We were watching Idol prior to the return of Fringe, as FOX wants us to do, and I spotted a bald man in the crowd. At first, I though, “Hey, that guy looks a lot like The Observer. Oh, no. Wait. It’s probably just Phil Stacey.” But, much later, we saw the man again and I realized it was The Observer. Nice work, FOX. You just delighted Fringe fans and probably didn’t even phrase the Idoloonies, unaware of the delights of Michael Cerveris. Now, knowing that Cerveris is a Broadway star, part of me hoped he would sing a little bit at some point during Idol, but I guess that would ruin the whole “being The Observer” thing.
But on to the main event: Fringe is back, ya’ll! And as much as I thought the show really found its groove before the break (if we forget about the Wereupine and the brain-mush episodes), I can tell they’ve made changes that, at this stage, I think are still an improvement. It has helped tremendously to see Olivia with her family, and seeing her bond to the creepy little BatBoy-esque feral child found in a hermetically sealed tunnel under a construction site only humanized her more. There’s tremendous warmth under her fierceness, and I think that’s the person she really is, the person who loved John Scott – not the tough-gal mask she wears when she enters the Boston Federal Building every day. That’s part of her, too, but, it’s important that we’re able to see a difference between her work face and her home face.
This episode was also a major change from what we’ve seen before because it took a more traditionally procedural structure and utilized its fantasy/sci-fi element (the BatBoy) in the service of solving a serial murder. Walter et al always do something crazy to solve the case, but it’s usually the crazy (Walter) solving the fucking ridiculous, rather than the fucking ridiculous (BatBoy) solving the mundane. And as for that serial killer, The Artist, he was pretty cool. Note to self: never trust a guy in a wheelchair who admires your shitty flash tattoo. He will push you into a van and mutilate your body. I mean, The Artist is too broadly drawn to ever show up on the really, really good serial killer show, Criminal Minds, but he worked for Fringe. I don’t know if I’d remain committed to this show if it stayed on this supernatural procedural route (although, it is, in some sense a supernatural procedural without the serial killer plots, its still very different than, say, Eleventh Hour, which I could not make it through the first episode of), but I wouldn’t mind a few episodes like this.
Because of his bond with Olivia, the BatBoy starts giving her clues to find The Artist, because, as an empath, he knows its important to her, but Mr. Michaels from Child Services is not pleased to see that Olivia has taken the boy from this hospital and dressed him up in her Northwestern shirt to hang out at the lab. She strikes a deal with Michaels, who is actually from the CIA and collects these children for research as they will be helpful, I guess, should we ever have to survive in an underground, low-oxygen environment with no sunlight, like, say, after the Apocalypse. She and Broyles strike a bargain with Michaels to turn over the BatBoy after he helps find The Artist, and the BatBoy, being an empath, doesn’t want to help Olivia anymore, knowing that she’s going to abandon him. Once he gives her the final clue and she and Francis capture the artist in the very spot BatBoy indicated he would be, she manages to spirit the BatBoy away to a nice home upstate where he will be cared for, and Broyles perpetuates the lie that the BatBoy escaped when CIA man Michaels comes a-calling.
And who should the BatBoy see on his nice drive upstate? The Observer! In the most obvious Observer cameo since his appearance on American Idol earlier in the evening! The mystery of the BatBoy is that no one knew how he would up in a hermetically sealed cave, or how old he really was. Perhaps, given his resemblance to The Observer, they are of the same race? And potentially alien in nature? I guess we’d only know for sure if the BatBoy liked to eat a lot of very hot, spicy foods, but I’ll take their long exchanged glance at the end to mean that we should read them as similar entities. After all, we know there are more BatBoys out there. Michaels said so himself.
Walter moments of the night:
- Dancing with his brainwave-readermatron.
- “I’m sure Agent Dunham knows what a penis looks like, don’t you Agent Dunham?”