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Fringe Season 5: 5 Questions About “The Human Kind”

Back after its short break, this week’s episode of Fringe brought Peter closer to Windmark, the Observer he blames for Etta’s death – and further away from his own humanity, at the same time. With Walter and Olivia busy chasing down objects for a plan that may not work, is everything falling apart in “The Human Kind”?

Who Cares About Walter’s Tapes Anymore?
With everything else that’s going on in Fringe right now, don’t Walter’s tapes and his plan to save the world seem rather… superfluous? Obviously, they’re going to get more and more attention over the next few weeks as the show builds to its big finale, but when we saw Walter’s wonky Betamax message this week, I had this reaction of “Oh, this again?” That’s not exactly a great sign for the overall story arc, really…

Is Olivia Related to MacGuyver?
Just after Olivia had been captured, I was beyond overjoyed to see her (ridiculous, hilarious) escape plan work; I’ve been vocal in the past about the fact that, this season, we’ve seen Olivia becoming more and more helpless in the face of adversity, and I thought that her capture was just another example of that; to see her escape – and then talk Peter down from the Observer ledge – was hopefully a sign that she’s getting her groove back – and that the show will do the same now, with the mourning period following Etta’s death replaced by something closer to the show we used to watch, where smart people did heroic things to save the world through science. Then again…

Is This All About The Power of Love?
Or at least the power of belief? “They’re just better at math than we are,” Olivia said as she reduced the various wonders of Fringe to science and numbers, but as the rest of the episode demonstrated, the important stuff is that which can’t be measured by math: Emotion and faith. Fringe has always had an odd relationship with science, being as much a “Science Is Dangerous!” show as much as one where smarts can save the day, and this dichotomy has never been more pronounced than this week. Was this Fringe finally coming down on the side of the argument where science is a tool for wonder and emotion and faith, as opposed to an end in itself?

“Are Those New Ridges Forming?”
More evidence of the show’s love/hate relationship with science: The Observers are the result of “controlled evolution,” according to Walter, which feels as if they’re the ultimate Fringe Science event in many ways somewhat fittingly. I’m not sure why enlarging particular areas of the brain would make someone go bald (The hair falling out of last episode was, sadly, only a tease, it seems) or give them super-powers – Superspeed, I’ll give you, but the ability to walk through walls or control time? That’s a bit of a stretch – but if we’re stuck with the Observers as the series’ big bad at this point, at least we can feel take something from the fact that they might be the culmination of everything we’ve seen up until now.

What Happens to Peter Now?
So he’s cut the Observer tech out of him – Luckily, it’s apparently very easy to remove – and we know that the effects it had on him aren’t permanent… But are they at least long-lasting? How long will he be able to read futures? Will he remain emotionally impaired for some time? If next episode sees a completely normal Peter again, I’m going to be very disappointed… but also, given this season, not amazingly surprised.


  • Giada

    I suggest you to watch the promo for episode 9. There are some scenes where it’s pretty clear that peter is not yet “normal”. I expect some twist, for example peter will preserve both observer’s abilties and emotions. Or some unexpected side effects left by the tech so that peter will go throught another kind of transformation ;)

  • Djk

    Hey Graeme, I don’t agree with a lot of the things you write about, but I think you get shit on a lot by the commentors on your articles, and I for one enjoy reading a piece about Fringe every week even if the content can be a little bit frustrating.  So thanks for putting some extra coverage aside on the weekends for the last season of a great show.  

  • Starleafgirl

    I ~did~ think Peter’s spontaneous self-brain surgery was a bit odd, lol. I would’ve thought they’d have to bring him into the lab and have Walter CAREFULLY remove the tech from his son’s brain. Ah well, onward and upward to the next episode, I guess.

  • sandwich eater

     Yeah it was weird because Walter’s experiment showed that the machine embeds itself in the brain.  If it was just under his skin maybe he could cut it out, but I think he’d need careful surgery to get something out of his brain.

  • Funkyartman

    It just puzzles me how the observers can seemingly teleport at will yet be obstructed by broken elevators and red lights. Could some one please explain why Windmark had to take the stairs when Peter sabotaged the elevator when he knew good and well he was being set up? 
    BTW Jill Scott was a terrible Actor as the oracle. 

  • Jack

    Yeah, but if Peter is super-smart, wouldn’t he be able to safely and quickly remove something from his brain without much hassle? =P

    But yeah, there seems to be a lot of randomness to the observers “time-shifting/teleporting” abilities… But it’s okay… That fight with Windmark and Peter was epic, so I forgive them ^_^

  • Artyfan

    He had the Observer abilities, remember? He probably looked at the possible futures and was able to figure out “Okay, this is how I take it out.” They didn’t show it because it would ruin the emotional moment.

  • Artyfan

    It’s pretty dang obvious about the Observers’ powers. It’s like a Cortexiphan type thing. The Observers were creating, expanding and unlocking parts of the brain that have never been used. Olivia’s able to travel between universes, catch bullets with her mind, and create a fireball. Who’s to say the Observers aren’t using and/or manipulating the brain’s abilities so it can do “their bidding.”

  • dan

    whatever happened to olivia’s ‘powers’? just waiting for her to go all pheonix force and lay waste to the observers

  • Demoncat4

    peter may wind up with some residuel from the tech  but also hopefully learned enough  from using it of how to  move next against windmaker like maybe still have the observers power of predicting time. and the fringe crew will once again be back watching old tapes and getting the pieces to the plan.