Saturday, November 3, 2012

'Fringe' recap: 'An Origin Story'

Peter observes some Observer torture. Courtesy Fox

Have you recovered from Etta's traumatic death last episode? Neither has Peter. Or Olivia, or Walter, or me. But we must soldier on and continue to Resist!

After last week's tragedy, the team returned to Etta's apartment to gather their things and perhaps a few mementos of the youngest Bishop.

While Peter is gloomily looking through Etta's jewelry, he finds a secret latch that opens a hidden weapons stash behind a picture on the wall. Peter smiles, "That's my girl."

Olivia is boxing up a few things as well, and pauses on a picture of Etta and her adoptive mother, before she adds it to the box. As the they prepare to leave, Walter looking quite lost and broken comes to Peter holding a small bottle. The bottle is Etta's favorite perfume and the smell reminds Walter of her. He wistfully asks if he can keep it. Of course he can. Astrid is still at the lab trying to remove a tape from the Amber, but has been stalled by Walter's very flammable hibachi grill and a bottle of ethanol.

The Observers receive shipments from the future through wormholes. The shipments contain components for the Air Degradation Systems they are building. The shipments are facilitated by a cube device that they bring to the site and activate. Anil manages to capture on of the Baldies after one such shipment and calls the Bishops for help deciphering the Observer's language. Peter is all too eager to help. He has become very grim and purposeful. He wants to destroy the entire shipping corridor, while even Walter seems perturbed by the enormity of such a task. "Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." advises Anil. But Peter's not worried about dying.

While Peter unsuccessfully tries to figure out how to work the cube device, Astrid tries to decrypt the Observer's language. While Walter believes that this plan is too dangerous, he has figured out a way to destroy the shipping lane. Since the shipping lane is essentially a wormhole, he believes that if they collapse this end it will form a blackhole on the other side with the help of an anti-matter baton. Olivia, appearing far more emotional than we are accustomed to, tries to talk Peter out of this plan. Peter is determined to destroy the Observers. He wants the entire world to know that his little girl is responsible for that - that Etta saved them all. To do this, they have to know how the cube works and when the next shipment is, so Peter decides he must interrogate the prisoner himself.

The captured Observer is being held immobilized by a mixture of chemicals which act like antifreeze in their bloodstream. This renders them incapable of teleporting. They also have an implant at the base of the brain which Anil shows Peter with a scanner. Don't worry, Peter has not become so heartless that he resorts to torture. He uses science. Specifically, retinal changes indicating truthfulness or deception. He does however assure the Observer that it doesn't matter if he reads him or not, he's never leaving there alive. The Observer calmly replies, "You don't even know what you don't know." Peter remains unimpressed. He commences putting the cube together, while the Observer does his version of trash talking. "You have no idea what we're capable of" Peter assures him. I like this Peter. He is driven with a hardness we have never seen from him before. We've seen him angry in the past, but never with this cold resolve.

Back at the lab, Walter brings Olivia a tape. It's a video of one of Etta's birthdays. He thinks that Olivia and Peter need to watch it, even though it would be incredibly painful. Walter understands that what Olivia is really afraid of is losing Peter again. Of them losing each other again like when the Observers first invaded. When Olivia and Walter left to fight them and Peter stayed behind looking for Etta. Olivia, tearing up, says she can't watch it. She just can't. Astrid interrupts this emotional scene with news that she has decrypted the book and knows where the next shipment will be.

Peter believes that he has the Observer and the cube figured out when Olivia calls with the information. He turns the switch and the cube lights u. It doesn't blow him up, so yeah, he's ready.The team heads off to the shipment site and Peter fires anti-matter into the wormhole. Believing themselves successful, they head out, only to see the shipment start up again behind them. Peter is not pleased. They call Walter, who has no explanation. Peter stalks off to find answers from the prisoner, leaving Olivia standing in an alley plastered with Resistance posters bearing her daughters face.

Remember when I told you not to worry, Peter didn't torture the Observer? Scratch that.

He strides into the room and presses some plastic sheeting over the prisoner's face and holds it there, smothering him. When the Baldie recovers he reminds Peter that, "you don't even know what you don't know." And he throws Anils words back at him as well, "When you begin a journey of revenge, dig two graves." He goes on to inform Peter that his retinal "tells" were the result of his watching a fly on the window. That Peter's own emotions clouded his judgment. He blathers on for a while, and finally crosses the line by bringing up Etta.

"You blame us for her death, but it is irrelevant. She was here, and now she is simply not here." This gets Baldie pistol whipped. "She will be remembered!" Peter grits out. The Observer appears to be somewhat confused by Peter's outburst. Peter continues ranting that the Observer is nothing but tech, that he would be ten times better if he had that tech in his head. And we see the horrible plan bloom in Peter's brain. He straps the Observer down, and cuts the tech device out of the base of his brain. As the prisoner is seizing on the table Peter asks him if he feels the pain of a piece of himself being torn out. "That's the pain a father feels, when he loses a child." This does finally kill the Observer. Peter then makes a one-handed incision into the back of his own neck and places the device there where it comes to life and burrows in. Unfortunately, Olivia has chosen this as the moment to watch Etta's birthday video and calls Peter crying. She begs him to come home. She tells him that Etta would want them to survive this. They exchange I love you's and Peter hangs up the phone staring into the mirror with a furious determination.

So, was this the origin story of Peter's new superhero powers, or will he become a villain under the influence of the Observer's tech?

The next episode of Fringe, "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There" will air Nov 9 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.