FRINGE Recap: ‘The Recordist’
October 13, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
I’m so very curious to hear what you guys thought of Friday’s episode of FRINGE, “The Recordist,” because I can’t remember a time when a non-myth heavy/season finale hour of the show split my friends so much in terms of how they felt about it.
As for me, I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed the first two episodes more, I appreciated they moved the plot forward slightly in the episode (and it once again emphasized that they’re not telling this story the way most network shows are told), but there were a couple of fantastic scenes that really stood out to me.
So instead of doing a regular recap, I really wanted to shine the light on two particular scenes…and what they might mean for the series going forward.
Peter and Olivia discuss the fallout from their trip to Donovan’s.
When Etta offered her parents apples (now conveniently in tablet-sized bites!), Peter brought up an amazing apple pie he and Olivia had while searching for their MIA daughter. Olivia claimed she didn’t remember the name of the restaurant, and later, Peter brought it up when they were alone…
Peter: Did I upset you? Earlier, when I was talking about the restaurant, it seemed like you were upset. I know you don’t forget names.
Olivia: Donovan’s. That was the name of the restaurant. It’s not that I can’t remember, it’s that I can’t forget. Do you remember when we couldn’t find her that day, you drew a plan on a napkin?
Peter: Yeah, of course I do.
Olivia: You were talking about going up to Maine, to this refugee camp that you’d heard about, and I was looking at you and nodding, and in my head, I was thinking, “I can’t go.” Behind you, you couldn’t see it, but there was a wall of “missing person” flyers. Every day, the odds of finding our little girl the way we wanted to find her were getting worse and we didn’t talk about it. I couldn’t put it into words then, but I felt responsible.
Peter: Responsible how?
Olivia: I wanted so much to be a mother, but I just didn’t think that I was programmed that way. That I was destined for something else. Ever since I was a kid, since the Cortexiphan trial, I was at odds. So how could I have this incredible little girl? So when we lost her, it felt like that was my punishment; my punishment for being too conflicted to appreciate her when we had her. And that day at the restaurant, I knew that I had to go back to New York, because I didn’t want to find what I knew we were going to find. I just believed so strongly that she was dead and I didn’t want to see it. And you thought I went back because of my strength, and she said she admired me today.
Peter: Olivia, I saw how you were with our little girl. I know how much you love her. And I’m not telling you to forget it, but the past is the past. Don’t let it get in the way of this. I don’t know why it’s happening, but our family got a second chance. So I’m going to take it.
First off, major props to Anna Torv (Olivia) and Joshua Jackson (Peter) who absolutely killed that scene. The show actually managed to accomplish a lot in a relatively short time (before the duo was interrupted by Etta, who told them that the Observers were tracking them): we got a glimpse into how Peter and Olivia handled Etta’s disappearance, why Olivia left, another piece in the timeline of the less than two months between Etta’s disappearance, and Peter stating unequivocally that he intends for his family to remain together.
While we never got to see Olivia as a mother, it makes sense she’d have so much self-doubt. Very little about her life was ideal or simplistic, so it’s understandable she’d be doubting her capabilities. Heck, she probably spent a good portion of time waiting for the other shoe to drop on her “happily ever after” and clearly, it did. She lost her kid. And while they may be reunited now, there’s no way the Peter-Olivia-Etta dynamic will ever be normal. But at the same time, we’ve seen Olivia’s compassion…I don’t doubt Peter was right about how she was as a mother, either. (I wouldn’t object to a non-Observer-y flashback, though.)
Exposition is to be expected when you pretty much skip 24 years of storytelling and much of the world went on without you, but I almost wished there was a little more to the scene. Right now, I’m having problems reconciling the wedding ring issue. And yes, it may be minor, but Peter and Olivia clearly were wearing rings in their flashbacks. Unless we’re supposed to discount what happened in their dreams completely (given the inconsistencies of their memories), what we know so far — and what we were told in this episode — doesn’t seem to jive up with the massive step of taking off your wedding ring.
And are we supposed to assume they’re having conversations with Etta off screen? While I absolutely appreciated them diving back into Peter and Olivia’s fractured family dynamic after not addressing it last week, you’d think the duo would carve out, say, an hour and say, “Etta, let’s chat. First 30 minutes, you tell us about your life away from us and the last 30, we’ll ask questions.” She clearly knew enough about them to search for them — yet the Observers didn’t know she was Peter and Olivia’s kid? — but we don’t know how. We don’t know why. Hopefully we’ll find out more soon.
A father sacrifices himself with the hope that his child will have the chance to lead a better life.
Tape #3 (because of course they were out of order) led Team Fringe to Pennsylvania, where they eventually realized (thanks to Astrid cleaning up the tape) that they were supposed to get crystals. Unfortunately, the crystals were in a deadly mine. In theory, a protective suit could have worked to save anyone who went in, but they were missing an ingredient, so one of the local people — Edwin, who had been recording history since the Invasion started — decided he would make the sacrifice and had to break the news to his son.
Edwin: River, look at me son. What you saw back there in that tent, there’s a lot more to the word “coward” and the word “hero” than you think. It’s complicated. You’re not a coward if you’re frightened. That’s not what it means. You’re a coward if you know what needs to be done and you don’t do it. I was telling that man out there that I have a lot to lose: our work, the life we have here, you. I told him I love you so much, I wouldn’t know how to say goodbye. When your mother got sick, I promised her I’d protect you no matter what. But I’m conflicted. There’s a time for recording history and there’s a time for making it. We don’t get a lot of opportunities up here to make it. I’ve decided to help them. To do my part.
River: I don’t want to lose you.
Edwin: I don’t want to lose you, either. But protecting you, and making sure there’s a world out there you can thrive in…I love you so much.
River: It’s OK, Dad. I understand.
Edwin: No, you don’t. But you will one day. When you have children of your own.
And then Edwin sacrificed himself to get our Fringe team the crystals they need for part of their plan to (hopefully) save the world.
Look, that was sad in and of itself, but the entire time I was watching that scene, my heart was trying to convince my brain that this wasn’t some pretty heavy foreshadowing about what’s to come with the show and our core characters. At this point, I feel like I could make pretty strong arguments about why Walter, Peter, and/or Olivia would die before the series ends. (For the record, I’m not saying I WANT that to happen.) Scenes like that? Yeah, they’re not helping my peace of mind — or my delusion that all the characters I care about will make it out of this in one piece. I feel like you could very easily swap any of our characters into that scene, especially since we’ve seen how far these guys are willing to go in order to try and do the right thing for the people they care about.
Headlines I was able to spot of post-invasion newspapers:
“Fringe Division Sanctioned to Police ___” (And what was that last word?!)
“Oxygen Levels Reach New Lows”
“Thousands of Libraries Burned to the Ground”
“Original Fringe Team Presumed Dead”
“Special Division of FBI Called Upon to Fight Invaders”
Other thoughts, theories, etc.:
- Olivia reciting the wrong number back from what Tape!Walter said — real-life goof (either of the actors or a script change), or a sign of something more?
- Who is Donald?
- We saw Broyles in the promo for the next episode, but where is Nina Sharp?!
- The end scene where Olivia reached back to lovingly rub her daughter’s leg (and then Etta grabbed her hand), while Peter hot-wired a car and Walter put on funky glasses and praised their new vehicle — I love that so much. The Bishop gang is so perfectly dysfunctional.
Exchange of the night:
Peter: “Walter, you stored the tapes out of order.”
So, what did you think? Was “The Recordist” what you were hoping for?
And to be the first to see our exclusive
Filed under Fringe Recap