Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Observation

Fringe - "August"

A puzzling abduction case leads the Fringe team to...The Observer?

A great episode, revealing more details about the mysterious Observer, the hairless man who dresses like Mad Men's Don Draper at a funeral. For one thing there is more than one Observer! In fact we see four in this one episode. (I liked how the senior Observer had the light gray suit, in contrast to the junior members' darker gray suits.)

Dipping a toe into Final Destination territory, the abducted girl Christine (Jennifer Missoni) was scheduled to fly to Italy on a plane that blew up after take off. This new Observer (Peter Woodward) has messed with the natural flow of things.

I like that the Fringe team is quickly swallowing these incredible, even outlandish, concepts instead of doing the slow to the fact, skeptical thing that Scully did on The X-Files for far, far too long. Case in point: Peter (Joshua Jackson) reiterates to Olivia (Anna Torv) that the Observers not only perceive time differently than we do they EXPERIENCE it differently, as in non-linear (all at once), neither bats an eye. The Massive Dynamic scientist (a goofy young guy) they consulted with that brought forth that theory was a hoot. Bring him back, please.

Olivia and Ella (Lily Pilblad) her cute as a button niece have some nice family moments in this episode. I loved that Olivia - the tough FBI agent who has crossed parellel universes - is afraid of roller coasters. It makes the character more human (even if she turns out to be superhuman when all is said and done). Meanwhile, Walter (John Noble) starts the story bummed that his favorite strawberry ice cream has been discontinued, but the appearance of the Observers quickly snaps him back to reality. Walter fears they've come to take Peter away.

We witness some new Observers details. We already knew of their love for hot sauces (hotter the better), now we see they write down their observations in a plain notebook in a very strange code, one that team linguist Astrid finds most frustrating because it's like no language ever made. The Observers can pull a Clark Kent and catch a bullet in their bear hands. They also have a hand gun that seems to shoot a force blast instead of bullets. They are supposed to observe, but they have interfered when the proper flow of things was in danger. And the Observers hire unassuming assassins, like Donald (Paul Rae), to do whack jobs.

This episode's denoument was incredibly touching. (SPOILER) As this new Observer (Peter Woodward, yes, The Equalizer's son!) lay dying in the back seat of a car he revealed to his collegue, basically, that his heart was touched by this girl nearly

was so touched by watching over a little girl all these years that as she grew, he grew to love her. The regular Observer's (Michael Cerveris) realization that the girl is important, and will not be harmed, because she was responsible for the death of one of them nearly brought a tear to my eye.

If it hasn't been said before someone on the Fringe writing team must be a huge comic book fan as the Observer and his/their credo to never interfere harkens back to the Marvel Comics character of Uatu the Watcher, who first appeared in a 1963 issue of The Fantastic Four. Compared to the Watcher's usual toga and sandals, the Observers are the snappier dressers.

This show is firing on all cylinders. I can't wait to see what comes next, though I'm sure the Observers will be there, scoping things out with their retro tech, putting lots of hot sauce on food and watching, never interfering.

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