentations of these stuff? Why do I want to see the war of words between two grandpas about God and human suffering, when I can actually go to the nearest bookstore for a 2nd-hand copy of C.S.Lewis' "The Problem of Pain"? Why don't I go to my mum's place and hug her, but rather weep over Walter and Astrid's emotional moment and sigh over the invaluable nature of family love? Well, I think it's because I believe in this show's unsound vow to make more out of the sum of these elements. And, when this little share of faith seems dishonored, I feel like the residual value of the show and the residual value of me following the show would both be drained. I surely wish the show good luck in finding its anchor, its identity in its 5th and last season.
Supernatural: There Will Be Blood (2012)
Well thought-out, with some nicely nuanced parts and some forced narration.
If you just turned off the TV after seeing Supernatural, and stood up from your couch yarning, would you look in the mirror and laugh at your own over-weighted self. That's what I did in my most cynical and entertaining style, and don't get me wrong but all the smart political comments accumulated in this season is being paid off in satisfying fashions.
On the surface, this episode is just standard fan service, with Crawley returning with his hellish sense of humor, and a run-of-the-mill fetch task to work out for the main characters. I felt like I could almost picture how the season finale is going to be, with ghost Bobby and all the other peripheral characters fitting into the "Independence Day against Leviathans" kind of story. However things quickly got interesting. When Dick Roman got interviewed, he has reached his all-time-high arrogance and like anyone(or should I say "anything" instead in the Supernatural universe) with a big ego he slipped out a keyword for his master plan--"make the human species as tasteful and healthy as ever", while looking into the camera with a big smile to you and me--the fattened, chip-swallowing geeks in front of TVs. Yeah, nice touch. With a downward-going economy in the real world(and lots and lots of social problems including tainted baby milk powder among other unheard-of woeful stuff in another hemisphere), this is some serious irony regardless of race and nationality. This episode basically maintains this wicked-fun vibe that also infected the Winchesters, whose adventure went on with some unexpected frustrations like Dean cannot devour his favorite garbage foods. There were also some twisted humors that kept knocking down the 4th wall here and there, including having the Alpha vampire saying "see you next season". However, there are also some narrations that sadly phase you out of the immersion like Dean and Sam's self-righteousness to insist rescue the little boy.
As a typical piece of post-modern art, Supernatural has always been about telling a over-serious mythological story with funny and cynical undertones, especially to its dedicated audiences, the equally-broken-as-the-Winchesters young adults whose everyday resentfulness, bitterness and pressure cannot be let out in public ways (No offense but I am often like that). Seeing another "you" who's on the brink of being zombiefied after swallowing so much delicately processed food might just be a smart metaphor for our worship of nihilism and cynicism when we laugh through a whole season of bad TV brainlessly. I surely hope that, just like Sam and Dean's "residual" sense of self-righteousness, "Supernatural" would use its self-awareness for good just like this episode "There Will Be Blood", which inspired some self-reflection and responsibility for me. As usual, I would like to end up my review with a salute and good luck for Supernatural.
Machine Gun Preacher (2011)
I've got mixed feelings for this movie.
It's no secret that as a young Christian, someone like me would be drawn into the story of "Machine Gun Preacher", which according to its Facebook tag line, is "a great story of human and redemption". However, my admiration for this real-life saint, this living legend wasn't enough to cushion the disappointment and confusion after seeing the movie.
On one hand, Mr. Childers' vision in saving children from battlefields is inspiring, especially worth a mention to Christians in peaceful countries who took peace and life prosperity for granted. The movie depicts him as being driven by this vision almost into the abyss of madness, which is beyond reasoning, beyond family commitments and even beyond his own faith in God. You can taste that the movie makers are tough and brave enough to show you the dark sides of a modern-day saint, which is kinda like the point of modern storytelling. It's as if they were totally expecting (or maybe even aiming for) controversy in the first place, that the depiction of Childers' religion reaches new heights of theatrical unconventional-ism. This is not a man who reach out to unfriendly fellow human-beings with a "turn the other cheek" attitude, but rather a man who strike out like a wolf without any fear to hold him back from executing an enemy. When Gerald Butler roared with AK-47 in hands, he was not shouting to the evil rebels who like to grab kids and brainwash them into killing machines, he was literally shouting out to people who are disconnected from the real cruelty which is happening every minute. If Childers ever want to laugh at us for being fat and useless, I would say he has every right to say so because
trying to defend yourself whether with mental cleanliness which you call "pacifism" or smart argument that we are too little too feeble to do anything substantial for those kids, there are those risking their lives on the front line for them.
On the other hand, the Christianity I know may not work like what the movie depicts. I know some dedicated Christians who work in rehab centers here in Thailand, who has to witness the addicts getting clean only by the grace of Jesus. That certain process is extremely painful, challenging and no less difficult than being born all over again. However the movie, to my disappointment, took the transformation for granted. In a way, I also wish this kind of "montage cleansing methodology" can be applied in real life, which would save so much time and strength. Unfortunately, I don't believe so. It seems to me that, as far as Childers' motivational sermons(speeches) go, he may have turned his church from a place of healing into a shooting gallery, with bullets made of religious terms. Although it seems more dramatic and scary on the big screen, but one has to confess that Christians can often do so without ever realizing it is exactly what Jesus hated so much about religious people in the 1st century. The movie itself also acknowledged this issue lightly, but indifferently marched on with Childers at the center of righteousness. Childers' donation collecting approach is more like "call yourself a bastard if you don't care", which is amusing since it reminds me of some Chinese advertisements and viral marketing methodology in which a curse is landed onto you if you don't act as required. I am also pretty sure that's not how Jesus preached in the Bible.
Whether it's for artistic reason or not, the story development in this movie, as some reviewers pointed out, is a bit inconsistent. Potentially it can cause many unnecessary confusions to those not familiar with Christian faith, in my opinion. For example, there was a scene in which Childers made a bad decision to leave dozens kids behind when there weren't enough room to move them back all at once. This led to those kids being slaughtered and burnt, which made Childers questioning his God, commenting that Mr. Almighty doesn't care or doesn't exist. So the scenario is, you did your best calculations and pulled out a long shot, which the "God Insurance Co.Ltd" didn't choose to cover, and you're so angry that you call God a fraud. How smart is that? Still, Jonas in the Bible did something similar, but Jonas' story ended on the note of God's reassuring words, unlike Mr. Childers' story which ended on Childers being "redeemed" by the little kid who was forced to kill his family, when the kid told him not to lose himself in catastrophes. So I guess the inconsistency of the story comes with the problem of redemption. Who was redeemed by whom from what? How's redemption ever possible? The movie started off establishing the power of the God's love as the ultimate answer, but gradually skewed towards humanism which finally sees Childers as the fleshed out hero, who's maybe one step away from claiming higher moral ground than God (which I surely hope the real-life Childers won't do).
With this review, I hope that some bottom-line can be given to my fellow movie-goers who walked out of the theater confused, or even offended by the Christianity depicted in the movie. Also, I hope to know Mr. Childers in real life better, and will look forward to be inspired by his account of faith and redemption.
A strong episode with some serious philosophical notes, and some returning themes.
After almost a whole season without much of the old-school Supernatural regulars (Cas, Crowley, Meg among the ones still alive), Reading is Fundamental feels like just the right episode to kick everything into their most comfortable places in this show. It is proof that Supernatural is usually stronger in its well-developed mythological habitat, aka a place where "angels" and "demons" can well fit into the same house.
I once read from a famous pastor's work that "American culture is Calvinism plus business achievements". Oddly enough, a show as unconventional as Supernatural would fit somewhere into this sentence, if you realize how much the show derives from the Biblical view of the world, and how fun it is for this show to continue its pop-culture reference tradition. The newest one of the later is a well-placed reference to the Transformers, which I laughed out loud for quite a while. Speaking of the person who uttered these funny words, Cas' return is somehow reminiscent to his mortal trip back in Season 5. Thus, the show cashed out some capital from the glorious old days by repeating the philosophical mind-bending of dragging an angel down to the human level. It is still unclear how this funky new Cas would fit into the new story arc, since it's not as well planned and masterfully unfolded as the old Eric Kripke story arc. Let's just hope he will make as much fun as he gives exposition in later episodes. Anyway, some moments worked out great, especially the scene between Cas and Dean when they played a board game with metaphoric undertones. It feels like an assessment of the old theological question about predestination from the universe of Supernatural. And this episode on its own is an excellent example of TV entertainment.
As far as the show's big statements go, this episode may have reached some new heights in claiming that "angels are incapable to care" and many recurring accusations about God. From Season 4 and 5 we already knew that the chosen prophets in Supernatural universe can be really wimpy, unfortunate in their gritty predicaments, yet the show knew how to wrap things up in a relatively graceful way by concluding the story with a big exclamation mark that "Oh, I see. So everything WAS in God's plan after all despite so many crazy and sad things happened." My point, same as last week, is that it seems meaningless to write a story where God is a jerk (or irresponsible) since the writers are essentially the God of the story and will take the final blame, especially when the story turns out to be a bad one. So as a fan of the show, I wish Supernatural good luck for this and next season.
It's funny, in a crazy way.
It felt a simultaneously good and bad thing to build the entire show on a string of geeky and crazy ideas. On one hand, the stable fan base may not grow dramatically when we're so deep into the story. Yet that is where Supernatural truly shines. The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo is such a typical Supernatural episode, and it's the reason I watch this show.
So, in order for this episode to work for you, you'd at least have to watch the movie "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" US version to understand the spoofs. You'd also need to belong to the generation which accepts Harry Porter as their one and only true "High Art" like Sam did in the story. Actually, this one might come out as one of those better meta-episodes that will leave a grin on your face long after you saw it, and not just for making fun of Star Wars in unexpected ways and quoting Harry Porter as a guiding star. The episode is not particularly long, but totally eventful and epic in scale with a lot of good suspenses and good actions. While the 7th season had already garnered some bad reviews from critics, calling it dragging with its main story arc, this episode really tightened things up, wrapping up Frank, Bobby and Dick Roman's storyline in a satisfactory way with bunch of new possibilities in hand. The writers totally deserve some good credit. The apparent achievement here is that they advanced the main storyline without compromising the parodied fun.
In a way, you can call this episode an inspiration for the elder generations who want to reach out to the younger, Dungeons and Dragons generation. When Charlie, the "Lisbeth" of this episode freaked out and froze, Dean totally ran out of ideas to work her around. On the other hand, Sam is able to pull the impossible by referring to her own personal "Bible", aka the Harry Potter books in order to motivate her. Should we want to make clarifications and good parables in our effective conversations with this generation (I am 25 by the way, but felt a bit stuck between generations and cultures), that might just be the humility we need. At the end, Dean said Charlie is like a little sister he never wanted, which is bittersweet considering what the brothers have been through. Listening to a 30-something Dean uttering this sentence can be ironic, since the show-runners are in fact responsible for writing them into a seemingly endless pit of misery. Every time I laughed at Dean and Sam on the screen simply made me wish more that my life isn't just another sarcastic episode of "Supernatural".
Why did I figured out the plot of the movie at the very beginning......
You know, if you are a big fan of espionage thrillers, don't watch this movie. That's because you will get the entire story figured out about 5 minutes into it.
I watched this film for the sake of Liam Nesson, who was ever impressive as tough guys with a tough voice. This is especially true in movies like Taken. When I first had my eyes on Unknown's poster, I had the feeling of Dejavu. But, since everything resembles Taken, that's not entirely a bad thing, right? Then I went into it expecting some bad-ass actions and a solid story. At the Berlin airport, when Liam Nesson's "wife" mockingly said the line "giving the speech, seriously?" I got the whole plot worked out. It's kinda sad to see how much your mindset is as clichéd as Hollywood wants you to be.
Then the entire movie played out as I expected. It almost seemed like the writer jumped out near the end saying, "aha! You must haven't figured out some minor twists even if you worked out the main twist." And I said like, "That's exactly the kind of little twists I was expecting, and do you have any more tricks up your sleeve?" Man, Liam Nesson in Taken was so cool, but in this one he's just like a little girl imitating Jason Bourne. If they could only smooth up some ridiculous romance and unconvincing character development, the movie would be more watchable. It must be a luxury compared to the budget of the film......
Although, Unknown was so devastatingly clichéd that it might inspire so many great parodies. Wait for those genius on the web to do so.
X: First Class (2011)
A great production with some rough corners.
Before I went into cinema for X-Men:First Class, a few media reviews really had cranked up my expectations. So, let's be honest, and say that this movie was so close to meet my expectations.
The filmmakers did a fantastic job knitting up everything in the first act, made it very character-driven. Nothing in the first 40 minutes makes you feel half-cooked because neither Charles' nerd personality nor Eric's washed-up revenger aura ever feels old. The whole movie basically feeds you with a great sense of retrospective spy movie. The same approach was at its peak in another superhero marvel--The Incredibles. It works fantastic if you factor in the fact that X-men:First Class is not a cartoon. There are action sequences set throughout the movie deliberately minimizing the use of CGI, which added significant believability to the film.
The 2nd act, which to my surprise, didn't really slow down for character-building. The movie is fantastic in bringing actions and characters to a balance, which worked just like the first two X-men films.
I was ready to be bombarded by the massive amount of CGI in the climax of the film, which if not for the restraining, smart usage of special effects during the first half, would not be so obviously artificial. That issue, along with my hectic expectations for the drama between Charles and Eric did make the climax of the film a bit, uh, unsatisfying. I was really thinking about if they can wrap up everything until Charles said half-mockingly, "I'd soon be bald."
The new Mystique, played by beautiful Jennifer Lawrence, was at the heart of the whole drama side of this action film. Mystique's character building was maybe the best compared to the main guys, Charles and Eric. Mystique's struggles of identity crisis, despite its cartooned roots in X-Men universe, is heartfelt. It's especially true to those living in a multi-ethnic environment. Mystique was so outstanding that both Charles and Eric had left something to be desired, in my opinion. Charles and Eric on the other hand, felt like they were already in their full-blown form. It's kind of hard not to factor in my own interpretations and assumptions when I tried to appreciate their development.
At last, the movie is complemented with a great score. 8/10. Way to go, X-Men. If you like to hear about my interpretation about Charles, please feel free to read on.
So, here's my interpretation about Charles's development in First Class. Charles was born in the upper class of his world, which formed his view of the world and mindset in a mainstream way. His mind-reading abilities allowed him to walk in the rains of social life without getting wet, which formed his illusion of being the mighty leader/father figure of mutants. If not for Magneto, he'd probably never feel the pain of belittled, incompetent, and incomplete. His disability to walk, along with the loss of his sister, aka Mystique, humbled him and sent him on the way to be closer to the a father figure/authentic peacemaker. Alas for Charles, no matter how many times he had read Mystique's mind, there were actually more delicate matters than he could fathom that was going on in her. Don't we, the self-respected intellectuals often do the same with our families? We sometimes feel like what's truly important is only arm's length away, yet in our frustration we turn to pervert or twist it. If that's the case for you, then may God help us as he helped Professor X.
A beautiful story, both standalone and well fitted into the series.
Actually, there are some respected reviewers around on the internet that didn't care much about this episode, and simply dismissed it as a boring, slow-pacing soap opera. It is sad, that after almost 3 full seasons, Fringe still suffers from a misplaced ID card, that loudly writes "Sci-fi horror" more than "mytery and fantasy".
This episode, in my opinion, is the very episode in Season 3 that matches up to the quality of what was considered to be Fringe's "Constant"--"Peter". On an emotional level, they both showed the determination of the creators to transform it from a X-file wannabe into the cousin of "Lost", which is good because "Monster of the week" formula gets old in these days, especially if you had the familiar monsters and just gave them a slightly different but still quite over-the-head explanation(X-files would say "blame the aliens" while Fringe would say "blame the other dimension").
You don't necessarily need to be charmed by movies like Up to appreciate the subtlety of this episode. In fact, it's very fun and funny to compare it to Up for many similar qualities, like the interchange of metaphors and various paralleling themes. The relationship between the old couple living in the apartment was somewhat a mirror to Peter and Olive's twisted entanglement, be it "quantum" enough or not. "To cross the line" is like the keyword of this episode because Walter, P&O, and the old couple all have lines to cross for similar reasons. The final result? They got paid off all in satisfying ways. For Walter, it's just touching to see a crazy genius' moral struggling to match up to the coldness of his nemesis, his arch-enemy. It's also a precious reminder to me that it is those at power that needs people's care and consideration the most--before we conclude and wrap them up in monstrous coverages. For the old couple, it's even more interesting because "Crossing over" or "cross the line" to them really have more layers than those main roles. To them, the very line they would probably be crossing is a line of sanity, reason, common senses and even religious conviction or clarity. This is a highlight of "Fringe"'s struggles at heart. Though I'm not really bought into the mythology of Fringe, I'd like to appreciate their effect and artistic considerations of presenting the tongue-in-the-cheek differences/similarities between alternate dimensions and afterlife.
And, to the stars of the show, Peter and Olive, their line to cross is a both the borderline between 2 universes and the invisible line marked by Olivia's emotional scar, as she kept on resenting the fact that which would have possibly been the most important and beautiful part of her life was stolen by her arch[-enemy. Ethically speaking(gosh, if there are still anything that can be called ethical if there are really two universes at war) Peter and Olivia belonged to different worlds, and they'd better leave each other untouched to prevent further complications. Yet, as complications and conflicts both marched on regardless of their position, it's also relieving to see they have the courage to come to terms, which finished building up the story's many further possibilities.
Way to go, Fringe team! And best wishes.