Ever since Peter injected an Observer device into himself, Fringe fans have been wondering when, not if, he will begin to be negatively transformed by their future technology. In this week's episode, "Five-Twenty-Ten", Peter's potential future is revealed when the repercussions of his decision begin to drastically change him forever – and perhaps permanently.
After taking a few weeks off to mourn the loss of Etta, the Fringe team is ready for the first successful offensive attack on the Observers. Well, at least Peter is (unbeknownst to anyone else). Walter, Astrid and Olivia, meanwhile, are busy collecting the pieces needed for their anti-Observer device, which takes them back to William Bell's vault, where he has kept the important pieces safe underground. As Walter's plan begins to come together, Peter's lone mission and "Observer" upgrades come to light after he begins to transform into an Observer himself.
The story, although returning Fringe to familiar settings from the past - and thus, strengthening the connection to previous seasons - is largely focused on Peter transitioning into his new Observer abilities. This is not completely dissimilar to what has been shown since Peter initially implanted the device; it just lends the issue more actual screen time. After all, secrets can only remain as such for a limited period of time on television. And this is a secret that's just waiting to be revealed.
At least that's what one could deduce from this week's episode. What initially started as Peter gaining strength and speed has now developed into him having precognitive abilities and being able to track Observers by their future actions. A welcome advantage for the Fringe team, no doubt, but one that continues to heed a similar warning: "At what cost?"
Fortunately (or unfortunately), that cost took but a mere two weeks to reveal itself – and awkwardly at that. Peter's subtle changes following his implant of the Observer device, which always walked the fine line of revealing too much, became completely unhinged in this week's episode, turning whatever subtle nuanced performances the actor, Joshua Jackson, had planned for the character's transformation into unpleasant mimicry of a robot… or Observer.
There's an enjoyable duality in this week's episode, where Walter, Astrid and Olivia continue to progress the proverbial seasonal storyline, while Peter is able to side-step some of the "fetch quests" in order to pursue his own plan for bringing down the Observers. What's unfortunate is that if none of Peter's awkwardly robotic actions were added into this episode, it would have helped to better develop the overall story, allowing audiences to care more about what's going on, instead of who "things" are happening to.
Admittedly, the return to William Bell's vault and a brief appearance by Nina Sharp were enjoyable highlights. However, if one looks too closely at where Fringe currently stands when compared to previous seasons, the constant reminders of past characters and events begins to eat away at what minimal storyline Fringe season 5 is currently working with, leaving fans wondering whether or not the show should have ended in season 4. But it didn't – and rightfully so.
Despite a few missteps here and there, the core characters that make up Fringe - Walter, Peter, Olivia and Astrid - are all still enjoyable to watch onscreen, and Peter's transformation into an Observer should be interesting to watch, if for no other reason than to see Walter's reaction. As Peter continues to throw himself in the line of fire to save the world (or universe), Walter must continuously deal with the loss of a son who shouldn't exist in the first place. But as Peter slowly begins to change into something else entirely, Walter's ability to once again save his son begins to look impossible. Can Walter finally do what he couldn't all those years back, and let go of Peter?
Fringe returns in three weeks with "The Human Kind" @9pm on Fox. You can check out a preview of the next episode, below:
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