‘Fringe’ recap: the Smell of Love
It’s been a few weeks since Peter went into the mindscape of the Observer to watch the big bang and chat about nature of reality. Peter learned the origins of our bald watchmen and that September is going against his fellow monthly doppelgangers in the hope of correcting the mistake he made by distracting Walternate while he was coming up with a cure for the strange disease that attacked Peter as a child. Understandably, "Fringe" gave us some time to process it, but now it's back to delve into the greatest scientific mystery: love.
When we last left off, the new timeline version of Olivia was overwhelmed by memories from the original Olivia. Walter believed these memories were caused by Peter’s presence, magnified by the Cortexifan the shape shifters were slipping Olivia. At first, Peter was all for it, happy to have at least part of his Olivia back, but Walter warned him it was wrong and told Peter to stay away. If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about trying to regain a lost loved one, it’s Walter.
In order to do the right thing, Peter packs his bags and heads for New York City. He doesn’t get very far before Walter calls him back to the lab. Seems that Walter’s Nannycam captured Peter’s interaction with the Observer, and with the help of high-tech equipment from MIT, Walter slowed the tape down enough to see the Observer slip something onto Peter’s eye, probably the hardest place to slip something unseen. Walter retrieves a message from Peter’s iris, an address to be specific, so Peter heads off to track down the Observer's apartment.
Meanwhile, Fringe Division investigates the death of a widow, murdered by Saran wrap. The villain of the week is a severely scarred scientist who dehydrates men like beef jerky so he can use their liquids as perfume and make out with their widows. One of the nice things about this bad guy is that we didn’t get an elaborate backstory for him. While he was waiting to get all the juices sucked out of his latest victim, he took out a picture of a woman (one assumes the woman he once loved), but there is much explanation beyond that. Good. Leaves that extra sense of mystery to him. Plus there were more important uses of this episode’s time.
As if the Peter/Olivia or Creep Guy/frightened women weren’t love story enough, we also got Lincoln Lee pining away for Olivia. That’s a tough break. How bad does your luck with the opposite sex have to be when a man who was erased from history shows up to steal your woman? Lincoln listened to the wife of one of the victims talk about her husband being her best friend through college. She talked with him about all her heartbreaks and failed relationships. You could see Lincoln’s sad eyes as he related to the tale. Of course that guy was having an affair on the side. That might need to be the part of the story Lincoln should have listened to closest.
Though it doesn’t matter. Once Peter found the Observer’s apartment, the rest of the episode became background noise to me. More so when he followed the futuristic GPS to Foxboro, Mass. (I almost thought Peter was going to hit his head on the floating location name). There he stumbled on one of the Observer’s beacons. You might remember the beacon from Episode 4, when the Observer first stepped out of the background. I love any time "Fringe" reaches back to the crazy science of Season One. Peter managed to activate the beacon and brought September back from wherever the other Observers had banished him. September tells Peter, essentially, that he can make out with Olivia because she really is his Olivia. Peter has been home all along. Guess it’s just a matter of turning everyone else back into who they used to be.
"Fringe" can be a little ham-fisted when it comes to emotions. The show handles complex scientific concepts with ease but delicate matters of the heart can be a little tricky. I was left scratching my head after Olivia explained to Nina at the end about how listening to a wife talk about her husband who was having an affair made her realize that she wants to pursue her love for Peter. Seemed like a bit of a stretch. That doesn’t mean I’m any less excited to see how it plays out.
The More You Know –- If there were to be a lesson of the week on "Fringe," I’d say it is “Never let a stranger take your picture.” Even if he is carrying a pug. Any stranger who volunteers help you with your camera and get that perfect pic by the lake is really out to murder you. I’d even go so far as to say anyone who doesn’t put up a little resistance when you ask them to take your picture is probably plotting at least a misdemeanor against you. Tripod and a timer. Only way not to end up a piece of boyfriend jerky.
Astrid Action -– Astrid got to be the test nostrils in this episode, smelling whatever Walter put in front of her. You’d think after four years, Astrid would be smart enough to run away if Walter ever said, “Smell this.” Though that lab has to be a cornucopia of aromas by now, between all the gross byproducts of Fringe Science and Walter’s cooking experiments. I hope they have a good supply of candles.
Spot the Observer -– No hiding this week. The Observer showed up front and center once Peter activated his beacon. I found it a little hard to believe that the Observer wasn’t fully aware of the concept of love. They’ve been studying humanity for all of history, you’d think they would have picked that up along the way. But it must be a concept that eludes them. Like eyebrows.
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo: Peter (Josh Jackson) finds a capsule. Credit: Fox Television