FRINGE Recap: ‘Anomaly XB-6783746′
December 22, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
[This post contains spoilers for the FRINGE episode “Anomaly XB-6783746.” Please don’t read this until you’ve viewed the episode, or important aspects of the hour will be ruined for you.]
FRINGE fans, I think we need to observe (ugh, no pun intended) a moment of silence right about now.
Not only was this the last FRINGE episode of 2012, but this is the last hiatus the show will ever have, we got some answers…oh, yeah, and we lost one of our own.
Nina Sharp, the keeper of information, the riddle wrapped in the enigma (who still managed to be a badass 20+ years in the future while rocking a wheelchair), gave her life for the cause, to save the wee Observer (AKA Michael), and because she loved our Fringe team that much to die protecting them.
Here’s the thing: Nina’s death likely wasn’t a surprise to you as you were watching the episode unfold. It was clear Nina was in serious trouble before the opening credits rolled (when the Observers descended upon her office and realized she knew about Michael) and the second she rolled outside to call Olivia and accidentally made it possible for the Observers to track her, it seemed fairly obvious she was doomed one way or the other. But if she had to die, massive applause that it happened this way.
Nina was a badass woman until the very end. She joined our Fringe team for “Anomaly XB-6783746” when they told her they had Michael, and she took them to a Massive Dynamic black lab where she thought there might be useful tech to help communicate with him. When the tech didn’t work right and they realized they needed another piece, Peter/Olivia/Walter went off to search for it, leaving Nina with the wee Observer. After Olivia warned Nina the Observers knew she was a traitor, Nina was visibly shaken, and Michael, sensing her pain, reached out and touched her. She had a jolt, but the moment was interrupted when the Observers came. She helped hide Michael, and then faced off against Windmark as he judged her for keeping Observers as test subjects, read her — and she blocked some of it — and she taunted him about what she had learned about Observers from her research. (I’m sure if Windmark had emotions, he’d be annoyed about being compared to a lizard.) And then she paid him the ultimate “f*** off” move: she took a gun and shot herself in the head so she wouldn’t put Michael or her friends in danger by getting read. Once again, love overcame the Observers, because there was nothing Nina wouldn’t do to save these people. (Especially Olivia.) The self-satisfied smirk that Windmark was wearing when Nina brandished the gun at the Observers ever so faintly disappeared after her suicide when he realized Nina had gotten the better of him.
Do I still have dozens of Nina-based questions? Yes. Absolutely. Even if she had lived until the series finale, I still would have been left with questions. But I’m not unsatisfied. It may be helping that for as much as we knew this Nina, we really didn’t. We knew she was Olivia and Rachel’s caretaker when they were younger. We know (a little of) her story pre-Walter crossing universes in the 80s. But so much was a blank. In the old timeline, I had so many specific questions, where here it feels like my questions are broader, which is bizarrely helping with my satisfaction level.
But that’s nothing to speak of how traumatized I felt while watching the episode. Nina’s death was “sudden” (in theory), but something I had been steeling myself for. I was less prepared for Walter, Olivia, and Peter walking into the room and finding her body.
It took until my second viewing of the scene for me to realize how clearly you could see Olivia reflected in the pool of Nina’s blood. Anna Torv’s facial expressions as Olivia almost numbly processed yet another massive loss was heartbreaking. Walter’s panicked run, his face falling and his questioning, “Nina?” killed me. John Noble (Walter) plays anguish better than any actor out there.
And Peter. Peter who just a few episodes ago was willing to give up everything for revenge was their quiet rock, stroking his wife’s hair, comforting his grieving father. Joshua Jackson is often underrated, but he is really such a great presence on this show.
Thankfully, Nina’s sacrifice wasn’t wasted: Peter, Olivia, and Walter were able to retrieve the boy (who was hiding) and Michael shed a (literal) single tear over the loss of Nina. Way to kill me, kid.
Later, he and Walter were able to communicate. The big reveal? Donald is September. Again, not something that was likely a major surprise to many of you (and since last season ended with September coming to Walter’s lab to warn of the upcoming invasion, it certainly has been laid out for us), but how frustrating that the reveal was ruined by having Michael Cerveris’ (September) name in the opening credits.
Other thoughts, theories, etc.
- “I’m nothing if I can’t be a resource for you.” Nice foreshadowing, Nina.
- Blair Brown (Nina) was absolutely incredible in this episode. I’ve always been in awe of her layers as an actress, but she was breathtaking in this episode as Nina went through so many emotions in the final hours of her life.
- I’m so glad we got a Peter/Nina chat. That relationship has been largely overlooked in the new timeline, but Nina would have likely been Walter’s best hope. I’m glad she was able to impart a bit of wisdom before she died. Though it did nothing to quiet my fears that Walter will ultimately die, too.
- Broyles is now the sole team member who can freely move out in the world…how long will THAT last?
- Walter seems to be slipping into his old personality more and more. I so appreciated Peter forcing Walter to acknowledge Michael by his name versus “the subject.”
- So the Observers dubbed the wee Observer “Anomaly XB-6783746″…I think I’ll stick with wee Observer/Michael.
- Was what Nina saw when Michael touched her what Walter saw? Or was she surprised by something else?
- So, is Walter screwed in terms of getting his brain pieces taken out?
- Can we give Astrid something more meaningful to do? Please?
- Is Donald September pre-Observerness? Post-Observerness? And if the team didn’t witness something terrible happen to September pre-ambering, why the heck didn’t they think to seek him out before? At the very least, he’d be an ally.
- Good for Olivia for opening up to Peter about what she felt when she saw Etta’s face on those “Resist” posters.
- Bittersweet seeing Olivia and Peter taking care of Michael because they were never a part of Etta’s life when she was that age. I wonder if Peter thought about Henry at all.
- It dawned on me tonight that they still haven’t touched back on Olivia’s slightly mistaken memories. I wonder when that will pop up again?
- Windmark needs a painful, slow, torturous death. Painful. Very painful.
- This episode re-emphasized my desire for there not to be a reboot. Yes, right now it’s dark. Yes, it’s dreary. Yes, it kind of hurts to think about how much has been lost. But it needs to be for something. This pain needs to have weight, or what’s the point?
- Update (because I’d kick myself if I left this out after thinking about it for hours): I love the show’s use of flashbacks in recent episodes. It’s reminding me of so many of the best moments the series has had so far, and while I don’t know if there will be room to use them in the last three installments, I’ve been impressed every time they’ve done it.
This is it, guys. The last FRINGE hiatus ever. Only the three-episode series finale/two FRINGE Fridays to go. Were you moved by “Anomaly XB-6783746”? Have any great theories about the final three episodes? Let’s hear them!
Filed under Fringe Recap