Is the future set? This is the question tonight’s episode tries to answer as Olivia and the team investigate the events surrounding Emily, a teenager with precognitive abilities.
This is a recap, so expect spoilers.
Ever since the Observer told Olivia that she had to die, she has been a bit on edge; well, more on edge than usual. She looks at photos of different Observers with Broyles; they do not know about the Observers, so in this Peter-less timeline, the Observers have kept themselves hidden until one appeared to Olivia to tell her that she has to die. She identifies the Observer who contacted her. The DNA was not a match to anyone, but antibodies to the Spanish flu was found, making the Observer at least 90 years old. Broyles wants to assign guards to Olivia, but she refuses. Olivia thinks the Observer was warning her.
A teenaged girl, Emily, draws. Her head appears to hurt; she changes the page in her sketchpad. She quickly draws; her eyes follow a man and his companion. She rips out the sketch and gives it to the man. He can’t believe what he sees; he calls her sketch “twisted.” They walk by a construction site. An I-beam falls off a crane and impales the man. The woman screams. We see the sketch. The sketch matches how the man died, including the final position of his body.
Peter and Walter are in the lab, working together and trying to figure out how to get the machine to work; it won’t respond to Peter because he doesn’t exist in this timeline. They have a great flow, and the tension between them is gone. Olivia is happy to see them working together, and so am I. Lincoln calls from the construction site and tells Olivia about the sketch. Olivia thinks it is the Observer, but Lincoln tells her that the witness described a teen.
Emily is at home with her brother, mother, and father. She goes to her room. Her dad comes in. They have moved around a lot because of her. She feels guilty, but her dad gently reassures her that God has a plan for everyone; she has a purpose.
At HQ, Olivia is at her desk. Broyles comes by, and she updates him on the case. Broyles sits. He knows about Olivia’s three visits to health services in the past month. She tells him that she is having headaches, only headaches. She is fine, but she needed medication. Broyles drops the matter. She asks him if he believes in fate; he does not. She might be beginning to believe; just the other day she was told she had to die, and now she is investigating a case about a girl who possibly can predict the future. She suspects it might be more than coincidence.
At the water cooler, Olivia takes another pill. Lincoln tells her that the girl has been identified.
Emily is on the bus. She sketches. She looks around and sees a man. She finishes her sketch. She wants to give it to the man, but he is gone. She hurries out of the bus and tries to find him, but she can’t find him. She looks up and says, “I try.”
There is a knock at the door. Emily’s father answers. Olivia and Lincoln ask about Emily. They lie about knowing her. Lincoln and Olivia see Emily outside; they tell her that she is not in trouble. Olivia asks how she can see future events. She tells Olivia that she can sense when someone near her is about to die; she senses death. Her father interrupts them. He wants the questioning to stop. Olivia reminds him that it is up to Emily. Emily says that she doesn’t want to be questioned. Her father doesn’t want what happened before to happen again—the testing, the poking, and the harassment by others like Massive Dynamic. No matter where they go, people find her. Olivia looks at Emily; the teen is scared. Olivia knows that feeling because of the Cortexiphan trials she went through as a child. Olivia gives Emily’s father her card.
Inside their apartment, Emily’s father reminds her that trying to warn the people in her visions doesn’t work; she has to keep the information to herself so she doesn’t put them at risk again.
Nina Sharp has an office at the Bridge Area; the machine can be seen in the background. Nina is on the phone when Olivia enters. The call ends. They hug. Olivia asks about Emily. Nina tells her that Massive Dynamic has stopped experimenting on children; the family was approached by Massive Dynamic, but the father refused to let her be studied, even after Nina offered to pay for Emily’s education. Olivia is stunned. She can’t believe Nina just told her the plan for Emily as though cataloguing a child’s brain was nothing. Nina knows what happened to Olivia, so Olivia thinks Nina should know better. Nina counters that Emily’s gift is natural and that Olivia’s situation is different because no one engineered Emily. Olivia still sees it as abuse. Nina is surprised they are arguing about this matter. A call interrupts the tense scene. Emily wants to meet Olivia.
They meet by a lake; Emily goes there often to think. Emily shows Olivia the picture she drew on the bus. Many people are going to die very soon.
Olivia takes Emily to Walter’s lab. Walter has sensors on Emily’s head so he can get data about her brainwaves. Her first vision occurred when she was eleven. After another vision is when she started going to doctors and the tests began. Walter shares his findings with her, Peter, Astrid, and Olivia; he and Bell postulated that traumatic events sent ripples backwards in time. People could be sensitive to the vibrations and see the event. Emily cannot control her ability; she has not been able to stop one of her visions from happening. Emily tells them that she shares her visions so people have the chance to say good-bye or do a good deed.
Peter and Astrid try to find the man in her sketch. Olivia asks Emily if she senses anything about Olivia, but she cannot. Her father enters with Lincoln; Emily tells him that she trusts them. Astrid found the guy’s address. Olivia and Lincoln go to Duncan’s place. After the agents leave, Peter suggests that Walter hypnotizes Emily. Walter is momentarily confused; Peter thinks he can do it because Peter has seen Walter do so in his old timeline. Olivia and Lincoln arrive at the apartment; Duncan is not there.
Walter hypnotizes Emily. She is taken back to the moment on the bus when she first saw Duncan. Peter tells Walter to guide Emily. Walter tells her to follow Duncan, so she does. She sees her vision. There has been an explosion; dead bodies surround her. Fear causes her to panic. Peter tells her father to talk to her to keep her calm, and he does. Emily sees a Latin phrase. Peter recognizes it from the courthouse; Duncan lost custody of his kids, so it makes sense that Duncan would attack the courthouse.
Police surround the courthouse. The Bomb Squad searches the parking level. The building is evacuated. The Bomb Squad and Peter find the bomb, and Peter notifies Broyles. Broyles wants Olivia to leave, but she refuses; she will not live in fear.
Emily’s father sees a black van across the street and assumes people are after Emily. Emily disagrees; Olivia promised that she would be left alone, but her father thinks what happened in Baltimore is happening again, so he tells her to start packing. She stops packing and sketches. In the sketch, a man sits on the bench by the lake Emily met Olivia.
Peter asks for the frequency the bomb is set to receive; the squad finds it. Peter has everyone put their radios to that frequency.
Duncan finds the judge and confronts him, telling him that it is time for the judge to lose his family. Duncan triggers the explosion, but there is no explosion because the signal was jammed. Broyles, Olivia, and other officers find Duncan. They think the situation is over, but Duncan reveals that he wears a vest rigged with explosives. Olivia talks to him. The future is not set in stone; he is in control of everyone’s fate. She pleads with him to think of the people around him, people who have kids of their own. Duncan breaks down and surrenders.
Olivia calls Emily; her dad hears the message. He goes to tell his daughter that one of her visions did not happen. He tells the police that Emily is gone; he thinks the people in the van took her. The police find the van, but it has nothing to do with Emily. Olivia knows where she is.
Olivia and Lincoln go to the lake. Emily is cold and tells Olivia that nothing can stop what will happen next. Lincoln leaves to call an ambulance. Next to her is a sketch of Olivia looking at Emily and a man on the bench; the man looks like her father. Olivia tells her that they were able to stop one of her visions. Emily’s father arrives. He sees the sketch; he sits next to her. She has known for a while. Her father cries. He wants her to hold on. She tells him that he was right; everyone has a purpose. She saved those people, so that must have been her purpose. Her father holds her as she dies.
Olivia sits at a desk in Walter’s lab. Peter enters. Emily died because her ability was too much for her brain to handle. The electrical overload in her brain caused a stroke. Nothing could have stopped the stroke, even if it was diagnosed days or weeks in advance. Peter sees a picture of an Observer, and Olivia wants to know what he knows because up until that moment, the Observers didn’t even have a name. Peter explains that the Observers exist at all time periods at all moments. They don’t predict the future because they have experienced the future. Olivia lies to Peter about meeting one of them.
Nina goes to Olivia’s place. She apologizes to Olivia for how she acted during their conversation about Emily. Sometimes she forgets everything Olivia has had to go through. Olivia tells Nina that she is not angry; she thought she was going to die, so she tells Nina that Nina is the closest thing to a mother she has and that she loves Nina. Nina acts genuinely touched. Olivia tells Nina about the headaches. Nina insists on making Olivia soup and tells Olivia that she will send over medication for the headaches.
Outside of Olivia’s place is an Observer.
Olivia and the team stopped one of Emily’s visions from coming true, so can they prevent Olivia’s death? By warning Olivia, did the Observer make changing her fate possible? By presenting us with Emily’s story, the possibility of changing the Observer’s conclusion becomes plausible.
What I enjoyed most about this episode was watching the team in action. This is as close as we have gotten to see the old team back in action, which makes me miss the regular timeline, driving the necessity for Peter to return home forward. The moments between Olivia and Nina were superb. Torv (Olivia) and Brown (Nina) had very little time to convey the complexities and nuances of their relationship. In two scenes we saw the anguish from Olivia’s past flare up as she expressed her anger and disappointment about Nina’s willingness to still study children, and we saw them come back together in a touching and moving moment. Considering what we know about Nina, these scenes have extra meaning, depth, and ramifications. Although Nina seemed to be thrilled that Olivia thinks of her as a mother, I doubt Nina will change her plans. In fact, I suspect the medication Nina will give Olivia for her headaches will do something else.
Many might think this episode slowed the momentum. It didn’t. After the revelations from the past two episodes, it is good to take a breath and see how the characters are reacting and adjusting to the developments. The pacing was good, giving us plenty of time to watch the characters interact as they worked together on the case. This was an episode constructed with little moments that revealed insight and hinted at what is to come.