Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fringe Season Five, Episode Three: The Recordist

At Harvard university, Astrid is burning a whole in the amber, with Walter lecturing her on technique and in the process irritating her.   Just as the tape is freed, Peter and Olivia enter the room. They watch the tape and find Walter smoking pot and he quickly claims that his usage was medicinal. It seems that Walter stored the tapes out of order, which does not shock anyone.  On the tape, Walter  reveals coordinates, which Olivia quickly memorizes. When he is asked if he recognizes the coordinates, Walter says that if he has never been there, or he has no memory it. As Olivia, Peter and Henrietta discuss the difficulties of traveling to the location and the fact that there is virtually nothing there, Walter makes his way to a bag of pot.  When Peter asks Walter about going there, he tries to refuse, claiming that his feet are sore from standing in front of the amber all day. Peter simply smiles.

The team make their way to Northern Pennsylvania in the van. When they pull up to the location, Walter is upset that his legs are aching and complains about not being allowed to stop and stretch.  Peter points out that they are fugitives and cannot stop to allow him to remain limber.  There is nothing but trees and so Peter asks Walter what he was doing out there 21 years ago.  Through the trees, they hear a sound and turn to see a young boy looking at them. When the child realises he has been spotted, he quickly runs off.  They start to walk through the woods and Peter insists that he saw a child while Walter argues that it was a tree bark. Henrietta is excited for this opportunity and tells Olivia that as a child she used to fantasize about going on missions with her. Olivia responds that it is a lot to live up to. Suddenly, the team is surrounded by armed men and each one of them has some dark growth on their faces.

As the team are being led away, Walter advises Peter not to touch them because what they have might be communicable. They are lead into an advanced camp and ordered to stop. Peter and Henrietta are searched for weapons and when they get to Walter, he makes his discomfort known.  A man steps out when he recognizes Walter and then Olivia and Peter.  Walter explains that they were trapped in amber for 21 years and the man introduces himself as Edwin. Edwin holds out his hand and Walter hesitates because of the black growth on his skin, but Edwin tells him that he was exposed the moment they got there.  Walter says that they are there to retrieve something very important and asks if Edwin knows them.

Edwin takes Walter to a bunker that is protected by electromagnetic discharge.  It seems that Edwin is in charge of chronicling the history of mankind since the arrival of the observers. For the first time this season, we see an image of Phillip Broyles. Broyles' image is on a story entitled, Fringe Division Sanctioned to Police Natives. Seeing the image of Broyles reminded me of just how much I miss his character this season. The story really does feel incomplete without him. Walter realises that they have files on them and Edwin reveals that there is a heavy lore about Walter in circulation and that his son River is the expert on the Fringe division.  Edwin says that they were a group of refugees from the city and that his father started the historical record believing that their history, like all other conquered races before them, would be re-written by their oppressors.  I understand the purpose of this statement and what it is attempting to imply, but I don't like the analogy to the real world colonization of people of colour across the globe. I think that it is particularly problematic because the person speaking about this oppression is a straight White man. It is further an issue because Fringe does not have a good history of racial inclusion in the five years of existence. They don't really tell the stories of people of colour. Astrid is never even called her name by Walter and yet, suddenly we are meant to empathize with this White man's feelings of being oppressed. Further proving the point, Edwin says, "someone has to survive to tell mankinds story."  Walter asks about what happened to their skin and Edwin replies, "we noticed after we settled - small patches at first and then over time it spread. It has something to do with this area. We thought it was the drinking water or the soil." When Walter asks why they didn't leave, Edwin replies that what they do there is important and even after they became afflicted, they couldn't leave. They simply want to be left alone to record history. Edwin warns that Walter and the team should leave, lest they end up looking like them.  Walter says that they cannot leave because there is a plan to defeat the invaders and he knows that they are supposed to get something from there. Edwin starts to do a search for Walter to see if he has ever stepped foot in the camp.

River approaches Olivia to show her comics he has created about the Fringe team and asks her to sign them. River says, "you fought them when they came, you didn't hide like we did - you're heroes."  River reveals that he has made a lot of comics from stories that he has heard and a lot of them he even made up. River adds that he wishes he were there in their time when there were heroes.  Peter replies, "well kiddo, you're my hero. You've given me a nice strong jawline." When Olivia sees a drawing of her and an infant Henrietta, she looks saddened.

Back at the lab, Astrid is watching the tape combing it for details which will be helpful to the crew. She learns that the team needs to locate a mine and calls.  Astrid asks if they found anything in the archives and Walter says that they have found no record of them. Astrid asks about a mine, and Edwin reveals that they do and that it was a gold mine.

Back in the city, loyalists reveal to the observers that they have found the Fringe team in rural Pennsylvania.  The team goes into the mine and Walter rambles about a mine that collapsed in Peru and how the survivors lived on human flesh.  Peter comments that finding gold in an abandoned mine is not going to be easy, but Walter says that they don't know for sure that they are looking for gold. Harriett finds a rope leading down a tunnel and when they yank it up, they find a dead body. Peter surmises that he was trying to climb back and Walter discovers the same growth on the skeleton, as on the people living there.  Walter realises that what is afflicting the people of the area is not growth, but some sort of calcification. He wonders if the cause of the affliction is in the mine and if the closer one gets to the source, the more intense the reaction is. Walter says that no one can survive in the mine and until he has conducted an analysis, they have to turn back.  

At the resistance, Anew gets a call from one of the loyalists who reported the location of the fringe division to the observers. Back at the camp, the team is starting work and Peter asks if anyone else is starving and so Henrietta hands him a pill which is supposedly an apple. Peter starts to talk about a restaurant that he and Olivia stumbled on after the invasion and she claims not to remember, which shocks Peter. He says that the cook had the same the name of the restaurant and it started with a "D", and again Olivia asserts that she doesn't remember.  They finish an air sample, and Walter reports that the man they found died of asphyxiation and that his body was trying to protect itself against the air borne coercive.  Apparently, things get worse the deeper one goes into the mine.  Walter thinks that what they are looking for is not the cause of the affliction but that the observers are to blame because of the the changes they have made.

Edwin approaches them and says that he found an entry he believes they will want to see. Edwin takes them back to the data storage area and says that a man named Donald came five weeks after the invasion and gathered several rocks with a reddish hue.  Apparently, Donald was waiting for a scientist from Boston but Walter says that he does not remember him.  Walter asks why they recorded this and Edwin says that its because he was taken away by two observers.  Olivia notices that Walter has begun to be attacked by the affliction and when he checks her, Walter discovers a similar spot on Olivia's neck.

Walter picks the affliction out of Olivia's neck saying that it hasn't settled into the dermis yet but such luck will not last. Olivia asks how long before it isn't removable and Walter replies, "until it isn't". Edwin returns with supplies for Walter to build a suit, which will allow them to go into the mine.  Walter guesses that they need a metal or an alloy to use for the suits lining. He asks Peter and Olivia to return to the van, because he need's the van's weather stripping.  Henrietta gets a call from the resistance informing her that the loyalists are on their way.

At the van, as Olivia and Peter are taking off the weather stripping, Peter asks if he upset her talking about the restaurant. He says that he knows she doesn't forget names. Olivia admits that the name of the restaurant was Donovan's and says, "it's not that I can't remember, it's that I can't forget." Olivia says that while Peter was talking about heading to a refugee camp in Maine that she was thinking that she couldn't go and that everyday the odds of finding their little girl was getting worse.  Olivia felt responsible for the loss of Henrietta because she didn't think she was programmed to be a mother and that she was destined for something else. Olivia felt losing Henrietta was punishment for being too conflicted when they had her and not cherishing every moment.  It was that day at the restaurant that Olivia decided to go back to New York, because she didn't want to find Henrietta dead. Peter assures her that he knows how much she loves Henrietta and that the past is the past and their family has a second chance. I loved the complexities of motherhood explored in this short scene. In many cases, for women, it feels like constantly letting one side win out over another, chased with a shot of guilt. 

Henrietta interrupts her parents to inform them that the observers are tracking them. Olivia approaches Walter to ask how long it will take to make the suit and tells him that the observers are on their trail. Walter says that there is an encampment down the road that trades metals but he is quickly cut off by Edwin, who tells the crew that they need to leave and that they have until morning at best. He also says that the men at the other encampment are dangerous and won't trade with anyone they don't know. River pipes up to say that his father has a connection with the other encampment and Edwin admits that this is true, but says that they don't want people going into their quadrant and only communicate when it suits them. Peter says, "the way I see it you're our only chance. Look, I'm armed, we can barter together." Edwin wants to know what they have to offer and Walter says medicines.  This does not calm Edwin's nerves and he suggests that they make the suit there and come back when it's assembled.  Henreitta reminds Edwin about Donald and suggests that if they read him and discover that the team is looking for the same thing that the observers will permanently seal the mine. When Edwin argues back that they are putting all of them at risk, his son leaves with a look of shame on his face.  Edwin storms off by himself and Peter follows. "I want to help you I do. You may be used to facing death all of the time but I'm not. These are bad people and we may never make it back to the camp.  I have a lot to loose you know," Edwin says. Peter replies that he knows what's at stake but says that the rocks in the mine are important and when Walter figures out what the rocks do, they will be one step closer to defeating the invaders. Edwin agrees and asks what they need him to do.  Peter tells him to get on the radio and tell the others that they are coming.

Edwin tries to reach out to the other camp and says that he needs copper but they say they don't have any.  He asks to speak to Ivan.  In the meantime, the loyalists are tracking the tire tracks of the van, as Henrietta uses binoculars to track their progress.

Edwin approaches River, who is drawing yet another comic.  He has to ask River to look at him and says, "what you saw back there in that tent, there's a lot more to the word coward and the word hero than you think. It's complicated. You're not a coward if your frightened; that's not what it means. You're a coward if you know what needs to be done and you don't do it. I was telling that man out there that I have a lot to lose, our work the life we have here, you. I told him that I loved you so much, I wouldn't know how to say goodbye. When your mother got sick I promised her I would protect you no matter what, but I'm conflicted. There's a time for recording history and there's a time for making it. We don't get a lot of opportunities up here for making it. I need to help them, to do my part." River says that he doesn't want to lose his father.  Edwin replies, "protecting you means making sure that there's a world out there that you can survive in." River comforts his father by saying that he understands and Edwin says, "no you don't, but you will one day when you have children of your own." The two hug.

Henrietta is playing the tape from the lab which Astrid sent.  It seems that without the energy source from the mine, they will not be able to implement the final stage of their plan. The tape says that they will need forty pounds of the crystal and Walter hopes that the suit will be strong enough.  Edwin approaches and says that the other camp has copper and is willing to trade but he cannot go with them. He tells them that they are looking for Ivan and hands them schematics for the solar technology to trade. Edwin wishes them luck and Peter tells him not to worry about it. As Olivia and Peter leave, Walter tells them to be careful.

When Peter and Olivia arrive at the coordinates, there is nothing there and Olivia asks why Edwin sent them there.  Peter surmises that maybe Edwin never wanted them to find the camp.  Edwin is standing outside of the mine and suddenly there is a loud explosion. Walter and Henrietta rush to the mine and they find a man standing outside who says that when Edwin called the other camp there was no copper and that this is the only way to get what they needed.  Walter finds a bucket of crystal as River looks on and realizes that his father is dead.  The Fringe crew are told to leave before the observers find them there. At the bottom of the mine is Edwin's calcified body.  River walks into the recording room and writes "a hero died today sacrificing himself in order to get the Fringe team resources they need to save our world. Edwin Massey, the recorder of history, made history.  He will be greatly missed. Like other great men before him, he gave his life selflessly in pursuit of freedom and a better future"

The Fringe van is traveling down the road when it is stopped by loyalists. Inside it they find a man who claims to have found it on the side of the road, with the keys in the ignition. The team hot wires a station wagon to head back into the city.  Walter has a huge smile on his face and says, "now this is a ride."