Reaction: Fringe (5×05)

An Origin Story, aka HERE THERE BE MANPAIN.

I keep thinking that, as compelling as this near-apocalyptic story is, we’re kind of getting shortchanged regarding the happier times, and that middle ground where Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid start fighting the good fight. I know it wasn’t possible for them to do more linear storytelling, which has never been Fringe’s style anyway, but it’s sometimes jarring to think that all of this is based on events we never got to experience with our heroes. Does that make sense? They were already very different people to what we knew when they encased themselves in amber.

Wish Peter would practice what he preached to Etta not that long ago – that personal vengeance is not the way to go. He talked her down, but then turns around and goes on his own “they killed my daughter, she was beautiful” crusade, complete with arrogance and disregard for others’ opinions. HIS fight became automatically their fight, and if they didn’t like it, they could suck it. That was pretty much what I took from his behavior.

It’s not that I blame Peter. It’s horrific to contemplate losing a child, gaining her back for a few months after missing decades of her life, only to lose her again, this time with finality. And in the differences in Peter’s and Olivia’s reactions to Etta’s death, we definitely can glean what happened to them all those years ago. Peter’s go-go-kill-kill, where Olivia’s pain is much more internalized. She knows there is nothing she can do and knows that going in guns blazing is not the right approach. Peter doesn’t care, he just wants to shoot.

The scene with Walter presenting the videotape of Etta’s birthday to Olivia was so wrenching. I couldn’t believe she didn’t watch it right there, because for as quirky and “oh boy, he’s crazy!” Walter is, he is often so heartbreakingly sane when it counts the most. He knew, as she did, that Peter was already mostly off the rails and needed something to pull him back before it was too late.

Of course, when Olivia decides to watch it, it’s already too late for Peter. His scenes with the captured Baldie were chilling. Yes, our heroes have killed before. But this was infinitely more personal, like Peter was Fringe’s version of the Grand Inquisitor, and that moment where he mentions the tech and the whole audience knows what’s coming next … it’s then he’s already lost. The second he contemplates putting that tech which, in part, undoubtedly makes the Baldies so unfeeling and ruthless, we know he’ll quickly become Not!Peter if he does it.

He does it and doesn’t seem to get that he has, in essence, become one of them, or at least is on the fast track for it.

Augh.

As for me, I’m back to hoping with fervent sincerity that Fringe goes cliche and we get a reset to before the Observers first invade, and that our team gets to keep the happiness we’ve only seen in flashbacks, of a sunny day in the park.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    Does that make sense? They were already very different people to what we knew when they encased themselves in amber.

    They became different people between seasons three and four – unless that’s what you mean – and it would have been nice to get more than a year to know those new selves. And Henrietta, while I liked her in the season four flashforward episode, will never touch me the way Rachel and Ella do as relationships for Olivia, or as a Walter does as a relationship for Peter (or for Olivia).

    HIS fight became automatically their fight, and if they didn’t like it, they could suck it.

    Though from they way you’re describing it, they (as in the showrunners) seem to be treating it as a negative, which is unusual by itself.

    As for me, I’m back to hoping with fervent sincerity that Fringe goes cliche and we get a reset

    Whatever the solution is, I hope it involves the other universe. I might not have – the way contact with it was lost was a good ending – but between losing the other universe, and the Observers turning into invaders, it doesn’t feel quite like you’re describing Fringe any more.

  2. sbg says

    SunlessNick,

    I meant slightly less literally. I thought toward the end of last season, we were awfully close to the original characters (and Peter hadn’t changed), but that now they’ve all this baggage we didn’t get to experience them picking up. They’ve always had baggage, but it made it that much harder to connect with Etta that we didn’t get to see anything but repeated flashbacks of that one day. You know?

    Peter hasn’t been wholly sympathetic for a couple of years, but this made him pretty hard to relate to, for sure.

    It’s still Fringe, I think, but I also think they won’t bring back the other universe. That ending had as strong an air of finality as anything they’ve done. I could be wrong, though!

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