"The Bullet That Saved the World" (5.04)

The action-packed "The Bullet That Saved the World" is such a huge step-up from last week's episode, three points up, in fact, since I gave "The Recordist" 7 Carson Beckett tree people and give this episode 10 spongy doughnut holes. We were promised a massive episode, a turning point, and that is what we got, and I remember Josh Jackson teasing that this would be a massive turning point for Peter's character, as well, and I definitely think that we're going to see that, not just in regards to him but also to Olivia. The opening of the episode is fantastic, although I was admittedly expecting the blast that Peter narrowly misses to have a bigger effect, which it did not; it hardly affected him at all, for that matter. Peter gets a chain for Etta's necklace, which is awesome, and the scene when he gives it to her is very touching. Peter says that they (as in the Observers) seem to always be two steps ahead of them and that he, therefore, doesn't know how they're going to beat them, and from this, we then learn that Etta's ability to block the Observers' mind probing isn't because of Cortexiphan but because she taught herself to block, something that she says she will teach them and something that we eventually learn she taught Broyles to do, as well. We finally learn why Etta keeps Olivia's bullet around her neck; she found it in their old home, figured that it must have been important, and decided to hold onto it as a way of remembering them. Olivia says that Peter used to refer to the bullet as "the bullet that saved the world" but says nothing more than that, doesn't explain where the bullet came from or why she had it, which is annoying, especially because of how the episode ends.

I love how Walter calls Astrid "Astrif" in this episode. How would you even accidentally say that? As I have said before, I think that it started out at the beginning of season 1 as non-intentional mistakes but that he now does it on purpose to get under her skin. One of the coolest scenes of this episode is when we see that Walter has kept remnants of every Fringe case that they ever worked in a room underneath the floor of the lab. I initially found it really weird that no one else, not even Astrid, knew that, and Olivia eventually addresses that, asking Astrid if she had known. Astrid says that she never would have slept if she had. It is interesting that Walter says that he has a healthy distrust of the government because I think I remember Peter saying in "Unearthed" (1.21) that he is a conspiracy theorist, so Walter is, perhaps, where he got that. Walter gets really excited when he sees the porcupine-man and calls Olivia's attention to it, which was really funny, but it is incredibly disgusting when he finds that twenty-one year-old (at least) doughnut hole, especially since he tastes it. I love his line: "There was a time we solved Fringe cases; I think it's time we created a few of our own." Much to my delight, the case that was chosen was the "Ability" (1.14) case, and I say that because that is my favorite season 1 episode and is one of my favorite episodes of the series so far in general; that, in my opinion, will always go down in Fringe history as a monumental episode. I wonder, though, if that is further evidence that the original timeline has been restored. The team encountered the sealed orifices because of David Robert Jones, whom, in the new timeline, they had not encountered that early.

The photo that we see of Olivia and Peter is so adorable; that really warmed my heart up. I also love the beautiful scene when Olivia, Peter, and Walter are reunited with Broyles, and we learn that Etta had already been in association with him but didn't say anything in case they were read. I wonder how big a part Broyles will ultimately play in bringing the Observers down. Since Windmark (at whom I had to laugh when he plays with the color game), more or less, seems to trust him and Broyles is a member of the Resistance, it would seem as if he will play a very major role. Just when people (fans, that is) weren't trusting him, it is revealed that he has been in association with Etta, a nice twist to the story. I especially love it when Olivia, overcome by happiness at seeing Broyles, clasps her hands together and simply says "Phillip" before hugging him, an incredibly touching scene. This scene finally reveals how Etta became a Fringe agent. I wonder how Olivia will react when she is reunited with Nina, especially since she told her in "Enemy of My Enemy" (4.09) that if she ever forgot the relationship that she had had with Nina, she wanted Nina to try to establish another relationship. Did that happen? How close were they when the Fringe team was ambered? I hope that we will see that soon because we are now moving into the fifth episode, and we still haven't seen Blair Brown, something that has really frustrated me, especially since, as far as I know, she is still considered to be a series regular.

I love how when the Fringe team finds the paper inside the tube and Walter says that he doesn't understand it, he says that it's Greek to him and that that's saying something because he actually reads Greek; that is funny, and I'm kind of hoping that the Fringe Podcast nominates that for Quote of the Week. Windmark is informed of what the Fringe team did to all of those people, and he, interestingly enough, says, "Barbaric." I find this to be interesting because he outlaws that as barbaric (and I'm not going to disagree with him; it is) but apparently finds a way of justifying what Observers do to people whom they mind-probe. Take what he, himself, does to Walter in "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" (5.01), and I would like to know how he justifies that, how he is able to refrain from seeing that as barbaric. To discuss the episode's very sad ending, I honestly saw it coming, but not until this episode. The episode, in my opinion, is very heavy-handed when it comes to foreshadowing Etta's death, between the touching scene between Etta and Peter near the beginning of the episode and the scene between Etta and Olivia when Etta tells Olivia why she wears the bullet and asks Olivia if she wants it back, I was very worried about Etta, was sure that she was going to die, very likely by the end of the episode. We also see Peter smiling in the episode during a scene in which the team sort of seems to be happy as they're listening to music, so, again, I knew that this was going to happen. I wonder if the episode title doesn't just refer to Olivia's bullet but to Etta's death, as well. Will her death somehow lead to victory? I have been complaining that Georgina hasn't been a series regular even though Etta has pretty much had center stage, and now, I know why that is. What's weird, though, is Georgina is listed as a guest-actress for 5.06, but until "An Origin Story" (which looks really awesome) next week, stay on the fringe.

"The Recordist" (5.03)

"The Recordist" is my least favorite episode of the first three episodes of the fifth season, and there are numerous reasons for that being true. To begin, the reasons behind why the "tree people" have developed this rather horrifying skin disorder are not very clear, as they don't make a whole lot of sense. The episode seems to say that the people developed the skin disorder as a result of the stones in the caves in combination with the carbon monoxide that is present in the atmosphere as a result of the Observers, but this doesn't make much sense because if this were true, one would think that carrying the stones in their new car would be unsafe for the Fringe team, especially since intensity of the disorder depends on proximity to the stones, so either the stones actually have nothing to do with it (in which case, what ultimately happened to them and, perhaps, even more importantly, to Edwin?) or we're dealing with an annoying plot-hole. Additionally, I can't say that I am too happy with the episode because it was pretty much a "case of the week" episode, which I didn't think we were going to get anymore of this season. I, in fact, had a feeling that it was going to be a "stand-alone" episode from the promo that we got at the end of "In Absentia" the week previous. Did these feel more like classic Fringe? It did, indeed, but I don't want any cases of the week this season; this is our last season, and we have a lot of ground to cover, so I want every episode to be crucial. Am I the only one who feels that way? I really want issues that have been raised since the first season to be covered, not just issues that were raised in "Letters of Transit" (4.19).

The team does successfully get a hold of the stones (which must be very happy because that didn't look like forty pounds worth to me) which will apparently help them defeat the Observers, and a compelling father/son story is told to get to that point, but I still feel like most of this episode is a throw-away episode and disrupts the "13-episode film" pattern. Perhaps, that statement included "Letters of Transit" (4.19) but excluded this episode. Fret not; that is a joke, but it may be logically true by the end of the series. Speaking of the father/son relationship, though, Edwin, the father, is played Paul McGillion, and this is exciting for me because as a Stargate Atlantis fan, I am excited by the fact that this is the second time (the first time being Joe Flanigan's appearance in the season 4 premiere, "Neither Here nor There") that a Stargate Atlantis alumnus has made an appearance on Fringe, and Paul has been making appearances sporadically lately. He was in the Alcatraz pilot, and he was also on Once Upon a Time in the "Hat Trick" (1.17) episode. He did a pretty good job playing Edwin here, and the child actor who played River did a pretty good job, as well. River is a pretty cool kid, and I love his comic book. I wonder if that comic will actually get released; I really hope so, but I think that it's a lot more likely that the original copies will simply be auctioned off as props after the series ends. Edwin ultimately sacrifices himself after telling River that being a coward means knowing what the right thing to do is but not doing it, and his death is touching.

One question that I have about the recordings is if they could possibly be even further evidence that the timeline may have been restored at some point in between 2012 and 2036. If so, I sincerely hope that that will be somehow covered, even though I sincerely doubt that it will be even if that is the writers' intention. When I refer to the recordings, I refer to the photographs and what not that are present amongst the history that Edwin and his people had been recording within the data cubes. There are photographs in which Peter is present, and I am pretty sure that the photographs are from seasons 1-3; there is, in fact, one, in particular, that is of only Olivia and Peter that I am sure is either from the first or second season, so if Peter didn't exist throughout seasons 1-3, how do those photos exist? It could just be that they were randomly chosen by the Fringe crew in hopes that we wouldn't notice that, since they are rather general photos, and I could be over-thinking, but I am pretty sure that I am right. The premiere episode shows us a Markham who seems to really know Peter, which I took as the first piece of evidence that the original timeline may have been restored. During this episode, there are the photographs, and there is some evidence in the following episode ("The Bullet That Saved the World"), as well (I am writing this after having seen it), but I will save discussion of that until that episode review.

I think that another reason why I find myself so disappointed by this episode is the fact that I read the brief plot synopsis well before I saw the promo, and the brief plot synopsis mentioned a group of people across which the Fringe team cross, a group that records important events of human history, and that sounded exciting to me because it sounded like that would have a pretty close connection to the Observers. After all, that is sort of what we saw the calendared Observers doing throughout seasons 1-4, isn't it? I expected this people to somehow be connected to the calendared Observers, and not only do they not, they don't even have any information recorded regarding September. We do see Windmark in the episode, but it is very briefly and doesn't do anything to move the overarching story along. Another issue that I have with the episode is the lack of logic regarding some elements of the story; for example, Astrid stays behind in the lab (which is annoying in and of itself because once again, we are seeing Astrid being drastically underutilized), and how, especially after someone already entered the lab last week, would that be safe? She is alone there and would essentially have no way to defend herself. Did Walter, especially, learn nothing from "Snakehead" (2.09)? It also doesn't make much sense that they would be stupid enough to use cell phones. Why, especially Etta, would they not consider the fact that they would be tracked? It's also odd that they would even have service, especially out in the middle of nowhere with the tree people.

We see that despite the fact that (according to "Brave New World") Olivia's Cortexiphan abilities have, more or less, worn off, she continues to have a photographic memory when it comes to numbers. I really wondered what was up with her when she told Peter that she didn't remember Donovan's; you could tell that she was blowing him off, and I was wondering what was wrong. It looked to me like she was angry with Peter; however, we learn that it is herself with whom she is angry because she blames herself for what happened to Etta, and this is followed by an immensely beautiful scene between Olivia and Peter. I love that scene because she looks somewhat fearful or doubtful in "Brave New World" (4.22) when she tells Peter that she is pregnant, and now, we know why. Regarding Walter, he, at some point, apparently switched to Grapevines, a pretty funny scene, and I love how he related a story about Peru. When I first started watching NCIS, I immediately liked Ducky and said that he reminded me of Walter, and this is an example of why. I am glad to have learned from having listened to the Fringe Podcast that I am not the only one who is reminded of the DHARMA videos with Candle on LOST, and some parts in general just reminded me of LOST, such as the environment of the camp where the tree people live. It would also seem that Etta has even more help on the inside than we had thought, which is awesome, as that could be useful. Did anyone, by the way, notice an ambered Gene in the background of one scene? I wonder if they will ever free her. My final thought, ultimately (besides the fact that it is nice to have a happy ending), is that I instantly thought of "Ability" (1.14) when we learned that the skin disorder ultimately seals all of your orifices. To conclude, I definitely have my issues with this episode, and I give it a relatively generous rating of 7 Carson Beckett tree people.

"In Absentia" (5.02)

I have some minor problems with this episode but not serious enough to give it a low rating; I ultimately, in fact, give it 8.5 Spocks in Speedos, and 8.5 is the same rating that I gave to last week's premiere episode. That is a good rating, in my opinion, and this is a very solid episode. I will start with the problems that I had with the episode. The very beginning of the episode is almost identical to the opening that we had last week, except there is some extra dialogue and it is from Olivia's perspective instead of Peter's perspective; this, to me, somewhat diminishes the effect that last week's opening how has. Even though this is really more of a memory than it is a dream, I am also getting tired of Fringe using the old "episode starting with a dream" trick, and I am also annoyed that this didn't really offer any new development, since, as I said, it was almost identical to what we saw last week. All we learn about Etta's disappearance (and we learn this from the scene in the bathroom that follows) is that she was apparently either fostered or adopted by a family.

Once again, it is mentioned that everything that happened before the team had ambered itself only feels like a couple of months ago for them, which I find very odd because the "Amber 31422" (3.05) episode of the series confirms that when someone is ambered, he or she is stuck having to think about the last thought that went through his or her mind when he or she was ambered, but their saying that it only felt like two months ago that this or that happened strongly suggests otherwise. This is, perhaps, another plot-hole; I'm not sure, or maybe, even though you think when you're ambered, you have no sense of time. If your brain continues to work, why don't your other organs? Why don't you need food or water? Walter's eye is still messed up, and I wonder if that is painful at all; my legs kept turning to jello when I saw it and gave that some thought, and speaking of an eye, I was happy to see from the Fringe Podcast chatroom that other people besides just me thought of Marshall being guided by Jack as he had to remove an eye from a body on ALIAS when they had to do something kind of similar with the Loyalist's eye during this episode of Fringe.

The Observers have taken over the Harvard lab, and I'm not sure why. Is it because, perhaps, they are aware that that was once where the Fringe team worked, and they are trying to ensure that no one is able to use it again? I got really excited when I saw that within the amber of the lab (which Walter apparently did even though he doesn't remember) because I had thought that the video was finally going to reveal the circumstances that led to the team working with Bell despite what he had done, but no such luck is found, as the video reveals no such thing, which is very disappointing, but hopefully, another tape will. As the team goes through the tunnels (which someone in the chatroom said do actually exist), Walter says that they can get so hot, sometimes up to 120 degrees farenheit, that he and Belly would sometimes go through them in swim trunks and speedos (hence my Bunsen Burner rating), which is very funny. I am also happy to have seen the clapper again, and this may have been the last time that we'll see not only that but the whole lab itself, which is a sad thought.

We see from this episode that Etta is very determined. To get the Loyalist to tell her how to get into the science part of the building, she uses a device called the Angel device, which is a really grim and frightening method of torture which, according to Etta, puts the victim's atoms in a violent state of chaos which causes rapid aging, shortening the victim's life. This reminds me of what the Wraith on Stargate Atlantis do; they place a hand on their victims' chests, which feeds on the victim's energy, causing the victim to age rapidly until they die, an incredibly painful process. We learn that this device, or at least the same technology, is what the Observers use(d) to time travel, but it apparently has much different effects on non-Observers. During the "August" (2.08) episode, though, Brandon says that they don't exactly time-travel; it's more like they see time happening all at once, like time isn't linear for them, so that is a bit confusing. "This is war," Etta says, "and we're losing." She says this as she tries to justify her violent actions to Olivia, who is her usual compassionate self, even in regards to the enemy. I wonder, though, why Etta calls Olivia mom but calls Peter by his name.

When Peter and Etta go undercover and pretend to be Loyalists in order to get into the science building, it got me thinking why Etta didn't have to wear a Loyalist uniform. Is it because the Observers already know her, or do women Loyalists not need to wear a uniform? I also wonder why Etta wasn't caught, since Windmark identified her as being part of the Resistance. One would think that once he did that, he would have notified all Observers and Loyalists. Also, here is a random thought - since the Observers are from so far into the future and have such advanced technology, wouldn't it stand to reason that they would have space travel capabilities? If so, why not just conquer another planet instead of conquering this period in Earth's history, and why this period? I wonder, as well, what kinds of experiments the Observers run and to what purpose. We know from the season premiere this year that Windmark had been ready (much like Brandonate had been ready to do to Olivia during season 3) to remove Walter's brain and study it, but what other kinds of experiments do they run, and why do they run them? Is it to learn more about this period of human history, to punish disobedient Natives, or both?

We see Simon's head in one of the rooms which appears to be on a different body, so I guess that one experiment is some sort of reanimation. Will we not be seeing Simon anymore? I don't mean to knock Fringe because I understand that their budget is low this season, but the CGI work on Simon's head is not realistic-looking at all. We see Walter not wanting to destroy the CD player to extract the laser to use it to cut into the amber, and this is right on par with what we saw last week about music, and I love how Astrid perks right up when the laser is offered to her; she loves the idea of being able to use it. We learn that the Loyalist lied about having a son, that he is just a coward and that that is why he became a Loyalist, out of fear. I like that we get to meet a Loyalist and that, once again, this is more complicated than good vs. evil. I have to admit that the promo for next week's episode doesn't look promising, and even though I'm sure it will end up being connected, it looks sort of MOTW. I wonder if from here on out, each episode will focus on finding a tape and am interested to know how they're going to going to go about finding each tape. Until "The Recordist" (5.02) next week, stay on the fringe.

"Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" (5.01) - season premiere

I have to admit that initially, when I discovered that our final season would take place in the year 2036, the future that we see in the "Letters of Transit" (4.19) episode, I had very mixed feelings. My feelings were positive because that episode leaves too much in the open and then jumps back to 2012 the following episode, but my feelings were also negative because it seemed like jumping twenty-four years into the future in between seasons would be a classic case of jumping the shark, and I didn't like moving to the future before when "The Day We Died" (3.22) did so. However, now that I have seen the season 5 premiere, my feelings are mostly positive, not only because this is a fantastic season premiere but also because it has alleviated some of my previous fears. "Letters of Transit" (4.19), unlike "The Day We Died" (3.22) is not a mere glimpse of a possible future; this is the future. In fact, the Fringe Division team members didn't time-travel to 2036; all of those years passed by them as they were ambered, which means that this is now our present, not our future, even though considering Walter's comment that this is a "miserable future" due to eggsticks, it would seem as if the Fringe Division team members haven't fully come to terms with that yet, which makes sense. Walter also tells Etta that it seemed like only a couple of months ago that he watched her as she played on a carousel. It stands to reason that it may take our team a little bit of time to come to terms with this, not only because they have moved twenty-one years forward into the future but also because they now live in a world of which Observers have complete control.

We learned something new about the Observers (referred to as Baldies by some resistant Natives), which is that apparently, they cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment for a long period of time. Currently, they have devices on each continent that are pumping the environment with carbon monoxide which is allowing them to survive, and according to Etta, the effects of this will soon be irreversible, eventually decreasing the average human lifespan to about forty-five years, and I have a theory as to why they need an environment that is highly concentrated in carbon monoxide. The Observers are from far into our future, and they have come here because they ultimately destroyed their Earth, to which I am attributing technology. I think that they very likely relied so heavily on advanced technology that that technology ruined their atmosphere, depleted it of oxygen, and that either that is what accounts for their hairlessness and inability to taste, or their bodies adapted to their low-oxygen environment to the extent at which their repeated entry into oxygen-rich time periods caused their biological changes. I am hoping that as this season progresses, these questions (as well as many others) will be answered because even though the Observers are not the enigma that they used to be, there is still much about them to be revealed. We see no September, and even though Walter says in the "Letters of Transit" episode that he was killed, Joel Wyman said that they love September (as do I) and that we haven't seen the last of him, and I am hoping that we do soon. At this point, he feels so safe and so comfortable compared to the treacherous Windmark, whom I hate.

Something that this episode really makes me wonder is whether or not the timeline has been fully restored since 2012. I say that because in the episode titled "A Short Story About Love" (4.15), September tells Peter that he believes that the reason that Peter was not fully erased from the timeline is because the people who love him were unable to let him go, and notice how he says people, not person, which means that he refers to everyone, not just Olivia. Therefore, since Olivia's memories returned to her, it would stand to reason that Walter's and Astrid's would, too, and there are three years missing that we aren't going to have the privilege of seeing. The second reason that I say that is one name - Markham. He bought Olivia in amber and says that it's because he has loved her ever since she first (notice the word first) walked into his bookstore. He, additionally, immediately recognizes Peter, astonished that he is alive, and asks him why he hasn't aged, and after the timeline is changed to one in which Peter never grew to be a man, we only see Peter and Olivia visit Markham once, and even though Markham still hits on Olivia, he doesn't know either of them, whereas he had had a long-lasting friendship with Peter during the previous timeline; I doubt that he would recognize a man whom he had only seen once, unless, of course, Peter was on the news, which is, I admit, entirely possible considering the fact that he was probably a wanted fugitive, as was the rest of the team. It was kind of funny (although creepy) that he had been using Olivia as a coffee table, and initially, my reaction to Etta's conclusion regarding where Olivia was was the same as Walter's. What on Earth are amber gypsies?

I love how the one Observer whom Etta ultimately kills says that resistance is futile, an obvious Star Trek reference which Etta then affirms by saying that she feels like she has heard that before. This event, unfortunately, results in Walter's abduction and torture, and the method that the Observers use to extract information looks to be incredibly painful. We see more of their lack of emotion as Windmark says to Walter that music is tolerated but that it is seen as nothing more than tones, rhythms, and harmonic vibrations, that he doesn't understand the attraction of it. This sort of reminds me of the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode titled "Sarek" (3.23), in which Spock's father Sarek's ability as a Vulcan to suppress emotion dwindles, and he cries during the performance of a Brahms sextet. Walter responds by saying that "music helps you shift perspective, to see things [very much like hope] differently, if you need to." I feel so sorry for Walter throughout this episode; he is a wreck, especially after being tortured by Windmark and then realizes that the plan that September stores inside of his mind (much like Princess Leia stores a plan inside of R2-D2). "I've failed myself," he says as he cries. "I've failed the world. I can't do it; I can't even recognize myself." I love the last scene as Walter sits inside of the abandoned taxi cab and listens to a mix CD with "Only You" by Yazoo playing; a sunflower is growing nearby, and both the flower and the music brings a slight smile to Walter's face as realizes that, despite Windmark's warning that there is none, there is, indeed, hope.

I also really love the scene during which Olivia first sees Etta; the look on her face as she realizes that her now fully-grown daughter is standing behind Peter is so emotion-stirring, and I especially love it when Etta says "Hi, mama" to her. Etta doesn't could be that she doesn't remember her parents because she was so young, but I wonder if it's because when the Observers took her, they wiped her memory. Why did they take Etta? Is it because they expected her to have abilities due to who her mother is? I get the impression that Etta has slept with that one Loyalist whom she meets up with, the man who tells her that Simon was a double-agent and was found ambered. Apparently, the Observers do not have the ability to remove someone from amber, since that was Walter's idea as a way of escaping the Observers. I find the scene when Etta shoots the Loyalist and then awakens Peter, proceeding to tell him that he had experienced an "occupational hazard" to be quite funny, especially since Peter then says, "That's my girl." This eerily reminds me of Jones saying the same near the end of "Ability" (1.14), speaking of Olivia, and how that is the main reason that I had believed him to be Olivia's biological father. I also love the scene during which Olivia looks out at an ugly world and says, "We didn't save the world." Peter says, "Not even by half; she [referring, of course, to Etta]'s still trying, though." The conversation that follows is very touching and features some of Josh Jackson's best acting on Fringe yet. The trauma of having lost Etta apparently caused them to split, but Joel has said before that all good love stories have bumps in the road, and I am sure that they will be reunited by the series finale. I can't wait for "In Absentia" (5.02), an episode that, based on the promo, looks to be awesome. We are at the beginning of the end, cortexifans - a bittersweet truth.