Fringe 5×02 “In Absentia”: Reactions from a First Time Viewer

I think I could ramble for hours on how intriguing Season 5 Olivia is. For the past four seasons I have loved watching Olivia be the valiant leader in the face of every Fringe event, and while I do miss this side of her, I applaud the writers for being brave and exploring a different facet of this three dimensional character. It is very risky to present a beloved character in a whole new light for the show’s final season, but the Fringe writers have done it. I’m sure some fans are annoyed and want BAMF Dunham back, but I actually want to see more of inexperienced Olivia. She seems so lost in this world, just going through the motions because that’s what is expected of her. She follows the Fringe team in the back as they try to find the steam tunnels, and she doesn’t seem to be emotionally there when it comes to figuring out the plan to destroy the Observers. I’m not saying she doesn’t care about the world, because she does, but she’s not as engaged as Walter, Astrid, or Peter. She is not rushing to play catch-up because she is emotionally stuck in 2015. She’s weighed down by everything that happened to her prior to ambering herself. She didn’t save the world, her marriage crumbled, and she lost her daughter. Even now when Etta has returned into her life, Olivia can’t embrace that reality as Peter has. She is stationary. We lose Olivia’s momentum of Seasons 1-4, but we gain an Olivia who is trying to reclaim her motherly role. She is struggling with herself. She approaches her relationship with Etta with so much hesitation but you can tell she desperately wants to be her mommy again. It’s difficult to watch Olivia conflicted, but it provides for a beautiful performance. Even in the final season, we are exploring the complexities of our beloved characters. Bravo!

On a completely different note, what is up with the different colored shirt and blanket in the dream sequence? Why do Peter and Olivia remember this day differently? And who should we trust? I tend to lean toward Olivia because she has an amazing memory, but I find it very difficult to believe that Peter -the father who would not give up searching for his child- would forget the details of that dreadful day. Also, am I the only one who is seeing a Julie Andrews theme this season? big grin First, there was the Loyalist crushing on Etta which reminded me of The Sound of Music, and then, the Loyalist in episode 2 was captured by the gang when he went to feed the birds. Julie Andrews singing, “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins anyone? I know, I know. I’m crazy. I must be experiencing a Julie Andrews withdrawal. I still want to connect Princess Diaries somehow to Fringe though. There a few more episodes left. big grin

  • Why is Peter wearing a different colored shirt? And why is the blanket green? I don't know I LOVE OLIVIA BEING A MOM- she is talking about how it’s so hard to get Etta to take a bath. big hug Cuteness overload and then…heartbreak.  Peter’s shout, “Etta,” pierces my heart. These parents have been through too much pain.broken heart

  • Aww, Etta had the best smile when she saw her mother awake.

  • What’s with the dragon picture on the pillar? Is it important to take note? Grape vines? When did Walter switch to grape? I have so many questions.

  • Oh Snap, Etta just closed the door to interrogate the Loyalist and she came prepared with a torture device. surprise What happened to the sweet little girl blowing dandelions?

  • Uh oh, Mama Olivia just walked in and is not a happy camper. Ground her, Olivia! At least give her a time out.

  • Harsh! “He’s not worth a single tear.” Hopefully some time with the ‘rents will soften Etta and allow her to believe in love, unicorns, candy land, and Santa Claus.
  • The Loyalist wants Olivia to tell his son he loved him very much and to not look for him. broken heart Why are the Observers doing experiments?
  • Yes, I totally agree with ya, Walter. That “Angel device” is barbaric. OH DANG!! Walter is gonna take out the Loyalist’s eye. whew!Whew! Nevermind. He is gonna use a pig’s eye. Oh Fringe, how you play with our emotions.
  • Face painting time, Bishop-Dunham style. Why did Etta just call her dad, “Peter?” Go back to “dad.”

  • Olivia is trying to understand why people join the Loyalists. It’s very odd to see Olivia take a backseat and be the inexperienced one, but I am really enjoying exploring this side of her character. OH. MY. GOSH., here come the emotions…Olivia: “I’m sorry. I know something about losing a child.” cryingcryingThis is the second time she’s mentioned losing a child and it feels like someone just put a stake in my heart, then twisted that stake over and over again until a huge gaping hole was formed.

  • GAH! “You knew if they went to that area they wouldn’t be cleared.” I love how angry Olivia gets with the Loyalist when she thinks he put her family in danger. She is a mother bear. big hug I do miss BAMF Olivia, but mother/wife Olivia is just as awesome.
  • Holy Mackerel! It’s Simon’s friggin’ head and he just blinked! surprise Etta is royally pissed.

  • “We have to win so that all the people that died didn’t die for nothing.” Ladies and gentleman, this is Olivia Dunham, one of the heroines in television. applause
  • It’s the clapper!!!!!!  thumbs up
  • Dang, baby Bishop is gonna interrogate the Loyalist some more.

  • Whoa now. Etta, you just crossed the line. You can never say your mom is “weak.” You have no idea, what she’s lived through. NO IDEA!! It was no walk in the park when she joined Fringe Division. You are grounded, young lady.

  • Etta to Loyalist: “You don’t have a son, do you?” WHAAAT!??! surprisesurprisesurprisesurprise NO WAY. HE LIED TO OLIVIA. SO FURIOUS RIGHT NOW. Really, Etta? Wow, I take it back. Even after hearing that he lied to your mom, you are letting him go? You are a better person than I thought. happy
  • Loyalist: “I saw a certainty I’ve never seen before. I felt for the first time that we were supposed to win.” He was Dunhamed!! That is the power of Olivia!!!! thumbs upthumbs up OLIVIA NEEDS TO BE GIVEN THE ‘BEST PERSON OF THE YEAR’ AWARD!!!

  • Walter’s tapes are an apocalyptic  scavenger hunt. “You were chosen for this. This is your destiny I understand if you are frightened. It will not be easy. But I trust that the same will that brought you here will keep you going.” Great speech, Wally!!

  • Olivia just a call from her little-hero-in-training, “I’m on my way back.” Gah, Olivia’s struck love struck big hugbig hug She is relieved that Etta does have a heart and she is proud of her little one for doing the right thing. Mother of the year! This moment needs a Frimmy. Oh boy…her come the emotions again. cryingcrying

Thank you Fringe Files, “dunhamgetinmybed,” and Tumblr for providing the screencaps and gifs.


A #HurryUpMary Update
Fringe 5×01 “Transilience Thought Unifier, Model-11”: Reactions from a First Time Viewer
Fringe 3×09 “Marionette”: Reactions from a First Time Viewer
Fringe 3×08 “Entrada”: Reactions from a First Time Viewer


Posted on November 2, 2012, in Television and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Ugh 1h 10min until tonite ep is on. Thank you for another wonderful recap Mary!! A much needed distraction & keep me from ruining myself by peaking at twitter.

    I also agree Olivia definitely doesn’t feel quite connected in this ep & you’ll find out why in the next.


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