Fringe 5.10 Review: Anomaly XB-6783746
Anomalies – Make The FringeVerse Go Round
Windmark talking about Michael - “He is no child. He is a chromosomal abnormality”
Windmark to Nina, “Why are you not frightened?”
Nina to Windmark, “You have no love. No appreciation of beauty. No dreams.”
Fringe as a series is founded on the concept of the outsider finding their place in the universe. So it is no surprise to find out that the Observer boy, Michael is also an outsider. A chromosomal oddity. Much like Peter, Olivia, and more recently Simone.
Nina – mysterious to the end. What was she looking at?
This episode also continued tracking Walter’s inexorable journey back towards Walter That Was – WTW. Throughout the episode there were constant beats of Walter being focused on the task at hand, or himself only, with no regard for anyone else. By episode end the ‘subject,’ forged a bond with the Fringe Team but the cost was high.
The most rewarding fictional experiences contain elements of victory at a price. For the protagonist’s victory to have emotional resonance and dramatic weight, the hero should be pushed to their limits emotionally and physically. Gain with loss.
With Fringe nearing the end of its run, the Fringe Team had their second big loss. From a character viewpoint, Etta is the bigger loss but from a viewer’s perspective, Nina’s – a full time cast member – sacrifice should have shook us more. I say should have because while the concept was certainly there, the execution was somewhat lacking in terms of story construction.
Peter and Nina worry about Walter.
This episode required several logic leaps with the payoff to Nina’s death scene requiring a major hand wave. Surely Windmark and his crew would not leave the lab unwatched and waiting for the team’s return!? It is one thing to ask the viewer to suspend their disbelief in terms of the crazy science and events the show uses to propel the drama; it is quite another to ask us to do so in terms of common sense and character behavior.
Fringe wants us to believe the characters in this show are intelligent. To do that, it is beholding to the creative team not to resort to cheap or lazy story telling tricks. This is a David Fury penned episode and with such other episodes as, ‘In Absentia and Alone In The World,’ a trend has surfaced where his work has dealt with mythos heavy episodes that sacrifice story logic and bring a degree of coldness to the characters that does not sit right with me. With a resume that includes Buffy, Angel, and Lost – all of which are character heavy shows – it is odd that his Fringe episodes are so hit and miss.
For whatever the reasons, Fury’s episodes tend to underwhelm me more than not. Your mileage may very but in an episode where one of the series’s regulars is giving us their swan song, it should be done so in a manner that feels honest and seamless. It should not be constructed in a manner that diverts attention away from the emotions of those moments. The characters and the viewers deserve better.
Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments:
- Michael has no ObserverTech in his head
- Walter’s transformation to Walter That Was continues
- With no empathic bound, neither Olivia nor twizzlers can reach Michael
- Olivia calls Nina for help
- Observers use LQ7 unit to recover Nina’s conversation with Olivia much like Peter did in a previous season off of the glass
- Nina takes Fringe Team to a Massive Dynamics Black Lab
- Peter talks to Nina about Walter’s wish to have brain pieces removed
- Nina tells Peter it may become academic if plan fails – Walter That Was will take over
- the power of incentive
- ‘Anything worth fighting for comes at a cost.’
- Etta Resist poster continues to show up
- Black Lab is where Resistance did research on Observers
- E-Cog Translator – ‘Prep the subject.’ ‘His name is Michael.’
- With no empathic bond Nina suggests they forge one by letting Michael into their minds
- ‘Hopefully? I thought she knew what she was doing!’
- Nina’s cover is blown
- Nina protects Fringe Team and Michael with her life
- Michael communicates with Nina
- Windmark and Nina consider each other as animals
- Walter’s grief at Nina’s death – will it help him from becoming Walter That Was?
- Michael cries – a bond has been formed
- Michael bonds with Walter – series montage
- Donald is September
Problems aside with the episode logic, Blair Brown gave a fantastic performance in what we assume is her last episode of the series. Outside of last season’s scene between her and Olivia where she gave her blessing to Olivia to remember her previous life with Peter at the cost of the memories of their lives together; Blair Brown gave a wonderful farewell performance. Her scenes with Michael and Windmark at the end were tour-de-force. I was moved by Nina’s sacrifice.
Bonding through human contact instead of tech.
For a character that has been presented for many seasons as an opaque and never totally trustworthy one, it is great that the show allowed the latter iterations of Nina to be much more open and caring.
The fallout from Nina’s death on Walter will be interesting to see. With Nina gone, is there anyone left that can help Walter remove his offending brain pieces? If there is no one what will drive Walter to figure out the plan. Incentive is a great motivator, Nina told Peter. That incentive no longer exists.
As for the reveal that Donald is September, the way things played out this season, emotionally this is the only choice that has any resonance. But what is September’s relationship to Michael? Is Michael his ‘son?’ Or is Michael, Donald/September at an earlier stage? What of Michael’s ability to empathize for his step-parents and for Nina’s death? Does the answer to beating the Observers lie in the tears Michael sheds?
Despite my ambivalence due to the failings of the writing in this episode, I am very intrigued to see how the final 3 episodes are going to play out. As usual, I have no idea how Fringe is going to resolve things this season and for the series.
It is one of the many things I love about the show.
More sacrifices to come?