Fringe 5.03 Episode Review - More Bark Than Bite ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe 5.03 Episode Review - More Bark Than Bite

      Email Post       10/23/2012 10:31:00 AM      

The Recordist


With this being the last season of Fringe there is an impediment for me to the stories that the show should be telling as it’s life cycle is coming to a close.  I want the stories to focus on the main cast and have it doing so by involving them directly in the main story.  

So when the first two episodes set up a scenario where the show seemed poised to break out of paralleling Case Of The Week stories and have the main cast directly involved in treasure hunts for Walter’s Beta tapes; my expectations were very high for the third episode.  But, ‘The Recordist,’ fell back into the mystery of the week, that was not much of a mystery, and shifted the focus from the main cast to the guest stars.
Strong Jawline!

Yes there is still the need to introduce new characters that come and leave the show when their purpose has been served, usually within one episode.  But they should be in support of the main cast and not taking center stage.  Last season in the very same third episode, Fringe introduced us to an intelligent fungus by the name of Gus.  Which was the weakest episode of Season 4. The Recordist may very well end up in that slot for the final season.  Fringe and plant based stories do not seem to make for the most compelling episodes.

Not that the scenes between the Recordist and his son totally rubbed the wrong way. Quite the opposite.  On my second watch of the episode I was much more taken in by the emotions and themes expressed between the two characters.  But the problem is, as mentioned off the top, Fringe already has a great father and son dynamic to work with.  The Peter and Walter dynamic has been one of the constant treats of the show.  And they have covered the same thematic ground and in much greater detail.

Outside of the main story there were some wonderful moments between the main cast members.  The scene between Olivia and Peter triggered by Olivia’s supposed inability to remember the name of the restaurant with the great apple pie was great.  Peter seemed so much like his father as he reminisced about food seemingly oblivious to Olivia’s inexplicable memory lapse.  

Fringe went a bit meta introducing comic books of their adventures.  Some of the books were based on their real adventures and others were original ones written by the young Bark boy, River. Which was pretty cool.

Episode 'Patterns': Add your own in the comments.

  • Walter takes credit for liberating tape after berating Astrid’s butcher laser skills
  • Walter finding and eating 20 year grape vines in his lab coat while watching videotape
  • Surprise! Surprise! The tapes are out of order.
  • Walter stating one set of coordinates. Olivia reciting a different set.  Hmm...
  • Walter finds his bong and baggie
  • Bark people - definitely not dwarves
  • Etta telling Olivia how many battles they won together on the missions Etta imagined for them - Olivia’s tortured - ‘That’s a lot to live up to,’ met with Etta’s - ‘No you are even more than I imagined.’
  • This seems to be a hatch happy season - entrance to underground library
  • Bark Boy River’s Fringe comicbooks - Fringe goes meta and embraces fan fiction
  • My favorite line of the episode - Peter’s - ‘You’re my hero kid.  You gave me a strong jawline.’
  • Gene!  In the Lab. In Amber.  Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here!
  • Apple pills and Olivia’s inability to remember the name of the great apple pie restaurant
  • most unintentional funny line of the episode - Peter’s puzzled - ‘Did I do something to upset you?’ to Olivia
  • great scene between Peter & Olivia as Olivia says she was weak not strong.  Peter’s answer to let the past lie and embrace the second chance they have been given.
  • Missing children/people posters with 2033 dates? Continuity error or more Olivia memory problems?
  • Answer to rocks is on tape 6..... or is it 7?
  • Peter hotwires a station wagon - Walter’s sunglasses and - ‘Now, this is a ride!’
  • Olivia and Etta joining hands inside the car
  • Who is Donald?


With the clock counting down there is an unrealistic expectation on my part that every episode be a home run.  Perhaps if this episode is a foreshadowing of events to be played out at the series conclusion, it may gain some dramatic weight. But in a shortened season of 13 episodes this seemed to be an unneeded repetition of father/son dynamics and exploration of what separates heroes from cowards.

Still between the scenes between Peter and Olivia, the Fringe team captured in comic books, Walter’s bong habits and his mismanagement of the tapes, seeing that Gene is still around, the Olivia/Etta scenes, and Astrid’s tape recovery/laser skills; ‘The Recordist,’ managed to capture some great memories.

Now this is a RIDE!


milostanfield said...

Thanks for another great review (Wahh! Where's the Podcast!?).

I'm a little more forgiving of the COTW, or A/B story format than you, so I liked this one despite the Gus-like bark. It wasn't a pure A/B, which typically has the A or COTW story being a metaphor or ethical lesson for the B or main character story. I agree that these stories are no longer needed, and we don't have time for them anyway. But this was more of an unified story because it told us more about the time (and people) our team is now living in and fighting to save. While there was a great father/son story in this one, I think the bigger story, for the second week in a row, was the courage or cowardice of the people that have lived this 20 year nightmare. With Broyles showing up this week we may see more of that. And who knows, that archive may come in handy again. It already has once (Donald).

I guess it depends on how, or more specifically when, the Fringe story ends. If they are going pull a machine out of a hat and somehow reset the past so 2036 doesn't happen, then 2036 is just a backdrop, much like 2026 was when Peter went there at the end of S03. But if they are going to stay in 2036 for good and win there, we need to know more about the world of 2036 and the people in it, so that defeating the Invaders is a victory for the whole world, not just the Fringe team.

Old Darth said...

Thanks for the feedback milo!

Yeah, not a big fan of COTW story telling in a serialized drama though it is obviously a preference that will split viewers.

As to the podcast, we did one but due to a technical snafu that one is lost forever to the ether.

Too bad as it was an awesome one too.

Zepp said...

Old Darth You're right, those first episodes of this final season of Fringe, the focus is on the main characters and their inter-relationships between them, leaving the characters played by actors specially invited, only the task of finishing in the stories that are now being counted, I also see. Thanks for your great post!

This interaction, in the form of dialogues and actions, these main characters, I seem to be longer, more complete than in other seasons. Previously, I think also, had radical changes in the behavior of the main characters, whose greatest example, when that sentence was promulgated by the Observers, Peter, "had never existed." At the beginning of the 4th season, I felt like another Fringe, i.e. a Fringe who "never having existed" Peter, which to me sounded very strangely, but with "back" him, gradually the things were returning to their proper places.

Now, in 2036, it is the result of that phase "back exist" Peter, the 4th season, I see. The other time is now, the world we knew, no longer exists, and the behavior of the main characters seem somehow also changed. Peter seems to be more in leadership struggles and conflicts against the enemy, always accompanied by his daughter Etta. Olivia, so far, has seemed to me to be calmer, more measured, but showing that from one moment to another, she'll start acting like it used to, or so withering, objective and thorough, and Walter, well, for me it is a case apart. I've seen "several" Walter during the seasons of Fringe, but one that is there now, for me, is the best of them. After he took that "some tea, made with pieces of his own brain", prepared by Simon and Etta (4.19), then went to sleep about 10 minutes, and awoke, as it were, "another" Walter. It seems to me that Walter is now much more confident in himself, more improvisational, makes decisions that previously took. That moment - the epi 4.19 - in which he, Simon and Etta were being persecuted by the Badservers, and he pitched, offhand, an ingenious "homemade bomb of anti-matter" in a matter of minutes, these illustrates my current impressions about it. Walter now demonstrates action initiative, own decisions, quick thinking, more intuitive, with total insight of the current situation, brilliant as always and much more cheerful. Walter now, is, to me, symbolized, that image of him sitting in the car, very smiling, showing off his sunglasses, in style, with great desire and willingness to participate in more actions of Fringe team. For me it is a wonderful new Walter undoubtedly.

Old Darth said...

Thanks for the feedback Zepp.

Interesting post. I'm digging Walter this season too - expect he'll get more focus as the season progresses.

panda said...

Thanks for the great review.

Old Darth said...


milostanfield said...

How sad we didn't get to hear the podcast. I was looking forward to the "Gene in amber" reactions! Oh, well. Next time!

Zepp said...

The poor Gene, still does not understand anything ...

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