Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fringe 5.05: "An Origin Story"

“The pain is her legacy to you both. It’s proof that she was here.”

“An Origin Story” took some time to mourn Etta, which was definitely a welcome decision. We saw how this has really rocked the Bishop family world, and it’s spinning everyone off in different directions. Walter’s trying to become the wise counselor, since he knows something of what it’s like to lose a child. Olivia’s paralyzed with grief and the fear that she’s going to lose the rest of her family too just as they all found each other again. Peter is just plain bent on vengeance, and he goes to frightening levels in pursuit of that vengeance. The “origin story” referred to in the title of the episode could very well be the origin story of Peter Bishop the Observer-tech charged supervillain. Peter’s rash decision at the end of the episode was both sad and horrifying. It pretty much sealed for me that “Fringe” will not be a show with a happy ending. For some reason I hoped it would have a reasonably content ending for most of the characters, but it’s pretty obvious at this point that it’s going to be a tragedy. And I suppose that’s fitting – Fringe was always a rather dark show – but I don’t have to like seeing characters I’ve spent all these years with in such pain.

The episode begins, fittingly, with Peter and Olivia mourning Etta’s death. They’re in Etta’s room, and Olivia is sleeping while Peter is kind of snooping around. I’d like to think he’s trying to get a sense of who his daughter was, but it really feels more like just snooping. And Peter’s way too happy when he finds Etta’s secret weapons stash. Olivia wakes up to see Peter eyeing up the guns Etta had hidden away, and they do actually take a little time to properly mourn. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, something shady is going on (as always). A city block seems especially electrically charged- like something in between a bad case of static electricity and a thunderstorm, and it drives people away. Once the block is clear, an Observer arrives with a strange cube device. The cube is used to open a portal, and through the portal, several boxes are shipped. Those boxes can’t contain anything good for humanity.

Back in Boston, Astrid reports to the team that it’s going to take her a while to get the next video out of the Amber. When they had to re-amber the lab in the last episode, Walter had left out some explosive chemicals that he was going to use to cook himself a meal. So we don’t really get any progress on the follow the steps to defeat the Observers plot in this episode. In fact, it’s probably the lack of progress that drives Peter to do what he does here. He’s feeling the need to lash out and make some progress in ensuring that Etta did not die in vain. Anyway, the conversation about the tape is interrupted by a phone call from Etta’s main resistance contact. He calls the team to the site in Manhattan where the Observers just opened a portal. Apparently the shipment was more atmosphere degradation equipment. The Observers are trying to make the higher C02 content of the atmosphere permanent with these machines. The team figures out that the cube device opened the portal, and the resistance contact says they’ve captured an Observer and a cube device. Peter insists that they need that cube device. He feels like if they can understand and destroy it somehow, it will stop the Observers. Everyone else wants to be more cautious with unfamiliar tech, but Peter wins.

Back at the lab, Peter is working with the cube, but he’s not having much luck. Meanwhile, Astrid needs more computing power to decode what they believe is a shipping manifest that will reveal when the next shipment of atmosphere degradation equipment is about to arrive. In the middle of all this failure, Walter has a theory. The cube creates a wormhole from the present day to the future, and if you block the wormhole, you can turn it into a black hole and cause the Observers some serious pain. Anti-matter is needed to accomplish this, and the team just happens to have some anti-matter batons. The only hitch left in the plan is that they need to figure out how to operate the cube device. The cube device has to answer the “call” from the future (the strange electric discharge) in order for a portal to open. It sounds like Peter is going to go torture the captive Observer to learn how to work the cube device. Olivia isn’t thrilled about all this. She says she’s worried about losing Peter. Peter just responds about the importance that Etta didn’t die in vain.

It turns out that Peter’s plan wasn’t to torture the Observer, per se. He’s using a camera to track the Observer’s eye movements. Peter believes that this will reveal “tells” that will let him know when he’s completing a step of the cube assembly correctly. Peter and the Observer engage in some amusing trash talk as this is going on. At the lab, Walter tells Olivia that he wants her and Peter to watch an old tape he found of one of Etta’s birthdays. It’s a nice heart-to-heart between Walter and Olivia, where Walter explains that Olivia and Peter really need to face the loss of Etta together if they’re going to survive as a couple. Walter correctly picked up on the fact that Olivia wasn’t worried for Peter’s physical safety so much as the future of their relationship. Even though Walter’s advice is sound, Olivia forcefully says that she’s not ready to watch the video yet. Astrid interrupts the conversation to say that the shipping manifest has finally been decoded, and the next shipment is that afternoon.

Just as Peter finishing putting together the cube device, Olivia calls him and tells him the location of the next shipment. The team is in place, but before they can fire the anti-matter into the wormhole, an Observer attacks them. Peter tries to fight back, and the Observer almost gets the best of him when Olivia gets off a good shot. Recovered, Peter shoots the anti-mater, and a black hole is created. The team gets away, but when they stop the car, they see the boxes of atmosphere degradaders float by anyway. Apparently the Observers had a way to get around their plan. Peter rushes off to go talk to the captive Observer and find out what the heck happened, and this time Peter is planning to actually use torture. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Olivia starts watching the tape of Etta’s birthday. Eventually, in a rage, Peter takes the chip out of the Observer’s head, killing it. Even more stupidly, Peter puts the chip in himself. He believes that with the combination of his emotions and the chip, he can be greater than any Observer. Olivia calls him right after the chip goes in his head, and she says she wants him to come home. Peter tells Olivia he loves her and goes back to writhing in pain from the chip embedding itself in his brain. And damn was that a painful way to end an episode, both physically and emotionally.

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