Three episodes in and still no Broyles or Nina! Not going to lie it's a bit confusing why neither Lance Reddick or Blair Brown's characters have yet to make an appearance in Fringe's final season. Before my confusion turns to frustration lets talk about this new episode "The Recordist" and I'll come back to them.
The episode starts off with the gang back at the Harvard lab with Astrid and Walter cutting away at more of the amber. Astrid is able to free one of Walter's contingency plan tapes. Which so far all we know there are at least 7 or more in total. This tape turns out to be tape number 3 and everyone except Astrid (I'll come back to that in a minute) head out to the coordinates in Pennsylvania to find whatever clue Walter hid 21 years ago. Upon arriving to the coordinates the four of them stumble into a village of seemingly infected people who also happen to be an odd group of historians. Near the village happens to be a mine where the source of the infection in coming from and coincidently is also where a deposit of certain minerals the Fringe team needs from Walter's plan. With the Observers altered to their location the team has to act fast, get the minerals, and get out.
Of course Walter has his own, shall I say, 'unique' sorting system that only seems to make sense to him. Still in the lab they cut out the first, well rather the third, tape Walter recorded his plan on and somehow Astrid gets stuck playing tech support while the rest of them follow the direction on the tape. This bugged me a bit how Astrid stays behind to recover more viewable footage on the tape instead of them all doing that before and everyone going together. That wouldn't really bug me that much if they ended the episode differently. The way the episode ends is with the four of them driving off in a beater station wagon to throw off the Observers, going to find the next tape, most likely somewhere away from Boston. Which would mean Astrid is left inside Walter's lab all on her own without backup, without food, and without any weapons for protection. Not sure if they are going to swing by and pick her up or if Astrid is going to be in some sort of watchtower role for the next couple of episodes. Again, if that's the case they are just asking her to either get caught, tortured, killed, or all of the above.
As you can tell I'm an Astrid fan, but I'll shift gears to what I did like about "The Recordist". And its pretty much the same thing I've liked the other two episodes this year: the family dynamic between Olivia, Peter, and Etta. Olivia is still resistant to open her heart to Etta because she feels that she gave up hope on finding their little daughter too quickly back during the invasion. Peter tries his best to convince Olivia to embrace this second chance they have been given and it wasn't a night and day shift but there definitely looks like Olivia might be opening up and even enjoying this second chance. I really like the way the show has so far approached the post-invasion flashbacks with moments that mattered. Not a whole lot of time is spend on these flashbacks but enough to get the point across while not taking away from the main story in the episode.
The whole infected villagers/futuristic historian was an interesting choice to take. Not a bad choice, but interesting how the producers settled on this way as a jumping of point for the story. They had some kind of futuristic, electromagnetic discharged, force field protecting, Minority Report-isk data storage library of historical events post invasion. I was just as confused as Walter for why they were recording everything and how exactly they did their recordings. Seeing how the leader of the group said they almost never left their village. Would have liked a little more explanation for some of these holes in the episode's story here but I'm hoping Fringe will address some of these questions later when they figure out what the crystals they got from the village's mine are and what there for.
I did appreciate the parallel between the kid in the village who was a fan of the fringe team, making his own home-made Fringe comics, and Peter's reaction to the comic. For those of you Fringe fans that didn't know Fringe and DC Comics have done a couple limited released comic book series on the show and Fringe's own Joshua Jackson (aka Peter) wrote the story for the latest run. Just something an uber geek would have picked up on, so just be embarrassed for me.
Not having Broyles or Nina even hinted at throughout the episode gave me a bit of chip on my shoulder I couldn't quite get over while watching. The way I look at it is if they included them in 4.19 ("Letters of Transit") then there is no reason for them not to have been re-introduced yet in this new season. Luckily after the end credits on this episode the promo for next week shows Broyles will be back next week. One out of two ain't bad.
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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.