Could “A Better Human Being” break free from its case-of-the-week structure to deliver overarching story progression and bring us one step closer to understanding some of Fringe‘s most pressing mysteries? Read our review to find out.
- The episode picked up right where the previous one left off, building on the experiences gained in Westfield.
- Olivia’s memory flashes were effective in conveying her evolving state and served as a nice reminder of the journey we’ve all been on.
- The story moved forward in significant ways; important central developments occurred.
- Peter, in particular, underwent a measure of growth and discovery that felt weighty.
- An intriguing cliffhanger that put the episode back on track and (hopefully) signals further serialization going forward.
- The case-of-the-week was interesting for a while but soon tapered off.
- The melodrama was a bit too much for me, bringing the show dangerously close to certain Season 3 episodes/storylines. It’s something we probably had to go through, but it felt rather forced and overly gooey.
- It’s a tricky one to play, but I felt Olivia was too full on in her conviction. A bit too needy. It feels as though the character that defined so much of what was great about Fringe has become lost somewhere along the way.
- Lincoln. I’m not sure what to do with him. Is he being set up as a love interest for Olivia; has that now changed; or was he always a contrivance?
- “How long have we known each other, Olivia?” Peter adopts the role of psychiatrist, which is really quite interesting when looking at the themes explored in the recent clutch of episodes.
- I keep coming back to it, but in many respects this whole timeline (if not the entire journey) resembles a process. In fact, I prefer to look at it as a process as opposed to a timeline, as it seems more descriptive of what our heroes are going through.
- Speaking of going through, I had to chuckle at Peter’s sly attempt to stay the night — a notion swiftly blocked by Olivia’s “migraine”. There’ll be no Corsexyphan tonight!
- Olivia’s memory flashes were interesting, reminding me of Peter’s in the BBM.
- The case-of-the-week conveyed the scientific and psychological context of Olivia’s memory fusion, further reinforcing the idea that reality is subjective.
- It’s this that allows Olivia to believe that the memories are hers. Whether they are or not is a matter of context, but her ownership and willingness to take responsibility for these experiences is really quite fascinating.
- While I found the melodrama quite unnecessary and almost too aware, it’s interesting to see Olivia fighting for something that is both natural and unnatural. For me, her story is rooted in these competing elements.
- Olivia notes that Sean “recounted the entire crime in great detail, as it was happening.” In some ways, this is what Olivia is doing; she’s observing these memories in the form of dreams and flashes, and they’re ‘becoming real.’
- One of the ideas I keep coming back to is the role the subconscious mind has on our heroes’ realities. It was pleasing to see this episode reinforce these concepts.
- Walter, who plays an intriguing role of adviser throughout, raises the idea that Peter is manifesting his desires to which the empathetic Olivia is latching onto, making them real.
- This is interesting, because Walter knows all too well the power of subconscious energy. In chastising Peter for ‘re-creating Olivia,’ he’s also reflecting on his own experiences.
- While the idea that Peter is using The Force on Olivia is eventually negated, the fact that Walter and Peter considered it possible says something interesting about the narrative and the potential malleability of Olivia.
- It touches on Peter’s ability to intimately shape the world around him through his presence, and not just his absence — which is where the season began.
- Intriguingly, the weight shifts from the potential malleability of Olivia to the notion that she’s finding herself. The character is still on an identity quest, and it plays into the self-actualization note I made last week.
- Olivia offers further insight into her pre-Peter memories: “it’s hazy, it’s kinda indistinct, like an old dream.” It’s a great description that anyone who’s ever had a dream can understand.
- It was pleasing to see Walter figure out that Nina has been dosing Olivia with Cortexiphan. To see him revisit his past with such conviction and contempt for Nina’s actions was an encouraging.
- Perhaps he’s a bit of a hypocrite, given his own history with the potion, but he’s learned from his actions and isn’t willing to propagate further violations.
- It’s possible that ‘Nina’ is working towards some ‘greater good,’ but that phrase is messy at the best of times and wouldn’t doesn’t change the fact that she’s been pumping the Dunhamnator with Cortexiphan without her knowledge.
- It was a bit unnecessary hearing what Olivia and Peter used to do after they solved cases. And there was I thinking they went home to research the BBM. Little did I know it was another kind of BBM they were getting to grips with. I feel so betrayed!
- In all seriousness, it was a bit much and I had to question what show I was watching for a moment, but thankfully it was followed up by a freaky Olivia disappearance.
- My first suspect for the Olivia/Nina kidnapping was David Robert Jones.
- Did a small time-jump take place, by which time Jones had kidnapped Nina, or is that actually Ninate, or some kind of Fauxina in the room? Has she really been kidnapped, or it part of a ruse?
- If we are looking at Ninate, it puts into question which orange-haired maiden was behind Olivia’s Cortexiphan dosing.
- Lot’s to speculate, which makes the next episode all the more intriguing.
- Lincoln gets a lot of stick, some of it unnecessary, but fair play to him for this little observation: “there really aren’t any normal days in this job are there?” Don’t you quit on me, Linc!
- Walter’s statement on the human mind vs LSD offers an interesting perspective on tools vs the machine. LSD, like Cortexiphan, is a facilitator, but Walter places more weight on the ‘machine.’
- An interesting little moment, easily forgotten, came when Walter “lost the thought.” Something I suspect we’ll come back to.
- I had to laugh at Olivia’s rolly-eyed reaction to Lincoln arriving on the scene. Is she projecting an element of the fanbase. Oh Olive!
- Astrid’s little moment with Sean was nice.
- All Peter’s been thinking about since he returned has been getting Olivia in her Bra & Panties — oh he’s the problem alright — but it was pleasing to hear him admit to being scared of making the same mistake after Altlivia-gate.
- I gave him a hard time for that, but fair play to him for learning from it. In the quiet of the night when Olivia stops thinking about Peter’s ‘BBM’, she’ll appreciate that, I’m sure. Well, she would if she wasn’t kidnapped.
- Olivia’s need to “go pee” was a bit convenient (too much Cortexiphan?). I don’t think she’s been more excited about anything, ever.
- I LOVE the fact that Walter drank the ‘Cortexiphan’.
- Olivia remembers her history with Peter while the pre-Peter memories have become hazy.
- Dr. Frank was the father of the ‘subjects’. He was trying to make “a better human being.”
- He wanted to reintroduce the “hard-wired” abilities that have long since become dormant in humans, abilities like those elicited by Olivia’s Cortexiphan trials/dosing.
- Who kidnapped Olivia and Nina? Is David Robert Jones responsible?
- Is that really Nina, Nina, or is something else afoot?
An interesting episode that did the all-important thing of moving the story forward. Undercut by too much sap, but steadied by an intriguing cliffhanger that promises much for the next episode.
Best Moment: Olivia and Nina kidnapped.
Best Performer: Joshua Jackson
Best line: “It was so loud for you that you couldn’t even hear yourself think. And I bet you have a lot of great thoughts.” Astrid to Sean.
7.5/10 Seriable Stars