Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fringe - "An Origin Story" Review

"Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."


I have to say, unlike last week's big twist, I'm not in the least bit surprised in the direction that the Fringe writer's took at the end of "An Origin Story".  It brings me back to what I said in my review of "In Absentia".  He who fights monsters must be wary not to become one of them.  It looks like we're indeed heading down that road, as I imagine Peter will slowly transform into the enemy he worked so hard to hate, and the line between right and wrong will become even further blurred.  This kind of thing is par for the course.  I just hope they do something interesting with it.

I've mentioned that Fringe doesn't go far enough down its own thematic rabbit holes, and I hope it uses Peter's decision to fully realize what they're going for.  It's no secret that the Observers are highly evolved humans, but the idea that they get most of that evolution by supplementary tech goes one allegorical step further, as it implies that our own pursuit of technology and science has clouded the better angels of our nature.  It was clear from last week that love is so buried inside the infinite algorithms flooding through the minds of an Observer that it seems like a foreign concept.  Humanity has indeed fallen from grace, and the most pertinent question still remains: How do we stop our destiny?  Is there any hope?  Are the Fringe team fated to become the first spark in the devolution of the human race in their phyrric victory against that which they feared they'd become, yet very existance speaks otherwise?

This is why the episode title proves to be even that much more foreboding.

"An Origin Story" picks up with a somber scene in Peter and Olivia's room as they death with the immediate aftermath of their daughter's death, where Peter finds some secret compartment where Etta stashed some spare weaponry.  Again, par for the course.  I feel like this show struggles with finding an identity for itself during its emotional moments; something that further endears its characters to us, but instead I get lines like:

"I feel like I'm dreaming this whole thing and then I wake up and realize it's not a dream."

Well... okay fair enough, kinda knew that but, generic much?

Anyway, they get in contact with Anil, previously Etta's contact, and find that the Observers are transporting their patented air "filtration" systems from the future via wormhole, and the Fringe team discern that this is not okay, and would be a fantastic opportunity for some good ol fashioned sabotage. And Anil caught himself his very own Observer to boot!

The scenes with the Observer and a Peter consumed by vengeance definitely elevated the episode.  The Observers have always been a very interesting enemy and the more we get to interact with them for an extended period of time, the better.  The insight that was gleaned just by Peter implementing his own tried and true yet comparatively primitive methods were another solid illustration of the differences between the two sides.

Anna Torv does a great job of portraying the subdued anxiety that haunts Olivia, someone who has never been particularly adept at expressing her emotions.  Peter had to practically pull it out of her, but it was Walter that figured out what was bothering her.  She's understandably worried that with Etta gone, just like the first time, their relationship will fall apart in their lack of coping properly.  It was executed admirably in this episode, but part of me wishes Olivia would just speak up already.  The scene where he instructs Olivia to watch the tape was the standout scene in the episode, much better than the opening scene, and an affirmation that the series is indeed capable of providing emotional moments that feel distinct enough to resonate.  At least she watched the tape, which provides enough evidence in itself of the character trying to grow, creeping the flood gates of emotion and hoping that the cathartic flood won't drown her.

So the plan turns out to be a wash, and Peter realizes that he was one intellectual step behind his pet Observer.  He had Peter's number, and very eloquently explained why, which was panic-inducing to watch.  Every opportunity this series has to show how out of their league the Observers are, they pounce on.  This latest one proves to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and during a particularly fantastic soliloquy by the Observer regarding the detriment of emotion, he snaps, killing the Observer and stealing his tech.

Let's be honest.  We all know where this is going.  Let's just hope it's fun to watch.


74% = *** = "Good"


-VMA

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