FRINGE Recap: ‘A Short Story About Love’
March 23, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
As frustrating as I found the end of the last FRINGE episode, “A Better Human Being,” to be, the conclusion of “A Short Story About Love” was equally — if not more so — rewarding.
I know, I know, we should talk about all the good stuff that came before that, so let’s get started…
After Peter told Olivia she wasn’t really the woman he loved and he had to go find his Olivia, apparently he also decided the best thing would be to leave town. Unfortunately for him, Walter had a camera set up in the lab and while studying the footage of the Observer disappearing into thin air, he realized September had actually placed something in Peter’s eye. (No, seriously, WHAT?!) They extracted it and found the address to September’s home, so off Peter went to explore that.
Over at September’s apartment, he looked over the fairly simple living space (I loved all the old newspapers!) and found a gadget that ended up being a tracking device. It led him to a beacon, which Peter brought home.
Meanwhile, Olivia was struggling with her feelings for Peter…while simultaneously forgetting the woman she had been in his absence. It didn’t help that she was working on a case all about love — women kept getting killed off shortly after their spouse had died (and the ladies were found with a concentrated amount of pheromones on their neck).
Olivia and Lincoln went out to track down people with access to one of the rare chemical ingredients which could lead them to their perp, but thanks to Astrid’s research, they were able to quickly find a suspect and track down his home. Unfortunately, the man — who was very burned — had already killed another victim, but Lincoln and Olivia spot the dead man’s ring and go to his home to protect his wife. However, the couple wasn’t truly in love and the dead man actually was having an affair, so the mistress was the real target (whoops?) and Olivia got there just in time to save her.
After he was caught, the burned man told Olivia, “I don’t want you to think I did it for me. Well, not just for me. We’re not meant to be alone. It’s every human being’s right to know love. And I succeeded. I found the right chemicals and just the right balance. I could have given the world what you have.” And what did Olivia have? Love.
In fact, that love was strong enough that Olivia ultimately decided the best thing for her was to “let things run its course,” as she told Nina. Nina was skeptical of that being the right move for her “daughter” and questioned whether it was really best to give up her own identity for “memories of a life you didn’t live.” Olivia was sure it was the right move. Nina questioned how long they had before the new Olivia took over, but Olivia couldn’t give her any concrete answers, which led to one of my favorite exchanges of the series so far:
Nina: Well, my mother used to say, “Encourage the quest for happiness in your children even if it takes them very far away from you.”
Olivia: When the day comes, if I don’t remember this, I want you to try and build something with me again. Don’t give up on me. I love you, Nina.
Nina: I love you, Olive.
Tears, guys. Actual tears. Anna Torv (Olivia) and Blair Brown (Nina) were phenomenal in that scene. But the episode wasn’t done yet.
Peter got the beacon to turn on and out from the light came September.
“They hid the universe from me,” he told Peter. “They locked me out.” (I’m sorry, how did the other Observers not see that coming? Can’t they see the future and all its possibilities? Was this a set-up?)
Peter quickly realized he had helped September, so he asked for some help of his own.
Peter: I need you to help me now. I have tried everything I can think of, everything that I know how to do to get back home and none of it has worked. And nobody here can help me. But you can. I know you can. Please, help me get back home.
September: You have been home all along.
Peter: I don’t understand. I was erased.
September: There is no scientific explanation, but I have a theory based on a uniquely human principle. I believe you could not be fully erased because the people who care about you would not let you go. And you would not let them go. I believe you call it “love.”
Peter: And Olivia?
September: She is your Olivia.
And then September vanished. Wonder when (or where) he’ll next pop up?
The episode closes with Peter and Olivia spotting each other on the street and reuniting with a twirl and a kiss. Aw. (A little surprised she ran into his arms given how they last parted, but I suppose love makes you throw logic out the window sometimes.)
As creepy as the case was, the last seven and a half minutes are absolutely what made the episode for me. We now know for sure Peter is home-home, but what the heck does that actually mean for the show? We have this big question answered, and yet there are about 5,000 more that pop up. (Will other people start to remember Peter? Does it mean these personality changes are permanent? Are all events that happened in his absence going to stick? It hurts my brain to think about it!)
Some other thoughts…
- I love new Nina. I want to keep her. She is a great mother figure to Olivia and she’s — gasp! — funny. (When Olivia says she wishes time would move quicker, Nina retorts, “Well, that’s a coincidence, because we just filed a patent on that last week.”) I really hope that we don’t lose that relationship with wherever the show goes in the future.
- Oh, Lincoln. Poor, poor, gonna-be-left-out-in-the-cold Lincoln. His love for Olivia was written all over his face, whether it was his disappointment over her devastation that Peter planned to leave the city, his awkward attempt to console her while they were at the lab or when the wife of the last murdered man was telling stories about her husband and noted “he was always helping me get over a broken heart.” (You know Lincoln was thinking about his relationship with Olivia in that entire scene.) He has a right to be annoyed/devastated, etc., so it’ll be interesting to see where they take him now that we know for sure the googly eyes he’s been making have been at the original Olivia.
- One of the things that makes me the most sad about this being our original universe is what Peter’s absence has meant for Walter. And it would be terrible if Walter lost those years of his relationship with his son because they did go through so much to finally get to the place they are at.
- FRINGE showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman often speak about how they like to do things that recontextualize what we’ve seen so far, and the fact that this is our universe makes me want to go back and rewatch the first 14 episodes of the season again to see what that knowledge does to them.
Enough from me. I want to hear what you guys thought of the episode! Were you right about Peter’s location all along?
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Filed under Fringe Recap