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“Fringe”: May-August romance

November 20, 2009 | 12:05 am

208_august_0031 This is it. Tonight’s episode of “Fringe” was a major event. A game changer. Going down in the history books. This is the first episode of “Fringe” I watched on my HDTV.

The Observers job is watching major events. From the Boston Massacre and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand to Wednesday afternoon at the Grove. It only makes sense that he be around for my historic step into modern home entertainment. (Seriously, it looks awesome. Now I’m curious to go back and watch episodes like “Earthling” to see the effects in HD.)

Tonight’s episode wasn’t about our Observer. Instead it centered on another Observer, named August. That’s the start of what we learn about the Observers: There’s more than one. We also learn they have guns that fire some sort of force pulse; they can avoid a bullet with a wave of their hands; and they can start cars with their thumbs. Most “Fringe” fans (or Fringatics, as I just made up) won’t be surprised that an Observer can do all that — but would they be surprised to know an Observer can love?

Not only do we get to meet new Observers, we also get to meet their personal hit man: Donald. Now, Donald might not look how you'd expect an assassin to look, and he does receive his hits through what appeared to be a dot-matrix fax printer in a suitcase (does he have to pull off the edges before he goes and whacks someone?), but Donald turns out to be a very good assassin. He figured out which hotel to go to based on which page a Yellow Pages had been opened to. That’s grade-A assassin work.

The other Observers send Donald after the woman August falls in love with because he kidnaps her away from an airplane crash where she was supposed to die. In the end, he realizes that the only way he could keep her alive was to sacrifice himself, making her important. If you look at it from another way, it could be seen as a rival for “Twilight”: Girl with a troubled past wants to move on and spend a year in Italy, studying sculpture and learning about life. Then a mysterious man saves her life. He’s not supposed to be able to love, yet he loves her.

Only in “Fringe” the guy is bald and wears an out-of-date gray suit. In “Twilight,” he’s Robert Pattinson. Obviously why the tweeting tweens are lined up for the latter. Still, “she crossed my mind and never left” is a pretty cool, romantic line.

A good story peppered with a lot of great details. Brandon, the Massive Dynamic engineer, returned to give his findings on the Observer and a primer on nonlinear time. Did anyone notice his office had a giant canister marked Oxygen and another marked Nitrogen? Is he making laughing gas or doing midnight street racing? Agent Broyles was still nursing his bullet wound from “Of Human Action.” Even Olivia’s niece played a role.

”August” showed a greater connection to the larger “Fringe” universe. It should. It was written by show runners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinker. I really enjoyed “August,” but I’m still nagged by something I brought up in my Five things that could help “Fringe.” The show veered closely again to the subject of Peter’s alternate-universe pass. At least this week, we got some interesting details. Our Observer said when he interfered and saved Walter and Peter from their car crash, they were only correcting their own mistake. My guess is that the Observers thought Peter was already dead and went to repair the irregularity. Only it was the alternate Peter and that’s how Walter broke the rules. That’s my theory. If you have a different one, let me know.

Follow-up question: Um, so “August” made the girl he loved important by having her become the cause of an Observer (him) dying. I can see how that makes her important, but I’m not quite sure why becoming important keeps her from having to die. Important people die all the time. Hopefully we’ll get a little more closure on this in the future.

Astrid action: Astrid got to show off her linguistic skills tonight. I don’t mean fancy talking. Literal linguistic skills. She is an expert linguist, but even she couldn’t crack the Observer’s notes. No characters repeated in the entire book. Cool.

Also, who thought Walter was going to try to drug Astrid with the milkshake? That’s how he escaped last time to chat with an Observer. It’s good to see that Walter respects her enough to just trick her into going to buy cherries instead of sticking a syringe in her neck.

Spot the Observer: Of course the Observer was all over this week’s episode. Four, in fact. I’m not sure if there were any more hidden. I’ll leave it up to the Internet to let me know if any more were sneaking around the episode. The one appearance of our Observer that sticks out was him watching Olivia and Ella on the roller coaster. I like how the fellow Observer noted that things are going to get bad for her. I hope so. There are a whole lot more episodes to fill.

— Andrew Hanson

RELATED:

"Fringe": Inside Massive Dynamic

Spot the Observers

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: The Observer (guest star Michael Cerveris). Credit: Fox Television.

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