Fringe 5.05 Review - An Origin Story ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe 5.05 Review - An Origin Story

      Email Post       11/04/2012 10:22:00 AM      

How Peter & Olivia Got Their Grief On


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

George Santayana


“You don’t even know what you don’t know.”

Unnamed Observer to Peter


“I’m feeling optimistic.”

Peter to Unnamed Observer

There has never been a series like Fringe that has so consistently blown my mind and expectations.  

The beauty of those moments is when they happen, those moments totally shock and engross.  Yet upon reflection they make total sense and ring true to all that has come before.

With 4 plus seasons of character history an episode like this carries so many additional layers of emotional/dramatic texture and weight.  Many things can be intimated without being directly referenced.  Just seeing Walter listening to Olivia and Peter’s conversation is all the leverage Fringe fans need to imbue that conversation with the inherited emotional memories of the Walter/Peter backstory along with the Peter/Olivia/young Etta backstory.

It is that tip of the iceberg viewing engagement that a running serialized TV series can invoke.  Such a powerful tool.  ‘An Origin Story,’ was rife with many moments like this.  So when Peter heads along a similar path - like Walter who in this timeline has lost Peter twice as a boy - but with a revenge bent, it truly feels organic.  

Peter Has The Answer In Front Of Him But Succumbs To The Dark Path
Walter offering Olivia another video tape so she and Peter can remember what they once had is another such moment.  The pain that such a journey entails is one we empathize for Peter and Olivia having to face.  As well as remembering how hard that journey has been for Walter.

It is also magnificent how Fringe reuses story points like Amber and video tapes for different purposes.  In Season 5 the videotapes provide not only the hope to the big picture problem of the Observer Occupation but a birthday videotape that Walter took provides the hope for the resolution of the small and deeply personal relationships of the main characters.  Wonderful writing.

To see Peter - in a powerhouse performance by Joshua Jackson - marshalling all his talents and faculties to try and sabotage the Observers wormhole shipping lanes, only to witness his efforts swept aside like the waving off of an annoying fly, is tragic.  To have his efforts turned aside and have the Observer tell him, ‘You don’t even know what you don’t know,’ causes Peter to snap.  That failure turns Peter’s optimism to despair and makes us able to empathize with Peter’s act of violence and insertion of the Observer mind needle into himself.

Totally understandable.  Totally stupid.  Totally human.

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

  • Peter going through Etta’s personal effects as Olivia sleeps
  • Peter comparing Etta’s picture to Olivia
  • Peter’s discovery of Etta’s Weapon Cache and his, ‘That’s my girl.’  Chilling and sad at the same time
  • Olivia wakes to realization that her nightmare is true - Etta is gone
  • Walter asks if he can keep Etta’s perfume to help him remember
  • Astrid continues tape hunt hampered by Walter’s Hibachi & Bratwurst flammables
  • Anil telling Olivia that Etta was special to the Resistance, along with Etta Resist posters, and pictures of Etta with stepmother? all point to more Etta backstory to be revealed and explained
  • Anil's name could be derived from the indigo plant or the blue dye obtained from it
  • ‘Go ask Alice,’ graffiti on wall - reference to next episode
  • ‘Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.’
  • Walter’s marvelous explanation of wormholes & blackholes
  • Antimatter batons!
  • Peter & Olivia talk about what Etta died for while Walter listens
  • Observers not as hardy as we thought and aided by tech more than we thought
  • Walter offers Olivia another tape to save her and Peter. Olivia hanging on by a thread.
  • Observer language decoded
  • Peter’s plan does not work
  • Peter’s theory was based on Observer’s reaction to a fly
  • Observer vs Etta’s Resist posters
  • Emotions get in the way - you see what you want to see
  • Observer unable to understand the concept of being missed.
  • Olivia decides not to put up walls, watches the tape, and calls Peter to tell him she loves her
  • Peter is pushed passed his limits, attacks Observer, and puts the needle chip in his head

Olivia Resists Taking The Dark Path

As Peter’s grief has him falling down a path of desperation and destruction there is the quiet counterbalance of Olivia’s journey of grief the second time around in dealing with the loss of Etta.  In a wonderful speech given by Walter to her, we see Olivia chose a different path this time.  Rather than building walls, she has the inner strength to take that last shred of will she is holding onto to face the legacy of pain left behind in the absence of Etta’s departure.

It is the very notion of being missed by others that the Observer cannot comprehend which powers Olivia to move beyond that pain of loss.  Rather than burying her grief she is trying to reach out to Peter and recapture what they had.  What they have lost.  The love for one another.

Peter a la Season 3's Reciprocity - Weaponized Again

What adds to tragedy of the situation is that Peter held the choice Olivia has made, in his hands.  The moment when he compared the picture of Etta to Olivia.

It is my belief that the good emotions that Olivia is embracing will be what saves Peter from the dark ones he has succumbed to.  Peter is now is danger of becoming the enemy he despises.  Peter is in danger of literally losing himself in the world of cool, detached Observers.  

The question is what price will have to be paid in the remaining episodes to save Peter and the world.


Lccf said...

Great review.
I agree that the fact that all videotapes aren't about saving the world ( but it may save Peter's soul ! ) was fantastic. I didn't enjoy the previous episode that much, but I found this one wonderfully written and acted.
And I guess the price to pay might be tragically high.

Unknown said...

This was a great review! I thought this episode was amazing, and it explains so much about the show! I am so excited to see what happens with Peter after he put that thing in his neck. I am happy that my Hopper from DISH automatically records the primetime shows on the four major networks with the PrimeTime Anytime feature. I was working my shift at DISH and couldn’t watch the episode live, so I watched it when I got home. I was so excited to see Olivia show some true feelings, because I feel like she never does. This season has been such a good season and I cannot wait to see what happens next with Peter.

Mariló García said...

Observers versus ants, humans.
Peter = Jeff Goldblum Cronenberg's The Fly
Graffiti Lake
BlueBell Soap = William Bell

Zepp said...

Thanks for this its great and consistent review of episode 5.05, Old Darth. This episode was really dense, with lots of tension in the air, and as it could not be, it was very, very emotional, no doubt. It seemed as if it were a portrait of indignation of a father who lost his daughter, who just met. The father Peter, simply brushed aside all questions of humanitarian ethics, and surpassed definitely a fine line of respect for another being, who was the Observer nameless, that under its custody, arrested. But on the other hand, I have not the slightest courage, or reason, to convict him of those attitudes that he took. Peter is with all the emotional charge that has been adding up since that his encounter with Olivia, at that hotel lobby in Baghdad. Peter is still the same guy, without any alt-Peter or something like that. He has not changed; it remained, somehow, as the same Peter, watching, before your eyes, things change drastically in the world, with people, feelings and memories of these people, the time, the political and human generations and changes systematically in the dimensional universes. I repeat: everything changed before his eyes, as if it like a movie, and he continued the same Peter of Baghdad. That very strong scene in which he pulls mercilessly the data battery of the Observer nameless, and puts it in his own brain, in a manner, or in the style of "self-lobotomy" Walter, shows us, coldly, that point that came out of this emotional Peter. No doubt, now Peter exploded emotionally.

If the Observer nameless said? "Do you even know what you do not know." I would say that Peter, even though you can not know something, or have or not have a position to know something, he, Peter, is for now, "OR ALL OR NOTHING." I see that Peter, somehow, self-sacrificed themselves violated in their own essence, to put that battery data, that Observer prisoner inside his own head, and the consequences of that, I have no idea. What I'm sure, is that now, after all this time nearly five years since that meeting in Baghdad, Peter is truly another person, from now on, I guess.

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