After last week’s bottle-ish episode, many people weren’t excited about the slow moving pace of this crazy plot given the short run of episodes in Fringe’s final season. While I enjoyed the trip to the pocket universe last week, I feel like this week’s episode is far more in line with what the final season of Fringe should look like. It was a well-paced hour that featured some introspective work from our characters, some cool effects, a return of an old favorite, and the continued Observeration (I copyright that term!) of Peter Bishop.
More and more, I find myself really enjoying Peter’s storyline. It has so many different angles and nuances to it. Through Peter, Fringe is exploring humanity, the things that war makes us do, and the idea of who will save us from ourselves. I admit I wasn’t 100% on board with the Peter to Observer move, but all of these different angles have completely sold me. The final idea is the one I kept thinking about throughout tonight’s episode. Charged by revenge and the hubris that engulfs all Bishop men, Peter has made more and more decisions that have caused his humanity to quickly degrade. While he’s become an extremely efficient weapon for the Resistance, he’s also losing himself as his character makeup changes. It seems likely that Peter will continue to slip away from us before ultimately finding redemption, much like September did, before the end of the series. As his wife walks away from him at the end of the episode, you realize that there may not be any hope for the humanity of Peter Bishop. He has done this do himself, and it cannot be undone.
While Peter is knowingly allowing himself to slip deeper down the well, Walter continues to actively fight against it. At the start of the episode, he has faith that Peter’s love will keep him grounded in the new man he became after being released from the mental institution. Much like Peter, the man that Walter can become would be a great weapon for the Resistance, but it may cost him his humanity. Realizing that Peter’s love may not be enough, his scene where he goes to beg Nina Sharp to have those parts of his brain re-removed was inspired and heartbreaking. The man fears that no one can save him from himself, so he has to be the one to do it. It’s a difficult realization that only a thoughtful man can have. It seems that there may be hope for the humanity of Walter Bishop yet.
While the Bishop men struggle with their humanity, Olivia continues to deliver some solid emotional work. Anna Torv has spent the bulk of this season reacting instead of acting. It may not seem like she’s up to much, but Torv is really doing a lot of heavy lifting. She’s the one being counted on to ground the show emotionally. Some people may be wanting more from Olivia this season, but don’t mistake her work as being of lesser importance than the two leading men. Her warmth and resolve is a contrast to the cold and fearful behaviors of her male co-stars. As her husband descends further into madness or logic depending on your point of view, Olivia will push further into the forefront. We started with her, and we should end with her. Hopefully J. H. Wyman is in agreement.
*Some quick notes:
*As a physical science teacher in my spare time, I really enjoyed the sublimation machine. It probably wasn’t as viscerally impressive as the toxin that tore apart the faces of some Observers, but I enjoyed it.
*Nina Sharp’s return was nice to see, but it doesn’t mean as much as Broyles’ return from a few weeks ago. Since Nina has vacillated from good to evil throughout the various timelines we have traveled, her moment with Olivia doesn’t seem nearly meaningful as Olivia’s moment with Broyles. Still, Torv sold their reunion with an incredible amount of skill that it made me a stronger believer than I would have been otherwise.
What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?