By Rhea Dee
I really wanted to hate the Observers in this episode. It’d be so easy to hate a mysterious alien race that only appears every once in a while to spout out some mysterious, vague bs. Hey Fringe, I watched Lost and The X-Files you know, so I don’t have the patience to sit through mysterious characters whose ultimate purpose is to be mysterious.
So I guess I’m really lucky the Observers aren’t like that then, aren’t I?
I mean, sure, the Observers have their own cryptic lingo and they play the whole mysterious game. But instead of being these all-knowing characters that willingly keep secrets in order to provide tension in our main character’s lives, the Observers use their mysterious powers to take advantage of the main character’s emotions, so that they’re the ones filling in the blanks and acting out what they think the Observers want, while the Observers just sit back and well, observe.
How awesome was the Observers grand experiment in this episode? The answer to the question they wanted–If Walter knew Peter was going to die in for the greater good, would he let Peter go to his death?–was achieved through a series of misdirects and stories about the balance of the universe. Now I don’t doubt Baldo’s sincerity when he said Walter created an imbalance (well, I kind of do a little) but Baldo did very little work making sure Walter would get there, mentally. I suppose that’s why Baldo was kind of worried that his experiment would fail–it all depended on Walter’s compassion, and more importantly, his guilt. And the big misdirect when Peter drank the tainted milk and almost died actually let the Observers off the hook for a while since Walter figured that the Observers real purpose was to save him instead of Peter (although there was a look Walter gave Peter after he came to that conclusion which makes me think that even Walter isn’t totally convinced by his own theory).
And I’m really happy that Fringe decided to do a Walter-centric episode as their second episode with Olivia back in our universe. Walter-centric episodes are always sad, and they always serve as a reminder that behind this seemingly silly character with his Dr. Jacoby glasses (nice Twin Peaks reference, Fringe!) there’s this melancholy man who’s only bright light in his life is his son. It’s a moving story and Fringe does it extremely well.
This Walter-centric episode also took the heat off of Olivia and Peter’s problems. Not that they weren’t present at all, of course, but I liked watching those two in the background, giving each other sad eyes. This whole Bolivia thing is obviously very hard for both of them, but I like how they’re working through it. I feel like there are moments where Peter is making more of an effort to reconnect, but I think that’s just because Olivia still feels so betrayed. So I was impressed when she tried to reach out and asked Peter about the book at the end, and I was kind of pissed that the moment was ruined because Peter drank tainted milk.
Last Thoughts: This is totally going to sound ridiculous but…I freaked out when Baldo said “It must be hard, being a father” to Peter. Like, for a split second, all I could think was: Bolivia’s pregnant?! I quickly realized that he was talking about Walter but…wow. My heart filled with dread there for a second.
Next Time on Fringe: Doomsday device! Peter in peril!
Rhea Dee is a Midwest nerd who spends her time collecting vintage junk, daydreaming about Eli Roth, and pondering the genius of John Carpenter soundtracks.