After last week’s episode of Fringe, I wondered if Peter had reached a breaking point. Of all the weird, confusing, and sometimes terrible, things that have happened to him since he was a boy, losing his daughter for a second time (this time forever) seemed like too much. That certainly appears to be the case in this episode, as ‘An Origin Story’ sees a new Peter Bishop emerging; a man who is no longer prepared to play the long game, instead wanting to take the fight to the observers now, and that is something he gets the opportunity to do in a really strong episode of the show.
The observers are using a device that appears to open black holes that allow them to transport equipment and members of the resistance have managed to capture one of the devices, and an observer. So Peter wants to learn more about the device, and believes he can get the truth from the captive observer, and will go to extreme lengths to do so.
This is Peter straying into younger Walter territory, when Walter would push the boundaries of science with William Bell and try out the kind of experimentation that others would consider too extreme. Peter is also highly intelligent, and he makes it clear to the observer that he knows what he’s going to do and know how to get him to feel real emotions like humans can. It’s a very tense and well written part of the episode as Peter is pushing himself and the observer in order to fight back against them.
While Peter is more focussed, and angrier, after Etta’s death, Olivia is taking it much harder. She had even less time with Etta than Peter did, and she’s struggling to cope with the loss, which is made even more difficult for her because of Peter’s change in attitude. Walter recognises that she’s scared of losing Peter too, and again we’re reminded that Fringe has always been about those three characters, and their fights to protect the planet and each other.
When the plans to stop the black holes don’t work, Peter is furious, and goes to even more extreme lengths with the observer. He has told Peter that what he previously perceived as a sign of fear (the observer’s pupil dilated, but it was distracted by something else in the room) was merely his recognition of a normal occurrence, and this drives Peter to really teach the observer what pain and real emotions are, as he ruthlessly extracts a chip from inside the observers skull that helps make them more advanced.
The episode ends with Peter inserting the chip into his own head, and struggling to cope with what it does to him. It’s hard to believe that this will go well for Peter, but it’s a new angle for the show to take that could go in many directions, and it’s part of a particularly strong episode.