'Making Angels' shines the spotlight on Agent Farnsworth as Fringe Division hunts an all-knowing wannabe savior with mommy issues


S4 E11
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February 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM EST

Aspirin. Astrix. Astro. Astrid. Call her anything you want, Walter, just as long as you call her awesome, too. “Making Angels” had me the moment Agent Farnsworth walked into the Harvard lab and screamed at the unexpected presence of her “over there” doppelganger, who had made a surprise, unsanctioned trip across the Bridge to pursue a personal, poignant mission. (“I always wondered why nobody does that,” Olivia quipped in response to Astrid’s panicked yelp.) Jasika Nicole rocked the long-overdue showcase that was written for Astrid, and the entire cast rose to the challenge of a touching, rib-tickling script that had great fun with the relationships between characters. I got so lost in the interplay that I completely forgot that we were in Rebootlandia…

Which itself was provocative. Have I come to fully accept and invest in the new dramatic paradigm? Has the new time line so successfully become my new orientation that I don’t even think about it? Or does it speak to the failure of the gambit –- to how inconsequential it is to the storytelling — that I can so easily look past it and enjoy these people as if all of them were the same people they’ve always been? I am confused in my own mind on the matter – but not so baffled that I can’t recognize that my conflicted dissonance was reflected back to me in the episode. “Making Angels” found the scrambled egghead wrestling anew with Peter’s disconcerting presence, and I wondered if alterna-time line “over there” Astrid was actually addressing fans frustrated with the current state of things when she tried to convince him to pull a Dr. Strangelove and stop worrying and learn to love this bombshell. “Wouldn’t it be preferable for you to choose to believe that he was your son…and not be angry?” My brain understands the reasoning. My heart wants to reject it. The whole of me is unsure of its wisdom. Fascinating.

I was equally engaged by the freak of the week. The strange case of Neil the Self-Appointed Savior –- a wannabe guardian angel trying to earn his wings by clipping short the lives of doomed individuals — was compelling and a clever way to provide insight into the Observers without actually telling a story about one of them.  We came to know Neil by degrees, and initially, by his victims. First: Chet Williams, a man with a small malignant mole on his hand and feeling rather gloomy about it, despite being told he had a 95 percent chance at survival. Drawing upon omniscient knowledge no ordinary human should possess, Neil told Chet him that he was going to die, slowly and painfully. “You’re the other 5 percent,” Neil announced with Observer-like detachment and a voice that came thisclose to sounding like the Anonymous guy. (Just add a shot of digital distortion and you’re there.) He left Chet to die in a bus shelter advertising vacations in a tropical paradise –- possibly an oblique Lost reference, and not the only one in the episode.

Next, the morbid fortuneteller cornered an alcoholic named Carrie Watson and informed her that try as she might, she was never going to beat her addiction. It was going to kill her, Neil said. And he told Carrie that before she died, she would do great harm to those she loved. Her boyfriend was going to die from her drunk driving. Her brother was going to alienate his wife in his obsessive bid to save her. Carrie scoffed. She refused to believe her fate was set in stone. And Neil agreed: “There is no future. There is no past. Everything happens. Right now.” And then he took her life the same way he killed Chet: By spraying a toxin that couldn’t possibly exist –- at least, not yet –- and which caused victims to cry blood before expiring. Walter said that the effects of the poison reminded him of “a legendary alchemical mixture” known as the Tears of Ra. “Egyptians used it to euthanize beloved pets so they could be buried with their owners who pre-deceased them,” the scientist and armchair mythologist explained.

NEXT: Bees and Lost references.

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Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble star in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi drama
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