Fringe / Television

Fringe “In Absentia” Impressions

I’m back with a look at what struck me from this week’s new Fringe episode “In Absentia”. Make sure you have watched it before reading on. Here it goes:

Another Flashback: The show opens with another flashback/dream sequence of the observer invasion. This time from Olivia’s perspective. It was once again pretty cool. I would be okay with this trend continuing. Maybe showing other character’s perspectives throughout the season.

Back in the Lab: The main plot this week sees our team heading back to Walter’s lab at Harvard. Here Walter thinks he will find some info on his plan to stop the Observers. To do this they use some steam tunnels below the grounds. Once there, they find a video recorder ambered and are then tasked with getting it out. This ends up involving a Loyalist who stumbles upon our crew, a trip into the science center to restore power to the lab and building a laser to cut the amber away from the recorder. It’s a fun little plot for our characters this week and leads to some good moments.

Olivia, Etta and Manfretti: While that last part describes the plot, the real core of the episode revolves around the interactions between Olivia and Etta and their dealings with Manfretti, the Loyalist who they capture. Etta uses something called an Angel Device to interrogate Manfretti which ages him significantly in a short amount of time. Olivia is taken aback by how ruthless her daughter can be. It is clear that the last twenty years have hardened Etta, but also that Olivia doesn’t quite understand how bad things are because of how long she has been away. She believes in the loyalist’s story while Etta does not. It leads to some very interesting conversations involving the three of them. My favorite part of this episode though is the impact Olivia has on both of these characters by the end. Manfretti sees in Olivia some hope of beating the Observers. Something he hadn’t before when he became a Loyalist. And Etta softens up enough to decide to let Manfretti go. Seeing these three characters interact with the radically different lives they have lived to this point in the story has been one of the highlights of this young Fall TV season for me.

The Quest for the Tapes: When they manage to free the tape from the amber and watch it, it features Walter telling whoever finds the tape that he has hidden his plan on more tapes that they must go find. Fellow video game fans might be getting bad flashbacks of fishing for triforce pieces or other similar quests. But I imagine the Fringe creative team will handle this fetch quest much better. I actually thought this episode’s dealings with the Loyalist gave the feel of one of the old case of the weeks. I know some have relished the move to a full serialized plotline this season, but a lot of classic Fringe episodes were in the case of the week mold. So maybe a couple of these tapes can serve to act as they did and keep that element around a bit in this final season. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes though.

More stuff:

  • This week in great Walter moments: When discussing the difficulties of getting into Harvard under Observer control he says, “Well that’s not a problem for someone who’s done acid.” When opening the hatch to the tunnels, he proclaims, “Yahtzee!” While in the lab he wonders when he switched from Red Vines to Grape Vines (I now need to go track down some Grape Vines). He hesitates to destroy the laser disc player. And he uses the Clapper to turn the lights out in the lab once power is back. In summation, Walter was awesome this week.
  • Last year I thought the bullet necklace might deal with Olivia’s “death” in Season 4, but I am thinking something else now since they have been focusing on it even with Olivia back.
  • Cool Fringe-y thing of the week: The way they faked Manfretti’s eye to fool the scanner. I think the Observers not having a camera there to see it wasn’t him was a little ridiculous though.
  • Looks like Simon is a goner. I was kind of thinking we might see him back on the show after they mentioned him last week. I mean it wouldn’t be the first time someone would come back after having their head removed in Fringe, but I am not expecting it this time.
  • Astrid’s face when Walter offers her a go with the laser was so great. I’m not sure how the laser didn’t do more damage to the camera or tape though.
  • I loved a few quotes from the Olivia. Etta, Manfretti conversations. Particularly, Olivia’s “Well we have to win” and Manfretti’s “I felt for the first time that we were supposed to win.” Good stuff.

“In Absentia” was another great episode for Fringe’s final season. The highlight was all the character interactions and it will be interesting to see where they go with the hidden tapes. I’ll be back next weekend with a look at this week’s Fringe episode. Feel free to share any of your thoughts on “In Absentia” in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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