‘Fringe’: ‘An Origin Story’ review

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Etta’s death in last week’s episode of Fringe was a bold and risky move, and it was unclear whether it would bring a worthwhile development in the story or just be another instance of misery for Olivia and Peter.

In tonight’s powerful episode, ‘An Origin Story’, the aftermath of the loss is explored in different ways as Olivia closes herself off and Peter aggressively gives in to rage. Nothing good can come of the shocking development at the episode’s end, which sees Peter use Observer tech on himself. It’s a measure that may benefit the Resistance greatly but that will also undoubtedly affect his humanity.

Fringe had already shown us how Peter and Olivia reacted to the loss of Etta originally and it comes as no surprise to see how they react this time. The focus is mostly on Peter, as he lets his impatience and emotions get the better of him. When the team realise that the Observers are using a shipping lane to deliver technology from the future, they endeavour to disrupt the next shipment. However, Peter sees an opportunity to destroy the mechanism for the delivery entirely, a rash decision and a plan that he doesn’t really have the time to perfect.

He clinically examines an Observer captured by the Resistance to assist his plan and when it all inevitably fails, he tortures the same Observer in anger. Walter helps Olivia through her pain, using his own experience of losing a child to convince her that holding onto the ones she loves is the best route through her grief. Meanwhile, though, Peter has grown frustrated with the Observer and declares that he would “be ten times who you are if I had your tech in my head”. He then does just that, slicing the device from the Observers neck and inserting it into his own.

We don’t yet know how this well affect Peter but it’s likely that nothing good can come from the Observer technology. While he’ll gain abilities and become a great asset in the war against the Observers, he’ll also be sure to lose touch of his own humanity. This is a huge development for Fringe and it makes a lot of sense considering what we know of Peter and factoring in the tragic loss of Etta last week.

The acting on display is exceptional in this episode. Joshua Jackson is especially impressive as he shows the side of Peter that is most like the Walter who decided to bend the universe to save his son. Anna Torv’s display of Olivia’s grief has real emotional weight as she struggles to hold herself together and John Noble’s on as fine form as ever. ‘An Origin Story’ is a striking episode that really focusses on the characters and tells a compelling story. Add to that the surprise ending, and it’s looking like Fringe’s fifth season is really gaining momentum with each passing week.

Aired at 10pm on Wednesday 21 November 2012 on Sky1.

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