‘Fringe’ Review: “Anomaly XB-6783746”
The battle against the Observers rolls forward as ‘Fringe’ season 5 debuts its tenth episode of the final season “Anomaly XB-6783746,” where Walter and the others attempt to communicate with the Observer boy Michael, while Nina Sharpe (Blaire Brown) makes a deadly sacrifice and the identity of the mysterious "Donald" is revealed.
Last week’s ‘Fringe’ episode “Black Blotter” saw Walter dropping acid and fighting to avoid turning into his former, villainous self, while the team followed a mysterious radio signal to uncover information about the even more-mysterious Donald, so how does “Anomaly XB-6783746” keep the final season in motion? How will season 5 of ‘Fringe’ close out the epic saga?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Fringe’s final episode of 2012 “Anomaly XB-6783746!”
The team examines the young Michael, who seems to lack any memory of their previous meetings, or any ability to understand what they want with him. Walter in particular grows frustrated, even cold in suggesting that they use their past mental probe experiments to extract information from them. Olivia reasons that the boy once communicated with her through an empathic connection, one which seems to have been lost.
Olivia calls Nina away for help just in the nick of time, as Windmark and his Observers arrive minutes later looking for Nina, having traced the sublimation device from “Five-Twenty-Ten” to Massive Dynamic. With no knowledge of Nina’s whereabouts, the Observers utilize a futuristic device to re-create sound waves lingering in the room, and learn of her earlier conversation about the Observer child!
Out on the streets, Nina travels with the team and Michael to one of the Massive Dynamic black laboratories, hoping to find equipment that can commune with the boy. Along the way, Peter expresses his concern that Walter seems to be growing colder, and of his arrangement with Nina to have the pieces of his brain removed once more. Still walking, Olivia spies another Etta “RESIST” flyer.
Arriving at the lab, Peter and Walter take a moment to cover the bodies of several Observers, the lab previously having been used for Resistance experimentation. After Peter and Olivia share a moment reminiscing about Etta, Nina hooks Michael up to an electronic cognitive translator, only to find that the machine is incapable of reading the boy’s unique brain activity. Nina and Walter reason that they might have more success attaching a second device to one of their own heads and forming an empathic connection, but they’ll need to go to the Massive Dynamic warehouse to get one.
That revelation comes with poor timing however, as Windmark and his men interrogate the warehouse’s workers one by one, looking for connections to Nina’s apparent treachery. A visibly nervous Dr. Hastings waits in the line, while Peter, Walter and Olivia arrive nearby and attempt to bypass the lock.
While the team searches through the warehouse for the device, Hastings quickly fails his interrogation and gets a painful mental probe from Windmark. Meanwhile Nina ventures out of the lab for a moment to check in, inadvertently activating her tracking signal to the Loyalists, and catching Windmark’s attention. Olivia finally notices Hastings’ interrogation, and manages to save the man from being killed, though not before Windmark and his Observers teleport away.
Back downstairs at the lab, Nina assures Michael that everything will be fine, as the young boy touches her face, sending an unseen vision into her mind. With the Observers on approach, Nina looks for a place to hide Michael. Elsewhere, Peter, Walter and Olivia get slowed down by a Loyalist checkpoint, and have to ditch their car to steal another.
Windmark and his men arrive at the laboratory to find Nina brazenly waiting, and unwilling to divulge any thoughts about the boy. Dismissing the boy as a worthless chromosomal anomaly that went missing from his own time, Windmark grows incensed at the sight of the dead Observers, while Nina defiantly asserts that humans are the more evolved of the two. Advanced though the Observers might be, honing and developing their more primitive instincts made them more akin to lizards, and Nina marks her final act of defiance by grabbing a Loyalist gun and shooting herself in the head.
Some time later, Peter, Walter and Olivia arrive at the trashed laboratory, stumbling upon Nina’s body as Walter tearfully breaks down. Peter evaluates the security footage to realize that the Observers didn’t leave the facility with Michael, and Olivia manages to find the boy tucked away under one of the Observer corpses. Seeing Walter grieve for Nina, Michael approaches the body, and sheds a single tear matching Walter’s.
Back at the Harvard lab, Walter and Michael use their newfound empathic connection to communicate through the translators, revealing that the boy indeed remembers them and his purpose. The boy detaches his headset, and places his hand on Walter’s cheek, showing him memories of Walter’s past encounters with both he and September.
At the end of the montage, we see Walter’s memory of approaching the mysterious Donald, revealed to be a fully-haired, and human September. Walter tells the team Donald’s true identity, as they contemplate their next move.
As 'Fringe's final episode of 2012, and our transition into the final three episodes of the series, “Anomaly XB-6783746” feels at times frustrating and others cathartic. The episode falls prey to much of the A to B plotting of the recent run, but takes a serious and shocking turn between both Nina's suicide and the revelation of Donald's identity. 'Fringe' has long been the type of series to spin mediocre middles into exciting conclusions, and “Anomaly XB-6783746” is no different.
Nina's actions and Walter's memories tug very much at the heartstrings, with that little extra 'Fringe' sci-fi twist. We've lost any doubt that 'Fringe' will provide an exciting conclusion to the series, and “Anomaly XB-6783746” gave a great set-up to that.
Did you get your fill of freaky ‘Fringe’ drama? What did you think about the season’s tenth episode? Join us next year for another all-new ‘Fringe’ episode recap of “The Boy Must Live” on FOX!