Fringe 5.08 Review – The Human Kind
Smoothing Out Brain & Time Wrinkles
Olivia – ‘Why are you smiling?’
Simone – ‘I believe you can’t know everything.’
Peter - ‘Etta’s gone.’
Olivia – ‘Etta’s not gone. She saved my life today.’
Wow! Did not see that coming. Peter’s Observerification was resolved much quicker than anticipated even in this shortened 13 episode season.
I’m glad for it on several fronts though. First it kills any worries about Peter becoming an Observer ie September. Second, it allows Peter and Olivia to be working together in the last handful of episodes the series have left. Far preferable than the two of them remaining at odds till the series finale.
Fringe has played the, ‘love conquers all,’ card several times and this hand was the weakest the series has dealt out. Partly because of its repeated reuse and partly because of the way the season has been structured. There has been little to no positive emotional connections and investments maintained in Season 5 to deeply invest the viewers into the final scene between Peter and Olivia.
Having said that, the final scene – and the episode – worked quite well for me because the show reaches Peter’s decision to reclaim his humanity rather than run with revenge, honestly. From the early scene where Walter begs Peter to honor his promise to be there for Walter, through Olivia’s scenes with the Matrix like Oracle Simone who reminds Olivia that there is more to life than math, to Windmark maliciously – and unknowingly – providing Peter with the emotional catalyst that Olivia uses to reach past Peter’s elevated cranial capacity to his withering emotional core; they all add up to validating Peter’s decision to remove the Observer Tech from himself.
Put more succinctly, when Peter removed the tech – it felt right.
All the while, themes of hubris and god like perceptions for Walter and Peter are mingled in with the parallel of Peter and Olivia – two people who are anomalies that have found one another across different universes and timelines – against what happened to Walter and Elizabeth when Peter died. Peter and Olivia are able to choose a different path and save their relationship from destruction. Olivia’s acceptance of Etta’s death and preservation of her existence – both the good and the painful memories – provides the lever for Peter to get past his need for vengance. He grabs onto the Etta lifeline to his feelings thrown to him by Olivia – and in a delicious twist of irony, by Windmark – and proves himself a better man his father.
For Olivia this episode allowed her to renew her belief that she can defeat a seemingly superior enemy. With the help of Simone, Olivia rediscovered that there is more to life than math. With a bullet her daughter kept as a keepsake, Olivia also saw that Etta’s life is still making a difference in the lives of those that she touched. Revitalized, Olivia proves to Peter that emotions are a strength and not a weakness as her appearance at the Square was not something that Peter, let alone any Observer, could predict because it is motivated by emotions. Something Observers cannot understand, forget about tracking.
The shot of Peter giving the Observer Tech to Olivia and Olivia giving Peter the Bullet that Etta kept as a keepsake in exchange, is a touching closing moment. Though the emotion in this scene was not as strong in other such moments in the series it was played beautifully by Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson.
Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments:
- Olivia getting tech from Anil for Walter to examine
- Olivia noticing the Etta posters
- Peter tracking Windmark to Etta’s apartment to 5:42 timestamp. Not 6:02?
- Astrid’s fearful – ‘Whose brain did you have in mind?’
- Walter begs Peter to honor his promise to Walter to be there for him
- more Peter BlueVision and Windmark course correction with a teacup
- Olivia looking good in her leather jacket
- Anamolies meet – Otherworldy Olivia & Second Sight Simone
- Walter & Astrid working together projecting impact of Observer Tech on the brain
- the only time more wrinkles maybe desirable – on the cerebral cortex. But at what cost?
- Olivia talks math. Simone talks faith.
- Peter does more Neo Matrix fighting with Windmark
- Windmark maliciously marks Peter with Etta’s dying thoughts
- Simone tells Olivia her daughter is still with her. Olivia receive proof with the reusable bullet.
- Peter and Walter share a hubris moment – ‘If you could see, what I see.’
- Olivia, MacGyvers her way out of a sticky situation with Etta’s keepsake
- Olivia finds Peter at the Square
- Peter chooses the human way
- Peter gives Olivia the Observer Tech
- Olivia gives Peter the Bullet
If you check out our latest Fringe Benefits Inc podcast at Fringe TV for this episode you can hear one of us, Frea O’Scanlin, discuss the parallels of this Fringe episode with one of her favorite books from her childhood, ‘A Wrinkle In Time,’ by Madeleine L’Engle. In it the parallel between Olivia and Peter is played out by a young girl and her brother, a child with Asperger’s that parallels Observer behaviour. In the book, the protaganist’s brother is in a situation similar to Peter’s and it is up to the young girl to save him.
So we end the eighth episode closing out the isolated journeys of Peter and Olivia. Now the two of them have re-established their connection with one another and together with the rest of the Fringe team, they stand united to carry out Walter’s plan to defeat the Observers.
There are unanswered questions and unknown obstacles to face; the Observer boy, the identity of Donald, the purpose behind the items found so far – including one whopper of an electromagnet, the price for Peter reclaiming his humanity and allowing Windmark to carry on with whatever plans he has, and the constant reminder of Etta through the posters that some agency is placing everywhere.
Five episodes to go. Five more journeys with the Fringe Team. Really together for the first time this season.
This episode accomplished a lot. I like it a lot.