In the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of Fringe, Peter seeks out a way to return home as the Fringe team investigates a killer who uses pheromones to pursue his victims. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.
I’m at a point where I simply cannot believe how a show can be so consistently good. Where’s the shitty, disappointing episode? Where’s the one story where I go, “Well, that was meh. On to next week!”? IT’S NOT HAPPENING. Also, so much has happened in these last three episodes of the show that I can’t even begin to comprehend where we will be for the season finale. This is some season finale shit we are witnessing. The answer to the Observers? A callback to “The Arrival” in season one? THAT THING SEPTEMBER TELLS PETER THAT I WILL FREAK OUT ABOUT IN A SECOND? I can barely cope with this show. JUST WHAT.
As the title claims, this is a story of love, and how it affects three parties. I don’t know that the story of Anson Carr integrates all that well into the episode, but I think that’s mainly because he’s grossly overshadowed by Peter’s and Olivia’s plots. I mean, how to you introduce a murder and set them against those two? I think that ultimately, while there was an attempt to get us to feel sorry for Anson, I couldn’t connect with him. The dude murdered women because he was heartbroken. I can’t feel sympathy for that. But perhaps we weren’t really supposed to. In a way, I feel like Anson Carr’s case really only exists to provide a catalyst for Olivia. It’s through Olivia’s investigation of the murders that she not only comes to a conclusion about what to do about the memories returning to her, but works out her feelings for Peter.
I am just so utterly conflicted by Nina Sharp. She’s in both scenes where Olivia vocalizes her concerns with her memories, and as sweet as she is, I can’t ignore that she’s done terrible things to Olivia. What for? I still don’t understand why David Robert Jones has anything to do with this, and it is frustrating me all of the time. I can’t figure this out! Still, there’s a power in these scenes I can’t ignore. Nina is obviously concerned by what’s happening to Olivia. She’s pretty much becoming the version of Olivia from Peter’s world, and that process means all of her memories from this world will be overwritten. Over the course of the story, she works with Walter to determine what exactly is happening to her, and if she might be able to stop it. Everything was a bit of a mess after “The End of All Things,” though, because Olivia had to have been worrying about what to do without Peter around. You can see the heartbreak in her face when she learns that Peter was going to New York City. My heart.
Here’s the thing, though. I love what this show is doing with its characters, and I have a lot of joy for how much you can tell the writers inherently care for this cast. Olivia is such a rich character, and I’ve been writing for the last year about how much I can relate to what is happening to her and what has happened to her. Her entire character arc has been one of inadequacy and unhappiness. No matter how hard she’s tried, she just couldn’t feel satisfied with her life. It’s not until she begins a relationship with Peter that things begin to feel whole. The brilliance, then, in “A Short Story About Love,” is not that the writers are saying Olivia needs Peter to be happy. When she has that last conversation with Nina, she makes a choice: she is giving up a life of memories that have left her feeling alone and sad in order to have ones where she was happy. This means she’d have to sacrifice all of her moments with Nina.
Why is this good? Because the writers respect the fact that this is Olivia’s choice. She has agency. She has the willpower to choose whatever it is she wants, and then they have Nina support her. I don’t even understand Nina’s motivations at this point, but Olivia is not shamed for choosing a life that makes her happy. She loves Peter, and that makes her feel like life is worth living. It’s such a life-affirming message, and it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel forced or ridiculous. It is goddamn beautiful.
Well, it’s also heartbreaking because guess who is sort of left behind in all of this? Lincoln. When Olivia shouts, “Do you know how many people you hurt?” to Anson Carr, she has no idea that this applies to Lincoln, who was falling for his Olivia, and she’s now turning into Peter’s version of her. Yeah, so, this is really painful to watch because I LOVE LINCOLN. Still, I can’t deny that this is REALLY GOOD STORYTELLING.
It’s only made better by Peter’s journey throughout “A Short Story About Love.” He made the decision to leave Boston because he respects Olivia, and he hates that his actions might be harming her. It’s a remarkably mature decision, even if it’s not what’s actually going on. As Walter had shown him, it wasn’t really fair if Peter was indeed forcing his memories of Olivia onto her. But the events in this episode completely alter what we’ve assumed has been happening over the course of season four. After the reveal of what the Observers are, I didn’t think there’d be much more to explore about them that could shock me. How dearly wrong I was. Peter is in September’s apartment! There are those weird binoculars! What is that GPS thing? HOLY SHIT IT’S THE POD FROM THE FIRST SEASON ;asdifj a;as s;ak asdf;lk afd;lk adfifud DSlk;f asdf;lkadfjs
What’s so great about this story is that while September’s interference in the events of Peter and Walter’s life has shaped the plot of the show, it doesn’t define it. This is not a show about time travel or fixed points in history. It’s at the end of this episode that we truly get to see what this has always been about: love. We’ve seen the Fringe team grow so close over all these years. We’ve learned what Walter did out of love for his son. We’ve seen the lengths Peter went to get Olivia back. All of this was done out of love. And it was this very love that created everything we’ve seen in season four. This is not an alternate timeline. This was the same world we’d always known. This is Peter’s timeline. This is our Olivia, and our Walter, and our Astrid. These are the people that brought Peter back into existence because no matter what the Observers did, they could not erase him.
I am just absolutely ecstatic about where this show is heading. This was a brilliant, touching, and incredibly emotional hour of this show, and it’s defined where it needs to end for me to feel satisfied. Not that I’m not pleased right now! I am deeply in love with Fringe, and it is such a pleasure to see this every week.
Only seven more to go this season. OH GOD.
Mark Links Stuff
– My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at MarkDoesStuff.com. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Firefly books are priced from $2.99 to $3.99 a piece, and are available in ePub (iBook, iPod, iPad, Nook), Kindle, and PDF files.
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– I am going on tour in April and May across the western half of North America! Please check this post for tour dates and to see which cities I still need help finding venues in. You can RSVP for any date by clicking on the city name and using the Facebook page for it, or you can just leave a comment! If you have access to a venue, know of a good book store or coffee shop that hosts events, or would be willing to host an event at your house or work (I DON’T CARE WHERE, I WILL SHOW UP), please comment on that post to let me know. I can also be reached at markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com.
– I am presenting for three days at Ascendio 2012! Come hang out and have the best weekend ever in July!
– Liveblogs for Game of Thrones season 2 start on April 1st. For the time being, there will be no proper reviews, just liveblogs.
– Since Legend of Korra has now been released, I’ll review the first two episodes over the course of the next week or two; once the show starts back up again, we’ll do weekly liveblogs and I’ll have reviews of it up on Sunday.
– Mark Watches The Lord of the Rings films starts on March 31st. Each consecutive Saturday, I’ll watch the three LOTR films in order and host a liveblog; I’ll post a loose review of them on Sunday morning!
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