Fringe Review: The Second Cut Is The Deepest

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"The Human Kind" brought back my Fringe. I know everyone else has been satisfied with the story of Peter going Observer and Olivia being a bit sidelined, but I wasn't. Despite what many want to think, it wasn't because I didn't want Peter to have a great story, or that I wanted single focus on Olivia. In this last season of Fringe, after four years of fighting to be together, I wanted my heroes to be just that - together. Tonight I got my wish, and great acting on the parts of both leads. 

Olivia On the Hunt

The whole 'watch the video tape for clues' thing is getting kind of old. It was cute when first proposed, in a Myst sort of way, but it's dragged on too long. The best part of the tapes so far played out this week, through the personal story of Simone and her mother, holding the magnet at Walter's request for decades. As some sort of an oracle, not only was she waiting her entire life for someone to come for the magnet that would be used to save the world from the invaders, as she called them, but she could see things about Olivia, as well.

After hearing of Simone's story, and believing her, it was a terrible turn to find that Olivia had become so faithless, because I know she felt similarly about Simone, and in her own time would never have guessed a simple glass of water offered would be laced with sedatives. In the next scene, Windmark was telling Peter his emotions make him weak. That turnaround was very important. Emotions are what make humans strong, and that will be the key to the Observers annihilation.

If Etta hadn't deeply loved her parents, they might have died with her. It was emotion that gave her the strength to let go of her life in an attempt to take Windmark with her. Because when we love, we'll lose ourselves trying to save the ones we care about more than ourselves.

I've wondered before if Walter might be able to upload a virus to the Observers to bring them down, a la "Independence Day," and now I think the best virus would be one to inject into them so much empathy, passion and rage that they would go mad with the feel of it all. That would be a fitting end to the Observers. To die utterly inundated with what they never understood.

I was a little bit confused about Olivia's capture and escape. Wasn't the bullet Etta wore around her neck one of the bullets that killed Olivia in one of the previous universes? I've never fully understood (please don't yell at me, but also feel free to give the scoop in the comments) whether it was the bullet we saw in Peter's imagined future, when Olivia was gunned down in Central Park, or if it was the one that Walter shot her with on the ship when William Bell escaped. Either way, wasn't it already fired?

Here comes a surprise, I don't know much about weapons, other than I'd use one if I had to. If the bullet was used, would it have been able to shoot Olivia's captor? If not, then Olivia was spot on when she was telling Peter that Etta saved her life. It was a very MacGyver escape maneuver, and it felt good to see Olivia get her stones back, even if it was 'only' to rescue her husband, the man she loves most in the world. 

I had written the paragraph above about emotion before Olivia had her chat with Peter about it, as it was quite obvious where it was heading. Whether or not it would work remained to be seen. The catalyst was Windmark's error - showing Peter Etta's last memory before she died. Peter was doing a crack up job of forgetting about being a human until Windmark played for him like a movie what was going through Etta's mind before she died. 

When Olivia really drove home the points about Etta being with them, living through them and inside them, and then saying I love you, it was enough to bring Peter's memories of their lives together rushing back. Yes, I said lives. Because they have had more than one life together, making their love story all the more remarkable. 

When we first saw the gizmo Peter had installed in his neck from Anil early in the episode, I had no idea how large it was. It sure seemed like it was a lot easier to pop something like that out of a neck than it would have been to try to curve it, bend it around and jam it in the right place to get it situated properly in the first place. Kudos to Peter for accomplishing that when he did, without using two mirrors. 

The highest accolades to Peter for listening to Olivia, not shutting down his visions of the past and removing the Observer tech. He didn't even ask for help! The fight is far from over, but now our team is back as a fully functional unit again. They can support one another intellectually and emotionally.

Don't forget to read the Fringe quotes section to relive some of the finer points of the episode, and share your thoughts in the comments. This was the Fringe I had been awaiting all season. Now I want the team to kick some Observer ass and save the world! You?

The Human Kind Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (407 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Fringe Season 5 Episode 8 Quotes

Olivia: Expecting me?
Simone: I've been waiting many years for someone to come for that magnet. Come, I'll show you.

Peter: Trust me when I tell you, I am in complete control.
Walter: I don't believe you are in control. Son, you promised me. You said you would be there for me, do you remember, to keep me from slipping? I need you. I'm begging you. Please come back in and let me run some tests.