In this week's episode of Fringe, "The Human Kind", Peter attempts to take on Windmark head-on, while Olivia fulfills a legend by obtaining another piece of Walter's puzzle.
As Peter's personal battle against the Observers continues, Windmark begins to use Peter's new abilities against him, forcing him into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. In an attempt to learn more about what Peter has implanted in himself, Walter and Astrid begin to investigate how the human brain is affected by the Observer's technology. Meanwhile, Olivia searches for the next piece in Walter's plan, taking her to a rundown building where its inhabitants have been waiting for years for her for to come. However, when a local soothsayer begins to speak of the future (and past), Olivia decides that Peter must return to normal, no matter what the cost.
Like most of the episodes in Fringe season 5, "The Human Kind" contains within it another fetch-quest of sorts, helping to slowly advance the overall plot with the acquisition of another piece to Walter's mysterious plans. However, what's also included is an enjoyable and compelling character story which serves to elevate the series overall, regardless of what the overall story-arc may be.
With only a few episodes left before the final episode of Fringe, the Observer storyline is essentially a "take it or leave it" aspect of the series' final year. As of now, fans of the show will have already recognized that there there is no clear narrative, other than "defeat them," that's driving this season. Of the four years spent investigating fringe events, the Observers were only recently established as being some form a parasitic element of a future gone awry, so their new-found attack on humanity and generally talkative nature aren't the strongest storylines to create a tale worthy of so many episodic treasure hunts. Still, even this has become a moot point.
What this season of Fringe has done, however, is attempted to replace any lack of strong story foundation with a string of intriguing character moments. This is arguably not the most ideal way to tell a story but, at this point, you can't really change the past. To Fringe's credit, these character moments, which were initially few and far between, and are now more common, are generally successful in their execution, providing audiences with numerous strong and satisfying tales to accompany whatever the sought-after item of the week is.
In this week's episode, the breadth of Peter's new abilities are explored, revealing all of the dangers that come with being transformed in to an Observer and what, exactly, can be done to prevent him from changing permanently. Even though audiences were already aware of the negative impact the Observer device has on Peter, taking an entire episode to explore this element, using the entirety of the cast, served to satisfy many of the questions that this plotline created. And considering the swiftness in which this storyline was wrapped-up, it's a good thing that they did.
The ease by which Peter's Observer "issues" were wrapped up in this episode are, arguably, the weakest and most awkward aspect of this story-arc, leaving many viewers to wonder what was the actual point of implementing a major plot twist for merely a few episodes, only to pull it as the seasonal objective is about to be completed. Of course, it's extremely likely that this storyline will return, along with Peter's transformation. Even so, perhaps a slower reveal of Peter's transformation would have been more appropriate than simply pausing to return to it later.
Fortunately, it's difficult to challenge Fringe when science storylines are on the table, and this episode was certainly all science (with a bit of a emotion – and only 1 psychic).
Fringe airs Friday @9pm on Fox