Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fringe Episode 4.11 (Making Angels)

Making Angels was a fairly good episode. It expanded a little bit regarding what we currently know about the observers, but aside from that, it didn’t illuminate the overarching plot as much as I would have liked. The true star of the episode was Jasika Nicole who was fantastic in this episode.

- I loved how Astrid yelled in surprise when she sees her alternate for the first time. Like Olivia, I always wondered why people don’t do that. Right from the start, we see that Astrid responds to her alternate in a kind and compassionate manner which contrasts sharply to how Walter and Olivia respond to their alternates. AltAstrid’s father had just passed away and so, in her struggle to understand what happened and to comes to terms with it, she pays Astrid a visit. In her first speech, she describes what happened and it’s interesting that she keeps mentioning how cold it was. Perhaps being unable to understand the coldness that she feels inside, she attributes the coldness that she feels to external causes. When Astrid told her alternate that her mother had also died when she was young, you could see the guilty looks on Walter’s, Peter’s and Olivia’s faces. They are generally so caught up in their own problems, that they probably don’t ask Astrid a whole lot about her own life. It is clear that AltAstrid is a little bit autistic since she appears to lack the social cues that normal people have. It is curious, though, that she is in touch with her emotions enough such that she can cry. I’m assuming, then, that she must have only a minor type of autism.

- AltAstrid’s presence definitely illuminates several of the relationships in the current storyline and her bluntness and attention to detail allows her to say and see things that other people couldn’t. She is such a refreshing character. She mentions that Walter seems to talk and act through Astrid as if they were the same person. We all know that Astrid and Water share a very special relationship and so I’m glad that this was pointed out. AltAstrid also comments on Walter’s treatment of Peter. In the beginning of the episode, Walter is not appreciative of Peter’s presence and even says that he prefers Lincoln’s presence since Lincoln plays chess with him and doesn’t starve him like Peter does (I agree with Peter, though, Walter takes too many food breaks!). AltAstrid points out to Walter that anger towards a person usually means that you are emotionally invested in that person in some way. In other words, he must feel something towards Peter in order to be angry with him. Also, it’s interesting how Walter is angry with Peter since he isn’t HIS Peter; Peter is a reminder of the son that he had, the son that he wished had lived. I always wondered if Walter loved Peter because of who he was or because he was an image of his Peter. I understand that Walter is suffering, but what about Peter? I think that it’s really selfish of Walter to not consider how Peter is feeling- he’s constantly being insulted by Walter, the one man who can help him get home. I really loved the whole scene where Peter is investigating the body at the crime scene and Walter is watching through Astrid. Peter says everything before Walter does, which apparently makes Walter even angrier at Peter. Throughout season 1-3, the reason why the relationship between Peter and Walter was so strong was because Peter was always able to anticipate Walter’s needs and what he would do. One can image that it would eventually become a habit. Also, Peter probably learned a great deal from Walter over the years. His suggestions (DNA sample and take the body back to the lab) seem like routine things that the Fringe division always does and so it seems natural that he would know to do them.

- I thought that the scene where AltAstrid attempts to explain the inexplicable was really amazing. The writing seemed be challenging and I commend Jasika Nicole for beautifully rising to the challenge. AltAstrid comments on the compound that killed the victim, saying that the compounds intermingling is not predictable and not expected. Since the compound has not been invented yet, someone would have to have seen the compounds mixed together in order to know how to mix them (Peter says this). She concludes that there must be something else at play here- the hand of God. As she is saying this, you can see that Walter is obviously falling more and more in love with her with every word she says. It’s a wonderful scene. :)

- I thought that the interactions between AltOlivia and Walter were cute, but confusing and disappointing when you look at how they are placed with respects to the overarching story in season 3. Throughout season 3, there was a great deal of rich conflict and distrust between both sides that really made season 3 as epic as it was. Now that both sides are working together, the distrust has apparently vanished along with the rich character exploration that occurred during season 3. The friendliness between both worlds in this timeline seems to be such a contrast to what was the case in season 3 and I guess to some extent it makes sense since Peter was the cause for the conflict between the two worlds in the original timeline. I wonder what will happen between both worlds when the timelines merge (as I predict). Will they both remember a time of peace (this timeline) AND a time of war (old timeline)? If so, which situation will they chose? Also, regarding AltOlivia, it bothered me that she never once apologized to Walter for tricking him when she was undercover on this side and she seemed almost too perky for someone that does the work that she does.  Although a lot of people love AltOlivia, I'll take our Olivia over her any day.  :)

- When Peter and Olivia visit a colleague of Neil’s at MIT, he explains how Neil spent the summer at a lake house in 1985 and came back changed. He worked tirelessly on equations that would allow him to flatten space and time such that they would both exist on the same plane. This would allow someone to see the past, present, and future simultaneously. So this means that the observer’s ability to travel through time boils down to nothing more than mathematics. It would be interesting if we learned that someone in the future had made the observers for a specific purpose.

- The case of the week centered on Neil, a brilliant scientist and mathematician who, through acquiring September’s blue wand in 1985, acquired the ability to travel through time. This enabled him to see the future, especially of those who would suffer greatly before dying. He used his knowledge to warn such people and killed them mercifully (with a compound he probably discovered in the future) in order to prevent their suffering. He did all this to become a savior of sorts so that he could eventually become an angel. Neil thought of himself as a compassionate killer, believing that painful suffering can sometimes be far worse that death. When Neil meets his third victim in the episode (a businessman), he tells him that he will be hit by a car while driving once he leaves the parking lot. This accident will damage his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed and alone. Neil tells the man that by killing him now, he will offer him a painless exit from a living nightmare. The man runs away to try to escape from Neil, but ends up getting hit by a car. Thus, although the circumstances were different (he got hit by a car while running away, not while driving and talking on the phone), the result is the same. This implies that our fate is set in stone, no matter what we try to do to change it. This contrasts to the previous episode (Forced Perspective) where the idea prevailed that we can change our fate and that our destinies are not written in stone. During his final scene, Neil speaks to his mother, saying goodbye since he has foreseen his death at the hands of Olivia and Peter. He knows that she feels like the wrong brother died. That she felt that Alex (the one who died) was the better one. “You always resented that I wasn’t Alex. Not your angel. I worried I wasn’t good enough. But God has a plan. He let me live for a reason. God let me see the future so that I could give people mercy (paraphrased).” Not only does he talk like an observer throughout the episode, but he also acquires the ability to speak at the same time as others since having seen the future, he knows what they’ll say before they even say it. It’s interesting also that Neil could have easily avoided his death by running away once he saw Peter and Olivia arrive through the window, but he had faith that God had a plan for him and so he stayed to be killed. The word faith is very interesting in this context and, like hope, might have a bigger role to play in the upcoming episodes.  Neil's speech also reflects Peter's situation- perhaps September rescued him from drowning and didn't erase him because he has a bigger purpose, a purpose that goes beyond the machine. 

- AltAstrid explains to Astrid her dilemma when it comes to dealing with her father’s death. She regrets that she wasn't able to love her father in the way that he wanted or could understand due to who she was. She asks Astrid if he would have loved her more if she was normal. Initially Astrid doesn’t have a response for her, but by the end of the episode, Astrid tells her that her own father is a very hard man to love and that he shows love in his own way. It’s who his is and it’s not her. She tells AltAstrid that she shouldn’t feel guilty about not loving him enough. This was such a sad scene because every child must feel like that at some point in their lives, feeling like they’re not good enough for their parents to love. No child should have to feel that way. Neil felt that way and I imagine that Peter feels that way as well. In fact, Astrid’s speech to AltAstrid could very well describe the relationship between Walter and Peter. During Astrid last scene, we see her at home and her father, who has made her dinner, greets her warmly and gives her a big hug. We realize that Astrid lied to AltAstrid about her father. Considering how warm and kind Astrid is, I didn’t expect anything less from her. The reality is that AltAstrid’s father probably didn’t love her as much because of who she is; they weren’t able to communicate in the same way or in the same “language.” For some parents, the differences between them and their child can be too much and they can’t seem to overcome the emotional barriers. Neil’s mother unfortunately probably did love Alex a little bit more and Walter does love his own Peter a little bit more. I think that individuals that do have mental challenges (like AltAstrid) are among the bravest and most courageous people in society and I think that AltAstrid is an extraordinary person and character.

- It was refreshing to see Peter and Olivia working on a case together just like old times. That moment where Olivia picks the lock at the lake house made me laugh since picking locks was always their thing. They seem to bounce off each other very well, posing questions for the other and finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences. I thought that it was nice when Olivia told him at the end that he makes a good partner. Peter thanks her and chuckles in response and immediately leaves. He seems very noncommittal here which is consistent since he is trying to remain as detached as possible from these people in this timeline. It’s interesting that, in this case, all roads lead to Reiden Lake as they always do. The shot of Peter looking out over the lake was a nice reflective shot. I’m sure that he was thinking about the time when he resurfaced in Reiden Lake in Subject 9 and about everything that has happened at this iconic place.  Also, I found it weird that Peter and Olivia didn’t take the equations from Neil’s house back with them to the lab and study them. It might help them to understand the observers more.

- The final scene between December and March answered some questions, but raised some more. Firstly, based on their conversation, it seems like September is alive and well and that Neil’s blue wand belonged to him. Neil acquired it after September dropped it on the night that he didn’t save Peter Bishop. If Peter wasn’t saved, then why was September there in the first place? Was he just observing this important event? What caused him to drop his blue wand? I think that the latter question is an important one. Also, I find it interesting that they didn’t know about Peter’s reappearance in this timeline till right now. This is so glaringly inconsistent that it must not be a plot contrivance. The observers are thought of as being all seeing and sometimes, all knowing. They should have sensed Peter’s reappearance a long time ago and there must be a reason for why they didn’t. Also, I really wished the show went into greater detail regarding how the observer’s technology (their blue lights that enable them to see the future) works. Does this mean that the observers, by themselves, don’t have any special powers? Are all their powers attributed to the technology that they wield? This gives credibility to the theory that observers were once humans.

- I loved the sayings in this episode, by the way: “Kirk Out!” and “Shittake Happens.”  :)

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