Fringe season 5 episode 5 review: An Origin Story

Billy finds some parts of this week's Fringe baffling, despite enjoying the episode. Here's his review of An Origin Story...

This review contains spoilers.

5.5 An Origin Story

After watching this story, a niggling doubt started to enter my mind that the final season of Fringe was engaged in a very long pre-amble to a short punch-line. Because as much as I enjoyed the majority of An Origin Story, it was essentially treading water for the climatic scene where something of significance happened.

We know that Peter has a rather wilful streak, and he has previously exhibited this sort of behaviour in respect of the shape-shifters, but something about that final scene just didn’t ring true, though I’m slightly at a loss to say precisely why.Perhaps my problem was that a number of things happened in the story I just didn’t follow, leaving me with the overriding sensation that I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture.

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One of these was how the tech transfer went wrong, because the captured observer did hint that Peter had put the machine together correctly, and that he was a fan of Donald Rumsfeld. I might be being dense, but I didn’t follow that entirely. I’ve concluded that my understanding here is impaired because I’m thinking in a very linear way about time and temporal mechanics. It may be possible for the cubes to both arrive safely and yet be destroyed in the black hole in the way that the observers have tinkered with the universe.

The other oddity was the posters. It could be that they represent how Etta is a symbol for the resistance, which turns out to number many more than we’ve been presented with. But given we’ve seen very few of them, and not many people in general, presenting the notion that they’re a force to be reckoned with at some point does seem a stretch. Maybe September is still at work, sending Olivia a message of hope.

Keeping plenty of cards close to its narrative chest is one issue that Fringe has, and the other was how that could acknowledge the loss of Etta without falling into an abyss of despair. We are forced to go there, even if we’d like to move on.

My problem with all this, and actually the episodes of this season that have come before is how it appears to have sidelined Olivia as a character, when at one point this was primarily her story. She’s a woman of action, but they’ve made her entirely passive to events, consumed with her emotional baggage. I want the old Olivia back, or if she’s unavailable, Altivia. And, that strikes at another revelation to me, which is how much I’m missing the alternate universe in general, even if I felt intermittently bored with it at the time. The writers need to acknowledge her loss, I can see that, but the final season is rapidly running out, and she needs to find some steel very soon.

The final scene where Peter takes the observer tech and inserts in into his own brain was the key to the whole episode, and for the most part the rest was window dressing. This extended scene was an homage to the Voight-Kampff interrogation of Leon at the start of Blade Runner, where his responses to questions are used as a basis to determine if he’s human or not.

How it ended threw up some interesting questions; would removing this device kill him as it appeared to be fatal for the Observer? Another, and probably to be answered next week, is exactly what powers does it give him?

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Next week’s story takes some inspiration from the books of Lewis Carroll, or so the title hints. But we’re really tuning in to find out how surprised the Observers are when they meet Peter, aren’t we? But I doubt they’ll show that emotional response outwardly.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Bullet That Saved The World, here.

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