What is an origin story? A staple in the superhero pantheon, it chronicles the events responsible for creating our hero (or villain). This week’s Fringe offering does indeed tell the tale of a hero born, one that will take it to the Observers in a fight for survival.
While Olivia sleeps, Peter looks over pictures of Etta. Losing her has fundamentally transformed something inside him; still, he tries to hold on to her, comparing the uncanny resemblance between mother and daughter. He finds a hidden cache of weapons, including the antimatter explosives and C4. When Olivia wakes up, the two lament together for their loss. It’s unfortunate that this is the closest they get in this episode.
In Manhattan, inexplicable lightning slithers through the streets and a group of Observers pull up. They set up a cube device that opens up a portal where three large crates are ushered through. It can’t be good and, when the team speaks with Anil, Etta’s resistance mate. He explains the shipments coming through the worm holes are components for the air degradation systems—these parts will speed up the carbon monoxide distribution through the atmosphere, a process that will become irreversible after a few more years. When he shows the team the captured Observer and corresponding cube in said Observer’s possession, the first signs of the changed Peter emerge. He wants to destroy the shipping lanes, cripple the Observer’s operation despite the inherent risks.
When they return to the lab, Astrid and Olivia are trying to decrypt the Observer notebook Anil provided in hopes that it will give them more information about the shipments. Astrid then sees that they need to look at things differently in order to decrypt the Observer language. Walter and Peter talk a bit about the cube. Walter offers an idea to Peter as to destroying the Observer corridor: the cube acts as a telephone receiver-the lightning is the ringing phone while the cube is used to answer it. Introducing an antimatter device would, in theory create a black hole on the Observer side of things that would take them years to recover from and give the resistance time to affect things on this side of things. With this information in hand, Peter makes his way with Anil to begin his interrogation of the Observer. Olivia wants Peter to be careful, afraid she will lose him. It isn’t until later, though, when Walter confesses to overhearing her and Peter’s conversation, that we understand it’s more than just Peter’s safety she’s afraid of: she sees the change Etta’s death has created within him and the very real since of losing him once more. Walter gives her an old tape for Olivia to use as a tether to keep her and Peter together. He tells her the need to embrace the pain, to accept it, before truly being able to move on and become whole. For her part, Olivia is just too shaken to do it.
At the resistance safe house, Anil explains the set up of the Observer’s bonds as well as the discovery that many of their abilities
are the by-product of tech buried in the back of the Observers’ necks. Peter begins his interrogation of the Observer, assembling the cube in front of the future occupier, using the Observer’s unconscious body reactions to determine if he’s assembling the device correctly. After some good cat-and-mouse dialogue, Peter is successful assembling the device and when Olivia calls regarding the next shipment time, Peter makes his way to the rendezvous. Anil places the cube in the street while Peter an Olivia set up in a building above the location. They intercept the “call” before the Observers and fight ensues when they notice the fringe team’s presence. It’s not enough as Olivia kills the Observer and Peter fires the antimatter projectile into the wormhole, imploding it in on itself. They start to flee the scene, thinking they have completed their mission but things aren’t quite a rosy as they believe when they see the shipment still come through another corridor created by the Observers. When Walter doesn’t understand what happened, Peter hits his turning point. He rages at the Observer who, in its own way gloats at Peter’s failure, pointing out that human emotion often makes people ascribe meaning in things that are nothing more than random occurrences. Peter’s anger explodes and when he tells the Observer just how much better he would be than them with the same tech, the threshold has been reached. Peter removes the tech from the Observer’s neck, causing it to die.
Whereas Olivia gains the courage to accept the pain of losing Etta, watching the video of the three of them during Etta’s childhood, Peter’s pain has directed him to do something more, something extremely dangerous. When they talk, Olivia begs him to come home. They express I love you’s but when Peter looks at himself in the mirror—device inserted into his neck—it’s a new Peter Bishop, a completely different man.
So far I have not been enamored with this season’s story arc of an Observer incursion but “Origin Story” turned things on its head for me. Losing a loved one is hard on anyone but couple that with the circumstances of life and the effect is felt even more profoundly for Peter. Like Bruce Wayne losing his parents, Peter understands that he has to do more, become more if he is to defeat the evil threatening to smother his world. But as Olivia fears, one thing Peter must be careful of losing himself. After all,it’s a fine line between remaining a hero and becoming the villain.
What are you thoughts the this seasons direction? Let us know in the comment section below.