Fringe is a truly great show. I mean, how many network television programs are able to give us something depressing, creepy and terrifying while still producing an entertaining hour of TV? Fringe does just that with its dark and shudder-inducing "An Origin Story."
Like so many Fringe episode titles, this one takes some thinking to figure out. Best as I can tell, the "origin" in question is of the new Peter. Superhero origin stories always deal with that pivotal event that shaped them in the future. And there is no way Peter is not going to be shaped by the future begun in "An Origin Story."
There is a chance that I'm wrong about this. In retrospect, we may find out that the "origin" was that of the successful Resistance movement. Maybe this is where it all begins?
Because this is Fringe, I'm honestly not sure. We'll probably find out in a few episodes though.
Everything Pretty Much Sucks
When "An Origin Story" begins, everything is awful. Peter and Olivia silently work to clear out Etta's safe house. Not even Walter -- sadly sniffing at the perfume Etta once wore -- can lighten the atmosphere in that place. Honestly, the fact that these guys are even moving in a semi-normal human manner is impressive.
Nothing improves with a call from Astrid. She can't get the next video tape out, mostly because Walter once had a hankering for a bratwurst and forgot to put away his explosives afterwards. She can get the tape, probably, but it won't be for days.
Futuristic Death Cubes
The only thing that can help in times of extreme emotional destruction is keeping busy. That's why the Resistance is so handy to have around. The team travels to meet Anil, the replacement Scot, and finds a burnt-out section of road. What happened? Apparently, the Observers are bringing giant cubes of doom through a time-travel portal. Once all of the cubes are here, the bad future men can assemble their air-quality destruction technology.
And no one will be able to breathe so well.
This time, however, the Resistance was at least able to catch an Observer in the act. In addition to the fedora-wearing bad guy, Anil and his crew managed to snag the shipping manifest and a weird little cube that seems to control the time wormhole.
Do Observers Play Poker?
Peter, being ready for some hardcore vengeance right about now, immediately takes an interest in the mini death cube. Astrid, meanwhile, takes on the shipping manifest (which is written in weird Observer language).
Neither is successful until they make some decisions. For Astrid, this means using more computers to decrypt the crazy symbols. For Peter, this means some high-stakes poker with the captured Observer.
By reading the Observer's "tells" so he can determine which configuration is right and which is wrong, Peter slowly pieces together the death cube. He does a pretty good job with this. Not that the Observer is impressed, pointing out that Peter doesn't even know what he doesn't know.
Even with the Observer's disdain, Peter does get the death cube working. Astrid has meanwhile decoded the manifest, so they know where and when to strike.
Pseudo-Science Fails, Emotions Succeed
Walter has a plan of attack for this mission. Since the time portal is a wormhole, sending through some anti-matter should create a black hole on the other side. And then the black hole would do what black holes do best -- create massive destruction.
Oddly not realizing that the basics of time travel make singular destruction pointless (since the future Observers can wait until things are fixed and then send the cargo back to this same present moment anyway), the team attacks. It even seems to work.
For awhile. But then the giant air-destroying cubes begin sliding through the portal like nothing ever happened. This seems to be a rare case of failure on Walter's part. Oh well.
At least everyone's emotions are still working. Peter is infuriated and storms off to the Observer interrogation room to find out what happened. Olivia is at a bit more of a loss, but she does take some solace in the image of Etta being used as a call to resistance.
Her emotions come even closer to the surface when Walter brings her a new video tape. This one depicts one of Etta's long-ago birthdays. Unsurprisingly but uncharacteristically, Olivia begins to sob.
Lord of the Flies
Peter, however, is too busy to cry. He needs to know how he read the Observer wrong.
Turns out that Peter wasn't reading the Observer at all. There was a fly on the window, and the Observer was merely reacting to its presence. All Peter saw was what he needed to see in order to rebuild the cube correctly -- actually doing fixing it was all Peter.
As for why the attack on the portal failed, the Observer only offers his words from before: Peter does not even know what he doesn't know.
That's not particularly helpful.
Peter is angry. We're not talking a little you-killed-my-kid-and-want-to-destroy-the-world angry. This is more like homicidal, anything-goes anger. The kind of anger that destroys universes.
The Observer, being an Observer, isn't so worried. He should be.
In a rather bloody and brutal move, Peter flips over the Observer and slices open the back of the guy's neck. Not only does this allow the Observer to experience pain on the same level as Peter's grief, but it also gives Peter access to whatever technology it is that makes the Observers so thoroughly Observer-y.
That technology turns out to be a little bug thing. Seriously, it's like a creepy, electronic bug. It's so much like a real bug that when Peter slices his own neck open, the thing crawls inside.
And just like that, several things happen:
1) Olivia calls, sobbing, to tell Peter that she needs him.
2) Although in obvious pain, Peter returns those words of love and says he's coming home.
3) Peter gives himself a Hulk stare in the mirror so we know that the technology has done something.
4) I realize I may never, ever sleep again because of the fear that some electronic (or biological, for that matter) bug is going to burrow into my brain via my neck.
Is Peter an Observer now? Will he just be able to react as quickly as them? Will Olivia and Peter manage to have any future whatsoever? Why didn't the black hole/wormhole thing work? Share your theories and opinions below!
(Images courtesy of FOX)