Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fringe 4.15: "A Short Story About Love"

“She had let go of the possibility of being in love, of finding love. And I could see myself in her, and I didn't like who I was.”

“A Short Story About Love,” was, as you would expect from the title, a rather sweet, romantic (in a kind of macabre way) episode of “Fringe.” It featured some welcome forward movement on the Peter/Olivia reunion front, and it was very much in the tradition of “Brown Betty” and “6B.” Suffice it to say, I liked it quite a bit. The case of the week itself sort of took a back seat to the greater implications of the case for our main characters. Like many cases have lately, this one reflected where several of the characters are right now from an emotional standpoint, especially Olivia. She’s certainly been through the romantic wringer lately, what with Peter flip-flopping over whether or not she’s “his” Olivia. At least by the end of the episode, that particular dilemma is resolved. Peter gets a very definitive answer about the nature of the Olivia he’s been interacting with this season. It’s about time- the flip-flopping was getting quite frustrating. It’s time to move on to other plots.

The episode opens with Olivia sitting at a café table looking wistful. There’s a lot of people looking wistful in this episode in general, really. It’s that kind of episode. Nina meets Olivia at the café for breakfast. Olivia talks to her about Peter- she’s pretty sure she loves him. Olivia thanks Nina for meeting with her so she can vent about her romantic problems. Nina is very surprised by this, because meeting for breakfast is something they do every Saturday. This scares Nina a little, because it means that Blue Olivia’s memories are completely taking over. I guess it scared Olivia a bit too, and figuring out which Olivia she wants to be is something she will sruggle with for much of this episode.

Meanwhile, we get an introduction to the creepy/gross case of the week. This one is really strange. I’m not quite sure I entirely understand it, actually. We see a rather upset-looking woman arrive at her home. She listens to a voice mail expressing condolences. It appears that her husband has recently died. While she listens to the voice mail, there’s a mysterious man hiding in the shadows, and he’s carrying some sort of green vial. The woman turns the lights on, and a very disfigured man appears out of the shadows. At first it looks like he’s going to attack her, but then they kiss. Since this is “Fringe,” I immediately wondered if this was her dead husband reanimated. Also because this is “Fringe,” the real answer is much more complicated. After the kiss, the man becomes threatening again. He ends up killing the woman by wrapping Saran wrap around her head. After she has suffocated, he uses a cotton swab to take a “sample” from her hands. The whole thing is very bizarre.

Olivia pays a visit to Walter because she wants to talk to him about the memory loss issue. Walter is all excited because he has a nanny cam Teddy bear that happened to record September disappearing after his deathbed conversation with Peter. He thinks he can see some extra, really fast movement happening. Conveniently, Astrid brings in a big machine that apparently can drastically slow down video. Before she can see what the machine does, hoever, Olivia gets a call about the case of the week. It turns out that the woman we just saw killed was actually the second victim of killings of that nature. Both victims had just buried their husbands, and both husbands had been found randomly in the middle of a field, completely dehydrated. Both women also have a bit of their husband’s DNA on their necks, which just seems kind of gross.

While all this is going on, Peter is trying to get out of town. He’s in a cab on the way to the bus station. Walter calls him, and even though he’s impressed Peter has taken his advice to heart, he tells Peter that he needs to get back to the lab right away. When Peter does return to the lab, he shows him the slow-motion video of September’s disappearance. Before he disappeared, September put something in Peter’s eye. As Walter’s looking at Peter’s eye, he says that Peter is a better man than himself for being willing to leave town. This has significance because Peter’s mom used to always tell him “be a better man than your father.” Walter does eventually take something out of Peter’s eye, and it has writing on it. Specifically, it’s an address- 22 ½ Morrow Street.

Peter goes to investigate the address, and Olivia and Lincoln bring the bodies of the most recently killed couple to the lab. Walter thinks the killer is making a perfume of sorts out of the husband’s pheromones to lure the wife. This makes Olivia and Lincoln a little uncomfortable given the love triangle drama that’s going on at the moment. Walter wants to examine the bodies of the first couple killed, so Olivia and Lincoln have to go retrieve them. On their way out, Walter mentions that Peter is back. It turns out Olivia didn’t realize that Peter left, but she’s very happy to hear the news. She sounds hopeful. I must have misinterpreted this, though, because not long after this, Olivia tells Walter that her old memories are slipping. She didn’t care about that when she had Peter, but now she wants Walter to try and reverse the memory loss.

Our killer, meanwhile, is trawling for his next victims. He’s in a park looking for happy couples. He finds one especially happy-looking couple, and he offers to take their picture. When he sees that they have a young son, however, he backs off. I guess he has some scruples, however small. As he’s walking away he hones in on another, slightly older couple to target instead. Again, he asks to take their picture. We later see a really disturbing montage of the husband from this couple in some sort of heat chamber. I guess that’s how the killer dehydrates his victims. The husband eventually dies. As the husband is overheating and screaming, we see the killer look wistfully at the photo of a woman (see what I meant about lots of people giving wistful looks in this episode?). I guess he lost love and is trying to recreate it through scent. Weirdo.

Back at the lab, Walter has astrid smelling beaver secretions through some strange device, which is just gross. Astrid thinks it’s pretty gross too. In the next room, Lincoln is giving Olivia the whole “If you need anything” speech. I guess he thinks he still has a chance with her by being the nice guy who picks up the pieces. Astrid interrupts to ask for another smelling volunteer. Walter says that he found the one rancid note that was mixed into this particular “perfume” (every perfume has one). This particular substance is very rare, so they’re able to narrow down purchasers to five perfumeries in the area. Astrid is quickly able to narrow it down further. She finds a record of a disgruntled employee being fired from one particular perfumery for theft. He’s pretty obviously the suspect they’re looking for. Olivia and Lincoln go after him, but they arrive at his lair too late to save the dehydrating husband. At least by finding the husband, however, they think they know who the next victim will be (the wife).

Olivia and Lincoln have the unenviable job of informing the wife of the latest victim about her husband’s death. She’s upset, but she takes it somewhat better than you might expect. She says that her husband was the one who was always picking up the pieces when she dated jerks in college (Olivia and Lincoln exchange a knowing look here, of course). Her husband couldn’t see the difference between loving someone and being in love with them. Olivia realizes that this couple didn’t have the happy marriage that the other four victims had, so maybe the killer isn’t after her after all. Olivia then has the foresight to ask if her husband was having an affair. Wouldn’t you know, he was indeed, and Olivia and Lincoln rescue the mistress just as she’s about to be murdered. Later, Olivia meets with Nina and says that she’s going to let the memory replacement run its course. This case has taught her that she wants a chance at love, and having Blue Olivia’s memories could give her that chance.

Peter has been spending the whole episode investigating September’s disappearance. The house at the address that was in his eye looks like Observer central. There’s a whole closet of Observer hats, and it’s really quite amusing. In the house, Peter also finds a case of what appears to be spy tech. One of the gadgets has a blinking dot on the screen, and Peter starts following it. As he walks through a park following the dot of the gadget, what appears to be a weapon drills up out of the ground. I know they had a case with something like that back in season 2. It turns out that the metal tube that drills out of the ground is September’s prison, and Peter frees September. September tells Peter that he actually is in the right universe, and the Olivia he has been interacting with is indeed “his” Olivia. This leads Peter to rush over to Olivia’s apartment, and when she pulls up outside, they see each other and have a lovely rom com-ish reunion. Thank goodness!

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