Fringe Season 5, Episode 8 Review: “The Human Kind”

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One of the most used archetypes in Fringe plots is the idea that, as humans, we have a lot of room to evolve.  Unlocking the hidden potential of the mind hasn’t been used sparingly in this series; not only was Olivia’s cortexiphan powers a direct cause of this mantra, but most of the monster of the week episodes focus almost exclusively on this factor of humanity.  That, as a species, we have a lot more room to grow than we might think.  So no surprise, “The Human Kind” deals almost exclusively with that mindset, as we see Peter delve more into the psyche of the Observers as his family tries a way to bring him back down to Earth.  And well the theme itself is explained quite well in this episode…I wish I could say the same for the plot.

For me at least, “The Human Kind” was a pretty disappointing episode of Fringe for a multitude of reasons.  They weren’t episode crippling or anything on there own but, taken as a whole, they turned what could have been an excellent episode of the show into a merely decent one.  Which for most shows yeah, a merely decent episode is fine.  But with this being Fringe, and with only FIVE episodes of the show left, I kind of want a little more than decent at this point.

My first issue with this show is Olivia’s story which, similar to most Olivia stories this season, is kind of one note and bland.  Yes, I understand the contrast between Peteserver and Simone the Prophet…but that doesn’t necessarily make it a worth while plotline.  If you really want to break it down, nothing really happens with Olivia until the very end of “The Human Kind.”  She goes to a junkyard, picks up a magnet that was left to her, has a heart to heart with a pre-cog, and goes on her way.

This has been a big problem with me overall this season of Fringe; it’s really lacking forward momentum.  Unlike past episodes where there’s a ton of action and the plot is progressing at a stellar rate, Season 5 of Fringe mostly boils down to a fetch quest.  The team finds a video, they travel to where the video tells them to go, they run into some people, get the item, and go back.  It’s a very basic plotline, and not a very exciting one either.  Seeing us constantly go through the same routine episode after episode really does make me yearn for the “monster of the week” days of old.  At least those ones had more for the characters to do then pick up objects every so often.

To be fair for the show, there is a tad more going on in the sidelines, such as Peter’s slow transformation into an Observer monster.  And I will admit, that plotline was as strong as ever in “The Human Kind.”  I loved the back and forth dual between Windmark and Peteserver and how it progressed between the pair, like a game of time traveler’s chess or something.  That said, the “future prediction” stuff is still a little murky for me.  Wouldn’t Windmark predict that all these little things were being set up by Peter, and proceed to NOT do the exact things that Peter wanted him to do?  That said, Peteserver could just predict that Windmark would predict that he was behind the act, and adapt the variables once more.  And then Windmark could just side step them again.  Boy…having two people who can predict the future pitted against each other sure does complicate things.

Let’s talk about the last scene just a little bit here, because it was another one of those moments in “The Human Kind” when I was very conflicted.  On the one hand, Olivia’s speech to Peter about loss and emotion was classic Fringe, delivered expertly by Anna Torv.  And Peteserver’s near tears after telling Olivia about Etta’s last thoughts were pretty heartbreaking.  But honestly, the fact that Peter is back to normal is a huge disappointment for me.  I really thought this was going to be a more important issue in the show, and lead in more to the series’ overall endgame.  But instead, it just seems to be a way for the characters to get over Etta’s death, and move back on over to looking for more video tapes.  Having Peter slowly transform into the thing he was vowing to destroy was ripe with dramatic possibilities and, for the most part, the show seemed to have squandered them.  Sorry fans…I guess all those “Peter is the First Observer!” theories can be put to rest now.  And for what feels like the billionth time this season, I have no idea what this show is intending to do with its fifth and final season.  And with mere hours left…that really worries me.

 Loose Ends:

  • I chuckled heartedly at Windmark continuing to push the elevator door button when it wouldn’t open.  Even omnipotent superbeings have no idea how to react to a jammed elevator.
  • Anther small complaint; not enough Walter.  His one scene where he stitched up Peter’s wound was pretty good, though.
  • Wonder if Simone will somehow key back into the series before all is said and done.  Personally, I hope so…it will give more reason for why this character existed in the first place other than to be a walking talking theme.
  • Olivia escaping from the muggers was freaking badass.  It was nice to see that side of the character again.
  • Wasn’t as bothered about Peter self-surgery as much as the rest of the internet is.  It’s such a small deal, and it’s one of those Fringe things that you just kind of ignore.
  • I said “Yeah bitch…MAGNETS!” throughout all of the scrapyard scenes.  Sigh…I need to do something with my life.


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