Friday, November 20, 2009

Fringe “August” An Observer “Going Rogue”

Photos from Fox

Fringe (Fox) continues to amaze, as it did with last night’s episode, “August.” It seems that not only have the Observers been observing things for a long, long time, there are more than one of them. But in this case, we get an Observer named August who “goes rogue” and decides to interfere in the life of one woman, preventing her from dying in an airplane crash. We find later it is more than that – this Observer apparently has feelings for this woman, who he has observed for years. When August says, “"She crossed my mind and somehow she never left,” it was clear that the Observers likely don’t feel emotion as we do, their detached nature very fitting for what they do, which seems to be a “look but don’t touch” method of operation. The Observers may not be aware of the Heisenberg Principle, which states that just by the act of observing something, an event is changed. No matter, really, because it was made evident that they already interfered in Peter’s life, without Peter really being aware of it.

When Observer #2 – August (Peter Woodward) – kidnaps a woman, magically dodging bullets in the process, viewers were left to wonder at first if he was doing it for good or for bad reasons. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) has to break her plans for a day of fun with her niece Ella as the Fringe team gets involved. They find that the victim, Christine (Jennifer Missoni), 27 years old, is just a grad student with nothing special going on. August left a book at the scene with weird symbols, and while Astrid (Jasika Nicole) struggles to decode it, it is evident that Walter (John Noble) is already figuring it out. She later finds that someone at Massive Dynamic is also inquiring on some of those same code symbols. When Olivia and Peter (Joshua Jackson) talk with the guy at Massive Dynamic who was also checking on the symbols, they find that he doesn’t know exactly what they mean either. But, he has found evidence in art objects relating to big historical events over the years where images of an Observer has been recorded, and it seems they have some ability to move through time. But the Observes usually appear rarely, and since they’ve had 25 sightings in just the past few months, it makes them wonder what big thing is about to happen.

Meanwhile, August has Christine tied up in a motel room, and later, shows her via a TV news story that he saved her from an airplane crash, and she begins to trust him. August, however, is in deep trouble with the other Observers who are in the area mulling over what to do next. They are in a restaurant eating food with tons of hot sauce and pepper. This information is also important because apparently August got a drop of this unique King Cobra hot sauce on the book he left at the scene, and this is later used to track the Observers to possible locations where this particular hot sauce can be found. But the other Observers, including the first Observer (Michael Cerveris)with whom we are so familiar, tell August they are already working to correct the matter – meaning to kill Christine. August doesn’t understand, because he knows they interfered before in other events, but Observer #1 said it was to correct a problem of their own making.

While Peter and Olivia visit Christine’s friend who is subletting her place, they find Christine was supposed to be on an airplane trip. Peter also notices a photo of a young Christine, holding a teddy bear, with her parents, and an Observer in the background. As Christine’s parents were killed in a brigde collapse during the 1989 earthquake, they wonder why she is on the Observers' radar.

The Observers have apparently sent out a hit man – Donald Long (Paul Rae) – to kill Christine. August now knows this, so he plans a ruse to protect Christine. Donald has broken in to August's apartment, and unfortunately, it’s right before Olivia and Peter arrive at the same place, having tracked a shipment of the unusual hot sauce which was shipped to that address. Peter gets held at gunpoint by Donald and manages to deflect his gun when Olivia approaches. Donald runs off and Olivia loses him. Peter and Olivia scan August’s room, finding photos of Christine throughout her life, along with many old newspaper clippings.

Unbeknownst to Olivia and Peter, Walter has decoded the message and finds August in one of the restaurants, and August was glad he got his message. Walter first asks August not to take his son, but August says it is not about that, he need’s Walter’s help. He tells Walter about the Observers being determined to kill Christine, and thinks Walter can help because he saw beyond the limitations of his problems before. But Walter says he just missed his son. When Walter questions what is so important about Christine, August can't explain it, but it sure there is something, he’s seen it. Walter tells him to make her important and be prepared to face the consequences.

Olivia and Peter get the news that someone matching the Observer was spotted at a motel, and as they race there, Donald is already there. As he enters the room and opens the closet, August is there, and zaps Donald with his special kind of “stun gun blaster.” August runs off to draw Donald away, yet allows him to catch up. While Donald has him at gunpoint, he asks August if he is crazy, and then August lets Donald shoot him. When Peter and Olivia arrive at the motel, Olivia follows Donald back to the motel and Peter tends to August. August puts the “blaster” into Peter’s hands. This comes in handy when Donald has Olivia at a disadvantage, and Peter manages to fire the blaster to knock Donald over the railing, with Olivia shooting a nanosecond later. Needless to say, Donald looks very dead on laying on the ground. Olivia finds Christine tucked literally behind the bed in the motel room.

Meanwhile, Observer #1 is driving August away, and August explains first seeing Christine when her parents were killed in the earthquake. He says “"She crossed my mind and somehow she never left” adding he think this is what they call feelings – he thinks he loved her. It is clear that the Observers are detached in more ways that one. As he dies, a tear runs down his face, and Observer #1 tells August that she will be safe now, because August made her important because "she was responsible for the death of one of us."

Back in Christine’s apartment trying to understand it all, Walter shocks Peter when he gives Christine a teddy bear that he said August said to give to her. She identifies it as the teddy bear she was holding when her parents died in the bridge collapse in the earthquake. Afterwards, Peter is upset with Walter for holding back that he met with an Observer, saying they are very close to getting the answers, something I am sure Walter would rather that Peter not get.

Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) tells Olivia that Donald was an assassin, and that it seems that August made the tip off call himself. He also says they can’t make the Observer’s gun fire again, thinking Peter fired the last round. Olivia manages to get the rest of the day off to spend it at the amusement part with Ella. What they don’t know is while they are on the roller coaster, Observers are watching, with one saying, "Look how happy she is," he says, "it's a shame things are about to get so hard for her."

The episode closes with the huge question – what exactly will happen in Olivia’s life that will make thing so hard for her? My first concern was for Ella, who Olivia was so concerned about giving her a happy day. Will something tragic occur with Ella that makes this day even more important for Olivia? Or, was it just an accidental reference, not relating to Ella at all, but just some other bad times for Olivia?

I believe Peter is starting to really suspect that Walter knows a lot more than what he lets on. When Walter recalls the frozen lake car crash story from when Peter was a boy and says the Observer saved them, Peter looked at him with a suspicious and questioning glance. Its is if Walter had said something that meant more than Walter’s simple words. Since we are on the subject of Peter, let’s go over his use of that special stun gun blaster. It is possible that August gave Peter the blaster because he knew it would work for Peter, because Peter is really not from this current time? Is that the same reason why no one can get the gun to fire again, because it will only work for people not of this time? I almost wish they would find an excuse to get the gun back in Peter’s hands to test that theory.

The fact that there is more than one Observer wasn’t too much of a surprise, although the fact that they do not experience feelings was an interesting bit of knowledge. When August delivers the line "She crossed my mind and somehow she never left" it was a beautiful way to describe something he had never felt before – love. For a moment, I felt very bad for the Observers, whose purpose seem to go through the past – through history – with detachment. When we heard that they only interfered to correct a mistake of their own, it makes me wonder if bringing Peter from the other timeline was to correct that error, and what exactly was the error that they had made that prompted their correction?

One of the reasons why I love Fringe is that with each episode, it seems we get to learn a little more, but at the same time, the resulting questions become deeper and more complex. Like the Observers, viewers have no choice but to watch and not interfere. But unlike the Observers, we have the ability to feel and to love. This means now I am very afraid for Olivia and what will happen to rock her world. I am concerned that Peter will dig into things and dig a little too far and that Walter’s big secret will be revealed. Who knows, maybe this will be one of the things that make life so hard for Olivia. All we can do is observe - by staying tuned.

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