Happy third-to-last Fringe Friday, everyone! I have returned from holiday hiatus with the recap of the December 21 episode of Fringe, Anomaly XB blah blah blah. Like anyone is supposed to remember that number. Anyway, it was an epic, crazy, sad, intense hour of television and we actually got…wait for it…answers! They weren’t super specific, but they were provocative and tantalizing. We also lost a highly beloved member of our Fringe family, which I was sad to see go but felt it was a good death for the cause. Read on for the insanity!
The first order of business is to pour one out for Nina Sharp, badass and HBIC (head bitch in charge), who loved our team and fought for their cause so staunchly that she took her own life to protect them and the Child Observer, Michael. I have always enjoyed Nina, and Blair Brown’s portrayal of her has been mysterious and masterful over these five seasons. She both helped and hindered the Fringe division over the years, and was always more on their side than not (except when her evil twin was holding Olivia hostage). She loved William Bell and he left her with his most prized secrets. We were initially not sure if we could trust Nina, but in this last season she’s been a touchstone of twenty years gone by, and a link to the old spirit of Fringe in this unfamiliar landscape of 2036. We’ll get to the circumstances around her death momentarily, but respect had to be paid. I’ll miss ya, Nina, and I’m glad you died a noble death. I definitely shed a tear for her during the episode, and her death stuck with me for a few days, which is the norm for me personally when one of my favorite shows offs an excellent character I enjoy.
What brought us there? Tiny Observer, of course! Michael was having a hard time communicating with the Fringe team. They tried to have him write down his thoughts, with Olivia has his emotional compass. Fail. Walter, moving ever-closer to his prideful agitated self, suggested putting him in a coma, which Olivia and Peter squashed. Dude, if I were that kid I’d be outta there if I heard these weirdoes suggesting comas! Thankfully, they hit up Nina Sharp and her ever-accessible Massive D tech. She directed them to a black lab hidden on the outskirts of town that would have the equipment they needed. The lab was pretty cool! Where was this thing hiding all season? Sheesh.
Turns out the Resistance was experimenting on Observers and Nina was in on it. Glad to see people were really fighting back before the team got unambered. They tried hooking Michael up to a machine (after hiding the dead Observers that were hanging out in tanks), but the machine was too slow to interpret the speed at which Michael was processing information. Nina stayed behind at the black lab while Peter, Walter, and Olivia went to get another cognitive interpretation device. Did I mention that Nina told a scientist that the Fringe team was coming to get it? Yeah…about that…
Windmark was on to Nina, sadly. After she got the clandestine call from Olivia that they needed help, she talked briefly on her phone before leaving the office for the day. However, the sound waves from her voice was etched briefly on the glass, and the Observers and Windmark heard snippets of it via some other gadgetry (which I found pretty cool, honestly). They heard ‘child Observer’ and gave us a little backstory on Michael, who they dubbed Anomaly XB-etc. He was apparently a mistake, and needed to be eradicated.
They took Nina’s associates in for interrogation and mind reading one by one to determine her whereabouts and what she was trying to do. Just as Walter, Peter, and Olivia were digging around the warehouse for the additional needed tech, they saw Windmark in the interrogation room. Olivia alerted Nina in a cell phone call that ultimately gave away her location to the Observers – they spotted her phone tracker signal on the grid and Apparated to the black lab. Nina was shaken but determined after Olivia told her they were coming. She told Michael to come with her, and before he did, he placed his had on her face, imparting his wisdom and most likely assuring her how important he and the plan is.
By the time Windmark busted in, she was calmly waiting for him. Then, she proceeded to rip him a new asshole. We knew at this point that her end was nigh, we just didn’t know how it was going down. She called him a lizard, and told him that in all their experimentation on the Observers, she discovered that their brains were actually closer to prehistoric brains (no ability to love!) and were overdeveloping brain areas that normal humans had discarded a long time ago. Windmark was the animal, not humans. Pretty awesome info, and the delivery was impeccable. Again, Blair Brown = awesome.
Windmark & cronies could not find Michael in the lab, and Nina wasn’t going to give up the goods. She grabbed a Loyalist’s gun and shot herself in the head. It was utterly upsetting but extremely effective. Windmark lost his source of information, Nina preserved her mind from torture, and she died to save her team and her surrogate daughter, Olivia.
Peter, Walter, and Olivia had rushed back to the black lab, but they were of course too late. All were sickened, horrified, and deeply grieved over yet another loss. I felt the worst for Olivia in this scene. She had thanked Nina at the start of this episode for all she had done, at great risk to her own personal safety. I turned to my husband and said, jokingly, that Olivia was being warm and fuzzy, which so rarely happen that Nina must be destined to kick the bucket. I was surprised to be right! And also sad. No one should have to watch that, but Peter rewound the security footage and did just that. After all, they needed to know where Michael was. Turns out he was hiding under a dead Observer – gross.
Reluctantly, everyone still with us returned to Astrid and the lab (she had nothing to do in this episode, unfortunately in keeping with the norm). Walter and Michael donned their brain-connecting cognitive devices and Walter got some images at last. Then, Walter asked him if he knew why Walter needed him for the plan. In reply, Michael took off the device and walked across the room, touching Walter’s cheek as he had with Nina. This time we got to see what Walter was seeing – a rush of images from our Fringe past – September pulling Walter and Peter out of Reiden Lake. September saying “the boy is important. He has to live.” Olivia recruiting Walter out of St. Claire’s to join Fringe Division. Bell cutting out Walter’s evil brain bits. Peter and Walter saving September on the table in the lab. Then we saw Walter getting a kiss on the cheek from Etta and crying over her death. The main theory here is that Walter’s memory has now been completely restored from both the Peter timeline of the first three seasons and the rebooted Peterless timeline – now Walter knows it all, just as Peter does. Michael healed Walter’s brain, and then gave him back a ‘new’ memory – Donald! Who is Donald??? I have been asking it all season, and we finally found out that Donald is September! Michael gives Walter a flash of a not-bald, not-Observery September who looks like a normal, middle-aged human man living in a nice suburban house. Walter told the team – “I know who Donald is – Donald is September.”
OMFG YOU GUYS. DONALD IS SEPTEMBER.
My thoughts: This is awesome! I am so impressed with Fringe right now, even if this episode was 40 minutes of messing about and 20 minutes of actual revelation. I forgive, because the last two scenes were amazeballs! First Nina, then this! Well done, writers. In case you fail to see the significance of what Michael did, it appears he fixed Walter’s mind, and that was part of the Plan. He also showed that Observers don’t have to stay evil and Observer-y. They can become happy humans with hair once again, like September did! He chose the path of love and light, instead of calculation and domination. And perhaps Walter helped him get there? Time to figure it out! The path of the last three episodes is laid before us. Our Observer overlords are going down, but it will hopefully not be in a fireball of destruction, but in a mass conversion to their human selves. Except for Windmark. He can effing die.
Episode Rating: I thought about this one. I think it’s gotta be 9 out of 10 Red Vines, even though the beginning was slow. I love Nina tons, and I love September more!
Glyph Code: SENSE. As in, it all makes sense now! Haha love it.
Only three hours and two nights of Fringe left! I cannot cope. Off to stalk ringbearer to Mordor.