FRINGE Recap: 'An Origin Story' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRINGE Recap: ‘An Origin Story’

November 3, 2012 by  

Back when Peter Bishop was wiped from existence at the end of FRINGE season 3, some fans (including LOST co-creator Damon Lindelof) believed the way he’d be worked back into the show would be by him becoming an Observer. Heck, Joshua Jackson (Peter) even came out at that year’s Comic-Con panel dressed in full Observer gear. (Though, he lamented not being able to shave his head for the occasion.)

Well, good things come to wait?

Or in this case, good (to watch) things come because of those who are in such agony that there seems like no other option. In the fallout from Etta’s death, our beloved characters are broken. Astrid is Astrid, and Walter is vaguely Walter-y, but my God, Peter and Olivia are understandably destroyed.

Olivia warned Walter she was hanging on by a thread, and there wasn’t one moment in “An Origin Story” that I didn’t believe that; it was as if for the first time ever, Olivia’s emotions had never been more raw and unmasked. Anna Torv was incredible as Olivia tried to continue on, the grief always apparent on her face, before she finally, fully, broke after watching an old home movie of Etta’s birthday. And while things had been fairly static with the Peter and Olivia relationship, Etta’s death had pushed Olivia to be vocal about her concerns with Peter’s safety/mindset and also about the fact that she wanted to be with him. And perhaps if Peter had been in a slightly better mindset, he might not have done what he did.

Peter. Oh, Peter. For as tortured as virtually every character has been, I’m starting to think Peter might have had things the roughest: he was kidnapped from his universe; had the mother who raised him after that stealing commit suicide; had the father who raised him go crazy; got dragged into the Fringe team via blackmail; was made responsible for Walter; had countless of Fringe investigations go just terribly wrong and/or painful; found out he was stolen from another universe; met his crazy-scary bio dad; was convinced to return to the universe he spent most of his life in by Olivia, the woman he was falling for; entered into a relationship with Olivia, only to find out it was really Fauxlivia (whom he knocked up); spent months trying to make things up to Olivia; started taking out shapeshifters; had his girlfriend get possessed by William Bell and went into her mind to save her life; got into the machine and was transported to 2026; experienced 2026!Olivia getting killed and figured out a way to save her…and consequentially erased himself from existence; popped back into existence in a new timeline and had no one remember him; searched for months for a way to get home, only to realize he was home all along; found out he had a kid with Fauxlivia who was erased from existence when he was; had to deal with Bell (and David Robert Jones) trying to destroy the world — and Olivia; watched Walter shoot Olivia in the head; had his child taken from him; split up with Olivia; ambered for 20+ years; and now he lost Etta again. Oh, and he helped save the world like 90 times.

When you look at it like that, is there any surprise this man might finally snap?

And he did. He snapped in a way that seems headed towards the deepest level of destruction. After Etta’s friends captured an Observer — and spotted them getting materials via a wormhole from the future — the Fringe team decided their next move should be to make a black hole to prevent the Observers from getting key materials they needed.

The captured Observer was found with tech that needed to be put together…a cube. Angry!Peter (which, going forward, I think we should assume this is his default setting) realized it could be what opened the wormhole and insisted that was what they needed to focus on: destroying what was on the other end.

Olivia and Walter were hesitant that this was the right choice, but Peter was insistent. Olivia tried to talk to her estranged hubby to get him to change his mind:

Olivia: What about Walter’s plan? We have a mission, this could put that in jeopardy.
Peter: I’m not doubting Walter’s plan, but what do we have? Pieces we don’t know how to put together. A scroll with physics we can’t decipher, a thought-unifer that doesn’t work, and a box of rocks from a mine. That’s what our daughter died for so far. If we do this, we have something tangible. A real victory. It could take them years to recover.
Olivia: I want to hurt them, too.
Peter: Then what is it? What, Olivia, are you worried about me?
Olivia: Yes. Yes. I am. I’m afraid.
Peter: Nothing’s going to happen to me, I can do this. We can do this. Our daughter dedicated her life to freeing us, and now we’re going to dedicate ours to making sure that means something. When we win, when we beat them, I want everyone to know that Etta is responsible for the world being saved.
Olivia: I want that, too.
Peter: Then we have to do this. And we can, Olivia. Together.

Walter stood around the corner listening to the entire thing, and my heart broke a little bit for him, too. He lost his son. Heck, this version of Walter lost two versions of Peter before the grown version came back into his life. He knows this grief and while it’s understandable he would want something different for his child, there was a large part of him that knew exactly what Peter was saying/doing/feeling/thinking. (This entire bit is making me sad all over again that so much of the Walter and Peter relationship was lost with the timeline reset — not only did we lose the years post-kidnapping and pre-Walter’s commitment, but we also lost the first few seasons of their tentative rebonding and earning each other’s love. Alas.)

As Peter went off to talk to the captured Observer, Walter cornered his daughter-in-law and noted he knew that on top of everything else, Olivia was afraid she and Peter were going to lose each other again. “You must face this pain together,” he warned her. No matter what the timeline, universe, reality, whatever, Walter Bishop remains the biggest Peter/Olivia ‘shipper out there.

Walter left Olivia with some sound wisdom: “You can’t escape [the pain] by building walls around your heart or by breaking the universe or by vengeance.” And she took it to heart.

Unfortunately, Peter didn’t get the memo. He used “tells” to figure out from the Observer how to make the cube work, and he and the team set about creating a vortex. However, while Peter and Olivia were able to temporarily stop the wormhole, the impact is minute and Peter was furious.

For as angry as Peter was post-Etta’s death, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him as flat-out terrifying as he was while he put plastic over the Observer’s face in an attempt to suffocate him/scare the daylights out of him. This Peter? Forget breaking the universe like his father, he could destroy us all unintentionally. When the Observer minimizes Etta’s death, Peter insisted, “She is not simply gone, she will be remembered.”

Then he uttered perhaps the 16 scariest words the show has ever given us: “I would be ten times what you are if I had that tech in my head.”

And as such, we have our origin story.

Peter brutally took the Observer’s chip out of his neck (comparing the pain to what a father feels when he loses a child) and put it in his own neck. In one of my favorite scenes of the episode, as he’s making his Observer-y transition, Olivia called him, requesting he come home, telling him their daughter would want them to be together, to survive this. It was chilling to have them exchange “I love you”s as blood was running down Peter’s back, but so very FRINGE-y.

Jackson had previously teased that the events of “The Bullet That Saved the World” would take “one of our characters into a direction that people, I think, will probably be pretty excited about, but is not good for that character” and boy, he was not incorrect. I’m wondering if the fans who wanted Peter to return as an Observer are thrilled with his conscious decision to implant that tech now, given that this seems to be leading no place good.

With only a handful of episodes left until the series concludes, that also amps up the stakes. When Walter and Olivia find out — and I hope this isn’t a secret that’s dragged out for most of the remaining installments — it’s going to be terrible. What is this going to do to Peter? Will this destroy his humanity, his love, his ability to do what’s really needed? Will the cost of this tech be the remaining relationships that mean the most to him? His life?

Again, I’m not sure how the heck they’re going to get themselves out of this. I suppose that’s good. The only clear, easy answer would be a timeline reboot, but I maintain my mixed feelings about that. As the show goes on, I feel like I’ll hope more that this doesn’t get erased…you can’t just have bad, terrible, tragic things happen to undo them.

That being said, Peter Bishop, you be careful in your new Observer-y ways. Olivia and Walter need you in one piece, and the fans are quite fond of you, too.

Other thoughts:

  • I’m preemptively cranky Jackson, Torv, and John Noble (Walter) will be snubbed for the 2013 Emmys.
  • At this point, I’m wondering why NO ONE is mentioning Nina. It would make sense for her to not be in every episode, just as it would make sense for Broyles to not be seen every week. But Nina Sharp is resourceful. And she also knew Walter better than nearly anyone else alive…how have they not gone to see her (or had someone bring her to them) to see what she could bring to this fight?
  • Peter comparing Etta’s picture to a sleeping Olivia? Heartbreaking. Ditto Olivia seeing her daughter’s face plastered on “Resist” posters.
  • I wish we had seen Astrid being told about Etta’s death.

Quotes to keep in mind going forward:

  • “Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
  • “You don’t even know what you don’t know.”

What did you think of “An Origin Story”?

Filed under Fringe Recap


23 Responses to “FRINGE Recap: ‘An Origin Story’”

  1. SueK on November 3rd, 2012 4:09 pm

    I absolutely do not know what to say. Seeing Peter doing what he did to the Observer and himself was both fascinating and unsettling. One this I do know, I will not miss an episode until the end.

  2. Donna on November 3rd, 2012 4:37 pm

    This episode was fantastic. Once again I have to take back my critical words and apologize to Joel Wyman. (will I ever learn?)

    Etta’s death seemed senseless last week to many… but now we see the dramatic purpose. Only the most horrible, catastrophic loss could possibly have pushed Peter to do what he did.

    Peter has always been very interested in the Observers, so it makes sense that he would be interested in (virtually) *becoming* one to understand what makes them tick.

  3. Ray Roberson on November 3rd, 2012 6:28 pm

    This is the Peter I expected.
    Peter is the only one with memories traversing the whole series.
    Peter murdered shape shifters to assemble the spinal disks.

    And, yet, are these Observers some distant cousins of the shape shifters, with augmented abilities and knowledge boosted by this burrowing tech device? (see scenes from next week’s episode)

    Credit the writers for masking the future so well. I’m still wondering – as is Peter – just what the plan, the rocks, and the formulas have in common. Maybe the “tech” device will provide some answers.

  4. JaniceLG on November 3rd, 2012 8:22 pm

    Really good review Marisa (as always). A couple comments/observations (sorry for length, I got on a roll).

    The Walter/Olivia scene was heartbreaking and necessary. I wish Peter had heard this. John Noble, sir, you are an EXCEPTIONAL actor. (I too am preemptively cranky Mr. Emmy).

    Olivia: Glad that she’s not putting up a wall around her heart. She’s taking a different path, allowing herself to lean on others and tell others what she needs. She looks miserable and broken. Hard to watch really. However, we do need some BAMF Olivia. Anna even looked like she wanted to cry in the “Gone” interviews. Anna cares what happens to Olivia. She does want to give Olivia her whole heart.

    Olivia (part 2): Her fascination with the posters, not just the Etta posters that “appear” out of nowhere. I’ve always said that Olivia seems to lose/gain time. Remember the pilot at the hospital? Was that the first time she “lost time”? In this case, promo for 506 might have something to do with it. I wish I understood the time travel, worm holes, paradox, and mythology better.

    Peter: Oh Peter. Agree with your most alarming line. I can see Peter BELIEVING that he would be 10x the normal Observer. It’s obvious Peter will not/cannot process Etta’s death. He’s incapable. I think the moment he put the Observer tech is his neck/brain, his fate was sealed. Not sure what that fate is, but I just don’t think it’s good. The tech looked like it had an antenna which makes me think someone can control it remotely. Not good if true. Curious if he tells W/O about tech. They will not be happy. Josh Jackson is excellent as Peterminator. That last scene…wow, very convincing. Again, another amazing actor.

    Observers: Boy, the actors playing the main Observers are great. Windmark, the guy in this episode. Really good.

    The last 5 minutes may be the best 5 minutes of the entire series. From when Olivia starts to watch the tapes, then Peter cutting the tech out of the Observer, back to Olivia watching the tape, then the blood running out of the Observer & the bloody footprints & Peter cutting himself, then Olivia’s phone call come seconds after inserting the “tech” into himself, Olivia reaching out to TV nanoseconds after Peter disappears from the screen (Kiss Mommy…my God Fringe), and later her pleading for him to come “home” (home is where the heart is), to “It’s ok Olivia” and finally, the “I love you’s”. Written beautifully, acted incredibly, and edited phenomenally.

    So excited for the remainder of the season. Even if it doesn’t end the way I want, some of the S5 episodes will go down as the best of series. That’s saying something.

  5. Mitch on November 3rd, 2012 10:13 pm

    Maybe this is why Peter was so important to the Observers that he had to wiped from the timeline. He is now the first Observer and perhaps it is his line that leads to the bad Observers who invade our timeline.
    September and his crew of Observers knew this so they wished to banish Peter from existence so that future could never happen. This would save our world and possibly theirs. September is from a group of good observers but he couldn’t carry out his mission.

  6. Zepp on November 3rd, 2012 10:40 pm

    I can really feel that Peter is totally devastated with the death of their daughter Etta. Olivia, is also, but in a more closed, intimate, with tears in his eyes, with his “soul” shattered, hurt inside, but Peter, besides all that, he’s really is very indignant, furious and really nonconformist with this unfortunate loss of your daughter. If we analyze meatier sed attention, we see that Peter is the same guy from Baghdad that brought Olivia, he has not changed, things around him, which is changed. He’s got all emotional, loss of battles, and disagreements, to be the same individual during these almost five years. Everything comes to a crescendo for him, since “the deaths of Olivia(s)”, then know that he is from another universe, returned from another plane of existence, and no one recognized him, then took his daughter Etta, kidnapped, and now after finds an adult, she is brutally murdered! I have the impression that Peter now really had had enough for all this, what is happening in his troubled life. I think he put a stop, type: No More!

    I do not know how I’ll see Peter hereafter, with that behavior or how he is present from the next episode, after this “self-surgery”, which he made in his own skull base (like father, like son …). I do not know what differences in attitude occur in it, but one thing I’m pretty sure that from now on, it will become the biggest nightmare of Badservers, I have no doubt about that! Fringe is getting better!

  7. cheri on November 4th, 2012 11:03 am

    I cannot believe Peter did that! It was interesting but very unsettling. I don’t want to see him turn to the other side, especially when we are coming to an end soon. I am happy that my Hopper from DISH automatically records the primetime shows on the four major networks with the PrimeTime Anytime feature. I was working my shift at DISH and couldn’t watch the episode live, so I watched it when I got home. I was so excited to see Olivia show some true feelings, because I feel like she never does. I cannot wait to see what happens next week!

  8. reks on November 4th, 2012 1:20 pm

    Very nicely done… one of the best recaps I read and would want to re-emphasize your last para’s
    “Again, I’m not sure how the heck they’re going to get themselves out of this. I suppose that’s good. The only clear, easy answer would be a timeline reboot, but I maintain my mixed feelings about that. As the show goes on, I feel like I’ll hope more that this doesn’t get erased…you can’t just have bad, terrible, tragic things happen to undo them.

    That being said, Peter Bishop, you be careful in your new Observer-y ways. Olivia and Walter need you in one piece, and the fans are quite fond of you, too.”
    I hope they do justice to the characters. They soooo deserve a peaceful ending and would want all be together for happiness that lasts lil longer than whats shown.. Have a zillion thoughts running in my head of all possibilities…. some scary and hope they don’t happen. We have grown to love these characters too much.

  9. Ray Roberson on November 4th, 2012 1:46 pm

    I do not believe that Peter will become an observer.

    The device that is currently implanted can serve one or more purposes.
    1. A “Star Trek Borg” device, linking all observers.
    2. An archival device, with access to a library of knowledge as well as informationtion gathering and/or recording – which may harken back to episode 503 – with the recorders as the forerunners of the Observers.
    3. A physical enhancement device (referred to in previous post above).
    4. An actuator or activator of the time/space travel we have seen with the Observers.

    Peter is the boy who never should have been, dead to both worlds due to natural causes – interrupted, saved, released, resurrected, and confused by September. Will Fringe keep him in constant limbo, never returning “home” – just like Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap?

    Come January 18, we may find out.

  10. Laffers on November 4th, 2012 2:22 pm

    ■“You don’t even know what you don’t know.”

    Every time he said that line, I got all stabby. Combined with the look on the Observers face…I know an Observer can’t really look smug, but he kind of did…right? LOL

    And is it pathetic that, just reading your recap and everything Peter has gone through, I got all teary? This show is going to kill me, I just know it.

    Peter…I thought I would love angry, angsty Peter (I’m a sucker for that kind of guy!) but this? It just slayed me…to see one man so broken. Heartbreaking.

    I pretty much cried from the beginning. Opening with last weeks recap and ending with the ‘I love you’s’. I was a mess.

    I am both ridiculously excited and completely terrified for the remaining episodes…

    P.S. I am with on you the preemptive annoyance for the 2013 Emmy snubs. I said it on Twitter watching the episode and I’ll say it again…Fringe has the MOST underrated cast on television. It’s almost criminal.

  11. Laffers on November 4th, 2012 2:24 pm

    P.P.S The camera scrolling from the dead Observer to the bloodied footsteps on the floor, to Peter stood hunched over the sink, staring at himself in the mirror? Chilling. GOD DAMN YOU FRINGE!

  12. JaniceLG on November 5th, 2012 12:01 am

    Laffers, I agree with everyting you’ve written.

    Donna, nice to hear you say that. I know there are many people who did not like Etta being killed off so soon. I was on the fence but now realize this will driving Peter/Olivia/Walter forward into action.

    After re-watching (and re-watching) this episode, the scene between Olivia and Walter was maybe the best written and acted scene I’ve ever seen. Not sure who actually put those words onto paper (assuming Wyman, with help from the others), but there are so powerful. She needed to hear that (so did Peter) and I think it will be a driving force behind Olivia moving forward. Walter knew he needed to provide the caring, love and guidence as a parent should in that situation. Kudos to both John Noble (brilliant beyond words) and Anna Torv (again, you know what she’s thinking without her saying a word). Every little thing in that scene was perfect. The way Olivia had to back away from the tape once she knew what it was. The way John Noble delivered every single word. Speechless.

    Please Olivia and Walter, don’t let Peter kill himself with his actions in the end.

    It does baffle me that this show is not watched by many more. Such a study in character and relationship development. We needed 10 seasons of this show. Oh yeah, it’s a sci-fi.

  13. Marisa Roffman on November 5th, 2012 1:14 am

    @SueK: SO unsettling.

    @Donna: Glad you’re seeing Etta’s death a little differently now. It’s crushing it had to happen, and hopefully the show will make that worth it. And yes, this is absolutely the only way Peter would have been pushed to this place…he understandably feels like this is the only way to beat them all. And he probably thinks he can do this and come home safely to his family…we’ll see.

    @Ray Roberson: Totally agree…they’ve masked the future of the show so well that it’s completely unclear where they’re going.

    @JaniceLG: Interesting. I never took it as those Etta posters appearing out of nowhere…I interpreted it as Olivia just noticing it/us as viewers seeing it for the first time then, but knowing FRINGE, it’s entirely possible there’s more to it than meets the eye.

    And I agree with your take on the last 5 minutes…some of the best scenes of the series, both in the juxtaposition of the tragic anger and passionate desperation/heartbreak and in the absolutely painful performances.

    @Mitch: I’ve seen that theory floating around and it actually HURTS MY BRAIN. If that’s the case, I’m not sure how they’ll be able to explain away the paradoxes, but it’s an interesting thought.

    @reks: thanks! And yes, hoping for some happiness at the end of this dreary road.

    @Laffers: The Observer was totally smug. (And sorry you got teary!!)

  14. JaniceLG on November 5th, 2012 4:01 pm

    So now that Peterimator has the Observer tech is his brain, will he be able to ready the physics on the scroll/plan? Assuming September had something to do with that, it might make sense?

    @marissa, much debate over whether posters were there or not. Some of that is camerea work, some may not. Also, almost every time we’ve seen GGGR on the show, we’ve lost some time. The Equation is the prefect example. The box did give a GGGR signal? Could that cause this issue?

  15. p3pariisa on November 6th, 2012 4:45 pm

    It needs to be said, why isn’t anyone there for Peter? Nobody ever asks Peter about his pain. I noticed how Walter and astrid were there for Olivia but nobody tried to sit Peter down and tell HIM everything will be all right. It’s pure selfishness on Walter and olivias part that they act like THEIR pain is more important than peters. They even pulled this crap when they hid Peter’s secret. I am willing to bet that when Olivia finds out about the tech, she will pull an “marionette” and act like SHE is the only one who is hurting and ignore Peter’s pain. She does that a lot.

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