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FRINGE: Eventuality of an Anomaly

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Episode 510 “Anomaly XB -6783746”

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]

It’s so hard to believe that there are just two episodes left (or three, depending on how you look at it). This is the down side of following a show  that becomes part of the fabric of your life; when the show ends, as all will eventually, you have to say goodbye to characters. It doesn’t hurt quite as much as losing a pet, but it can come close.

Our beloved Peter, Liv, Astrid and Walter begin episode 510 by examining the child Observer Michael. After establishing the boy has no Observer tech in his head, the team asks him about his role in the plan, to no avail. Walter in his frustration suggests putting the boy in a coma and jacking him up on drugs to go into his mind like they did with September, but the team quickly puts the kibosh on the notion. Olivia calls Nina, requesting help. Nina notices her Loyalist admin on the other side of her glass office door is paying a little too much attention to the conversation, and tells Liv she’ll call back.

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Shortly thereafter, Windmark appears at Nina’s office, with cronies in tow. After questioning Nina’s admin, Windmark calls for an LQ7 unit; this device sweeps the glass window panes in the office for lingering sound waves from Nina’s earlier conversation. Now this bit of technology actually intrigues me. Imagine the possibilities: “Your call may be monitored or recorded, not just now, but at some point in the future.”  The device indeed picks up portions of Nina’s conversation with Liv, and Windmark hears the words, “child Observer” in Nina’s voice. Between that and the sublimation device he’s traced to the Ministry of Science, Nina is in deep trouble with Windmark.

Nina meets Peter, Walter, Liv and Michael and takes them to a lab where she has technology that may help them communicate with Michael. En route, Nina asks Peter about Walter, and Peter challenges Nina about her arrangement to re-excise Walter’s offending brain portions. Nina’s responds that Walter knows that anything worth fighting for comes with a cost. Peter knows this too well, so how can he argue?

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After waiting for Nina’s return, Windmark opts to move the party to the facility from which the sublimation device was taken. Question: if Windmark can read time and futures, why did he sit around waiting for Nina all that time? I’m very confused about the limitations of that handy skill.

The team arrives at Nina’s lab, and inside, there are two or three Observer bodies in stasis in incubation units (or similar, don’t ask me). Nina explains the Resistance conducted experiments on Observers to determine how the Observers were able to read normal humans. While the experimentation didn’t result in anything useful for the movement at that time, Nina thinks the gadgetry can help the team communicate with Michael.

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However, her initial tests indicate that Michael’s style of processing information isn’t like anything she’s encountered before so she can’t use the equipment to process his thoughts after all. Speculating that the issue is that Michael can’t understand what it is they want from him, Nina suggests that the answer may be letting Michael get into their heads, not into his. To create a link between Michael’s brain and another team member, they’ll need additional equipment.

Frustrated that his team can’t locate Nina’s personal comm signal, Windmark begins interrogating the employees at the facility where Walter got the sublimation device from Nina’s man Hastings. As it conveniently happens, this is the same facility where Walter, Liv and Peter break in to retrieve the extra equipment they need.

Several things happen in short succession:  Liv sees Hastings being interrogated by Windmark; Nina calls Liv; Liv shares with Nina that she’s been compromised; the team gets the extra equipment needed; the Observers get Nina’s location; the Observers disapparate and leave for Nina; the team gets the extra equipment they need. Before leaving, Peter and Olivia kill the Loyalist guards with Dr. Hastings, and Hastings confirms that Windmark knows where Nina is and is going after her.

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Too strong to show her despair, Nina is still understandably shaken when she goes back underground to the lab where Michael is waiting for her. Something about her distress moves Michael, and he place his hand on her cheek to share something telepathically with her, though what we know not. Nina is clearly astonished by what Michael has shared, but then he looks pointedly at the security monitoring system. Windmark’s convoy is pulling up in front of the lab.

On their way back to the lab, the team inadvertently rolls up to a check point. Knowing that turning around will garner too much attention from the Loyalist guards, they nonchalantly saunter off from the car one-by-one. While I’m not sure that I buy it, there was quite a lot of foot traffic in the area that makes it just quasi-plausible. Ever-handy Peter hot wires a wood-paneled minivan, and they hit the road yet again. I’m not really sure what the point of this scene was, other than literally to throw a road block in the way of our heroes for added suspense.

Now at the lab, Windmark confronts Nina who refuses to give any information voluntarily. Realizing that Nina is trying to protect the team and the boy Michael, Windmark tells Nina that Michael actually is not a boy, he’s merely a genetic anomaly who was scheduled to be terminated back in his time but then went missing. Nina scoffs; Windmark marvels that she’s not afraid. Nina then delivers her last monologue wherein she compares Observers to lizards who, after years of evolution, still don’t form bonds, contemplate beauty or know something larger than themselves. It’s a great bit of soliloquy, performed with just the right amount of disdain and dismissiveness by Nina.

Windmark, who we’ve come to learn does not like to be sassed, orders his guards to restrain Nina. Never underestimate a female CEO in a wheelchair; Nina grabs a gun from one of the guards, brandishes it, and then shoots herself in the head. I love a scene like this, where I didn’t see the end coming, but the end makes perfect sense knowing what we know about a character. God bless you, Nina. I haven’t always liked you, but I’ve always respected you.

Peter, Olivia and Walter finally make it to Nina’s lab and enter stealthily, but Windmark’s team has left. They find Nina’s body. Olivia in true Olivia fashion says little, cries not at all, but speaks volumes with just a change of facial expression. Walter, on the other hand, falls to his knees, goes red-faced, and cries. Peter’s strokes Olivia’s hair as she grieves, but then he notices then the cameras around the lab and calls up the security monitor. The footage tells them that the Observers didn’t actually leave with Michael. A quick search uncovers Michael’s hiding place, and Michael too cries when he sees that Nina has paid for his safety.

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Safely back at the Harvard lab, it’s a relief that the technology that the team retrieved does in fact help them tell Michael what they want to know, namely who was Donald? Apparently, showing is easier than telling. Just like with Nina, Michael places his hand on Walter’s cheek and barrages him with a number of images of Walter, Peter, Olivia, and Etta from various points in time. Near the end, we see a picture of Donald, and one of September. Finally, Walter has the answer to Donald’s identity: Donald is September.

Much of the episode is spent trying to help us as viewers and Walter remember that Michael isn’t just an Observer, but a person with a name. Liv’s and Peter’s  tenderness with the boy and gentle reminders to Walter to think of Michael as something more than just a test subject make me wonder what the writers have in store for this sympathetic character. Similarly, what will happen to Walter? Will the Walter from before end up taking up full-time residence in Walter’s body? What will it mean for the team that September is Donald and that he appeared to be living for some time as a human? In next week’s preview, Olivia says that their big plan is to reset time. Does this mean that we’ll end up happily back in the park in Boston with Etta blowing dandelion seeds? Will the audience as Observors ever come into play (I’ve been wondering that for a while)? How many Kleenexes will I go through in the last few episodes?

So many questions to answer still, and so few television hours left for our team. The show picks back up again after the holidays on January 11th, and then the series finale is on January 18th. See you guys twice more in the couple of days that follow both dates. And whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year, I hope it’s spectacular!

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