Nina Sharpe (Blair Brown) makes her triumphant return this week on Fringe, but will she be able to help the fringe team with their quest to defeat the Observers?
Let’s bitch it out…
It was nice to see Nina again, but I must say I was a little underwhelmed by her ‘special appearance’. It wasn’t nearly as touching as the one we saw with Broyles (Lance Reddick) a couple of weeks ago. Instead it felt more like a catalyst to move the central quest story along. Nina did share a moment with Olivia (Anna Torv), but considering that in this timeline, Nina was Olive’s guardian, I was hoping for more emotional fireworks. One of the happy consequences of Nina’s appearance, however, was the valuable insight we got into Walter’s (John Noble) plight as he rages against becoming the (pre-lobotomy) man he used to be.
I still found the initiation of the conversations between Nina and Walter contrived, but that’s easily overlooked as it delivers another amazing performance by Noble. It’s bordering on saccharine when Walter states that his love for Peter (Joshua Jackson) will ultimately save him from himself, promptly Nina to retort that her love wasn’t enough to save William Bell (an unseen Leonard Nimoy). Walter fires back with a vitriolic “That’s because he never loved you, only himself.” The shift from our naive and lovable Walter to this callous man filled with cruel sentiment happens so quickly, yet so subtly, it’s incredibly effective. Walter himself is just as taken aback as the audience is.
We’ve already been privy to how monstrous the pre-lobotomy Walter can be (i.e. Walternate), so Walter’s resistance gives us even more insight into the complicated character we know and love. In his apology scene with Nina (begging her to re-lobotomize him), there’s an air of desperation that’s touching, even though there’s still an egotistical element overshadowing their exchange. He comes back not to apologize to Nina for devaluing her life’s work spent in devotion to Bell, but to persuade her to help him. It’s complicated because I can understand his anxiety, but part of me wished he had been a bit more selfless in admitting he was wrong to Nina. We don’t hear her answer, but seeing Walter wade depressingly around his lab while blasting David Bowie suggests that the Walter we know and love will soon devolve into a cold-hearted man consumed by his hubris. And just in case we didn’t make the connection, the scene is not so subtly cross-cut with Michael Kopsa’s Windmark descent in an elevator.
On the flip side of the Bishop coin, we have Peter who is going through his own transformation. With the Observer tech firmly embedded in his brain, Peter goes through a similar evolution. Joshua Jackson’s performance as we witness Peter adopting Observerisms is so nuanced and understated, it’s as much of a shock to us as it is to Olivia when she discovers his glass board timelines. Jackson’s modulation in delivering Peter’s dialogue is bang-on, and happens so subtly throughout the episode that when we hear it paired with his slightly cocked head and vacant facial expression, it’s unsettling in the best kind of way. We don’t even need to see the fist full of hair in the episode’s final shot. I can’t help but sympathize with poor Olivia, who has her own problems to deal with, as she now has to try and bring Peter back from the dark side. Nothing seems to go right for our heroine these days (Side Note: She should have chosen Seth Gabel’s Lincoln Lee when she had the chance, amiright?)
It was nice to see the entire fringe team back in action and regaining the need “spheres” to satisfy the fifth videotape, but that was pretty ho-hum in comparison to the rich character development of the Bishop boys. As much as I cringe at “Peteserver”, at least he actually did something to help the fringe team along by single handedly taking out Windmark’s holy baldie trifecta. And with a throwback to Fringe‘s pilot episode to boot! It’s clear we need this new and improved Peter, even if it means he’s starting to be devoid of all emotion/humanity. No doubt Peteserver is going throw Walter’s argument of ‘love conquers all’ right out the window. Let’s hope that Olivia will buck up like she always does and save both of the Bishops.
- Although the videotape quest wasn’t the focal point of the episode, I loved the innovative science we get during it. Turning heavy rock rubble into gas? That’s pretty frickin’ cool.
- Speaking of cool: the baldie trifecta’s melting jaws after the flesh-eating toxin is unleashed on them. The show’s FX team needs an Emmy!
- Even though Walter seems to believe that a re-lobotomy will allow him to hold onto the man he’s become, I see it as a ticket straight back to vegetable-ville.
- Astrid (Jasika Nicole) finally gets in on the action and isn’t left in the lab. Hurrah! Unfortunately she doesn’t do much but have a quick girl session in the car with Olivia. I think Astrid is deserving of more than just tag-along status, but I’m happy that she even got out of that lab, so I’ll protest quietly this week.
- No word on why the Loyalists paid a quick visit to the Harvard lab before the fifth videotape was found. Any guesses on what exactly they were doing for that brief moment?
What did you think Fringe fans? Do you think Nina will grant Walter’s request to be re-lobotomized, or do you think she denied it as payback for saying mean things to her? What do you think Olivia will do to get Peter back? Do you think having Peteserver around is a good thing just to get the fringe team a little edge? Sound off in our comments section below!
Fringe airs 9pm EST, Fridays on FOX but is taking a three-week hiatus (!!) We’ll see you back here on December 7 as we get an uninterrupted run to the series finale.