Mark Watches ‘Fringe’: S05E01 – Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

In the first episode of the fifth season of Fringe, OH MY GOD I AM SO EXCITED TO BE REVIEWING THIS SHOW AGAIN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.

I’m sorry it took me months to get to this, but such is life. I’ve been so swamped with manuscripts, editing, and a billion commissions that all seemed to come at once that I just couldn’t find the time for Fringe. This is a travesty, but I’m just so happy that I now get to binge all these episodes in a row. AND THEN I CAN ACTUALLY JOIN IN ON THE LIVEBLOGS WON’T THAT BE THE DAY.

Because I’ve got eight of these and four Doctor Who episodes to get through in just three days, I’m going to largely stick to a list-y format because it’s generally the most efficient way for me to write a lot without having to spend loads of time organizing my thoughts. (Which got me thinking: I am basically writing fifteen essays a week. My god, if I went back to school right now, I would kill it. Right??? I remember when writing 2,000 words was terrifying, and now I’m writing like 25,000 A WEEK. Oh my god!)

So, let’s talk about “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11.”

  • God, y’all, I missed this show so much, and as I saw Olivia and Peter on the screen, I knew that it was an international crime that this show wasn’t in my life for so long. Truthfully, there’s no science fiction show on television anything like Fringe, and this premiere is evidence of that. Who sticks an entire season in the distant future like this? The geniuses behind this show, that’s who.
  • This episode works so well after “Letters of Transit” because it continues in its brilliant world-building. This time, though, we’re given a much more complete view of what the world is like once the Observers have taken over.
  • I know it’s a common thing for me to flail over people’s faces, but I just have a thing for really good face acting! And the nightmare Peter has is a great way to show us how great Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson are at conveying emotions through their faces.
  • Mostly, I just wanted the chance to say that I missed Anna Torv’s face, and I also need to say that Olivia will always be one of my favorite characters ever.
  • Then, I was super happy to see Jasika Nicole on the screen, and I loved Astrid’s fury that her word wasn’t valid in that game she was playing.
  • God, what have the Observers done to the world??? Columbus Circle is a remnant of what it once was, and Central Park is nothing more than a carbon monoxide production facility. How terrifying is that? The Observers are so certain of their stay on this planet that they’re changing the physical make-up of it to better accommodate their biology.
  • But that’s related to just how unsettling these beings are. They aren’t invincible, but they’re so powerful that it frightens my soul.
  • Bless you, September, for what you’ve done to try and save the world. When I started watching Fringe, I never thought we’d get to a point where the Observers would be the main antagonist force, but I did think that September wasn’t ever going to be an enemy. That was pretty much confirmed when he saved Peter and Walter that night from the lake. God, his character development is great, isn’t it?
  • Not cool with the use of the word “gypsies,” especially since it’s used here to refer to people who are thieves involved with a black market. Like, wow, you’re not even trying not to be offensive.
  • Walnuts as currency! Go figure!
  • HOLY SHIT, IT’S MARKHAM. And surprise, he’s projected his super creepy fantasies on Olivia.
  • I didn’t expect the team to find Olivia so quickly, so everything after this moment was a total surprise to me, made even worse when the dealer ratted out Peter and Astrid, revealing his Loyalist ties. But it was that out-of-thin-air appearance of the second Observer that totally blew my mind. I knew that Observers could do that, but in that moment, the real terror set in. The Observers were in control, and that meant that there was no longer any chance of escape in any traditional terms. There can’t be a traditional chase scene because you can’t outrun a creature who can appear anywhere in physical space and time whenever they choose it. Here’s the best part: IT IS NOT THE SCARIEST THING THE OBSERVERS CAN DO. Oh god, I was so unprepared.
  • Can we please give Anna Torv an award of some sort? That scene where she’s released from the Amber and sees her daughter for the first time in twenty-one years is incredible. She is such a terribly underrated actress! My god.
  • I don’t know if this is a plot point or just a nonsensical detail, but how come there’s a time discrepancy between when Olivia and Etta last saw one another? Why do they remember this differently? I’m sure it’s nothing, but it seemed strange to me.
  • The Observer cerebral scans are, bar none, one of the most unsettling things this show has ever featured. Many, many, many props to John Noble, who does some unbelievable acting on a physical scale. He totally sells what’s happening to him, so much so that it looks like it’s actually hurting him. The sound editing here is fantastic, too, and I think it was clever to broadcast Walter’s thoughts in this specific way to give the scene realism.
  • Virtually no music in 2036? No, thank you. But did anyone else view that moment as this beautiful little revolution on Walter’s part? Music is integral to understanding the man’s personality, so to me, it was Walter asserting the wrongness of the Observer’s existence.
  • Oh god, WHERE IS BROYLES I miss him.
  • It’s fascinating to me that we get pieces of the past, right before the team were stuck in the Amber, because they’re still technically part of the future. I think it’s important to know that Peter and Olivia were separated at some point, Peter looking for Henrietta while Olivia fought with the resistance force. Their grief wasn’t shared in an intimate way, and now it’s weird for them to be together in this time period. They failed at saving the world, but now they’re being given a second chance.
  • It’s agonizing to have the discovery of the Transilience Thought Unifier be contrasted with the Observer’s own discovery that Walter’s mind has been “partitioned” by September. While I held out a sliver of hope that the group would be able to pull off a successful rescue mission, I knew that this couldn’t end well. The Observer was purposely making Walter suffer for his silence, and I knew that this could permanently damage his brain if the Observer wanted this.
  • NOOOOO, DON’T THINK OF ETTA, WALTER. DON’T DO IT.
  • So, I’m curious to know how the mind scans work, and I’m hoping this wasn’t explained in “Letters of Transit” and I just forgot. It’s entirely possible.  What I want to know is if it’s dangerous for humans to walk around with Observers. Do they always have their minds tuned in to human thought, or is it a manual process? The only reason I ask this is because it seems they don’t recognize their building has been breeched until it’s too late.
  • What’s so heartbreaking about Walter’s loss of his thoughts/the plans is the fact that it echoes back to problems he’s had over the course of the show. Walter is a genius, but he’s always had issues with how he perceives himself and what usefulness he possesses. And here, the Observer appears to have wiped his brain of the partition, and the information September gave him is now gone. Walter is taken back to what I imagine are multiple moments we’ve seen in past seasons, and it destroys him. If he’s the key to saving the world, what is he supposed to do now?
  • Which is why I find the final scene of this episode to be remarkably powerful. Walter had earlier told the Observer that music “helps you shift perspective, to see things differently if you need to.” And while I may have to wait to see how Walter’s perspective was shifted in regards to saving the world, I can see that just the mere act of listening to music has given him an appreciation for something he’s missed.

I’m so glad this show is back. Onwards I go!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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