ďAugustĒ was hyped as the Observer episode of Fringe, and it turns out to be about not just the Observer we are familiar with through the first two seasons but Observers in general, and in specific one named August. The episode isnít really a series changer after all but more of an interesting character study much in line with the exposition we got on Broyles two weeks ago in ďEarthlingĒ although surrounded by better material.
The episode kicks off with August kidnapping a twenty-something art school cutie named Christine. The Fringe team scrambles upon video of an Observer doing something more than observing and quickly realizes they are dealing with a man similar to but different from the Observer we know and love.
August kidnapping the girl and holding her is a bit creepy, yet even from the beginning the actor playing him (who does a marvelous job all the way through) seems able to communicate an empathy with her that makes sense once weíve reached the end.
Broyles (Lance Reddick) and Olivia (Anna Torv) canít find anything abnormal or exceptional about the girl. Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) jump on a book August left behind to try and decipher the codes within. Little do they know that August left the book behind intentionally to send a message to Walter (John Noble).
Walter knows, however. Indeed, it is great fun to watch as the Fringe team runs around Walter doing their usual investigating and trying to figure out who the Observers are, when all the while itís obvious that Walter is intentionally receding into the background. Nobleís looks and intonation are priceless here, just subtle enough to fool Olivia and Peter (face it, Walter is odd even when he isnít hiding things) but let the audience in on the fact that heís not sharing.
Olivia and Peterís search leads them to (big surprise) Massive Dynamics where one of Nina Sharpís boys (Nina is AWOL much to my distress) explains that the Observers have been around forever but only show up at important moments. Since they are now popping up all over the place he insinuates that something big is about to happen.
Meanwhile we get a lunch meeting of Observers, including our Observer and an older one that looks and sounds like a leader. They donít seem to know why August has kidnapped the girl either, and are grappling with the same question the Fringe team is: who is she and why is she important?
All they know is she is supposed to be on a specific flight, and the instant I (and everybody else who watches Fringe) heard that it clearly meant bad news for those who did make the flight. Itís dangerous to fly on Fringe.
The meeting ends with the lead Observer deciding that August has created an ďirregularityĒ and ordering our Observer to ďcontact DonaldĒ. I just knew he wasnít talking about the duck (though on this show you never know) and sure enough the Observers have their own hit man.
Olivia and Peter discover that Christineís parents were killed in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and that August was watching them, and her. Meanwhile we see Augustís captivity of Christina and it is now obvious he is actually trying to protect her. He shows her the news of her flightís crash (I knew it! Well, we all didÖ) to prove it to her.
The case has interrupted Oliviaís time with her niece Ella and we get some nice character moments from her while talking to Peter as she reminisces about her own mom (the status and whereabouts of everyoneís mothers seem to be a recurring Fringe mystery). They hear about the flightís crash and begin to realize that the Observers do in fact have advanced warning of events (which they really already knew) and that more importantly August is, for some reason, disrupting the timeline.
In a truly hilarious scene (the more funny because none of the characters realize what is happening) Walter actually sits there and decodes Augustís message to him in front of the whole Fringe team and they donít pick up on it. He ends up sending Olivia and Peter the long way chasing after chili peppers (after Astrid out on a fresh cherry run!) while he goes to meet August. How can you not love Walter?
Olivia and Peter make it to an apartment where they run into Donald the Hit Man who is looking for the girl. Donald threatens Peter who fights with him and sends him running.
This makes for my favorite quick moment on TV in a long time: watching Peter recoil and throw his hands in front of him when he sees Olivia pointing her gun at HIM (again). Itís not long ago that she almost shot him, missing by inches when she was still mentally reeling from her trip to the parallel universe, and Peter obviously hasnít forgotten. I donít know if they meant it as continuity, but itís funny.
Walter and August have a conversation that is interesting and touching. Walter is worried that our Observerís past interference means that August wants to take Peter away, a fear that has already been on his mind. It soon becomes clear, however, that the truth is that August has developed feelings for Christine and the reason he sees her as important is that he loves her.
I have to say that although I was initially a little disappointed there was not some grand relation to the mythos in Augustís actions, it didnít take long for me to figure out that I really liked this development. It turns out that whatever they are, the Observers are not immune to human emotions, and Augustís clumsy but effective way of demonstrating this is in the end not creepy at all but genuinely touching.
The idea of a detached watcher becoming emotionally involved with their subject is not new, but here it is done well and after this point the scenes with the Observers are all tinged with a sad note. Whatever part they are playing, we suspect Augustís actions are not an aberration but growth. Walter picks up on this immediately (he would) and gives August the answer necessary to save Christine: he must make her important to the others.
His final solution leads to some surprisingly affecting moments. It says something about the writing that when August asks Christine if she trusts him and the abducted girl says yes, and we believer her. Apparently everyone wants a Good Fairy protecting them, even if itís a strange-looking bald guy who kidnaps you.
After Augustís death Walter tells her she is safe and gives her an old teddy bear, which she lost at the bridge collapse, as a token from the Observer. Watching Peter react to this bit (huh? you talked to him!?!) is fun, but Walterís assertion that Peter will soon have his answers is tinged with gloom. Walter clearly knows time is running out on his misdirections.
ďAugustĒ isnít action-packed or mythos heavy but itís still a solid episode. Outside of Donald the Hit Man everything seemed to make sense. It wasnít what I expected, but then thatís half the charm of Fringe. ďAugustĒ works mainly because the guest roles of August and Christine are well played, to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the Observers is neat, and John Noble is so outstanding as Walter.
The final scene between August and our Observer (who is apparently named September, did I already know that?) is oddly touching. ďI think itís what they call feelings,Ē says August. ďI think I love her.Ē He sheds a tear and dies after being assured Christine will be safe.
The last scene features Olivia riding a roller coaster with Ella. Things are about to get so hard for her, the elder Observer notes about Olivia (unless he meant Ellaó Iím telling you on this show you never know). Regardless, there are implications that September might feel something toward Olivia similar to what August felt about Christine. If so the ability of the Observers to love might be a mythos-shaking development after all.
Fringe ďAugustĒ Episode Score (1-10): 8
Thanks Utnogrl for the kind comments! (Nice to meet you)
I def think there is a pattern repeating itself between Olivia and Ella.I have noticed for a while that they are alot alike. I also wonder if there will also be some kind of simular story or connection with Peter's mom.
A friend of mine had a better explaination about how August was able to stop the bullet...it could be that his real time perception is close to the speed of light.
Like you said I guess we have to wait and see, but I feel like they have done a really nice job of having multiple story lines for them to play with and I am really looking forward to where this continues to go!
I liked this part of the show too, but I kind of feel like they are setting us up for her character to have severe hardships...I think if Rachel does go, the best thing they could do is have Ella remain with Olvia...I think there is a need to protect Ella...I have heard theories before that Ella may also have cortex. in her system.
It would also allow the show go to a dangerious/interesting place...a little
girl occasionally hanging out in a freaky lab. It would represent the importance of saving the future and way for all of them to want to 'get it right'.
Last edited by TheOtherMe; 11-24-2009 at 09:04 PM.
I just watched Thursday's episode of Fringe and have been left totally confused.
My hubby and I are pretty convinced we would have remembered an episode where Walter told Peter "We were dead Peter, and saved by a man I had never met" as they depicted in the trailer before the start of the episode.
Was this something that we missed? After watching 'August', I only saw Walter's small mention of the incident at the Lake, but never anything as in depth as the trailer seemed to indicate...
Help! Until now, I thought I was a good loyal Fringie!
And now I have a question: so we again saw the Observers use of the Green, Green, Green, Red pattern when they called their assassin. But how does this connect to the previous uses of this pattern we have seen? Specifically in "The Equation"?
It seems to relate to 'evolutionary rate' to how a being percieves time and the speed in which one travles in it.
In The Equation, the lights caused a hypnotic-state that allowed one to 'loose track' of time (memory sensory).
In August, it's possable he is traveling at the speed of Light (simular to superman) and this causes an 'non momentum' effect with his physical involvement.
Another possabilty is that he is also traveling between realities causing momentum deferal type effect.
I've read in other places people had an issue with Donald the assassins appearance, but I found it rather fitting. Talk about a non-descript guy. No one really pays attention to an average looking, overweight white man in a trench coat when it comes to hit men. I thought it was genius on the writers part.
Word.The idea of a detached watcher becoming emotionally involved with their subject is not new, but here it is done well and after this point the scenes with the Observers are all tinged with a sad note. Whatever part they are playing, we suspect Augustís actions are not an aberration but growth. Walter picks up on this immediately (he would) and gives August the answer necessary to save Christine: he must make her important to the others.
Yesterday I started re-watching 'August', mainly to get clarification on the inquiry Branden made about Peter not looking like an FBI agent. As I was falling asleep last night, I had a lightbulb moment regarding the episode that I hadn't parced out before, and Branden's explaination about the Observers is really key. He stated that they seem to show up at significant moments in history. Technological, scientific, historical...but it's been rare, until recently. So, why now? We've gotten hints, going back as far as 'The Arrival' that these strange men have involved themselves in the course of human events. Something, we were told they weren't meant to do via September. Has their involvement altered the natural course of events? Are they trying to prevent a particular event from happening? It's as if these events or maybe their proximity to these characters have become personal. They are no longer isolated moments they chart for whatever unknown purpose or end, and I believe that's what the audience was meant to take from Augusts actions when it came to Christine. Who can't relate to someone wanting to protect a child or someone they love from harm? Who can't relate to a parent making the ultimate sacrifice for their child, as I believe August had come to see Christine? Sure, the writers could have given us all the facts about who the Observers are, where they come from, what they're doing here, why they aren't meant to get involved, who they're communicating with, and for what purpose, but then the mystery surrounding them would be gone. It's way too soon for all that information, assuming the series is picked up for a third season.
I've come to believe that 'August' was meant to give us a glimpse of what we've been told (so far) happened between Walter, Peter and September years ago. This is twice now they've made a deliberate reference (adding a little more to the tale each time) to that event, which makes me believe we will actually see that moment at some point; and when we do, we'll be given a large piece of the mosaic that's being painted.