This review contains spoilers.
5.10 Anomaly XB-6783746
I’m going to say from the outset that this was one of the best Fringe episodes ever, certainly of this season, even if in narrative terms relatively little happened.
Last week I mentioned that the uncommunicative Observer boy would become rapidly boring, and I’m happy to accept I got that entirely wrong. The trials and tribulations of getting him to respond proved a most interesting puzzle, but what I really liked here is that the time to save the world is getting rather short. Windmark is also becoming a worthy antagonist, determined to understand more about his foes, before calmly wiping them out.
I could talk about the tension-building queue to the interrogation room, the cool Observer tech that uses the resonance of past events in solid objects to replay them, or the story of Fringe at a blip-vert. But, there’s only once scene worth talking about here, and it’s the standoff between Nina and Windmark. In this, Blair Brown’s work was just fantastic, as she calmly put Windmark in his place knowing her fate. “You’re the animal” is her ultimate rebuff, and she delivers it with enough venom to kill an African Elephant.
Over the past seasons, Nina’s character has been ambiguous as to her true allegiance at times, but we what we did know is that she felt strongly about Walter and William Bell. Now finally she gets to put Machiavellian schemes behind her, and emerge into the light. I sort of hoped her artificial arm would come into play, but it was a much more simple conclusion, designed to stick a finger up to Windmark in the only way she could.
His frustration was palatable, suggesting that there are some emotions the Observers can experience rather strongly. Having played her ultimate card, we then got a genuinely moving scene where Walter finds her, and is overcome with grief. This reminded me, if I really needed it, that while the writing of Fringe has been somewhat variable over the seasons, the acting has been superb. John Noble sells grief amazingly, and we feel his loss.
The finding of Michael presents us with a clue to why he’s an anomaly, because he’s the Observer that can feel emotion. But it also reveals the true identity of Donald, and the pivotal character that must make reappear to resolve everything: September.
What’s clear from the flashback memories that he shows Walter was that September wasn’t born an Observer, and that’s probably why he acted to save Walter and Peter from drowning in the frozen lake. I’m still not sure what the relationship between Michael and September is – perhaps father and son – but whatever it might be it’s probably critical to the final resolution.
And then, while I was entirely engrossed, the goddamn episode ended and I screamed ‘NO!’ as if I’d been disconnected from my oxygen supply while two hundred feet under water. Arrrgh! I wished more TV made me feel like that. I’d have paid hard cash to see the next episode right away.
In trying to think about the final three episodes, it’s all going to be about which characters return to play their part. I’d really like someone from the parallel universe to show up, but I can’t see how they’d fit into what’s been built this season. I’ll be slightly amazed if William Bell doesn’t appear, but beyond that anything is possible, even characters we’ve assumed are dead.
But, and this really bugs me considering the momentum that was generated here, we’ve got to wait till the 11th of January for our next Fringe instalment. I keep reminding myself that all good things are worth waiting for, but I’d really like to know now what awaits us. The final two episodes will be shown a week later, and then Fringe is complete, sadly.
After this I’m supremely confident that it will go out with a bang, or knowing Walter something with a little more oomph.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Black Blotter, here.
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