Fringe Season 5, Episode 7 Review: “Five-Twenty-Ten”

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Well guys, this is the mid-point.  From here on in, Season 5 of Fringe has more episodes behind it than it does in front of it.  With only six episodes left to conclude practically every single plotline of the show, this is the point where the pressure is REALLY on.  So now more than ever, the question must be asked; is Fringe on the right path to achieve final season success…or do we have another Lost Season 6 on our hands?  And that’s what gets me worried.

Right now, I’m torn about whether to call Season 5 of Fringe great or not.  Honestly, I guess I won’t really be able to decide until I’ve seen the entire season (and series, for that matter) in full, and see how some of the storylines introduced in the last couple episodes play out.  On the whole though, I really am enjoying some of these new plot developments—especially the ones that are the focus of “Five-Twenty-Ten”; Walter slowly becoming the monster he used to be, and Peter evolving into the monster he will eventually be.

I find it intriguing that these two characters are going on practically opposite journeys and don’t even know it.  Walter is terrified of becoming the man who used to be…as Peter is happily embracing the man he is to become.  For the entirety of “Five-Twenty-Ten”, it seemed like Peter didn’t want to let anyone know about the Observer tech installed into his body.  His acts of (basically) terrorism were kept on the down low from the rest of the group, despite the fact that they would have probably been perfectly okay with it if it meant stopping the Observers.  Right now, our Fringe team is acting with a snail’s pace; hell, the conflict for forty minutes of this episode was clearing some rubble to get to a freaking door.  Peter’s the only one actually taking affirmative action—for better or for worse.

Honestly, I think Peter slowly evolving into an Observer is going to end up being the best storyline of the entire season and, as I detailed here, lead into pretty much the end of it.  In the meantime though, it’s been a blast seeing Joshua Jackson slowly shifting into an Observer.  That scene with Peter and Olivia was freaking brilliant, and I love how Peter does’t try to skirt around the topic that he put Observer tech into his body.  Any other show would have stretched this reveal out for at least a few more episodes.  Hell, even Fringe probably would have if it got a full 22 episode order.  But with only six more episodes left, it was clear that they couldn’t let this plotline fester any longer.  Olivia had to find out in this episode, and I’m glad the show realized this.

Meanwhile, Walter got to have some time to further flesh out his character’s story for this season, first introduced in last episode’s “Through the Looking Glass And What Walter Found There.”  I’m glad that Noble is getting the chance to delve into one final, emotionally driven story for the character of Walter Bishop, because boy can he knock this material out of the park.  His speech to Nina about William Bell never loving her was heartbreaking , and Blair Brown too did a great job of reacting to his general dick-osity.  Seeing a man grapple with his inner demons is common for most shows…but only in Fringe will it involve the character literally struggling with little chunks of his brain to NOT be a bad person.

All that said, I still don’t think “Five-Twenty-Ten” was the home run it set out to be…primarily because of the Observer angle.  The further this season goes on, the more I realize what the main problem with it thus far is: the stakes are incredibly low considering how much effort the characters are putting into stopping The Observers.  Well I wouldn’t say The Observer run Earth is a utopia or anything, it’s not nearly the post-apocalyptic dictator like world it’s drawn to be.  For the most part, things are relatively okay.  Yeah, the economy is in shit and the Observers rule over almost every aspect of your life…but they’re not entirely as benevolent as the show would have you think.

People are still walking around like nothing’s wrong.  People are still driving around in their cars, screaming at everyone to get out off the streets.  People are still maintaining their 9-5 jobs, working out of restaurants or factories or whatnot.  Hell there’s a MINISTRY of Science, which is pretty damn cool in and of itself.  It seems the only downside of this world is the fact that, in like four years, everyone’s lifespan will be reduced to four years.  Which yeah, kind of blows…but isn’t the end of the world or anything.

And as to why the show is deciding to go in this direction, I am befuddled.  Really, it’s the little things.  Why does the Fringe team have such an easy time navigating the world?  THEY’RE FUCKING FUGITIVES…they shouldn’t be able to walk peacefully in the streets or entire Observer run restaurants.  They shouldn’t be able to stay at (what I’m assuming is still) their deceased and famously rebellious daughter’s apartment.  And they shouldn’t be able to move in and out of their lab at Harvard with relative ease.  This is the one thing that’s probably irking me the most about this season of Fringe, and I really, REALLY hope the show will have an explanation for why this is the case.

All that said, I’m totally onboard for all the character stuff, and can’t wait to see what happens with both plotlines.  I wouldn’t even say I dislike this season of Fringe; overall, I think I’ve dug it.  But with just six episodes left to finish things off…I REALLY hope the show will pull itself together and become the great show it was nary a season ago.  Because if there’s one thing I want from television this year…it’s for this show to go out on a high note.  And with the right push…I really think it will.

Loose Ends:

  • Loved how the opening shot focused on the back of Peter’s head..all that was missing was a fedora and a suit.
  • Speaking of Observer Peter (or for the nature of time, “Peteserver”), that last shot of him turning his head in that oh so Observer like manner was creepy as hell.
  • In the span of today’s episode, Walter referenced both Marathon Man (in an absolutely hilarious scene) and David Bowie.  And this is why we love him.
  • I still wish Olivia would have more of a character story than just “react horribly to your husbands horrible decisions.”  She deserves so much more than that in the final season.
  • On a thematic level, the Etta rebellion posters are a really great idea.  But going back to the whole “Worst Dictatorship Ever” angle, why the hell do the Observers let them stay up?  It’s starting to get a little ridiculous.
  • Nice to see Nina back.  It’s sad that both her and Broyles lost their season regular credits, but I guess it all comes back to budget.
  • Not sure what the show is planning to do with William Bell but, for what it’s worth, I hope they’ll be able to wrangle up Leonard Nimoy again to reprise the character one last time.  They certainly left the possibility open for him to come back, right?  And that character could really use some redemption following his lackluster return in Season 4.
  • And with that we bid ado to Fringe for another hiatus, this time consisting of about a month.  It always annoys me how frequently this show will take long extended breaks…but I guess I should just be happy it’s still on air, right?  Anyways, see you in three weeks!