Sunday, October 7, 2012

'Fringe' recap: 'In Absentia'

Courtesy Fox
BY MELISSA HARKNESS

It is Olivia’s turn for a dream sequence. Peter wakes her from a nightmare very similar to his own about losing Etta. They appear to still be somewhat estranged, with separate sleeping bags on the floor. Olivia's dream fills in a few more gaps about the day of the invasion. Olivia, it seems, was the disciplinarian while Peter was the fun parent. Are we really surprised by that, she has never been terribly emotional. It also looks like she may have felt abandoned by Peter who was more concerned about finding Etta than her. Peter pretty much admitted to that last episode, but here is confirmation that Olivia did feel that way. Peter assures her that they are okay now, but I have my doubts.

Walter has not had any luck regaining his memory with Spetember's device, Olivia thinks that Walter may have written the plans down somewhere. As Walter is want to do. Unfortunately, the old Harvard lab building has been taken over by the Observers. Walter pipes up that that won't be a problem for someone who has done acid. Meaning of course, that there are old smuggling tunnels under the campus. They gain access to the lab, only to find that Walter Ambered it before he left. Peering into the Amber, Walter spies his old Betamax video camera and thinks he made a video instead of writing The Plan down. He also wonders when he started eating grape flavored Vines.

Anyway, since they weren't prepared for the Amber, they now have to MacGyver a laser to cut through the stuff. It's painful, but Walter sacrifices his Criterion Collection and breaks apart his laser disc player for the cause. Now all they need is power, which will have to be turned on from the Science building. Only they don't know what or who is in the Science Building. Luckily, a guard appears, which Etta handles admirably.

She takes on the job of interrogating him with some stolen Observer tech. It very painfully disrupts your cells and ages you, (kind of like that machine from Princess Bride, only not as funny) to get the information that she needs. Olivia, appears to think this is somewhat harsh, but refrains from interfering. She just stands around being the disapproving mother. Oh, how I know that feeling. The poor guard. He was just trying to feed the pigeons that had started roosting in Walter's lab. This is what being kind to pigeons will get you. Walter hates pigeons. He thinks the Observers should have freeze dried them and handed them out to the poor for sustenance. Walter and his food fetishes. Olivia is obviously conflicted with this turn of events. Her disappointment that Etta has become hardened enough to torture someone is obvious. On the other hand, they need to save the world. It's a tough call, but Olivia has always chosen saving the world over her personal relationships, so this isn't really any different. The guard, looking quite old know, convinces Olivia that he will tell them what they need to know, if she will promise to tell his son goodbye for him. Her mother's heart touched, she agrees.

According to the guard, the Observers have been using the Science Building to run experiments. On what, he doesn't know. Well, once inside Peter and Etta pass room after room of their experiments. People strapped to tables, human brains in jars, that sort of thing. But it was still a shock for Etta to see Simon's disembodied head attached to a machine in one of the rooms. And then he blinked. Etta remains very calm as she turns from the door, only to pull her gun and turn back ready to kick some ass. Unfortunately, Peter has to stop her. “There will be a time for vengeance, but it is not now. They will pay for what they've done. I promise.”, he tells her. And we all know that Peter always keeps his promises. They get the power restored and head back to the lab, where Walter has discovered that his Clapper still works. Clap, clap!

Olivia is watching over the guard, who asks if she really thinks they can win. With calm assurance, she tells him that they have to win. "So that all the people that died, including your son, didn't die for nothing.” Olivia is unusually subdued in this new world. I think she needs to get a turn to kick some ass. She's not used to doing the sitting around and waiting. It's depressing her.

When Etta returns, she is still pissed off and tells Olivia she is taking the guard to the Resistance. Olivia tries to reason with her, telling her he has a son. Etta finally has to lay it all down for Mom. She tells her that he doesn't have a son, he's just manipulating her because he could see the weakness in her eyes. Olivia pulls out the dreaded Mom Card and lectures her, “You're right. I don't know your world. It’s not that I don't see what the Observer's have brought, I do. But what concerns me more, is what they've taken away.” Well, hell. What do you say to that?

Etta heads off with her prisoner only to stop next to a field. She has one last question for our guard friend. He admits that she was right, he doesn't have a son. He became a Loyalist because he was a coward and he wanted to live. Disgusted, she tells him to leave. Etta lets the guard walk away, but he stops. He tells her that he's going to help the Resistance now. He did see something in Olivia's eyes. Instead of weakness, he saw for the first time, that they were supposed to win. Etta responds that she saw something in her eyes too. Pity. “Pity for all of us.”

Back at the lab story time has commenced. The team is gathered around the tv to watch Walter's tape. On the tape is Walter, a very motivational Walter, telling them that he hid The Plan on other tapes. That they will have to find. Yay, it's like a treasure hunt! Meanwhile, Etta sends Olivia a video message showing the guard running through a field. Not quite as picturesque as the park, but you get the idea.

The next episode of Fringe "The Recordist" airs Oct. 12, 9 p.m. ET.

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