Olivia (Anna Torv) goes magnet shopping in an effort to take her mind off the fact that her husband Peter (Joshua Jackson) is becoming an emotionless robot. Sounds like a regular day in Fringe-land
Let’s bitch it out…
I’ve got mixed feelings about ‘The Human Kind.’ I can imagine that popular opinion will be divided because it more or less renders the last few episodes (since Peter implanted the Observer tech into his head) obsolete. So will anything that happened between 5×05 ‘An Origin Story’ and now matter? If the answer is no, there’s certain to be negative feedback (in much the same way that folks complained about the rebooted timeline in S4 and how we spent the season working to return our characters to those we knew and loved for three seasons). If yes, the question is how?
Regardless of how Fringe moves forward, there’s no denying the emotional impact of the climax from ‘The Human Kind’ as Olivia reconciles with Peter on the rooftop. There’s certainly an argument to be made that her impassioned speech about the power of human emotion as a weapon is sappy and emotionally manipulative. I’m actually okay with that and I’ll even admit to tearing up a little as Peter remembers – in a lightning-quick montage – the most important moments from his life (including fateful kisses with Liv and a laugh out loud image of Walter cooking while wearing only an apron). As much as we love Fringe for its gross-out deaths, its risky plotting and its other worlds, the emotional connection we feel with the characters is what keeps us coming back for the last five seasons. It’s powerful – and emotionally satisfying – that Peter feels the same and his ties to Olivia (and Georgina Haig’s Etta) are what bring him back from the Observer brink.
(Side Note: It’s a little disappointing that it’s so easy to remove the Observer tech. So Liv could have just knocked him out, cut an incision in his neck and yanked it out on her own?)
- I’m less certain how I feel about Jill Scott’s (?!) appearance as semi-oracle Simone. I’ve watched enough dystopia/sci-fi to know it’s a generic trope to saddle ethnic characters with this kind of role (see: Gamer, Surrogates, Johnny Mnemonic and, most comparably, The Matrix). Science Fiction frequently contrasts religion and science (see: Prometheus), and Olivia has walked this line before so it’s not as though this storyline is coming completely out of left-field. My problem is that there’s something vaguely inauthentic about introducing a character with “feelings” or “insight” who exists solely to predict a course of action which then (tah dah!) magically comes to pass. Sometimes this can be done well, but in this case the “Etta is still with you” followed by Etta’s bullet conveniently saving Liv feels like a backwards-designed plot mechanism
- Part of my uneasiness with this storyline stems from the way that the junkyard is presented. When Olivia meets Simone and Carlos (Claude Duhamel) in search of a truck-sized magnet, this off the map location populated by vaguely shady people feels like a) a religious cult and b) a trap. Although the trap isn’t connected (that we know of) to these people, since we’re tied to Olivia, we’re naturally suspicious of strangers. So when she feels uncomfortable, we feel uncomfortable, which means it’s difficult to trust anything Simone says because we’re never sure whether she’s a liar who will betray Olivia to the Obsevers
- One of the things I’ve loved the most about Fringe‘s fifth season are the future details that are casually dropped into narrative. The latest is a ‘Truth Church’ – a sanctuary where Observers cannot read humans. It’s interesting that we learn about such a space in the same episode as faith takes center stage, especially within the context of the kidnappers who clearly do not associate such a space with faith or religion, but rather greed and war profiteering. Is this the association the show wants us to make about religion in 2036? Or are we meant to believe true faith can only be fostered in these isolated communities (remember the community in 5×03 ‘The Recordist’ who had their own kind of religion)
- The concept of a ‘Reward Wire’ – a semi-futuristic update of America’s Most Wanted – is also interesting. The amateur kidnappers who try to ransom Olivia to Captain Windmark (Michael Kopsa) should have read what Olivia is capable of before leaving her in a room full of machinery that can be turned into weapons. With that said, Olivia’s use of Etta’s magical bullet to blow away her kidnapper is totally brilliant. That is some MacGuyver sh*t!
- Also, I’m curious to hear thoughts on the opening scene as Liv watches Loyalists rip down RESIST posters of Etta to reveal the Observer posters beneath. A commentary about Liv’s defeatist attitude about the loss of both her daughter and husband, or an “on the nose” visual depiction that the Observers are winning the war? Or did you interpret it a different way?
So Peter is now “human” again, which means his plan to snap Windmark’s neck is off the books. Do you feel that the last few episodes are pointless as a result? Or will the Observer Tech and Peter’s plans still play an important role? What did you think of the flashy teleportation fight between him and Windmark? And what might that giant magnet be used for, in addition to the other
Horcruxes items we’ve collected including the stones from ‘The Recordist’ and the telepathic boy (yet to be recovered) from 5×06 ‘Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There’? Hit the comments below with your theories
Fringe continues its final countdown next Friday at 9pm EST on FOX and apparently we’re dropping acid en route to visit Donald!