Second: The episode made poor use of David Robert Jones. He’s a great character (played by a great actor). I want to see him in stories worthy of his presence. This story didn’t need him. One of his subordinates could have executed (Fake) Nina’s (fake) torture. Actually, I would have rather seen a new baddie – a third sinister spoke for the Jones/Sharp axis of evil. Indeed, if the episode kept us wondering about the identity and motivations of the fiend that had abducted Olivia and Nina, it may have cultivated more suspense for the which-Nina-was-which? gambit.
Third: The case-of-the-week storytelling of the past few episodes has been so strong. Getting a pure “mythology” episode – and especially a weak one – doubled my disappointment.
Question: Forget “good Nina” and “bad Nina.” What if the two Ninas are actually in cahoots with each other? And was it just me, or did tortured-haggard (Fake) Nina bare an uncanny resemblance to Emperor Palpatine circa The Return of The Jedi?
I enjoyed better the Peter parts of “The End Of All Things.” His story began with Agent Lincoln Lee jumping all over him the way Walter did last week for continuing to cavort with Olivia in light of evidence that his presence was causing her internal destabilization. Lee shared Walter’s view that alt-timeline refugee Peter – so desperate to be reunited with “his” Olivia – was psychically projecting “his” Olivia onto “their” Olivia via the odd empathic rapport they share, wrongly destroying “their” Olivia in the process. Last week, Peter became convinced that whatever was happening to Olivia, she was truly becoming “his” Olivia. The purpose of this week’s story was get him second-guessing that conviction or at least the “happy ending” implications of that theory.
The investigation into Olivia’s dosing and disappearance led Peter and Lincoln to the discovery of a surveillance camera hidden inside the smoke detector within Olivia’s apartment. Peter theorized that the memory card may contain some valuable clues. As Peter pursued his idea in the lab, we got what I thought was an oddly staged discussion between Astrid and Walter about what Peter was trying to accomplish. It began when Astrid asked Walter to define the word “palimpsest.” Walter: “A manuscript page from a scroll or a book, where the text has been scraped off. Which means it can be used again.” Astrid: “Like when you record over an old VHS or cassette?” Walter: “Precisely. And what was underneath bleeds through.” (By the way: Walter’s definition can be found almost word-for-word in the Wikipedia entry for “palimpsest.”) Basically, I think what Fringe was doing here was giving viewers a metaphor for the reboot – and possibly a clue to the endgame of this storyline. To wit: A new version of history was recorded over the original version of history; the older version of history can be accessed and brought to the surface using the right tools and techniques, which – I suspect – will be the Peter-programmed, Olivia-powered
doomsday machine salvation machine magical electromagnetic waffle iron. Regardless, what bothered me about Walter’s bleeding palimpsest blah blah blah was that he himself did not recognize and verbalize the same plain-as-day metaphorical significance that I saw (we saw?) at home. This man is supposed to be smarter than me and crazier than me. He should be seeing and saying this s—t!
The path to Olivia’s rescue then detoured through The Observer, who suddenly materialized inside the Harvard lab while Peter was fiddling with the chip. September was something of a bleeding palimpsest himself, as the marvelous if humanity-challenged recorder was injured and bloodied, just as he had been injured and bloodied when he appeared to Olivia in “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” and warned her that she was destined to die. Before he could volunteer any further info, September passed out and slipped into a coma; he was dying. Peter speculated they could cull intel from The Observer’s brain by pulling out the old mind meld tech. He jacked into September’s skull and found himself inside a space that resembled a skyscraper’s observation deck (clever) – except that the vistas that could be seen were moments in time. To start: The creation of the universe itself. Then September showed up and at long last told us some stuff about himself and his kind. The Observers come from the future – or rather, a possible future — and represent some next gen iteration of humanity. (So much for hair, taste buds, and emotions.) He belongs to a group of scientists who explore history using time travel tech. I wasn’t blown away by September’s dish. The details didn’t feel revelatory; they weren’t anything we hadn’t assumed or theorized. Which was fine. My bigger issue: I suddenly realized while listening to The Observer talk that somewhere along the way over the past three-plus seasons, I had lost my burning need to know his bio. The more he remained a mysterious entity, the more I had become content with him always remaining a mysterious entity. He’s just cooler that way. If you feel differently: We will have to agree to disagree.
NEXT: The Ghost Of Timelines’ Past