The battle against the Observers reaches a new ground, as  ‘Fringe’ season 5 goes into the wild for its third episode of the final season, where the team finds a colony of diseased historians that may hold the key to the first stage in Walter's plans to defeat the Observers.

Last week’s ‘Fringe’ episode “In Absentia” saw the team returning to infiltrate the old Harvard lab, believing Walter may have left records of his plan to defeat their bald overlords, while Etta soon found herself with a difficult moral choice, so how does “The Recordist” 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’ season 5 episode 3, “The Recordist!”

Still hunkered down in the remains of the Harvard lab, Walter and Astrid manage to liberate the first tape from the ambered workstation.  Unfortunately, playback reveals that a stoned Walter made all the tapes out of sequence, though the one in front of them points to a specific set of coordinates in Pennsylvania.  The team hops in the van and arrives at the location, unaware they're being watched.  Walter, Peter, Etta and Olivia only get so far into the woods before they're confronted by a number of armed guards, each of whom seem to sport some kind of bizarre, bark-like skin condition!

Worried about touching the men and infecting themselves, the team is led to the wooded colony where they’re greeted by a man named Edwin Massey, who recognizes Walter, but confesses to having never met him.  Walter believes they’re looking for something at the camp, as Edwin informs the team that by being there they’ve all become infected by the bark virus, just like the colonists.  Edwin identifies himself and the purpose of the colony as a place to record history without Observer bias.  Like his father, Edwin’s son River keeps history as well, but in the form of ‘Fringe’ comic books!

Back at the Harvard lab, Astrid manages to clear up more of Walter’s tape, pointing the team toward an abandoned mine near the colony.  Walter travels down inside, pulling up a body from a well that has been completely petrified by the mysterious tree virus, meaning that the disease likely emanates from deeper in the mine.  Meanwhile back in New York, Loyalists bring to Captain Windmark’s attention that the fugitives have been spotted traveling down a Pennsylvania road!

Regrouping, Peter chows down on one of Etta’s apple pills, reminiscing about an apple pie joint he visited with Olivia in the past, though she clamps up and pretends not to remember its name.  Walter interrupts, explaining that the man in the well must have died from asphyxiation, likely a result of being too close to one of the Observers’ de-oxygenating machines.  Meanwhile, Edwin finds an old recording of a man named Donald visiting the mine to collect some mysterious rocks while waiting for “a scientist from Boston," before he was taken away by the Observers.  Unfortunately, Walter neither remembers the rocks nor Donald, as he and Olivia notice bark-like growths have begun to appear on their skin.

While Etta’s resistance friends call to warn her of the Observers, Peter asks Olivia if he somehow offended her by asking about the pie restaurant.  Identifying it as “Donovan’s,” Olivia shares her memory of the day, seeing missing posters over Peter’s shoulder that reminded her of the slim chances they had of ever finding her daughter.  At that moment, Olivia came to believe that losing Etta was her personal punishment for ever questioning if she was programmed for motherhood, but Peter reminds her their family was given a second chance.

With the Observers hot on their trail, Walter attempts to fashion a suit that would allow him to safely enter the mine and retrieve the rocks, but a need for copper forces Edwin to reveal that another group in the woods, a less friendly group might be willing to trade.  Edwin’s hesitation to enact the plan before the Observers arrive alienates his young son River, but Peter assures the man that he understands all he has to lose.  Later that night, Edwin successfully makes contact with the other camp, though they claim not to have the copper Walter needs.

As Etta spies the Loyalists nearby, Edwin sits down with his son to explain that the difference between heroes and cowards is often very small, but he’s decided to make some history of his own rather than simply record it.  However, when he tells Peter and Walter how to find the other camp to trade materials for the suit, he announces that he won’t be going with them as planned.

Walter and Peter arrive at Edwin’s coordinates to find it abandoned, realizing that the man never wanted them to find the other camp.  Instead, back at the colony Edwin himself has gone into the mine, and sacrificed his life to liberate the mysterious red rocks from the bottom of the well, providing the energy source Walter needs for his plans.  Dejected by the loss of his father, River takes over for Edwin as the new recordist, his first act to record that his father died a hero who made history of his own.

The loyalists stop the Fringe team’s van, only to find its driver simply found the vehicle on the road, while the actual team hot-wires a new car.  Riding off into a desolate city landscape, Walter puts on a nearby pair of sunglasses as Olivia embraces her daughter and the team drives on to their next mission.

First off, apologies on the late review, things having been a little behind since spending the weekend at New York Comic-Con 2012!  Back to the point however, "The Recordist" certainly makes a fine detour for the final 13 episodes of 'Fringe,' allowing a temporary respite from the desolate, grey imagery that permeated the first two episodes.  There certainly doesn't seem to be all that much at stake during the episode however, which deflates a bit of the tension.  Still, kudos to 'Fringe' for managing to make one of its "freak of the week" episodes work within the context of their larger story.  So, any guesses on who this mysterious Donald might be, or how the red rocks pertain to Walter's plan?

What about you?  Did you get your fill of freaky ‘Fringe’ drama?  What did you think about the season’s junior effort ? Join us next Friday (baseball preempts this week, boo!) for another all-new ‘Fringe’ episode recap of “The Bullet That Saved the World” on FOX!