FRINGE Recap: 'A Short Story About Love' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRINGE Recap: ‘A Short Story About Love’

March 23, 2012 by  

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


19 Responses to “FRINGE Recap: ‘A Short Story About Love’”

  1. Kristina on March 23rd, 2012 10:16 pm

    Thought it was great! A love letter to the fans. Appropriate given the theme of the episode.

  2. Jes on March 23rd, 2012 10:30 pm

    Loved it!! I had a feeling there was no “other” timeline for Peter! So excited for the next episodes!

  3. Scifi451 on March 24th, 2012 2:25 am

    The producers really did come through when they said everything will be made clear on why did the season like they did and pay it off in a good way for the fans. To me tonight they fulfilled that what they said they would do with how this episode ended. They gave us an explanation that made sense and that works for the shows history.

  4. Dessy on March 24th, 2012 6:34 am

    I think it was aweeesssommme
    Micahel Masse was creepily brilliant as the monster of the week, and the Observer Mythology was great, the cast’s acting was brilliant. The ending was perfect.
    It really was an ‘ideal’ Fringe episode.

  5. Ray Roberson on March 24th, 2012 7:49 am

    If I recall correctly, this episode would have been the last one before the second season break. If placed correctly, we would have been mulling over the break with good vibrations of Peter and Olivia’s relationship – setting us up for the season ending set of episodes.

    It seems my conjecture several episodes back that “love” played an integral part in Peter’s return. Now, I have a few more questions about elements of past episodes and “tin foil hat” speculations about future episodes.

    Q: The metallic object was a “beacon”. What was the beacon’s purpose in Season 1, where we also saw what appears to be an infant “Observer”?

    Q: Have we really averted the “future world” shown at the end of last season?

    P: I am struck by a concept that Peter was the original creator of the machine “after the future Olivia was killed” and set out the “bread crumbs” to its discovery. // Q > If so, will Olivia’s death be avoided? [For those that saw the 2002 remake of “The Time Machine”, I point to the plot’s reason for the actual creation of the machine.]

  6. laffers18 on March 24th, 2012 1:18 pm

    It. Rocked. My. World.

    I laughed, I cried…I was grossed out. The perfect Fringe episode.

  7. Marisa Roffman on March 24th, 2012 1:32 pm

    @Ray: You’re correct, this was originally set to be the last one before the break. I think that would have been a more natural place to take the break, too.

    Glad everyone seems to have enjoyed it, too!

  8. pumpkin on March 24th, 2012 1:42 pm

    Great review and yes Anna Torv and Blair Brown were phenomenal.

  9. ollie on March 24th, 2012 2:11 pm

    Marisa, I have to ask, remember you posted an interview with Wyman and Pinkner a while back where they said ‘she is not his Olivia.’? WTF is up with that? Did they actually say it or were you filling in the blanks as (understandably) reporters sometimes do.

  10. Marisa Roffman on March 24th, 2012 4:21 pm
  11. TVDIVA on March 24th, 2012 6:31 pm

    Like most Fringe fans I had invested three seasons watching Walter/Peter/Olivia grow as a family, and to see Peter cast out in the fourth season as an outsider was annoying and heartbreaking. I feel the writers could have given us the information we got tonight like by the third episode, and continued with almost twenty more thrilling episodes this season. But I am not writing this so I take what I can get. I keep playing the past eight minutes over and over again. Anna Torv and Blair Brown made me weep with that lovely scene, and I was clapping and cheering when Olivia and Peter finally hugged and kissed. I think honestly think September is a descendant of Olivia and Peter and that is why he is so personally involved and why Peter could activate the beacon in this episode and Walter could easily hide it in Season One. I also think we still have to deal with September’s prediction that Olivia must die no matter what timeline she is in. Does that mean Walter and Peter will bring up baby Henry alone in the future? Who knows. Whatever happens I am along for the ride until the end.

  12. ollie on March 24th, 2012 7:06 pm

    Apologies marisa, the interview was actually with Laura P

  13. John on March 24th, 2012 10:26 pm

    Great recap/review.

    As for the other Observers not knowing that September was going to reappear, trhat doesn’t surprise me. despite their ability to be at any time they aren’t omniscient. One Observer (October or September) screws up Walternant’s experiements to save Peter becuse he didn’t forsee he would distract Walternant. The other Observors didn’t forsee that same Observor killing himslef to make someone (I have forgotten who for the moment) important enough to be allowed to live. And they have failed to forsee other stuff, including Peter’s reappearance.

    For all their abilities, they seem to miss a lot.

  14. Marisa Roffman on March 25th, 2012 12:03 pm

    @ollie: How DARE you read other FRINGE articles?! 😉 No, seriously, Laura is a fantastic reporter, so I have no doubt that’s literally what they said to her. (She did it in a Q&A form so you can actually see what they said, too, versus just her take on it.) Not sure what to say about that, except they were probably speaking to Peter’s mindset, which they definitely have done in the past with me.

    @John: That’s a very good point. Hm…

  15. Zepp on March 26th, 2012 12:22 am

    For me, I found a great episode, from beginning to end. As I watched, this is an episode with two planes of the scene, a plan, we find Olivia, turns to a guy insane and complicated, making pure evil, in order to achieve something far away from him, what is love . And on another level, it was Peter who, in search of an address, I think that Walter in his eyes, he found the Observer in September, within a torpedo! Incidentally, this scene Observer talking to Peter, was very well played, very well performed by two actors, both by Joshua Jackson, and Michael Cerveris. A scene filled drama and emotion.

    And the final scene, for me, I think it was a simple deference to writers for us fans. Of course it’s a scene already widely used in classic movies, yes, but at least for me, she broke all that terror that was the beginning of the episode, and at the same time, gave us a wonderful scene with a hug spinning, the two lovers, our favorite characters Peter and Olivia, excellent! I can only be reached for the writers and producers of Fringe, and say thank you! And it’s always with optimism, as I say, “Go Fringe, for the 5th season! Go!”

  16. Ray Roberson on March 26th, 2012 12:37 am


    I believe one of the critical pieces of information to unlock Fringe is “Which universe are these Observers from?” September interrupted Walternate and disrupted the timeline in the Alternate universe, so it may be logical to deduce that September was there to observe “something important” to the future of the Alternate Universe – to a timeline that (up until the time of his mistake) had Walternate discovering the cure for his son.

    We do not know what events occurred in the original unspoiled timeline, but we do know that September’s attempts to put things back into order have failed. It’s like the argument in “Back to the Future II”, where you have to go back in time to correct the change that you actually caused in the first place – without causing another modification of the timeline.

    Therefore, the other Observers did not know what September – and Peter – were doing because it never happened in the timeline that they already knew about. If they went forward in time to discover what happened, they may not be able to get back to the current timeline.

    Clear as mud … right? 🙂

  17. Drew Smith on March 26th, 2012 11:40 pm

    One correction: September didn’t say “They locked me up.” He said “They locked me out.”

  18. Marisa Roffman on March 26th, 2012 11:55 pm

    @Drew: You are absolutely correct. Thanks for the catch!

  19. Amy tvgirl222 on March 29th, 2012 9:08 am

    New Nina is losing a daughter, but new Walter is gaining a son — can’t wait for that one. The universe is still in balance I guess. 🙂
    I hope we get at least a dozen episodes next year – I’m not ready for it to end.