Fringe: Review: Season 5 Eps 5&6

Fox, 2 & 9 November 2012

While mourning the loss of their daughter, Olivia and Peter strike back at the Observers by attacking their portal to the future. Walter rediscovers a pocket universe and ventures through the looking glass…

These two most recent episodes of Fringe have brought a welcome upswing in quality, with something of a return to the weird science focus of past seasons, while still pursuing the overall resistance fight against the oppressive Observers.

While the killing of Etta may have seemed like a brave dramatic move on the part of the show’s creative team, the result has been (rightly) a couple of episodes in which the show’s lead characters have been thrown into a period of mourning. This works on a character level, but it is something of a drawback to an action-adventure show. There may be method in the writers’ madness, however, as the ‘Etta meme’ seems to be growing with her portrait—alongside the instruction ‘Resist’—increasingly appearing on buildings.

The Observers supply portal—the target of Peter and Olivia’s attack—and Walter’s long-forgotten window to a pocket universe are both classic Fringe ideas, successfully integrated into the over-arcing theme of fighting against the invaders. Walter’s Escher-inspired mini-universe is fascinating, a place where usual physics is suspended and time runs at a different speed. The idea of electronic equipment that works differently depending on which side of the portal you are on is great. In any other series, these would be great episodes, but in the larger scheme of some of Fringe’s past triumphs, they pass as pretty much middling.

The most intriguing development is Peter’s use of Observer technology, implanting their chip into himself. By the end of episode six this seems to have given him Observer powers, but could he be the source of this future species? Only time will tell…

Let’s hope that with just seven episodes to go, Fringe can maintain this improvement in quality through to the series finale.

Verdict: A minor improvement, but at least Fringe is moving in the right direction.

Episode 5 ‘An Origin Story’: 6/10

Episode 6 ‘Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There’: 7/10

Brian J. Robb

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