In this episode of Fringe, “The Recordist,” the team has to deal with creepy skin fungus, Walter’s poor organizational skills, Olivia’s maternal insecurity, Loyalist pursuit and an irritable historian.
It’s a wonder they make it out alive sometimes.
They Shouldn’t Have Left Walter in Charge of the Tapes
Walter likes drugs. And licorice. Is this really the man you want devising a complicated scavenger hunt that will save the human race?
Oh well. It’s too late for the Fringe team, so they have to make do. Once Astrid (not Walter) cuts a tape out of the amber, the whole team gathers to watch. Because this is a Betamax tape and not something sensible like a DVD or a USB stick, the message is corrupted. They still learn enough to head off to the wilds of Pennsylvania.
To find… Um, something. That part of the tape is too messed up. So they leave Astrid to figure it out.
Road Trip to the Land of the Wicked Tree Dwarfs
Despite road blocks and deep-vein thrombosis worries, the team makes it to the designated coordinates. There, they find… Trees. Lots of trees.
A pair of eyes peeps out from behind one of those trees, so the team takes off into the woods to investigate or figure out something. This gives Etta time to express her admiration of her mother. Olivia is uncomfortable about this.
But not for long. This is because men appear. They have guns and some sort of weird fungus all over their faces. The fungus men lead the Fringe team into a very nice camp with fancy tents and solar panels and stuff. There, Walter is surprised when a bespectacled man addresses him by name.
This would be Edwin. The world’s yuckiest-looking historian.
History of the Defeated
Obviously, Edwin and his crew have accepted the arguments of post-modern theorists about how the defeated population doesn’t get to make their own history. So that’s what the fungus people are doing out in the woods, recording history. Thus Edwin knows all about Walter and the early fight against the Observers.
Alas, he does not know why Walter would need to visit.
Edwin has a son who is more of a graphic artist than a historian. The boy, River, is all “You’re so cool and brave, unlike my wimpy historian dad!” But this doesn’t make Olivia happy. In fact, she nearly cries when she sees a picture of baby Etta in the comic book.
Walter Picks the Worst Hiding Places
Back at the lab, Astrid fixes the tape enough to learn that the team has to go into a mine (not a mime) to find something or other. So they do.
What do they find? Instead of important clues, the mine contains only an old, dusty skeleton. Walter quickly surmises — mostly by ripping off the corpse’s arm and waving it about — that the creepy skin fungus emanates from the mine. And they’ve already been a little bit infected. Fortunately, the early infection is removable.
They cannot, however, go back into the mine without protection.
The Angst of Olivia
Walter being Walter, he immediately comes up with the idea for a protective suit in order to investigate the mine. Rubber is necessary, so Peter and Olivia head back to the van to strip it for parts. This gives us ample time for personal history and psychoanalysis.
It seems that, after the disappearance of Etta, Peter and Olivia continued to search together for awhile. Then, while eating apple pie in a Boston restaurant, Olivia realized she couldn’t handle the chance they might find Etta dead. Olivia thinks she was a bad mother, and Etta’s death would be penance. For this reason, Olivia is kind of upset about how brave and loving everyone thinks she is.
Peter would totally comfort Olivia in this moment of emotional turmoil, but unfortunately Etta picks this moment to interrupt.
Kids always interrupt the intimate moments, don’t they?
Because They Don’t Have Enough Problems…
At least Etta has a good reason for her interruption — the Loyalists and Observers are coming for them. The team has maybe until morning before the Fungus People camp gets raided.
Obviously, Edwin the Historian wants them gone so the Observers don’t hurt the history cubes. Walter insists on finishing his protective suit first, but he needs copper. Although Edwin knows where to get some (another camp full of mean people), he won’t initially get involved to help.
Peter gives Edwin a pep talk and manages to convince the guy to at least radio the Mean Metal Camp as an introduction. Edwin is so moved by this talk, that he hunts down young River. Father and son have a super-lengthy (aka, way too long) discussion of bravery and cowardice and the like.
It”s just as touching as it is dull.
Thanks to the combination of Astrid deciphering tapes and Edwin finding an old historical record, Walter and the others learn that they need some special red quartz rocks for this stage in the plan. No one knows exactly what’s up with them, but they do know a young man named Donald collected some in 2015 before being arrested by Observers.
This Is Heroism, Son
A newly brave Edwin makes a radio call, but we don’t learn the outcome. Instead, he just sends Peter and Olivia off to trade alone and disappears, apparently in shame.
But it’s all a ruse. While the others travel to an empty road, Edwin heads into the mine and retrieves the rocks. In the process, poor Edwin dies a hero’s death as the fungus (or extreme immune reaction or whatever) takes over.
Walter gets his rocks. River gets a heroic father to write into history. Olivia gets a bonding moment with Etta. The Loyalists get to capture the van, but the team has abandoned it for another old car.
All”s right in the dystopian world. For now…
What did you think about this episode of Fringe? Is there any chance of finding all those out-of-order tapes? How gross was that skin? Leave your comments below!
(Images courtesy of FOX)