As depressing as this is to write, we’re beginning the final push on Fringe. With only five more episodes left after tonight’s offering, “The Human Kind,” this is the home stretch. I’m going to spoil the hell out of some things in just a minute, so if you’re sensitive to that, for the love of god, stop reading now.
Amidst a good amount of action, “The Human Kind” is all about faith. Faith is tested, faith is questioned, and, most importantly, faith is restored. When last we saw the gang, Peter (Joshua Jackson) was going bold from the bit of Observer tech he jabbed into his brain, Walter (John Noble) was afraid of becoming an asshole (I picture an “Evil Walter” situation, where he has a goatee so you know he’s bad), and Olivia (Anna Torv) was worried about everyone.
Though we can see the effects of the tech in Peter—the ability to bounce around from spot to spot, the capability to map out and influence the future, and the capacity to be a total dick—no one knows what the long-term impact will be. While Peter continues to “run futures,” Walter makes some disturbing discoveries about what could be in store for his son. As it turns out, the implant enhances the parts of the brain responsible for logical thought. The downside, however, is that this expansion comes at the cost of the places in the brain where emotions originate. It’s sort of like the brain is paving over the mushy, feelings places.
Because she can’t sit back and watch Peter flush the man he was down the crapper, she goes on a mission for Walter, to retrieve a powerful electromagnet that is important to his plan to defeat their Powder-looking oppressors. This whole situation is troublingly similar to what happened to the couple the first time they lost their daughter, Henrietta (Georgina Haig). Back then Liv ran off to do a job for Walter, and that was how she wound up ambered in the first place.
Searching for the magnet, Olivia encounters a junkyard settlement, led by Simone, played by soul singer Jill Scott. A psychic, who has been waiting her entire life to fulfill her destiny—which seems to consist of giving a truck and magnet to Liv—Simone’s complete and total faith stands in stark contrast to Olivia’s waning belief. Seeing what true faith looks like, you feel the magnitude Olivia’s sense of loss. She’s losing faith in Peter, in Walter’s plan, and in hope in general.
This is the lowest moment in “The Human Kind.” You get the sense that Olivia is on the verge of giving up, and Peter, on his single-minded quest to kill Windmark (Michael Kopsa), may be a lost cause. Can he come back? Are the changes in his brain permanent? He sounds increasingly like an Observer—cold, detatched, emotionless—but he still talks about Etta, about avenging her wrongful death. That one emotional ray shines through.
From this point, this moment of bleak desolation, the episode builds up what has been torn down. When Olivia is kidnapped, she uses “the bullet that saved the world,” the one that was once embedded in her own brain, as an essential piece in her clever escape. This she takes as a sign that Etta is still with them, that she’ll never be completely gone. Armed with this attitude that she confronts Peter.
This exchange between Olivia and Peter is one of the most earnest and touching moments the couple has shared so far this season. Human emotion is not a weakness, as the Observers believe, but a strength, the strength that sets them apart, and this is the avenue they must take if there is any hope of humanity winning the day. Emotion is the one thing that they don’t have. It’s difficult for Peter to argue, sounding like a robot as he does.
When Peter digs the implant out of the base of his brain—surprisingly intricate surgery to perform yourself, on a roof, in the dark, with a pocketknife—the person I’m most happy for is Walter. He’s so worried about the person he might become, about the proud, greedy, selfish parts of his mind taking over. Without Peter to lean on for strength, without that check, who knows what could have been. Hopefully Peter’s return will be as healthy for Walter as for he and Liv.
At the end of “The Human Kind,” you’re left with a renewed sense of hope. Faith has been restored, Walter’s plan is gradually coming together, and despite the overwhelming odds in front of them, you trust that the Fringe team can handle it. We’ll see how long this sense of well-being holds, but for now, you can’t help be feel good about the future.