Fringe: The Human Kind

Last time a new episode of “Fringe” was aired on Fox, most Americans were still planning their pre-Black Friday festivities, otherwise known as Thanksgiving Dinner. A couple of football games preempted regularly scheduled programming, which gave diehard “Fringers” a chance to re-watch the first seven episodes of the final seasons.

The opening scene is a bit of a heartbreaker as we watch Olivia, sitting in a car, watching workers strip the “Resist” pictures of Etta from various walls around the city. Of course Etta had been the face of the Resistance after her murder at the hands of Captain Windmark.

While sitting watching the sad scene, Anil hops into her car and gives her a duplicate of the technology Peter implanted into his own brain. If you’ll turn the clock back a few weeks, you’ll remember that Peter stuck a bit of the Observers’ technology into his brain and has since become quite in-tune with their ways. He’s been tracking what he constructs in his mind as their likely moves, and then watches them unfold in the real world. He’s refining his new ability, right down to the person and the minute.

Enter Captain Windmark (Michael Kopsa), who appears with another observer in-tow in the hallway of Peter’s apartment building. They make their way into Peter’s flat and discover the wall he uses to chart his findings. They discover he’s written their very movements right down to the minute, shown to us with the words “You Are Here, 5:42″ with a digital clock in the background showing us it is indeed 5:42.

While Peter is out playing games with the Observers, Olivia makes her way back to the old Harvard lab where Walter and Astrid are watching a videotape filled with more clues. She delivers the technology to Walter to research to see what he can make of it.

The videotape speaks of a scrap yard that holds the next clue. Olivia heads to a small town alone, which allowed me to jump to the conclusion that it won’t turn out well for her. Upon arrival at the scrap yard, my feelings were confirmed. She’s there to find and barter for an electromagnet. Her request surprises the man with whom she’s speaking, Carlos (Claude Duhamel), who tells her to wait and goes to speak with a woman named Simone (Jill Scott).

There’s clearly something going on in this burnt-out heap of a small town, and Simone appeared a little too accommodating and a bit too clairvoyant for my liking; more on this in a bit.

Walter needs a brain with which to test Anil’s bit of Observer technology, so why wouldn’t he just have one sitting in a jar of formaldehyde in the basement of his lab? Most days I can’t even find softened butter to spread on toast. It’s just not fair, ya know? Anyway, the brain Walter just happens to have on hand “absorbs” the Observers’ tech just like what happened with Peter.

I was waiting for Captain Windmark to get tired of Peter’s games. No matter how quickly a rookie picks up on the rules of the game, there will still come a time when a wily veteran will show him the tail does not wag the dog.

Windmark appears just where Peter is, explaining to him that contrary to what Peter thinks about manipulating his moves, it was him all along leading Peter by the nose. They get into a stylish “Matrix” fight which results in a couple of stabbings, along with Peter disappearing just before Windmark does the same. As they say elsewhere, “Game on!”

Peter shows up in Walter’s lab in need of stitches in his shoulder. No pain, which I’m guessing he’s managing with his advanced mental skills, but it is bleeding and needs to be patched.

Olivia finally gets her magnet, which is roughly the size of a massive jet engine and is resting on a flatbed trailer of the semi-truck which she’s now driving. Why is it that writers craft plot devices that aren’t even clever or hidden? I was very disappointed when I saw the “two-car crash with person laying on the road” in the distance. Why stop, Olivia? Why stop?

So, she’s taken hostage, the electromagnet and truck are no longer with her, and to top it all off she’s a Tier One fugitive worth a great deal of money to her captors, who, aren’t bright enough to really know what to do with a Tier One fugitive. Her escape at the hands of these two knuckle-draggers is imminent, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Lemme just say the writers mostly redeemed themselves through the use of Etta’s bullet.

Olivia and Peter have a conversation I really liked. Peter was losing his emotions and feelings, which were being replaced by the pure logic of the Observers. Basically, Olivia shares with him the very fact that emotions are a human strength not a weakness, and primarily for the fact that we’re the only beings on the planet with them and smart enough to harness them.

She actually talks him into removing the tech from his brain with an impassioned plea to his humanity. I felt in that moment she could have talked me into, or out of, anything. It was a great scene. In fact, it was the best scene of the episode and one of the best of the entire season.

Not an excellent episode, but one that sufficiently moved the story along. The acquisition, I’m assuming, of the electro-magnet—given its sheer size—seems to be a big, big development for the eradication of the Observers.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Stephanie Caldwell is a geeky writer for CableTV.com. You know, a person who writes geeky things.


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