‘Fringe’ 5.05 Recap: “You Don’t Even Know What You Don’t Know”

In last Friday’s episode of ‘Fringe’, Peter channeled his inner Jack Bauer for a little payback on the bastards who murdered his daughter. You know, maybe this is just me, but even after watching him for five years in this character, I still have trouble buying Pacey from ‘Dawson’s Creek’ as a badass.

Episode ‘An Origin Story’ picks up after Etta’s death. Peter is hell-bent on revenge against the Observers. Olivia is afraid that she’s losing him. She may be right.

The Observers open some sort of portal and pull through several mysterious containers. Resistance member Anil calls this a “shipping lane from the future,” and believes that the containers hold pieces of the Observers’ pollution-making technology. They’re expediting their plans to make the Earth more hospitable to their own kind, which will have the side effect of dramatically shortening the lifespans of normal humans. The Resistance wants to destroy this portal at the next shipment, and Peter is more than eager to hit back hard. Walter develops a plan to turn the temporal wormhole into a black hole that will cause massive damage on the other end, thus setting the Observers’ back by at least several years.

The Resistance has captured an Observer, and with him a cube-like doohickey that opens the time portal. However, they can’t figure out how to use the thing, and attempts to torture the Observer have led nowhere. The pieces of the cube fit together like a puzzle, and putting them together wrong could be disastrous.

Peter interrogates the Observer himself, and believes that he’s figured out how their brains work. Using clues from the Observer’s behavior, Peter successfully assembles the cube. He and Olivia open a portal, and frag it using Walter’s antimatter weapon. The gateway is destroyed just as Walter planned. However, moments later, more Observers open another portal and commence their shipping schedule with just a small disruption. Walter is at a loss to explain why his plan didn’t work.

My assumption: Walter’s plan did work, and he set the Observers in the future back by years. However, once they finally got their acts back together, those Observers from several years further in the future opened a gate to the same point in our present. From our perspective, it looks like these two events happened in close proximity, even though years passed on the other end. I’m surprised that Walter isn’t smart enough to figure this out.

In any case, Peter goes ballistic and tortures the captured Observer, which hardly seems to phase the baldy. Peter realizes that the Observer had been playing him earlier, and that the things he’d read as subliminal “tells” were no such thing. Enraged, Peter cuts a high-tech computer chip thingamajig from the Observer’s neck, killing him. He then puts it in his own neck.

This does not seem like a good idea.

I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about this episode one way or the other. It’s not great, and it’s not terrible. It’s fine, considering the direction that the writers are determined to take the season. I’ve complained about that enough in previous recaps. The episode advances the plot forward as much as it needs to.

I don’t entirely buy the Observer’s claim that his people see humans much as we would see an ant colony – a pesky nuisance but something easily squashed. I have to tell you, if I walked by an ant colony, and one of the ants was able to capture me, tie me up and torture me, I’d be pretty concerned about the way those ants are evolving. The fact that the Observer acknowledges and speaks to Peter at all belies his insistence that humans are insignificant and his own life is expendable. What I’m not certain of is whether this is an intentional contradiction on the part of the writers, or just more sloppy writing.

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