Episode Title: "Forced Perspective"
Writer: Ethan Gross
Director: David Solomon
Previously on "Fringe":
At Fringe headquarters, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is still unnerved by the prediction that she received from September (Michael Cerveris) about her death in all possible futures. With Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), she pours over photos of various Observers and identifies September. Although Broyles interprets September's words as a threat to her life, Olivia realizes that it's a warning. Some time later, a young girl named Emily Mallum (Alexis Raich) hears a strange humming before furiously drawing something on her sketchpad. She runs after a man and gives him a drawing of his own death by impalement.
The man laughs off the drawing until he dies in that very manner moments later, horrifying his female companion. Hours later, Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) is on the scene and he tells Olivia about Emily's predictive drawing. At home, we see Emily living with her parents, Jim (Currie Graham) and Diane Mallum (Meredith McGeachie) as well as her younger brother, Danny Mallum (Dylan Schmid). The family seems well aware of Emily's ability and has apparently moved many times to escape scrutiny. As Emily questions why God made her this way, her father assures her that God has a purpose for everything.
Olivia and Lincoln get a clear shot of Emily from one of the surrounding security cameras and they begin tracking her down. On the bus, Emily spots Albert Duncan (Jonathan Walker) and she hears a humming noise again before furiously drawing something. But Albert gets off the bus before Emily can hand the drawing to him. Lincoln and Olivia find the Mallum's apartment, but Jim, Diane and even Danny lie about not recognizing Emily and they try to throw them on a false trail. But Olivia already spotted Emily's backpack within the apartment before she and Lincoln run into Emily outside.
Emily explains to the agents how her ability works when her father intervenes and angrily pleads to be left alone. Jim states that the family has been harassed by Massive Dynamic for years and that they fear that their daughter will be kidnapped by them. Shocked, Olivia backs down, but she also gives Jim her card in case he changes his mind. Upset over what she heard, Olivia visits her surrogate mother, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown); who still seems eager to study Emily's ability in a lab. Olivia angrily berates Nina over "abusing" children with tests when she fields a call from Emily, who wants to meet again.
At a nearby lake, Olivia finds Emily sitting on a bench. She shows Olivia her latest drawing, with dozens of dead bodies, including Albert at the center of it all. With Emily's permission, Olivia takes her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) to determine how she receives her visions. Walter's explanation is that Emily's hyperactive brain is sensitive to traumatic future events that reverberate backwards in time. When Jim arrives at Walter's lab, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) suggests that Walter hypnotize Emily to allow her to remember more about her latest vision.
Under deep hypnosis, Emily sees a destructive landscape inside a courthouse with Albert holding a detonator; which Peter correctly deduces to mean that he is the perpetrator and not a victim. With help from Astrid (Jasika Nicole), they learn Albert's name and his grudge against Judge O'Malley (John Innes) over Albert's recent divorce. While the FBI scrambles a large team to the courthouse, Emily and her father return home to find an ominous black van parked nearby. Inside, they race to pack and relocate as they've always done. But Emily hears that familiar hum and finishes her latest drawing.
At the courthouse, Lincoln finds the bomb and Peter finds a way to temporarily disable it by jamming the frequency. Olivia and other agents surround Albert as he moves in on O'Malley and threatens to use a suicide bomb. But Olivia talks Albert down by reminding him that all of his victims have families too and he doesn't have to die today. With the threat averted, Olivia calls to tell Emily the good news. However, her father tells Olivia that Emily has been kidnapped. After tracking down the black van and determining it to be harmless, Olivia and Lincoln find Emily by the lake and close to death.
In Emily's hands, we see her final drawing of her father sitting next to her on the same bench with Olivia close by. Olivia tells Emily that they prevented the deaths at the courthouse with her help before Jim arrives to share the last moments of his daughter's life. Before she dies, Emily tells her father that saving those people may have been her purpose in God's plan. Later, Walter theorizes that Emily died from the massive electrical activity in her brain. Afterwards, Peter spots Olivia going over photos of the Observers and he mentions them by name before explaining that they aren't time travelers… they just experience time differently.
But Peter's words aren't exactly comforting to Olivia when he confirms that they aren't wrong about the future because they've already experienced it. That night, Nina visits Olivia at her apartment and they reconcile. Olivia also complains about her migraines and Nina cheerfully says that she will bring a "remarkable" new drug from Massive Dynamic for Olivia's pain. Outside the building, September silently observes.
I know that I've said this before, but one of the many things that separates "Fringe" from the pack is its ability to make the audience sympathize with its one-off characters and their circumstances. I wasn't blown away by Alexis Raich's performance as Emily, but she was convincingly haunted by her powers and she had a very well played death scene. It's almost impossible not to feel for Emily as she finally found some peace at the end of her short life. The trickle of blood down her nose was also effectively used without going over-the-top.
Emily was also reminiscent of Johnny Smith from "The Dead Zone" TV series, particularly as she walked around the landscape of her vision while under hypnosis. That entire sequence had great execution onscreen. However, using Albert as the perpetrator was a little less successful because we didn't see enough of him to fully empathize with with his plight. Considering that this was Emily's story, that's an oversight that I can live with. But it doesn't change the fairly one dimensional way that Albert was used in the story.
After last week's phenomenal episode, it was great to see Walter and Peter back into a rhythm that resembled their dynamic from the first few seasons. Joshua Jackson and John Noble just have a strong onscreen connection that always plays well. I was also struck by the bravery of Peter and Lincoln after they found the massive bomb and refused to abandon the technician as he tried to figure out how to disable it. We see heroic choices like that all of the time on TV and in movies, but there was something about the way it was presented here that actually made it seem more dangerous than usual. Maybe it's because we saw just how powerful that bomb could be in Emily's vision.
For the overarching story of the season, we also learned that Peter can no longer use the Doomsday Device in this newly reconstructed timeline. That makes sense, but it also leaves Olivia as the likeliest person to be keyed to the machine in Peter's absence. That might explain Nina's interest in Olivia and her secret experiments on her. Under the guise of a concerned mother, Nina now has the perfect way to begin testing a new drug on Olivia without her being aware of its true intent. It's still difficult to read just how genuinely Nina cares for Olivia. But given what she's already done to her surrogate daughter and her alliance with David Robert Jones, it's hard to buy that Nina has Olivia's best interests at heart.
On a closing note, next week's episode will finally give us the Astrid face-off, as Kick-Astrid and Astrid meet for the first time! I can't wait to see that.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.