The Observer (Michael Cerveris, “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”) has certainly been the most mysterious character on “Fringe” thus far. He’s always there witness and document the strange and important occurrences on the show. The Observer has even shown up off the show with appearances at the Super Bowl and baseball’s All Star Game amongst others. How he knows where to be, what his purpose is and who or what he is working for is still unknown, but “August” does shed some light on this strange character and his ilk.
In the opening scene we are quickly shown that there are more than just one Observer. This time the new Observer, who we later find out is named August (Peter Woodward, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”), does more than just observe and kidnaps a woman. This is really the first time we see an Observer take action, and while this main plot line revels in predictability and doesn’t amount to much in the end, there are some very interesting pieces of information we learn about these Observers.
While following up on the case, Olivia and Peter make their way to Massive Dynamic where they learn more about the Observers’ history. This scene in the episode is by far the best as we’re shown another piece of the “Fringe” mythos that hooked so many fans last year. As this season has gone by, there have been far to few of these types of moments which has assuredly contributed to “Fringe’s” drop in ratings in addition to the competitive time slot.
The entire episode this week moves pretty quickly due to a somewhat intriguing mystery. The introduction to August, as well as two other Observers, shows how expansive “Fringe’s” universe(s) is/are. Even August’s fellow Observers can’t figure out why he kidnapped this seemingly insignificant girl, and they definitely have some sort of code in which they live by. We learn the only time they are allowed to interfere with the world is when they must correct mistakes. This does leave us with the question of how Walter was able to take Peter from an alternate universe without the Observer fixing the irregularity.
Despite the promise this episode, it really wasn’t anything special. The story, as mentioned early, is fairly predictable and the ending cliché and huge let down. It was nice to finally get some idea of who the Observer is, but the story didn’t go anywhere significant and.
Another gripe with this episode are Olivia’s and Walter’s side stories. Both were redundant for their respective characters and were not done as well as they usually are. While Walter always has something strange going on in his mind, this week’s obsession with finding the secret ingredient to a milkshake was a bit lame. All can be forgiven because John Noble is still spectacular as Walter, but it wasn’t the best story for him. Olivia’s set up in this episode was weak as well. Like every other episode, at least it feels like that, Olivia was ready to do something personal, in this case take her niece to an amusement park, only to get a phone call about the kidnapped girl. What are the odds that every single time she has a day off, something happens that draws her back to her work?
Like most weeks with this show, there is so much potential inherent to the story that gets wasted. “August” is not really a standalone episode, but outside of the one revelation about the Observer, there’s nothing here that makes it vital to the bigger picture. Let’s just hope going forward there are more stories about William Bell, about Massive Dynamic, about the ZFT and about the Observers, only with more information than this one.