Fringe examines the aftermath of a tragic death as we take a short break from the central quest of finding and decoding videotapes. How did Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) deal with the loss of their daughter a second time?
Let’s bitch it out.
Etta’s (Georgina Haig) parents deal with her death in two very different ways, but considering the time we’ve spent with our protagonists, Peter and Olivia’s coping mechanisms are not jarring surprises that are completely out of character.
Based on last week’s teaser promo, I fully expected Peter to adopt some of Etta’s interrogation skills and go all Jack Bauer (from 24) on this week’s captured observer. This assumption isn’t wholly wrong, asPeter does indeed blame the Observers for ripping his daughter away from him again, and he is very clearly on a vengeance mission.
Peter’s focus is gaining a small victory, in order to get some semblance that Etta’s death will eventually be vindicated. The victory in this case is derailing the Observers’ plan to transport equipment from the future, further destroying the earth’s atmosphere. The Resistance managed to capture an Observer (John Prosky) and a ‘cube’ which acts as a telephone of sorts to open the portal from the future. With Walter’s (John Noble) help, the fringe team deduces that if they launch an anti-matter bomb into the portal a black hole will result, seriously mucking up the future Observers on the other side.
The first piece of the puzzle: understand how to put the cube together and activate it by interrogating the captured Observer. Anil’s (Shaun Smyth) introduction of Peter to the captured Observer, coupled with Peter’s tightly clenched jaw sets us up for a complete beat-down, but true to Peter’s character, he extracts the needed information not through violence but science. Examining the Observer’s unconscious physical “tells”, Peter appeared to put together and activate the cube. It’s only after the black hole plan failed that Peter went ape-sh*t on the prisoner. Peter needs this small victory and when he’s denied it, that’s when his need for vengeance takes over. The result: Peter impetuously decided to take the piece of ‘tech’ from the Observer’s neck and implanted it into his own.
On the other side of the grief coin, Olivia also dealt with Etta’s death exactly as we would expect: suppressing it and burying herself in the mission at hand. She had her emotional moments, but on the whole, Olivia essentially bottled up her grief in order to deal with it later. This became apparent when Walter arrived with a tape of one of Etta’s childhood birthdays and pleaded with Olivia to watch it. It’s his hope that she’ll remember that Etta came to be: through the love of Peter and Olivia.
Noble, of course, is superbly compelling in the scene when Olivia protested stating she’s barely holding it together. Consumed by her need to deal with Etta’s death in her own way, Olivia is essentially oblivious to Peter’s thirst for blood, unable to stop him before it’s too late. This offered us a glimpse of how their relationship fell apart the first time they lost Etta. In contrast to Peter’s reaction to the failed black hole mission, Olivia withdrew to watch the tape.
As she watched, the camera very thoughtfully lingered on Olivia’s expression before we circled around to see the screen. We saw Olivia’s reflection superimposed over the screen’s images as she delicately touched the image of her past self. This compelled her to call Peter, finally speaking from the heart and telling him she loved him (the first time we’ve heard this since their de-amberfication). Confronting her grief allowed Olivia to get stronger in the present, avoiding the mistakes of her past. It’s quite purposeful that what followed is an image of Peter cutting into the back of his head, thereby allowing the Observer tech to burrow deep into his brain. In contrast to Olivia, how will Peter’s grief affect his future? The juxtaposition between the two is quite striking.
The phone call between Olivia and Peter showed similar strong visual symmetry. Olivia touched the image of past Peter on the screen as she said “I don’t want to lose you” through her tears. Peter heard this as the blood dripped from his neck, as he remained focused on his reflection in the mirror. Layers of past, present and future are all apparent and intermingling in this short sequence, which offered us plenty to think about. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of Peter we’re going to see now that he’s a human/Observer hybrid. Will Olivia’s love keep him grounded? Or is he destined to turn into a dehumanized revenge machine? Fringe gave us a compelling development that tactfully dealt with the fallout of killing off a major character. I find myself eagerly waiting what follows next for our beloved protagonists.
- I’m wondering why all of the Observers are male? What happened to all of the women? If they’re so hell-bent on surviving, don’t they need a means to procreate? Where are all the little Observers? And furthermore, why are all the Observers white? How did race get obliterated as well?
- Nitpick: Who keeps framed pictures in their bathroom? The humidity alone would ruin those suckers in a second…
What did you think Fringe fans? What do you think will become of Peter? Any guesses on why the black hole mission didn’t work? Do you think Anil and Co. are gonna be peeved when they return to see their captured observer is now lifeless and tech-less? Sound off in the comments section below.
Fringe airs at 9pm EST, Fridays on FOX.