Episode 8: The Human Kind
By: Carlos Uribe
Fringe is a show about a small team of people who are trying to save our world from the Observers.
When Peter put the Observer technology inside his brain, it started to immediately change him. It was subtle at first but he started to act less and less human. He was allowing his logical side to overwhelm him in his quest for revenge. It should have been pretty obvious to any viewer that the technology was causing him to lose his humanity. Walter proves that this episode when he runs a test on a brain injected with the Observer technology and discovers that the superior brain tissue causes a massive increase in the higher functions of the brain. These higher functions create more ridges, meaning that the brains undergo controlled evolution in order to make the person more intelligent. The side-effect is that this brain tissue covers the emotional parts of the brain which leaves the person with little to no emotion. This confirmation that Peter is losing his humanity through science is nice but it's the deadline that's important. Walter brings up that the transformation will soon be permanent and the human Peter will soon be lost to this Observer Peter. He tries his best to appeal to his son's humanity but he isn't able to convince Peter to abandon his mission to kill Windmark by using the machine implanted in his brain. Walter might be dependent on Peter to keep his cold side from taking over but Peter needs somebody else.
That other person is Olivia. Olivia's arc is split into two parts. The first part is where she collects a magnet from a small community of destitute people. There she happens to meet Simone, an African American with a psychic gift. This part isn't that exciting in terms of action but it's solid in how Olivia's trust in humanity has been shattered. She starts to believe that Simone is actually going to turn her in to the authorities and collect the large bounty on her head. It isn't until the diesel fuel that Olivia needs for the truck to transport the magnet arrives that Olivia is able to trust Simone a bit. At the same time, Olivia has lost her faith in there being a plan. Simone is there to tell her that there is a plan. One simply has to believe in it. This first part is to simply establish where Olivia currently is: she's experienced so much that she has lost her trust in humanity and faith that everything will work out. She has solved too many Fringe cases to know that the unknown is explainable. She manages to leave the community without getting betrayed but remains with a sense that she has lost her daughter and that the world is a cruel place.
Almost as if to prove that point, Olivia is captured by some bounty hunters. The two want to turn her in for the reward money but they're not willing to trust the Observers. This buys Olivia enough time to free her hands from bondage and build herself a makeshift gun. She's able to get rid of both bounty hunters but only because she used a special bullet. That bullet being the one that Etta had given her when she had died. Even with Etta being dead, Olivia's daughter was able to get her out of this dangerous situation. This act of human ingenuity is able to convince Olivia that there might be a plan somewhere and that human emotions aren't a bad thing. Simone had made the point that the rational thought process that the brain can't explain can be processed by the heart. Olivia didn't believe her at first but this experience makes her realize that there is some truth to that. In essence, Olivia is allowing herself to emotionally deal with the loss of her daughter. This entire journey was basically a way to set Olivia up for that final scene of the episode.
While Olivia is getting a magnet and Walter is discovering how Observer technology works, Peter is putting his new logical brain to work. He's trying to set Windmark on a predetermined path where he can kill him without any struggle. He finds some difficulty when Windmark is able to figure out what he's doing and the two have a pretty epic fight. Peter remains determine to kill Windmark until Olivia finds him at the end of the episode. She's able to convince him that human emotion is a strength because the Observers don't have it. She points out that if he continues on this path then he will lose any emotional connection with Etta and herself. Finally. Olivia is able to use the power of love to convince Peter to manually remove the machine from his brain. In this case, human emotion was able to beat out pure logic. This also means that Olivia was able to talk Peter into abandoning his obsession with getting revenge. Without the technology and with Olivia by his side, it's possible that Peter might finally start to move on.
The Human Kind is a brilliant episode of Fringe. It explores just what exactly humanity is with it's emphasis on how important emotions really are. It's not just a good narrative but an essay on how the human heart is one of our most important tools. The Observers might be able to math and science better than us but ther inability to feel emotions makes it difficult for them to truly understand the enemy that they're facing. The Human Kind words simply because it takes what this season and series has been about-the humanity of people-and uses them to a resolution that feels completely earned when it should be by all accounts cheesy.