Monday, October 15, 2012

'Fringe' recap: 'The Recordist'

Courtesy Fox
BY MELISSA HARKNESS

The scavenger hunt for Walter's tapes is underway. The Fringe team has gotten a little more sophisticated with their tape extraction process. They find the official Tape #3, which opens with Walter and his bong getting some alone time. Apparently Walter stored the tapes out of order, much to Astrid's shock. This tape leads them to Pennsylvania. For what, they have no idea. The team discusses the possibilities, while Walter sniffs some 21 year old pot out of a baggie he "liberated" from the Amber as well.

At the coordinates, they find themselves surrounded by strange bark people. They are led back to a pretty sophisticated looking camp to meet the bark people's leader. A one, Paul McGillion, aka Dr. Beckett from Stargate Atlantis! He immediately recognizes Walter, astonished that they haven't aged a day. Edwin, assures them that they have already been exposed to whatever is causing the bark-like growths on his people. He explains that he is a Recordist. His group of survivors have recorded mankind's history since the day of the invasion. This history is stored on some very cool-looking crystalline data cubes in an equally cool recording room. Edwin's father started the group. He believed that someone had to record the true history, so it would not be lost when the "Invaders" rewrite it. While delighted to meet them, Edwin does his best to get them to leave before they become afflicted with the growths that afflicts his people. It turns out that Edwin's son, River, is something of a Fringe groupie. He brings Olivia some comics that he drew himself about how the Fringe Team fought the Invaders. Peter is quite enthusiastic, but Olivia remains very withdrawn.

Astrid, who stayed back at the lab to decipher the garbled parts of the tape, discovers that they are looking for a mine. The team enters the abandoned gold mine searching for whatever Walter left there for them. They discover a mineshaft, with a mysterious rope leading downwards. As they pull it up, a dead bark man is attached to it. Walter thought the growth was a fungus, but it appears to be some sort of reaction to something in the mine. He deems that no one can enter the mine until he figures out what it is. They take the corpse back to the camp, where Etta provides everyone with an apple to snack on, only it's a pill. Ugh. This prompts Peter to wax poetic about an epic apple pie he and Olivia had while they were searching for Etta. Olivia claims to not remember. Only, we know she has to be lying. Olivia remembers everything.

Walter does his science stuff and discovers that the corpse was asphyxiated by the growths. They are produced by the skin as a kind of allergic reaction to whatever is emanating from the mine. Edwin appears and excitedly shows them a recording of a man who showed up after the Invasion. He said his name was Donald, and that he was waiting for Walter. He had collected some rocks from the mine, when the Invaders captured him.

Of course, Walter has no idea why he wanted the rocks. He comes up with a plan to make a suit to allow them to enter the mine safely.

As Olivia prepares to go back to the lab for supplies, Peter calls her out on her faulty memory. Reluctantly, she confesses that she does remember the diner and the apple pie. Ah, now we find out why she has been so weird. She explains that she felt like losing Etta was her fault. That she wasn't a good mother. That she never appreciated her, and that's why Etta was taken away from them. She was sure that Etta was dead and she didn't want to see it. That was when she decided to go back to New York to help Walter. Not because she was strong, like Peter thought, but because she was too weak to face that her daughter was dead. Peter touchingly assures her that he saw how much she loved Etta. That there was no way that she was a bad mother. They are interrupted by Etta herself, who informs them that the Loyalists are on the way.

Unfortunately, the team was seen by the Observers during the trip to Pennsylvania. A spy inside the Loyalists, warned the Resistance, who passed the message to Etta. They have to finish the suit now. To do that, they need supplies that another group on the mountain may have, but they are dangerous people. Only Edwin has ever had any contact with them. Edwin is conflicted. He wants to help them, but he has his own son to think of. His son is infuriated that he is being a coward a storms off in a sulk. "I'm not afraid to die. I just don't know how to say goodbye to my son." Edwin says as he makes up his mind. He leaves Peter, to go contact the other group. Afterward, he tries to explain to his son, "You're not a coward if you're frightened. You're a coward, if you know what needs to be done and you don't do it."

Edwin returns to the Fringe Team, and provides them with directions to the other group, but pretends to be too afraid to go with them. As they set off, Edwin turns and heads determinedly for the mine. By the time Peter and Olivia figure out that Edwin has sent them on a wild goose chase, it's too late. Edwin has already entered the mineshaft and sent up the rocks they need. He lays at the bottom, barked over and quite dead. At this revelation, his son enters the recording room and records the heroic death of Edwin Massey, ready to stand in his place to record the history the Observers will try to wipe away.

The next episode of Fringe, "The Bullet That Saved The World," airs Oct. 26, 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

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