‘FRINGE’ 5×10 Photo Recap: “Anomaly XB-6783746”
Well I think you guys all know what I’m going to say… No, it’s not how glad I am that Anil wasn’t in this episode. (Although that’s true too.) It’s that I can’t believe how awesome it is that we got another montage in this episode!!! I mean, I already got most of the things on my Christmas list: a Fringe montage, Peter and Olivia back together, Peter with his shirt off, a scene that I could somehow work George Michael into… All that’s left on my wish list is the demise of Anil, and seeing Lincoln Lee one more time (preferably Alt-Lincoln, but I’d take either one). I don’t really see that happening, but you never know. If anyone could pull it off, it’s Santa Joel Wyman. Speaking of Santa, let’s get started so I can go wrap the pile of Fringe DVDs I’m giving to everyone I’ve ever met. I’ll be sure to attach a note that says, “You’re welcome in advance—and I’m sorry for the emotional turbulence that you are about to endure.”
When we last left off, things were finally starting to fall into place (sort of, not really) with the whole Master Plan thing, or at least with the part that involved finding the empath/possible mini-Observer that Donald had left in the Pocket Universe. I really hope they at least took that poor kid out for fro-yo or something before they took him back to the lab to run tests on him and stuff. I bet Michael is seriously missing those quiet years of playing Connect Four in a cabin in the woods.
After running some non-comatose tests, they determined that, a) Michael doesn’t have any Observer tech in his brain, and b) he does not eat Red Vines. That being said, they still didn’t have a way to communicate with him. Apparently my suggestion of charades was not feasible, and flash cards were also out of the question. So what do you do when you have a seemingly ageless mute boy with Observer traits who might know the key to saving the world? Call Nina Sharp!
But before Olivia could tell Nina all about their current predicament while she was AT WORK in a totally non-secure glass room within earshot of her Loyalist secretary (are they even trying to stay under the radar?) this happened…
Windmark and his cronies came and harassed Nina’s secretary, and probably ate all the M&Ms in the communal bowl on her desk. Observers are so inconsiderate like that. They also did some fancy shenanigans with Nina’s glass door. I’m pretty sure they were just Windex-ing it. If there’s one thing Observers like more than M&Ms, it’s clean glass surfaces.
Whatever they did, they were somehow able to figure out what Nina had said on the phone with Olivia. So I guess the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding was right—Windex really can do anything.
They met up with Nina at a safer location (read: the middle of a busy street in the middle of the day). What are these people thinking? They are wanted fugitives, and they’re just wandering around like an abnormally attractive tour group? Way to lie low, guys. Anyway, Nina and Olivia did that adorable thing where they both try to be nice without being overly familiar because of that whole thing where they used to be like mother and daughter and then Olivia got her memories reset to original pre-reboot Olivia and now she doesn’t remember their history together.
Nina met Michael and didn’t really seem to have any further insight into who or what he is, or how to communicate with him. Isn’t that just like all adolescents? Once they start to hit puberty, you can’t get so much as a grunt out of them when you try to have a conversation. Am I right? Just put on some dubstep and give him a Hot Pocket. Then if you’re lucky you’ll get a monosyllabic response. Nina offered to let them use her secret “black lab” (seriously? Is it a vet clinic on the weekends?) so that they could find a way to communicate with Michael.
When they got to the facility, they found a rather sparsely decorated but sterile laboratory, along with some really creepy unconscious (or really well-preserved) Observers lying on slabs under glass.
Meanwhile, we met this guy, who looked like Anil’s scruffy American cousin:
Hastings actually made me miss Anil because I found him even more irritating (for no apparent reason). As you may have noticed, I’m finding that a lot of the random extra characters this season have had an unfortunately low helpfulness-to-annoyance ratio. But again, this is my problem, not the show’s. I’m just overly sensitive to characters that don’t deserve to be here as much as others. (*cough cough* Lincoln Lee *cough*) Whatever, I don’t know what to say about this guy except that he was sweating a lot and he was wearing a VEST. Need I say more?
So the gang had to break into a guarded facility to get another Laser Helmet in order to communicate with Michael. Astrid was of course stuck in the lab, but she still had to do all the heavy lifting to help break them into the building.
They managed to get inside thanks to Astrid’s technological know-how. While I was watching her and Peter video-chatting on their com devices, I thought what a great opportunity this would have been for some great Sprint product placement, just like the good ol’ days. I bet Fringe’s sponsors are none too pleased about this whole 2036 thing because it means they can’t put a 30-second Nissan commercial in the middle of every episode. Oh well… At least there’s always room for a Red Vines plug.
Inside, the facility looked like the industrial science equivalent of IKEA: aisles and aisles of boxes with random strings of consonants on them. In another part of the same building, Hastings was being interrogated by Windmark about Nina and the gang’s whereabouts.
Really, Hastings? You’re gonna correct Observer Palpatine? Do you have a death wish? I hope so, because I really don’t like you. To be fair, if Peter or Olivia or Walter had talked back to Windmark, it would have been badass, but for some reason when Hastings does it, he still comes off as a simpering idiot.
Walter finally found the special Rogaine Helmet they were looking for and they almost made it out of there without any problems. But where would be the fun in that?
Thanks a lot, Hastings. You were such a valuable addition to the Fringe world this week. Sigh… But I suppose he was necessary in order for things to go the way they did. Which is to say, he facilitated Nina’s death. So THANKS A LOT, JERKFACE. I hope your vest gets peed on by wild possums.
Olivia called Nina to tell her that her cover was blown and that she couldn’t go back to work or to her home.
Peter and Olivia broke out Hastings anyway, because that’s the kind of people they are. And, hey, any excuse to bust on some Loyalists and continue their reputation as the most ass-kicking husband-and-wife team on television, right?
Nina went to break the news to Michael, though she was not very successful at hiding her emotional distress from him. (Which was of course their goal for the entire episode.)
I should mention that, in my head, Michael spent his years in the Pocket Universe catching up on the first four seasons of Fringe. Don’t ask me to explain the logic in that, because it does not exist. But then again, neither does the Pocket Universe, really. Existential conundrum FTW!
Michael connected with Nina! I guess all you had to do was have an emotional breakdown for him to be able to connect with you. Wow, where was this kid two episodes ago? This season there’s been a breakdown at least every other episode. (And I’m not just talking about my own.)
Time was short though, because Windmark was on his way to the lab to bring the pain and break some stuff.
Speaking of breaking things, it was great to see a good old-fashioned carjacking from the Bishop family. Watching Peter smash that van window so they could commandeer it was the first time I’ve felt like the old Peter is really back.
Let’s talk about the complicated relationship between Windmark and elevators. Remember in “The Human Kind” when he was so impatient he pushed the elevator button like three times? And the very beginning of this episode included an ominous shot of the elevator doors closing on his face (well, not on his face, unfortunately). As he waited for the elevator doors to open at the black lab, it was like he suddenly realized, “Hey, I can teleport.” Or maybe he really likes to press all the buttons for the different floors and make them all light up. I don’t know. He’s a cryptic one, that Windmark.
NINAAAAAAA! Oh Nina. You had a long and full life, and you were one of the most awesomely badass characters on Fringe, which is saying a lot since this show is filled with the most elite badasses on TV. You will be missed.
Walter’s reaction gutted me. Surprisingly more so than Olivia’s did. I guess with her new (old) memories, this Olivia wasn’t as close to Nina as Walter was, despite his complicated relationship with her. I’m sure a part of him was weeping for his own lost salvation. Without Nina to remove his brain tissue, he’s doomed to descend into his old self. Walter must feel even more alone now, without Bell or Nina to anchor him and remind him of the man he once was and what he’s done. Nina was probably the last person who knew the real him—for better or worse. Peter and Olivia know a version of him, but this Walter is different from our original timeline’s Walter, and he’s lost his connection to his past, and possibly his hope for a future as the man he has become.
In yet another instance this season of the Fringe team watching themselves on a recording, they reviewed the video of the time leading up to Nina’s death. They discovered that the Observers had not taken Michael as they suspected—he was just really good at hide-and-seek.
Then Michael did something unexpected: he showed an emotion! He shed a tear for the woman who had died to protect him, and for the loss felt by everyone around him.
With that, Walter and Michael were ready to connect via Laser Helmets (now available from SkyMall). Walter would ask a question aloud and Michael would respond silently. It was kind of like playing telephone with two paper cups attached by a string, only instead, their brains were attached by neural lasers. But first…
(Sorry…I’m sure eventually that will stop being so exciting.)
And then suddenly… MONTAGE!!!
KABOOM. That was the sound of my brain exploding. Oh sorry, that was a poor choice of words. But the revelation that September is Donald is seriously mind-blowing. I have been waiting so long for some September backstory, so I’m really excited about this. Also, how cute is he with hair?! And smiling! I’m eager to learn about how Donald became September and what is involved in his plan to defeat the Observers. This just further supports my theory that there should be a spin-off series of Fringe told from September’s perspective. Just picture it… “Dear Diary: Today I had to jump in a freezing lake to save this little boy. I sort of wanted to warn him about impregnating the wrong woman twenty years from now, but I think it’d be more fun to just let it play out…”
A few more notable tidbits: when Windmark was telling Nina about Michael, he said the boy was an “anomaly,” which I believe is the exact wording Olivia used when she was talking to Simone the oracle in “The Human Kind.” I don’t really know what this could mean, but I wonder if Olivia will regain or reactivate some of her anomalous powers.
Also, is it just me, or was the elevator a more important supporting character than Hastings or Anil in this episode? I am all about the inanimate objects this season.
I still can’t believe Nina is actually dead. She’s been around since the beginning. We’ve seen so many different versions of Nina over the seasons: old Nina, younger Nina, Shapeshifter Nina, Alt-Nina… She’s one of the most resilient characters in the Fringe universe(s). Remember that time she and Broyles were a thing? (Okay, so that was the Nina from the original timeline…) I still don’t understand that, but it made me admire her so much more. Nina Sharp takes what she wants—even if he’s twenty years younger than she is. The fact that her death was so abrupt and so unambiguous (unlike Etta’s, where we never saw a body) makes it even harder to accept. But at least we can say that she had a long life, and she had a lot to show for it—including a robo-arm, a love affair with a billionaire, a loving relationship with Reboot-Olivia, and the most extensive and flattering collection of wigs on television. RIP Nina Sharp. You are a true Fringe legend.
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
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