This review contains spoilers.
In what’s been an inconsistent Fringe season so far, this was probably the best story yet. It was very well paced, although in terms of narrative, it was mostly running around and shouting, rather than the usual introspective stuff the show does so well.
Another tape leads the team to uncover the Fringe vault and to bust into a controlled area, in what was very much an homage to previous adventures. The scene where they go beneath the lab was highly reminiscent of a similar one in Die Another Day, where Bond and Q look at his old gadgets. Except it did make me wonder who in the Fringe creative team really thought the flying porcupine people were worth reminding us of?
But it was plot critical to extract some items from the vault for later use, most notably an ‘ambering’ device and the toxic gas that David Robert Jones created in the “Ability” episode which causes rapid tissue growth, asphyxiating the victim by covering their mouth and nose. The reference to the dimensional view window had me interested, because it does hint that we’ll get at least one more parallel universe adventure, I hope.
The lab sequence led very naturally into the appearance of Broyles, and the warning that they’re about to have unwelcome guests. The re-ambering obscured what they were up to enough to fool the Observers, and they left with a clue to find the plans by which to remove the Observers from Earth. What was great about the action part of the show is that it demonstrated not only how good the Fringe division is as a team these days, but also how formidable the Observers can be on occasion.
As for the plans, incomprehensible. I’ve formed a view that they’re meant to be, because what they’re supposed to do is set off a chain reaction when Windmark tries to understand them inside Walter’s brain. They’re a virus of sorts, which Walter has no need to actually understand for it to work. Could be entirely wrong here, but that’s my guess, for what it is worth.
Their escape isn’t flawless, and brings me neatly to the death of a significant character, balancing the reintroduction of the now wrinkly Broyles. Etta’s death was almost foretold by the lack of character investment we’ve seen in her since she was introduced. She was mostly presented as a younger version of Olivia, who talked almost exclusively about the past she shared with her parents rather than the many years that passed since then.
It seemed obvious she wouldn’t survive the season, but I was mildly shocked that she died here and now. What I didn’t follow was why Windmark left her alone, other than for the others to find her, only then to come back? It seemed arbitrary, though it was required to happen for the climax of the episode. And, on the subject of Windmark, he might be the best the Observers have (as others seem frankly rubbish), but the fact that they’ve only just alighted on the significance of love does suggest that they’re a bit useless at observing.
So is Etta really dead? Well, in a way yes, and yet no. Yes, because she was most certainly fatally shot, and subsequently died, before being annihilated by an anti-matter explosion for good measure. And yet, no, because logically if the Observers are removed then they’ll be removed from the present, future and past, surely?
My mind went off on that tangent when I tried to consider if in the timeline that the show is now existing if all the items in the vault should really be there? Maybe. If they can keep the standard of stories up to this one, without running out of characters to kill, then the rest of the season could be rather good.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Recordist, here.
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