‘Fringe’: ‘Anomaly XB-6783746’ review

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Unbelievably, Fringe is merely three episodes from concluding. Sky1 recently announced that the series finale will air at the same time as it will in the US, meaning that it’s ending next week, early in the morning on the 19th. ‘Anomaly XB-6783746’ begins in a similar manner to many episodes in this tremendous fifth season, but it builds towards huge revelations and a stunningly dramatic ending. If it wasn’t clear before that Fringe is approaching its endgame, it definitely is now.

Returning from what was a relatively short break, this instalment sees the team attempt to work out how they can communicate with Michael, the Observer child integral to Walter’s plan. After realising that their problems won’t just resolve themselves, Olivia makes the decision to call Nina and hopes that she’ll have something that can assist them. Unfortunately, though, the Observers have tracked the team’s previously stolen tech back to Nina. Windmark methodically hunts for her, knowing that finding her may lead to discovering the whereabouts of other fugitives.

Fringe has already shown that it is unafraid of killing characters off with the shocking death of Etta earlier in the season. While that death had resonance because of how it affected the main characters, Nina’s suicide has that and more. We’ve known her since the very first episode and her steady development has brought her to a position where she’s prepared to sacrifice herself to save the world. Both the audience and the character know that Windmark would be capable of reading her eventually, giving her sudden decision a sad sense of inevitability.

Her death removes one solution to Walter’s current brain issues, making it likely that he won’t be able to have the pieces taken out. He is obviously switching between two very different personalities, and it’s something that’ll be very important as the series moves towards its end. His plan is coming closer to being complete with the latest revelation, however, as we now know that Donald is September. It seems like a predictable answer to a short-lived mystery, but it opens up a whole range of possibilities and will make next Wednesday’s episode (titled ‘The Boy Must Live’) fascinating.

While this shortened season has ended up leaving certain characters on the sidelines – most notably Broyles and Astrid – it has displayed an understanding of what makes Fringe so special at every step along the way. It continually relates the dramatic events to emotional consequences and explores its themes deeply. When Windmark sees Nina’s tests on Observers and calls her an animal, it means something because Fringe has been asking whether these characters are able to hold onto their humanity in every episode of Season 5.

It is fitting that Nina’s last episode features so many great moments for her character, and Blair Brown really is at her finest here. It’s a huge shock to see her leave and we can assume that the show has more than a few surprises left. Fringe doesn’t have long to go, but we should be glad that it’s going out on its own terms and with a season of such consistently high quality.

Aired at 10pm on Wednesday 9 January 2013 on Sky1.

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