wendelah1: (Etta Bishop)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] fringe_rewatch
I consider this episode to be the absolute nadir of the series, full of portentous dialogue, gross sentimentality, and terrible plotting. We finally get to watch Badass!Olivia out in the field doing something useful, and what does the writer have her do? Give a self-righteous lecture to someone about their belief system, for one. Walk right into a completely obvious trap, for another. At least she was allowed to get herself out of trouble.

Peter becoming an Observer was the worst plot device ever. That horrible montage of flashbacks, culminating in Peter sticking a knife in the back of his neck, was the last straw for me. If this series had not been ending in five episodes, I would have quit watching right there.

Here's an idea: why couldn't Walter, Astrid, and Olivia have tried to reason with Peter, get him to see that defeating the Observers was the only way to truly avenge the death of Etta? Why does everything on this series have to come down to pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo? That's what this country needs to hear: more anti-intellectual claptrap. Thanks, Fringe!

 photo 43d6e462-f4b5-4ab5-9103-d1e9dba55e2c_zpsoxn4n3i9.png

Air Date: 7 Dec 12
Written by: Alison Schapker
Directed by: Dennis Smith
Synopsis: Olivia brings home another piece of equipment needed to defeat the Observers, but not before walking into a trap. Peter takes the Observer tech out of his brain just in time. My God! He was already starting to lose his hair!
Most memorable quote: I can't think of a single line worth remembering from this hot mess.

Links:
Transcript
The A.V. Club
IGN
HitFix
Entertainment Weekly

Fanfiction: Let me know if you've read any, and I'll add it here.

All together now: "All you need is love, love. Love is all you need."

Date: 2015-05-13 03:34 am (UTC)
sprocket: The trusted assistant at work (Astrid Fringe)
From: [personal profile] sprocket
It's my genuine desire to take S5 for what it is. But that's really hard here. "The Human Kind" should be a keystone ep, wrapping up Peter's revenge arc, and launching the viewer into All Plot All The Time (only five episodes left!) but it's a deeply flawed keystone.

What makes Peter's arc work so well is, knowing Peter, and knowing he is Walter's son, the viewers are in fact absolutely convinced that Peter is open to any number of mad possibilities. It's unfortunate that the writers feel obligated to waste screentime as Walter and Astrid rediscover what is already evident - Observer tech is not making Peter a better person - and doubly unfortunate that, once they've slapped the big honking gun on the mantlepiece, it's fired in the same episode.

Pacing isn't the fifth season's strength.

Even ignoring the ridiculous magical Negro thing that is even worse because it's so unintentional, Simone talks about faith in the universe, Olivia ends the episode talking about feeling and connection, and the link between these two concepts, the belief that emotion makes a difference, is missing. The fourth season happened! I like to pretend otherwise, but "A Short Story About Love" happened! September's ridiculous assertion Peter was loved back into existence is canon*! And it feels like the writers are flopping between pretending S4 never happened and finally embracing amberverse canon. Just... they're still missing that final step. Put in the missing link between "It's all just numbers" and "the love that we can share with her now is invulnerable to space and time, even to them.**" The union of faith and emotion is about to be really important as Walter and Olivia and Peter and Donald's collective parental emotions shape their belief they can complete the plan and make a better world for the people they love.

As much as I'd like to say the faith/belief theme dovetails Peter's descent to the Science Dark Side... nope. It doesn't cohere.

*"I believe you could not be fully erased because the people who care about you would not let you go. And you... would not let them go. I believe you call it 'love'." It's ridiculous, but it's canon. And it feels like "The Human Kind" is trying to invoke Fringe's Elementary Particle of Love without explicitly invoking that amberverse conversation.

**I really don't like that line. It makes no sense! Olivia is open to possibilities, but usually draws a bright line between the possible and the nonsensical!



Something that's underplayed, to my dissatisfaction, is Olivia's ongoing ability to function under pressure. When a grief-stricken Peter takes off on his own, he spins out and nearly destroys himself and the Plan. When a grieving Olivia takes off on her own, she comes back with exactly what she set out to achieve, incidentally rescuing herself from some small-time bandits on the side, and on arriving with a giant magnet in a giant truck, moves with dispatch to talk her out-of-control true love off a ledge (almost literally).

Olivia Dunham: clearly the more competent spouse.

(But if you reuse bullet casings, they need to be reloaded... oh, why am I even trying.)

Interestingly, in an episode where Peter is in all-out attack mode against Windmark, there's very little of the resistance theme. Possibly because resistance is against a group or organization, and Peter's vendetta against Windmark is very, very personal.

Date: 2015-05-13 04:23 am (UTC)
cahn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cahn
Yeah, I mean, this is a watch for me, not a rewatch, so take this for what it's worth -- but I don't object nearly as strongly to Olivia talking Peter down in this ep as I did to the bit you quote ("I believe you could not be fully erased because the people who care about you would not let you go," one of the five stupidest lines the show has had) or to the quantum entanglement of love (which is when I just stopped caring about what the show had to say about pseudo-whatever babble).

Actually, my main thought while she was talking him down was something like, Anna Torv, how can you make me actually care about you and Peter when I'd thought I'd checked out entirely? She's just that good, I think.

It makes a difference that I didn't actually think she was making a scientific point -- was she? -- I thought she was making a philosophical one, about how their emotions are their human strength. (It would, of course, be nice to see any actual evidence of that -- FMA did all these tropes way better -- Fringe is really weak on the follow-through.)

I also got the impression that they all want to defeat the Observers. They just differ on what the most efficient way is to do that. (Honestly, as an outside watcher, it seems to me that Peter has a point. Blind faith in the plan of some Walter who doesn't now really exist and whose motives were never really clear (to me), a plan made in and for a world which may well have changed drastically in the intervening years... Peter's plan makes a lot more sense, looking at it logically.)

"the love that we can share with her now is invulnerable to space and time, even to them."

Huh. I totally did not object to this line at all (and you know, I objected to a LOT of lines in Fringe); it seemed to me that she was saying, look, the love we have for her can't be changed by moving through space or time, or by getting killed or tortured by the Observers, or whatever. It just is. I didn't think she was trying to make some kind of scientific claim.

That being said, the Observers used to be able to, like, change up the universe and in fact actually erase things like, oh, parent-kid relationships. So she probably is trying to make a scientific claim, in which case my warm fuzzy feelings about that line are completely invalidated, and in fact she's completely wrong... except that S5 makes the Observers some sort of weird cracked-out weakling caricatured-evil version of themselves, so maybe she's right at this point. Who knows, I've lost track of what incarnation of the characters we're at.

Date: 2015-05-14 05:24 am (UTC)
sprocket: The trusted assistant at work (Astrid Fringe)
From: [personal profile] sprocket
Actually, my main thought while she was talking him down was something like, Anna Torv, how can you make me actually care about you and Peter when I'd thought I'd checked out entirely? She's just that good, I think.

Seriously. S5 has the raw material for great episodes, but it really struggles on the execution.

(Honestly, as an outside watcher, it seems to me that Peter has a point . . . Peter's plan makes a lot more sense, looking at it logically.)

Ha, yes. We are supposed to take Walter's plan on faith. We're supposed to believe in it, because... Walter is so trustworthy?

Ah, no. Like I said, it doesn't come together for me.

It makes a difference that I didn't actually think she was making a scientific point -- was she? -- I thought she was making a philosophical one, about how their emotions are their human strength.

I would like to buy the philosophical approach you are selling! Especially because, spoilers, it's exactly where the rest of the fifth season is headed! It's tough, though, since Olivia's speech opens with, she saved my life today with the bullet she brought to us. That doesn't strike me as a very philosophical phrasing.

That being said, the Observers used to be able to, like, change up the universe and in fact actually erase things like, oh, parent-kid relationships.

The thing I noticed about the Observers in earlier seasons is that their interference is limited and their reach enigmatic. We're not really sure what they can and can't do. But what the actually do for the most part is either stand around, Prime Directive style, or unleash ridiculous Rube Goldberg-esque chains of events.

Does it feel like their abilities have been changed in the fifth season? Or is this a logical interpretation of their abilities relative to previous seasons? I'm curious to hear other perspectives on this.

...except that S5 makes the Observers some sort of weird cracked-out weakling caricatured-evil version of themselves, so maybe she's right at this point. Who knows, I've lost track of what incarnation of the characters we're at.

I guess that answers the "other perspectives" question. Flat evil is disappointing. Come on, where is complicated opposition? Especially considering the Observers of earlier seasons were a small group who still had diverging agendas (cough August cough).

With respect to tracking character incarnations... I think I need to dig out that gif of Broyles asking Why are shape-shifting soldiers from another universe stealing frozen heads? because the timelines have gotten that silly.

Date: 2015-05-14 10:01 pm (UTC)
cahn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cahn
Olivia's speech opens with, she saved my life today with the bullet she brought to us. That doesn't strike me as a very philosophical phrasing.

Ah, this is my really wanting to believe (ha!), I think. Being someone who absolutely believes in the power of probability and the law of large numbers, and therefore in coincidence — unlike Fringe (and this is one of my BIGGEST PET PEEVES with Fringe, okay, fine, totally misrepresent quantum entanglement, who really cares except me, it's not like we see quantum in everyday life, but PROBABILITY, people, like [profile] wendahl1 said, what the world apparently needs is more psychobabble about this kind of stuff to mislead people about what they see every day!) — I, of course, see the bullet saving her life as a complete coincidence and a philosophical way that humans bring meaning to something that doesn't in fact have meaning at all. (I was also thinking about this Dear Sugar column — the last letter, and as usual for Dear Sugar, warnings for emotionality, etc.)

But now that you mention it, Olivia… almost certainly meant it as a Statement of Science, like you are saying, and not philosophical like I reeeeally want it to be. ARGH FRINGE WHY IS YOUR SCIENCE SO BAD. SO BAD I BLOCK OUT HOW BAD IT IS.

I also seem to have benefited from watching this episode in bits and pieces, because this reminds me that I objected really strenuously to the speech she gave to the electromagnet woman for many of the same reasons — and it occurs to me that her speech to Peter is supposed to, natch, be all of a theme with that. But I could cheerfully disassociate them since I watched them a week apart :)

Date: 2015-05-17 07:43 pm (UTC)
sprocket: The trusted assistant at work (Astrid Fringe)
From: [personal profile] sprocket
Wow, that Dear Sugar letter is going to continue to be relevant to this season.

ARGH FRINGE WHY IS YOUR SCIENCE SO BAD. SO BAD I BLOCK OUT HOW BAD IT IS.

Woe! I have taken a creative interpretation of canon and replaced it with my own! Can I take it back?

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