Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fringe 2.08: "August"

“She crossed my mind. Somehow, she never left it. I think it’s what they call feelings. I think I love her.”


For a more mythology-centered episode, “August” didn’t resonate with me as much as I expected. I did find it more fulfilling on rewatch, however, since I actually was able to figure out what happened at the end. The way it was shot, it was kind of difficult to figure out all the details at first. People were shot from far away or in too much darkness. Most importantly, we learned some more information about the Observers, the bald guys in vintage suits and hats who are on hand for all of the world’s big events. Oh yeah, that’s right. I said Observers. Plural. Spoiler alert…I guess.

The freaky happening of the week is the kidnapping of a grad student, Christine Hollis, as she was about to leave for a semester abroad in Italy. The thing about the kidnapping that gets the Fringe team involved is that the kidnapper appears to be The Observer. He had quite the futuristic weapon, too- it just sort of knocked people back. The Observer gets Christine in a car and drives off (starting the car by touching his thumb to a scanner) before anyone can stop him. This event also has the unfortunate side effect of interrupting the fun day at the amusement park Olivia had planned with her niece, Ella. Ella is understanding, but Olivia is still upset about it.

The mystery gets interesting when the Fringe team analyzes the surveillance video of the kidnapping and sees that yes, an Observer is the one responsible, but not the Observer they’ve dealt with in the past. The fact that there are multiple Observers is pretty interesting to me. I guess it makes sense. It would be difficult for one person to make it to so many big historical events. The other important thing laid out on the table right away is that other than the time an Observer saved Walter and Peter after a car accident that happened when Peter was a little kid, there is no record of an Observer actually getting involved in history. Usually they just stand by, watch it unfold, and take notes.

Walter is being extra-shifty, but nobody around him seems to notice. Are they so used to Walter being crazy that extra craziness doesn’t really register? He’s being more evasive than usual, and he’s constantly pouring over a notebook. The rest of the Fringe team finds another notebook especially interesting. This one belongs to the kidnapper Observer, who we later learn is named August. August’s notebook is filled with symbols, and according to Astrid, none of the symbols ever repeat. Language is based on repeating characters, so the contents of the notebook baffle her. Peter thinks he’s found something more useful, though- a blood stain on one of the pages. Walter notes that it looks like it has an orange tint, which could indicate hemophilia. Peter’s all gung ho about solving this mystery and wants the FBI to compose a list of all the known hemophiliacs in the area. Walter doesn’t really say much.

Peter and Olivia visit with Christine’s roommate, who tells them that Christine was on her way to Rome and gives them her flight schedule. Later in the car, Peter and Olivia are surprised to hear that the plane Christine was supposed to be on crashed in Italy, killing all passengers. At least the surprise kicks Olivia out of her broody regretting not making memories with Ella mood. Generally I like Olivia/Peter bonding scenes, but the scene in the car when she’s telling him about early memories with her mother and Peter reassures her that she still has time to make memories with Ella just didn’t work for me. It felt like the episode was trying too hard to make Olivia soft. Plus it was an excuse to do major product placement for the car they were driving- they were showing off all the fancy features like this screen that could act as a phone and a radio, and a button on the driver’s side door that could control radio volume.

Peter and Olivia also pay a visit to the Massive Dynamics tech guy (the one from the episode where Charlie was revealed as the agent from the Other side), because he’s been researching the Observer code, too. I think this guy is going to become one of my favorite recurring characters on the show. He’s goofy and nerdy, and is always so enthusiastic about whatever he’s working on. He hasn’t had any luck cracking the code either, but he does have some interesting information. He has photographic evidence of the wide variety of historical events Observers have overseen. He figures to cover that huge span of time, they must not move in a linear time line like we do. They’re like the Prophets/Wormhole Aliens from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Time, as we know it, has no meaning to them.

When Olivia and Peter get back to the lab, Walter has some new, interesting information. The red stain on the notebook wasn’t blood, it was hot sauce. And not just any hot sauce. It’s made from one of the hottest peppers out there, most commonly grown in India. The team gets to figuring out who in Boston has imported these peppers. Turns out it’s three Indian restaurants and one individual.

It turns out this information is relevant in two ways. One is that all the Observers there are at least four or five of them) use one of the Indian restaurants as their regular meeting place. They discuss the problem of August, and they decide that Christine being saved must be “corrected.” They send a kind of scary assassin guy after her. August manages to keep Christine safe from her for a while, and he eventually is able to gain Christine’s trust. I think showing her the news report of the plane crash did the trick!

It also turns out that the individual who had been importing the peppers was August. Olivia and Peter arrive at August’s apartment just as the assassin is on his way out. All three have figured out that August has Christine at a nearby motel, and that’s where the final standoff happens. Peter ends up killing the assassin with August’s crazy gun, but not before August himself was shot several times by the assassin. Olivia manages to rescue Christine. As August is being driven away in a car by another Observer, he asks if Christine will be safe and lies back in his seat. The driver replies that she will be. She’s important now, because she caused the death of an Observer.

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