‘FRINGE’ Photo Recap 5×01: “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11”
Okay, raise your hand if you’re still listening to Yaz’s “Only You” on repeat… Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one. But hey, at least at this point I’ve finally stopped crying (mostly). Because let’s be honest, that last scene (along with every one that preceded it) was like the Sistine Chapel of television. You can’t look at it without being moved, even if you don’t fully understand why. Suddenly you’re just in tears because it’s so beautiful, and it somehow manages to capture everything that it means to be human—the joy, the sadness, the uncertainty—and you can’t believe how a person could create something so perfect, and then the security guard is asking you to please be more quiet with your sobbing because this is a chapel, and it’s supposed to be silent. (Okay, so that last part doesn’t really apply to Fringe, but everything else holds true.) The season 5 premiere somehow managed to surpass the impossibly high expectations set by the entire fandom. It reunited the core Fringe team from the show’s very beginning, along with the new addition to the team, the daughter of our very own Peter and Olivia. I still can’t even type those words without getting chills. POLIVIA MADE A BABY YOU GUYS. Okay, sorry, I’m trying to focus. Let’s inaugurate this season with a photo recap, shall we?
The Bishop family looked like a JCPenney ad as they lounged in a field, enjoying the beautiful day. (Please note that the blanket is plaid.) Little Etta frolicked nearby, blowing the seeds off of a dandelion (way to continue the importance of flowers on this show—but more on that later). It looked like a scene straight out of a fan-fiction. Until they came. Leave it to the Bald Mafia to ruin a perfectly good day at the park.
Peter woke up from reliving his nightmare, taking a few seconds to remember where (and when) he was. I’m sure the familiar sight of Walter asleep on the couch without pants on was a comfort to Peter.
So off they went to find Olivia. I really hope they stopped at McObserver’s on the way and got something besides egg sticks for breakfast, because those things looked disgusting.
I was impressed by the Mount Rushmore-style Observer graffiti portraits on the fence they passed by. Looks like there’s still some creativity left in the world somewhere that the Observers haven’t squelched yet.
TLC, if you’re reading this, I want a cut of the profit when you make that show and it becomes a huge hit.
The search party headed to the seedy underbelly of the black market, where you can get anything from walnuts, to Japanese sex robots. (Or maybe she was just a geisha who doesn’t blink. I’m not really sure.)
Seriously, man? No one is going to patronize your quaint little black market establishment if you rat them all out to the Observers. NOT COOL, BRO. Also, what is in your soup that makes it that color? It’s not natural. I’m very concerned by it.
I guess we should be grateful to Markham for snatching up Olivia before anyone else did… Still, it’s really creepy that he’s still obsessed with Olivia. I was torn between excitement at seeing an old familiar face, and mild wiggins from the somewhat disturbing circumstances.
Olivia’s not really the princess type. And even if she were, she wouldn’t be Sleeping Beauty or Snow White of any of those sleeping damsels waiting for a prince to wake her up. She’s more like Pocahontas: brave, loyal, ready to risk her life to save her true love, and she has really good aim. However, she was unconscious, and Peter did wake her up from her amber coma, so I guess the prince-wakes-the-slumbering-princess stereotype applies just this one time. Peter and Olivia’s reunion was the first of many scenes in this episode that had my tear ducts working overtime.
We will now pause for a brief intermission to refill your popcorn and restock your tissues.
Just give me until the end of time one second to get myself together before I try to address this scene in a calm and rational manner. OH WAIT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Sorry ya’ll. Anything I say about this scene will just be blubbering adoration.
It wasn’t a complete Bishop family reunion though, because Walter had been nabbed by the Observers when they tried to escape from Markham’s. I knew this was going to be bad, because if there’s one person I can’t stand to watch get tortured, it’s Walter. He has that childlike innocence about him that makes it so hard to see him get hurt. On the plus side, Olivia still has the puzzle piece that he needs for his secret plan to overthrow the Observers. Incidentally, the creepiest Observer of all time—the one we met in “Letters of Transit” who looks like Emperor Palpatine—is really interested in this plan that Walter concocted with September.
Walter put on a brave face and tried to think of music. I kind of wish he’d started singing. I have this theory that music is the Observers’ weakness, and if you sing at them, their brains will explode. Especially if you sing ABBA.
Etta took them to her Resistance buddies’ lair, where we met her cohorts: a skinny guy who scowls a lot, and a moderately-attractive-but-not-nearly-as-attractive-as-Henry-Ian-Cusick Scottish guy. (Can you tell I miss Simon?)
While Etta filled her friends in on what was going on, Peter and Olivia had a heart(break)-to-heart(break) talk about what happened between them before they were ambered. (Spoiler alert: I cried some more.)
Okay, so my interpretation of this scene might be just a tad bit optimistic. In reality, it was a devastating examination of why Peter and Olivia’s relationship fell apart after they lost Etta. Peter couldn’t bear to give up the search for their daughter, and Olivia understood that the world still needed them. It was a heart-rending scene of emotional reckoning. He cried, she cried, I cried, the whole world cried for these incredible, broken people who are meant to be together but the universe seems determined to keep apart. At least now they’re all together again, so they can finally start to heal each other. Nothing brings a family together like saving the world.
Walter was putting up a good fight against Observer Palpatine, but he was clearly having a rough day.
Man, I hate this guy. He almost makes me miss David Robert Jones. At least Jones was somewhat entertaining in his villainy. He had that weird skin condition, and a funny accent, and hipster minions that looked like they were from a Gotye music video. Anyway, Observer Palpatine needs to get his ass kicked ASAP. And I know just the family to do it.
Etta and her Resistance pals were working out a plan to rescue Walter, while Olivia and Peter were busy staring starry-eyed at their magnificent daughter in a slightly creepy but mostly adorable way.
Despite the cautionary tale of Romeo & Juliet, they tried the plan anyway, and it worked. Etta was the head of the operation, which was good since they ran into a Loyalist guard who’s totally into her.
As soon as loverboy mentioned Simon, I literally wrote in my notes, “GO FIND HIM RIGHT NOW ETTA.” I’m so excited for Desmond Simon to come back. They need to put a pause on this whole decode-September’s-plan thing and go save Simon instead. Priorities, people!
Shockingly, everything went according to plan. Etta woke her sleeping parents from their fake-dead comas and they went to save Walter.
They made their way to the getaway van with Astrid and Rando #1 behind the wheel. It was so awesome to see the whole Bishop-Dunham clan working together. Family bonding moment! It was like what I imagine Spy Kids would be like when the kids were grown-up. Once they were all in the van (minus one of Walter’s shoes), Walter asked Astrid if she had any music.
Back at the lab, Walter and Olivia had a proper reunion. He was moved to tears to see her alive and well. I feel better knowing that Walter will be doing everything in his power to get Peter and Olivia back together. If anyone can handle this task, it’s Walter. Sure, he’s been known to cock-block them from time to time, but for the most part, he wants them to be together as much as I do. But first, he has to regain his faith in his own mind, which was understandably weary after being prodded by the Observer.
Poor Walter was devastated by the realization that he’d forgotten the pieces of September’s plan to overthrow the Observers. Somewhere, September is kicking himself. That guy was pretty thorough, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another copy of the plan that he buried in a fancy time capsule thing like he did for Peter in “A Short Story About Love.” I’m just saying, check the backyard. Everyone was pretty discouraged by the whole losing-their-only-hope-to-defeat-the-Observers situation. Especially Walter, who seems to always be at war with his own brilliant but fragile mind. He did manage to stumble across something special to help him get his groove back.
Walter followed the source of the light, wandering around outside in a robe and no pants, until he found this:
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS IT’S JUST LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES. I’M FREAKING OUT. Sorry, I’ll try not to hyperventilate. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, a) what are you doing with your life? and, b) dandelions are a symbol of hope throughout the series. (If you’re interested, you can read more about them and other flower symbolism in The Hunger Games here… Don’t act like that doesn’t sound super interesting.) You probably remember from this episode’s opening scene (and from rewatching it in the season 5 trailer a thousand times) that little Etta was blowing the seeds off dandelion heads when she was taken by the Observers. Now, when it seems all hope is lost once again, Walter looks up to find a beautiful yellow dandelion blossoming in the concrete ruins of New York. Clearly the dandelion is Etta, who has grown up to be a beautiful and amazing woman in this wretched, ruined world. This also explains why Etta looks like Thumbelina, who I think was born in a flower. Or maybe it was a walnut shell… I can’t remember. It’s on Netflix; you can see for yourself. In any case, the fact that it involved an inadvertent (I’m assuming) Hunger Games reference made me appreciate this scene even more, because I instantly associated that lone dandelion with hope (and Peeta Mellark). I was crying along with Walter as he sat in that abandoned taxicab, letting the dulcet tones of Yaz wash over him.
Memo to all other shows on television: THAT is how you kick off a new season. It was like a game of musical emotions—you keep going around and around until the music stops and then you’re stuck with whichever one you’re closest to: giddy, weeping, angry, really creeped-out by Observer Palpatine…so many feelings!!! This episode was so great that it didn’t even occur to me until the next day that I’m a little bit devastated that we probably won’t get to see any of Lincoln and the Altverse crew. But never rule anything out on Fringe. There is no doubt in my mind that this season is going to be spectacular. What did you guys think of “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11”? Were you glad to see Markham again? Which line made you cry more: Etta’s “Hi Mama,” or Peter’s “That’s my girl”? Most importantly, do you think they have Nissans in 2036? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus!
As always, thank you to FringeFiles.com for providing the screen caps of this episode, and thanks to TV.com’s brilliant Price Peterson, whose hilarious Vampire Diaries photo recaps were the inspiration for my own. And thank you for reading!
See the rest of my Fringe photo recaps here
*All images are property of FOX Broadcasting