Episode 10: Anomoly XB-6783746
By: Carlos Uribe
Fringe is a show about a small team of people who are trying to save our world from the Observers.
I'm going to keep this brief because I'm enjoying my Christmas holiday.
The team spent an entire episode getting the Observer boy and now they spend an entire episode trying to communicate with him. He has lost his ability to empathetically connect with Olivia which means that he has no way of telling them any information. He can't reveal who Donald is or his own role in the plan. The team is forced to go to Nina Sharp in an attempt to see if there's a magical piece of technology that allows them to read the boy's mind. It turns out that there is but the boy's mind is more complex which involves having to steal more technology in order to have the boy read human minds. At the end, they finally are able to communicate with the boy and a major plot twist is revealed. This was an episode that largely seemed to follow the Fringe path of having only one or two major developments per episode even as the series finale draws near. The first development was talking with the boy observer and the second development is that Nina's role in helping the team is uncovered by the Observers. It isn't until the end of the episode where the plot really starts to pick up momentum towards a shocking cliff-hanger that makes me want to see the next episode immediately. The final season is heading towards it's finish but it really isn't until the end that the series finally seems to actually realize it. The narrative momentum has been sufficient to keep the interest because of the great writing but it really did seem like the plot was moving at a snail's speed when it should have been speeding up over the last few weeks.
This season has already featured a death with Etta. The ramifications of her death were serious as they caused Peter to temporarily become an Observer and emotionally devastated Olivia. The two parents are still grieving but they are more determined than ever to implement Walter's plan to defeat the Observers. This was an episode that featured a second death and it's one that lands a bigger emotional punch. It's all because of the second development: the Observers discover that Nina is actually with the resistance. They don't immediately capture her because she's been called by the team to try and read the Observer boy's mind. She's underground and nobody who works for the Ministry of Science knows where she is. This keeps her relatively safe but she doesn't know that she's been discovered until later in the episode. That is when Peter and Olivia go to a Ministry warehouse to steal some technology needed and they realize that Nina's inside-man is being questioned. The two are able to warn Nina but it's too late. The Observers were able to track her because Nina went aboveground and her signal was discovered. Nina sacrificed her life so that they wouldn't be able to read her mind and to keep the Observer boy from being found. This was a shocking moment on Fringe that made perfect sense within the context of the episode. Nina is just the person who would blow her brains out in order to advance a cause she believes in. Her sacrifice does mean something in that she's not only keeping the resistance safe but she's allowing them to achieve their current goal. Her death is significant and it seriously helps to keep the idea that the Observers are actually formidable opponents. They didn't just kill a character whose been important this season but someone whose been in the show since the very beginning. Nina's loss was more emotionally felt then Etta's and it made the episode really resonate because of that. It also helped to shift the episode's feeling from only being somewhat important to being a completely valuable contribution to the season. That this death arose from the two developments simply made it work so much better.
It's not just her death that helps mark this episode as special. That is also the final twist. The observer boy is able to communicate with Walter at the end of the episode as he reveals some important information. He doesn't reveal what the plan is exactly but he does tell him who Donald is. Donald's identity is such a large part of the season as he was the scientist who had helped Walter come up with the plan. He's the one who took the boy Observer away from the pocket universe and into the home of the couple taking care of him. Donald's presence has been felt throughout the season. It turns out that Donald is actually September! This is a large twist that helps to act as the season's cliff-hanger. It's not just interesting to learn what role September will be playing for the rest of the season but it's a brilliant move. Whose the Observer that warned Walter of the invasion? It was September. Whose the scientist who helped Walter prepare the plan to halt the Observers? It was Donald. There is a certain kind of symmetry that really seems to fit. Donald's shadowy presence on the season and September's background prominence on the show have directly impacted the series plots and character actions. That the two are the same makes perfect sense. Having them be the same not only creates questions but it also helps to end the episode on a significant plot point. It really does feel like something is actually happening as we're heading towards the end: even if the two significant actions that will define this episode (Nina's death and the Donald twist) don't happen until the very end.
Anomaly XB-6783746 is a wonderful and brilliant episode of Fringe that simply seems to show that the writers do have a plan on where they're taking us, even if they're going at a snail's pace towards the finish line. The ending of the episode significantly picks up as the narrative machinations start to speed up. There's only one episode left before the two-hour series finale so there's no reason to expect the show to slow back down.