Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fringe 4.10: "Forced Perspective"

“No, you're wrong. Nothing has to happen. Nothing is written in stone. You and I, we don't have to die here today. Now, whatever happens next is up to you. You are in control. I'm not ready to die today, and I don't think that you are either.”

I appreciated “Forced Perspective” in the sense that it was more in the “case of the week” form of storytelling that the super-mythology heavy episodes the show has focused on producing in the last season and a half. While the case did have implications for the characters beyond their immediate investigation, because it was very connected to where Amber Olivia’s head was at, the case itself was a distinct story. It was a nice breather. There are only so many new parallel universes and timelines a girl can take (or keep track of)! The story had heart, too , and a rather tragic ending. I wouldn’t rank it up there with the very best episodes of “Fringe” like “White Rose” or “6B,” but it was a satisfying way to spend an hour. And it also sort-of paid homage to my all-time favorite episode of television, Lost’s “The Constant.” Or at least since both “Fringe” and “Lost” are Bad Robot productions, I’m going to believe it was an homage!

The episode opens with Amber Olivia and Broyles looking at photos of Observers and trying to identify the Observer who had been talking to Amber Olivia two episodes ago. They talk about this happening “yesterday,” and it feels like it should have been longer ago, but I’ll go with it since the last episode was mostly in Red Universe. Broyles seems to really want to protect Olivia, which I think is kind of sweet. He’s acting like the Observer threatened Olivia, but Olivia makes it clear that it was more of a warning. Next, Olivia pays a visit to the lab to see Walter and Peter. The fun of Walter’s antics is short-lived, though, because Olivia gets a phone call from Lincoln about their newest case, and it strikes a chord with Olivia. A man was impaired by an I-beam in a construction accident, and moments before it happened, a girl handed him a picture she drew of the accident. Olivia is freaked out because this girl can predict death, and only a day earlier, the Observer predicted her death. The girl, Emily, turns out to have a father who moves the family around a lot (ostensibly for Emily’s safety) and is rather religious.

Broyles and Olivia have yet another heart-to-heart (this is kind of a running theme throughout the episode…people wanting to have deep conversations with Olivia), this time about Olivia’s migraines and about fate. Olivia goes to take her migraine medicine, and Lincoln interrupts to let her know that the coworker of the I-beam victim identified Emily in security footage. Emily, meanwhile, is on a bus. All of a sudden she gets another vision, and she starts drawing furiously. Through the bus window, she catches a glimpse of the subject of her drawing, and she makes the bus stop so she can chase after him. The man disappears into the crowd before Emily can give him her drawing. She’s frustrated, but she tries to comfort herself with the fact that at least she tried to warn him. We later find out that she tries to warn people not so they can change what happens (she thinks it’s fate), but so they can say their goodbyes or do one last good deed. Before we got that explanation, I was really confuse about why she would try so hard to hand out these pictures of death.

Lincoln and Olivia find their way to Emily’s apartment. They’ve been interviewing everyone in the building because that’s the direction the security footage indicated Emily walked. Emily’s dad answers the door, and he tries to pretend that he doesn’t recognize the girl in the picture Lincoln and Olivia show him. Luckily, however, Lincoln and Olivia run into Emily outside the apartment building. She starts to talk to them a little bit about what’s been happening, but then her dad sees what’s going on and puts a stop to it. He’s afraid Massive Dynamic is going to go after her and try to experiment on her like they did before. There was an incident that happened when they were living in Baltimore that especially freaked him out. Pissed off that Massive Dynamic still appears to be experimenting on children after everything she went through as a child, Olivia goes to confront Nina about what she has learned. Nina tries to play it off like it wasn’t a very big deal, and before Olivia can mount any kind of a comeback, she gets a phone call from Emily.

Olivia and Emily meet up at a bench by a lake, which is, apparently, one of Emily’s favorite places. Emily shows Olivia a rather disturbing drawing of dead bodies strewn about, and she says she thinks a lot of people are going to die. Olivia brings Emily to Walter to get checked out. After running some tests, Walter says that he believes traumatic events ripple back in time, and Emily somehow can pick up on that. Then her father arrives at the lab (because Olivia called him), and of course, at first, he’s a bit of an ass. Then he seems to realize that the Fringe crew isn’t really out to hurt his daughter. At that moment, Peter says he thinks Walter should try to hypnotize Emily. Amber Walter doesn’t seem to have much experience in this, but Peter seems to think he’s capable. Once she’s hypnotized, Emily sees the scene of destruction in more detail. It turns out it’s a courthouse. Then Peter gets a phone call from Olivia and Lincoln. It turns out the guy Emily saw was the perpetrator, not the victim. He just got through a nasty divorce, and it looks like he’s planning to bomb the court house. This reminds me of a typical twist from “Person of Interest,” which also happens to be a Bad Robot show. In the opening sequence, Michael Emerson even always says, “Victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up, we’ll find you.”

Olivia and Lincoln and their FBI backup arrive at the courthouse. The bomb squad is going to sweep the underground parking garage, because in Emily’s vision, the ground appeared to be shaking. Meanwhile, at Emily’s house, her dad sees a black van parked down the street. He thinks it’s somebody after Emily again, so he hurries Emily into the house and tells the rest of the family to start packing. Emily goes into her room and starts drawing again. Back at the courthouse, Lincoln and some bomb squad guys find the bomb. A flatbed trailer is loaded with barrels of explosives. One problem, however, is that the bomber heard the evacuation announcement, so he clearly knows something’s up. Because the bomb is too complicated to disarm easily, Peter comes up with the idea to block the signal from the detonator instead. He has all the FBI folks tune their radios to the frequency used by the detonator.

When the bomber confronts the judge from his divorce case and tries to detonate the bomb, we learn Peter’s plan worked, but the bomber has a second bomb strapped to his chest. Olivia talks the bomber down by telling him he has control over his future, and he probably doesn’t want to die today. She’s clearly trying to give herself a peptalk, too, to get over all the Observer drama. Olivia calls Emily’s family to give Emily the good news, but Emily’s dad then discovers that Emily is missing. Olivia finds Emily at the bench by the lake (she wasn’t kidnapped by Massive Dynamic like her father had feared). Emily has drawn a picture of her own death, sitting on that very bench. Her dad tries to talk to her, but Emily says it’s her time, and by stopping the bombing she has fulfilled her purpose in life. She proceeds to have a very Desmond-unstuck-in-time-in-“The Constant” nosebleed and dies. Apparently the visions, over time, overloaded her brain, and she had a stroke.

After everything has calmed down, Peter stops by to see Olivia at the office. They talk about Emily a bit, then Peter notices that Olivia has been looking at the picture of an Observer. He tells Olivia what he knows about the Observers, which turns out to be a big deal, because in the Amber Universe, they hadn’t even come up with the name Observer yet. Peter doesn’t do an especially good job reassuring Olivia that Observers could be fallible when predicting the future. He says they’ve actually already experienced the future. Then Peter asks Olivia if an Observer has made contact with her. She lies. Later, Nina visits Olivia at her apartment. They apologize to each other for the experimenting-on-Emily argument, and Olivia says that Nina is the closest thing she has to a mother. Nina notices that Olivia is suffering with migraines, and she offers to bring Olivia some better medicine from Massive Dynamic. As the camera pans out, we see an Observer watching from outside the house. It’s quite spooky!

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