Spoiler Heavy Reviews: Fringe – “A Better Human Being”

by Kevin on February 19, 2012

Peter just can’t catch a break, can he? When he showed up in the middle of a lake this season, surrounded by versions of the people he knew and loved who had no idea who he was, it took weeks for him to final gain some small acceptance. Walter was the hardest to win over, and over the last few episodes, Peter finally made some progressing winning this version of his father over. And although he always knew this Olivia wasn’t the same as his (or ours), well, “A Better Human Being” happened.

“Human Being” picks up at the end of last week’s “Welcome to Westfield,” where a well-meaning Olivia smooches Peter before their usual Friday night takeout dinner; the only problem is, that’s not their tradition. Olivia claims to not be scared, perhaps because her memories are all good ones, about the relationship she and Peter shared. Either way, Walter places the blame squarely on poor Peter, who’s just as baffled and concerned as the rest of it. (Side question: Is it considered cheating to sleep with your significant other’s doppleganger in an alternate reality? Is that more complicated once you temporarily were erased from existence?)

But it’s not where “Human Being” starts that’s interesting, it’s where it ends. There’s no way Fringe was just going to let Peter and Olivia ride off into the night to pick up where their relationship left off in another reality, though I can’t say the execution wasn’t abrupt. Olivia and Nina taken hostage, probably on the orders of David Robert Jones (as next week’s previews suggest), is the dark shadow cast over what might otherwise be a sweet love story. That’s our Fringe.

Meanwhile, our side story features a boy in a mental institution who can hear the thoughts of others, including a trio of killers. The story itself is a bit thin, but it does a good job relating to our Olivia story. Walter suggests that she’s a highly attuned Empath, perhaps as a result of the Cortexiphan trials or her abusive childhood, and her ability to comprehend or even share the emotions and memories of others is a more metaphysical version of the telepathic connection our genetically enhanced young men share. It’s not the best connection of A and B plots Fringe has ever done, but it’s also not the worst, and Astrid’s connection to Sean was another strong moment for Jasika Nicole.

Next week I expect some big reveals, or at least the groundwork laid for some really big reveals later in the season. It’s possible that this is the last season of Fringe, which means the producers are going to want to give us a reasonable ending just in case.

Kevin’s Grade: B+

The Good

  • Sure, Walter, just give the vial a taste. “Potassium iodine. With food coloring. Red #4.”
  • A really well written episode, I thought. Very natural dialogue from a show that’s really settled into its voice. This is still a great season.

The Bad

  • It’s unfortunate that tonight’s case ended so abruptly. There was never a real explanation of what was happening or why it stopped, but I guess sometimes them’s the breaks.

The Weird

  • So Nina’s not evil? Maybe?

Things to Think About

  • Next week: Observers, who are they really?

Next Week: 4.14 “The End Of All Things,” the last episode before a brief break and the home stretch before the end of the season. (Let’s hope it’s just the end of the season.)\

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