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FRINGE: What the Heck is "Five-Twenty-Ten"?

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Episode 507 “Five-Twenty-Ten”

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]

The last few weeks, write-ups on Fringe haven’t been very fun. I liken it to re-opening barely healed wounds. I watch the show, I feel defeated and empty. I take my notes, I feel de-energized and demoralized. I sit in front of my laptop, and I procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. Finally, it is by will alone I set my mind in motion and get these write-ups writ.

The episode opens with Peter watching, no, observing on a busy street. At first, it seems as though he’s watching events as they unfold, but through clever camera work and effects, we realize that Peter is seeing what may come to be. He then deliberately walks out into the street and holds up traffic. It’s clear that Peter has prevented two Observers from connecting with one another, but to what end?  And what is up with that creepy head tilt that he just did!?  Ugh, that’s an Observer affectation. Yick.

Peter returns back to the lab with some neon helium to power the amber laser, but Olivia confronts him. She wanted to go with and she knows that Peter hasn’t been sleeping. Peter does what he does lately: downplay and minimize.

The team extract and watch the fifth tape, and learn their latest mission: they must procure cylinders that act as beacons to locate different points in time and space. The cylinders are located in William Bell’s private storage in a building designed by Walter and Belly. Because the team believes that Bell had betrayed them to the Observers, they can’t be certain that the cylinders are actually where Walter had believed them to be when he recorded the tape, but they know they have to try.

When they arrive, Olivia realizes that Peter’s ear is bleeding. Walter takes a look, but doesn’t see anything concerning. Guess what Peter does?  The downplay-minimize dance. Olivia suspects something is amiss, but the team focuses on how to get inside the facility with the significant rubble blocking the door. Walter suggests reaching out to Nina Sharp for assistance. Anil calls Peter to tell of his failure to get a briefcase from one of Windmark’s lieutenants, so Peter simply tells the team he is meeting with Anil and will catch up later.

Nina, Olivia, Walter and Astrid reunite, and Nina suggests a sublimation technology she has access to, that essentially would evaporate the pesky rubble blocking access to Bell’s storage. Walter and Nina have time for a brief exchange, and Nina confesses that she is the one who told Etta and Simon how to re-implant the brain pieces excised from Walter long ago.

Walter admits to personality changes, but clings to his relationship with Peter as his saving grace, refusing to become the arrogant and destructive man he was before. And truthfully, the changes in Walter’s personality have been so gradual, I hadn’t consciously noticed it, but Walter hasn’t been quite the food-obsessed, goofy, child-like version of himself that we know and love. He’s stronger, more focused, more self-sufficient, and suddenly hurtful, too. He tells Nina that her love for Bell failed to keep Bell off the ledge because Bell never really loved her. Oh, the little lies that we tell ourselves so we can sleep at night.

Walter’s independence is becoming necessary if Peter’s to go rogue. After retrieving the briefcase to be switched from Anil, Peter leaves for a Baldie bar and restaurant. When he gets to the car, he undergoes something. A bright light, his eyeballs bulge, his hands shake and grip the wheel, and then the moment is over. What just happened?  Peter turns the engine over, and drives off as though nothing happened. At the restaurant, he again winces in pain, but he successfully performs the briefcase switch. Question, though: I get why the hostess at the restaurant would overlook the switch. Would an Observer really not notice that the briefcases had been switched?  In any case, the successful switch has horrific results, in a scene with great effects that is well worth watching.

While Astrid and Olivia await Walter and Nina, Astrid asks how Liv and Peter are doing. Olivia expresses her concern that Peter doesn’t sleep, he leaves at odd hours, and that while superficially, his words make sense, Liv knows there’s something he’s not telling her. She worries she’s losing him again. Astrid provides appropriate placations, but Astrid must notice that something is off with Peter and Olivia, or she wouldn’t have asked.

The team has completed setting the sublimator up when Peter both arrives and receives confirmation from Anil that the briefcase plan worked successfully.   As the sublimator works, we see that Walter is enjoying the destruction of the rubble, not with the childlike wonder that we usually see from him, but with some kind of devilishness. Oy, what is happening to these men!?  Having carved a path through the rubble, the team descends below, using William Bell’s remarkably pliant and healthy-looking severed hand to gain entrance through the security system. Despite some initial complications, the team extricates the cylinders.

Peter decides to split up from the rest of the team, citing the logic of the decision. Oh, Peter, you used to want to keep Olivia close to you to ensure her safety. Walter reveals his still existing humanity when he requests another visit with Nina, to share with her the picture that William Bell had of her in his personal safe. Walter recognizes now that Bell did in fact love Nina, but that it wasn’t enough to keep him from going off the deep end. Walter now appreciates the danger for himself, because if Nina wasn’t enough for Bell, Peter may not be enough for Walter. Walter begs Nina to re-remove the offending pieces of brain responsible for his fully functioning butt-headedness. If Nina removes the brain pieces, does that mean that the thought unifier will then function?

Olivia goes to Etta’s old apartment and discovers a couple of large glass writing boards covered in pictures and notes. Peter steps from the shadows and explains they’re timelines that he’s been using to determine probable futures and take out Windmark’s lieutenants. His explanation also makes sense of game of chicken with traffic in the opening scene.  And then, without any shame, and using Observer-speak, he tells Olivia that he implanted Observer technology in his own head. Olivia’s reaction was the same one I had: “Peter, what have you done?”

Yeah, that’s the under-reaction of the year, Liv. It’s a freaky, freaky experience when Peter says Liv’s words to her just as she saying them, driving home the point that he is no longer really Peter, even if his sole purpose in life is revenge for Etta. What options does Liv now have?  She’s in love with a man who now has the emotional bandwidth of a teaspoon, and he’s losing that glorious hair, to boot. But the full-on creepy quizzical pug head tilt is the death knoll for me. Shudder.

When the heck did this full conversion to creepy Observer happen?  I went back and re-watched, and Peter acts a little creepy at the beginning of the show when he’s watching the streets, but he reverts to normal, charming, smiling Peter when he returns to Olivia. That continues all the way up to Peter’s arrival at the storage facility. It’s only when Peter leaves and spouts off about logic that Peter O’bserver reveals himself to the Fringe team for the first time. So what happened when he was down there in the storage facility?

Fringe is on hiatus for three weeks for the holidays, and picks back up again on December 7th. I, for one, am glad for the reprieve. The emotional roller coaster I’m on with this show…ugh, I can’t ride it, I can’t not ride it. Enjoy the holidays all, and hopefully we’ll all be ready for another round of the Fringe crazies when we return from our tryptophan trips.

>>>>

[Official Show Site on FOX]    [Previous Recap: “Through the Wrecking Glass”]

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