Fringe follows up an intense full episode reintroduction of a long-remembered villain with what on the surface appears to be a cheap knockoff mash-up of Final Destination and a second-rate Anime flick. In comic book terms, it’s akin to discovering Xorn is Magneto and then the next issue transitions to Howard the Duck.
In Fringe, everything is not always what it seems. ‘Forced Perspective’ proves this – again – by delivering a decent episode despite its dubious and potentially toxic setup.
Emily is a very young girl with the creepy ability to sketch out people’s deaths that she sees through premonition visions. She suffers from the kind of conflict that you would expect someone in her situation would suffer from: questioning God, their place in the Universe, causality, etc.
The first death see her prophesizes on-camera is one of a complete and total jerk, so it’s kind of hard to root against his impending doom. She receives her vision, sketches it out, and upon handing it to the gentleman he starts a diatribe on the state of teenagers nowadays and their overall uselessness. Right on cue, a beam impales him to a dumpster like Bob Simms on a kitchen door.
Meanwhile, Olivia (Anna Torv) digs a little deeper into her own prophet, the now dead Observer. She finds out from Astrid that he is at least 90+ years old. She also discovers that he’s been in the background of every major moment of her life, and probably the little ones as well, for the last couple of years (very much like The Silence in Doctor Who).
The Observer’s final words still haunt her and it is in that that we see the parallels between her and Emily’s situation. Olivia is given this fatalistic future mapped out for her by someone who apparently has been watching her for quite some time and she struggles with pushing against it while Emily, in spite of what appears to be the utter futility of it all, continues to try and help those she sees as dying soon. The irony being that they seem to switch philosophies as the episode goes on.
The episode ends on a happy note, well if you consider a sweet and good intentioned girl who only wanted to be normal dying from an overload in her brain with her father by her side to be a happy note. It seems the “dreams” that Emily clung to of the normal life she wanted to live may have been visions of her own impending death. She accepted her fate, her purpose and her end. She dies a hero, having warned of an impending mass catastrophe just in time. The moment is incredibly sad and equally moving.
Olivia is on one wonky rollercoaster right now. All the chess pieces are moving about, preparing for a convergence on her fate, and Nina Sharpe stands watching over like a menacing Black Queen. She knows she is destined to die, and it probably has something to do with Peter trying to get back to where he came from, and while she is hard pressed to just lay back and accept her fate, she can’t ignore it either.
That’s the funny thing about knowing your future; is Olivia supposed to die for good, or is her death just an inevitable consequence of something? She can’t know, at least not until the moment comes, as it always does in shows like these, right when she is faced with a choice to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Or not; and that’s the beauty of Fringe. Even when it follows convention, it still manages to throw them all on their side.
‘Forced Perspective’ made the best out of potential creative and still managed to offer an ominous look into what’s to come. I felt some of the dramatic elements were a little heavy handed, and that seems to be the norm more and more as Season 4 marches on. All in all the tenth episode of this season delivered a welcome piece of the Fringe mythos.
– James Zappie