There comes a point in all stories where the heroes reach the turning point. In their fight for right, oft times they are beset by a heartbreaking loss. That loss generally becomes the driving force behind their journey towards conquering the baddies. The Fringe team experienced this in “The Bullet that Saved the World” when Etta was killed by Windmark. This loss fueled Peter’s desire to become a greater adversary though he nearly lost himself in the process. “Anomaly” provides a similar loss while, at the same time, offering another weapon in the fight against the Observers.
Picking up after Michael’s retrieval, the team is scratching their head in trying to find a way to communicate with the silent boy. Walter’s patience is starting to thin and Olivia suggests contacting Nina Sharpe, who’s working at the Ministry of Science. They get in touch from the Massive Dynamic chief and she leaves the office to meet up with the group. Her departure comes none too soon as Windmark and his Observer thugs arrive 20 minutes later, wanting to question her in regards to the Sublimation Device being used by the resistance. They rig up a new tech device that ‘reads’ audio imprints left in the glass—a temporal listening device, if you will—and catch snippets of her conversation with Olivia.
Nina meets up with the group on the street before ushering them to a Black Lab, a secret facility she doled out for the resistance use. During the jaunt Peter addresses his concerns about Nina’s promise to Walter to re-remove the Walternate aspect of his brain pan. “Your father,” she tells Peter, “understands that anything worth fighting for comes with a cost.” It’s not surprising that after her words, Olivia and Peter share a moment of solace when they spot another resistance poster adorned by Etta’s visage.
They arrive at the lab and after an ill-timed commercial (i.e, someone at the network flubbed up) we’re treated to how down and dirty the resistance has gotten. To engage one’s enemy, one has to know the enemy; the resistance sure has taken that adage to heart, experimenting on captured Observers in attempts to glean weaknesses in the futuristic foe. Based on the Lab’s research, Nina suggests using some neural stim tech to broker the communication link between them and Michael. The Electro-Cognitive stimulator, or E-Cog, is what they are going to use. Walter’s referral to Michael as ‘the subject’ catches Peter’s attention and is further proof that the loveable Walter we’ve come to know is being overtaken by the colder, harsher Walternate. In any case, the device doesn’t work, the software unable to interpret his thoughts. Once again, Nina offers accurate insight, surmising they need to let Michael understand what they want. In order to do this, they’ll need another E-Cog device and a neural adapter to link one of the group with Michael to form a thought bridge (a nifty term if I do say so myself) to chat with him. All they need to do is contact Hastings, Nina’s inside man, to retrieve the tech from storage.
But they aren’t the only ones on the move. Figuring the best way to trace Nina is to start from the Sublimation device’s origin. They start questioning all the workers from the ministry and Mr. Hastings is in line for an most uncomfortable discussion with Windmark. As Hastings is being questioned, Peter, Walter and Olivia (with a long distance assist from Astrid) break into the storage facility, locate the tech and ready to leave before Olivia catches Windmark in the midst of his questioning of Hastings. She watches a bit longer than methinks was necessary and, when Nina calls, Olivia tells her that she’s been compromised. A guard pulls Windmark and his cronies away and the gang uses that time to rescue Hasting who tells them just where the Observers are headed—the Black Lab.
Distraught at her new position as persona non grata and hunted, Nina talks to Michael. Something about her emotional state
reaches Michael and he touches her face, eliciting a startled reaction from Nina. As the gang gets held up trying to evade a checkpoint, Windmark gains access to the Black Lab. Nina’s waiting for them, Michael hidden from their perusal. When he sees his Observer buddies holed up like frogs in Biology, he brands Nina an animal. He goes on the spew about Michael’s existence as being that of a genetic anomaly, nothing more. He remarks on Nina’s lack of fear and she replies in kind, citing how the Observers—notice their involuntary head tilt—have tapped into more primitive aspects of human nature, the instinctive portion that humanity left behind so long ago. Her commentary blasts Windmark, wiping the superiority from his face and possibly for the first time, throwing him off his game. As he moves to get down and dirty with the interrogation, Nina rips a gun from one of the loyalist guards and turns it on herself.
Peter, Olivia and Walter arrive back at the Lab to find it ransacked. Soon after they find Nina’s body and Walter is hit the hardest by it. They lament for several minutes before starting the search for Michael. They end up finding him in one of the Observer stasis pods, still as quiet as ever.
Leaving the facility behind they head back to the Harvard lab where Walter gets hooked up to the E-Cog. They begin the attempts at communication and Michael takes the initiative, touching Walter in the same way he had Nina and the former has the same reaction. Memories flood his conscious mind, scenes from past, many of which have been played out in various episodes. But one memory is particularly powerful. After all this time Walter finally learns of Donald’s identity. It’s none other than September.
After the shaky start, the last few Fringe episodes have surely raised the bar. Though shocking, Nina’s death was something the story demanded and is a testament to people being lost in battle. She sacrificed herself for the others, being true to her words to Peter earlier in the show. The emotional shock may also have been a catalyst for the humane Walter to remain in control as her death was a blow to his psyche. As far as blows to the audience, the revelation that Donald and September are the same was something I was not expecting in the least. A part of me knew we weren’t done seeing the aloof yet logically caring Observer but never like this. One can only guess as to how this new information will affect the impending confrontation between the Fringe team and the Observers. We have only three more episodes to find out.