Fringe Review: In Absentia ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: In Absentia

      Email Post       10/07/2012 08:03:00 PM      

Fringe: In Absentia

“They’ll pay for what they’ve done. I promise.”

And here we go! Last week, I wondered where we were headed—and if that was even the right question. Now the shape of the next few episodes, if not most of the season, is clearer. We have quest objects; we shall have a quest. In a convenient bit of storytelling, Walter has set up a scavenger hunt for the secret to defeating the Observers. Of course, that’s not the only goal of the quest…

Family connections are. This week, we saw the flashback from Olivia’s perspective, but it’s just as disorienting: happiness, fear, then a flash of white that appears to cut off consciousness. Is that just because Olivia was dreaming? Or did she and Peter both experience a white-out, forgetting what had happened to them and, more importantly, to Etta?

What happened to Etta, details aside, is that she grew up hard. Her willingness to torture Gael says a lot about her, but also a lot about what is at stake in this war. I’m not on Team Torture, but I’d also be willing to go pretty far to save humanity from an evil inhuman invasion. Would I torture a turncoat? Would you?

Olivia’s pity was both for Etta’s callowness and for the situation that led to that callowness. For all of humankind, if you will—everyone forced to make choices between morality and pragmatism, safety and honor. Olivia’s compassion made Etta choose to let Gael go. But again I have to ask: would you have done the same? It’s the old moral dilemma about the needs of the many and the needs of the few. I’m curious to see if Gael pops up again, as a double-agent for the Resistance or as a narc for the Observers.

It’ll say something interesting about Fringe’s view of human nature either way, as will the way the deal with the complexity of Peter and Olivia getting to know the daughter they didn’t have a chance to raise. That plot, which is similar to one on another currently-running show I really like (I’m being vague to avoid spoilers), is horrifying and hopeful at the same time. Olivia and Peter have missed so much: the first book report, the first softball game, the prom. But they have regained what they thought they lost, and Etta is a phenomenal young woman, even if some of her actions are a bit ambiguous. (How awful would it have been if she’d turned out to be a Loyalist?)

There’s more to this show than family relationships, though. The freaky atom-disturbing Age-O-Matic was just second-gen Observer tech—their current tech is, of course, much techier. Hopefully Walter can figure out a way to use it against the Observers. Because, despite the quest objects and Betamax video guides, the situation looks really, really grim.


• Peter: “So far we know that, at some point in the past, Walter knew both Portuguese and Swedish.”
• Walter: “That’s not a problem for someone who’s done acid.”

• Walter: “When did I switch to grape?”

• Walter: “It should be me.”

• Olivia: “I’ve been around a lot longer than you may think.”

• Yes, that was Henry Ian Cusick’s detached head. And yet I am still holding out hope that his character will return. (And if they got Simon, does that mean they got William Bell? Well, all of him but that one hand?)

• I loved Astrid and Walter having fun with the laser.

Four out of four freeze-dried pigeons. Better than egg sticks!

(Josie Kafka reviews Fringe, The Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for In her spare time, she volunteers at a pigeon-freeze-drying plant in hopes of curing world hunger.)


Andreia Silva said...

♥ ♥ !LOVE FRINGE! ♥ ♥ Does anyone know a website where I can watch FRINGE while it is being broadcasted because I live in Northern Ireland I would really love to see Fringe live at least once, and I know it is only on when in my timezone is about 2 am but I don't mind. ♥ ♥ !LOVE FRINGE! ♥ ♥

Zepp said...

"Yes it was something I saw in her eyes ..."

Almost the last scene, a conversation between Etta and Manfretti, referring to the gaze Olivia, a little before she let him go, I think that sums up the whole episode. I think, symbolically, that moment between two, that lonely dirt road, gave up the resurgence of hope for all. No doubt that this was a moment of great emotion, the episode "In Absentia", for me.

Fringe is getting better!

LittleWing said...

Yes, this episode brought up a lot of hard questions. But I love those kinds of questions. My favorite line in the show was when Manfretti asks Etta "How did you get that (torture machine) and Etta replies "That's not important. What is important is that I have it." I personally LOVED the "no mercy" look in her eyes. The few reviews that I have seen of this episode so far focus on the fact that Etta actually flipped the torture switch, but the truth is that EVERYONE let her do it. She reminded me of Peter in those early Fringe episodes when he breaks the guy's fingers with his coffee cup or let's the guy who stole Walter's teleportation device die of radiation poisoning AFTER he gives Peter the information he wants. Does anyone remember the look in Peter's eyes? I do. It said, "I am going to get what I need from you, one way or another." Yeah. Etta is Daddy's little girl.

Walter didn't seem phased at all when he realizes what Etta has done. Bishops have always been willing to do what is necessary first and think about the consequences later (e.g. cutting off William Bell's hand may not fit under the definition of torture, but I'd say it falls squarely in the mutilation category and I didn't shed a single tear for Bell the Bastard.) I personally love these anti-hero themes. And I also don't think Olivia's empathy would have worked without the counterweight of how far Etta was willing to go.

Anyway, another awesome episode. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and being willing to listen to mine. I'm not sure if my views put me in "Team Torture" but I know I am definitely a part of Team Fringe.

DocH said...

Andreia - try

I don't know if it will work in Ireland, but... who knows?

I think the Henrietta back story will be big. Her bullet necklace (did it save the world?) 3 clues so far. Both Peter/Olive nightmares have Etta disappearing at the start of The Purge. Etta says she saw mom last at age 4. Mom said age 3.1.5. No kids are taken to the medical tent were Peter found Olivia. DID the Observers nab all of the young children and keep them for a year. DID September step in and watch over Etta for a year. Etta remembers mom at age four because she was given that memory by the invaders (or Sept). Did September take a bullet (necklace memory) for Etta?

Anonymous said...

Etta did not have any expression at all

1-dimensioanl acting of Georgina Haig,
nothing in her eyes, nothing in her face,

You should show some emotion , despise at least, not tell me .

That is all Etta does, telling and not showng or feeling, empty and hollow.

the Etta side was cliche, and cliche acted, I want to see emotion.

She should watch and learn from Anna Torv, from the beginning, where Olivia still had the action, the suspects to interrogate, Olivia always was a human being, not a robot.

Much is made to excuse Ettas behaviour, from the photographs you see she had caring fosterparents (otherwise why have the pictures),

Olivia Dunham had a far harsher childhood, abuse, and use by all men, and damaged for life,
but she remained a human.

She even cares for one of the men that abused her, Walter.

Anna Torv is the only one who gives Olivia the extra years and losing the child,

Walter is behaving as party animal again (last week he was all selfpity) and Peter is the boy, not the man that searched for his girl.

BTW. Wyman wants to set dus as a Vichy like regime, he should do some reading:

Resistence was not all good honest guys, loyalist or collborators were not all there out of free will,

Frankly I think this it more a world to be compared to Stasi DDR, where you had a government, their official spies (observers),
and loyalist who spied within their own families, usually blackmailed , or threatened with death.
And there were the freedom fighters, who did not adjust.

FYI: in those days West Germany had its Rote Armee Fraktion (who called themselves freedomfighters), most people would call them terrorists,
but they were protected by the government of the DDR,
Only to illustrate that good and bad is depending , and there is no black and white.

Final Note:
Please make Olivia Dunham central active, sick of the focus on Etta,
if only they had written so much for OLivia from day 1,
Anna Torv would have gotten her recognition back then, as people seem to confuse action with acting,
and seem to need backstory to understand a character.

Ever seen a photograph of Olivia as a child with her mother?Father?
She is only the female lead, and it is only the final season,
Why bother write for your fantastic lead actress Anna and great female lead character Olivia.

Anonymous said...

You may like an actor without attacking another actor I love Anna she was fantastic in this episode and you're just a troll boring and annoying

Zepp said...

I stand totally against the views here set out, with respect to a possible non-performance of Georgina Haig. This character Etta, who is now in charge of the actions of Fringe, is excellently staged by Haig, no doubt. She (Georgina Haig) has shaped your character (Etta), adequately bright and fully consistent with the world that she (the character) lives, and attempts to survive. Georgina shows us an Etta, looking cold, unemotional apparent that the situations in which she lives, are so harsh, such as it is expressed and acts. Etta is the result of what is now happening in Fringe, is the true picture of this future time of Fringe, we're watching now. It is perfectly natural that the leadership Etta due to knowingly she has, and also by their experiences of life and struggle in these dangerous times of 2036.

Etta lives in a world where a simple smile, is very valuable because it is a form of expression, almost nonexistent in these arduous times. That looks to be expressionless, cold stare, mercilessly torturing the prisoner, without much conversation, expresses, I feel, faithfully what would be a world in those terms of resistance to survive. The Etta, is a character who carries the baggage of his fights, and has no room for feelings, which simply do not exist in that context. And so it is that Georgina Haig, is showing us, with high-performance interpretive, the daughter of Olivia and Peter, Henriquetta Bishop.

Anonymous said...

The Anna Torv troll is out of her mind. Georgina Haig is amazing. She's beautiful and talented and she has stolen the show these last 2 episodes. Atta girl!

Anonymous said...

Those Observers better at least give Desmonds Head a proper robot body so he can use it to kill Observers like a Terminator by the finale. Maybe the Observers are FUTURAMA fans and are planning a live action movie version of that cartoon show. One of the Observers should bear the name Kojak and develop a fondness for Hot Chili Pepper flavored lollipops.


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