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Fringe: The Recordist

“It’s not that I can’t remember. It’s that I can’t forget.”

One of the most memorable scenes in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t involve book-burning at all, but rather book-remembering. Wandering intellectuals have taken it upon themselves to remember the best books, the most important books, so that not all will be lost, and there will be some hope for humanity.

That scene has always stuck with me: the choices the men had to make in terms of what to remember and what to dismiss; the conviction it must take to remember everything; and the simplicity of the act: remembering and recording are, in their own way, revolutionary activities. Anyone who has read 1984 knows that. Knowledge is power; memory is understanding.

Because those are ideals I believe in, I wound up getting angry at Edwin for choosing to sacrifice himself and dig out the quartz crystals. Don’t get me wrong: I understand what he did, why he did it, and how his act of heroism can mean possible victory for humanity. But the selfish part of me wanted to shout, “Ask someone else to do it! Your role is important, too! Surely there’s a lay-about who hangs around camp, sponging off everyone else?”

But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? Fringe doesn’t make it easy. Heroism often means loss, and all losses are equally bad. No one person is lose-able, and the best we can do it hope that a death has meaning beyond that of loss. Edwin’s will, I hope: unless Fringe decides to end on a really, really depressing note, our team will succeed. There will be losses, there will be death, but there will—I hope—be victory, too.

It’s not as simple as a quest, though. River, Edwin’s son, showed us just how much the world has “moved on,” to steal a phrase from Stephen King. For him, the return of the Fringe Division is like the return of Arthur to Britain—heroes from another age come to put things right. But defeating the Observers and re-taking the planet won’t be enough. People must fix all the problems that have occurred since the invasion: the lack of coffee and real apples, the fungus growth, the development of small communities attempting to operate outside of the government-run cities. How does humanity rebuild after something like that?

Part of that question is its smaller corollary: how does one human rebuild after destruction? Olivia’s conversation with Peter about her conviction that Etta was dead shows us just how painful loss can be. Olivia was certain Etta was dead, and now she can’t bear to remember that time of lost hope. The fungus is a sort of metaphor for the residual effects of loss—it’s removable, until it isn’t. Then the loss is just a part of who we are, because we can’t forget it. And forgetting it would be losing a piece of who we are.

It Was Medicinal:

• Olivia: “When we lost her, it felt like that was my punishment. My punishment, for being too conflicted to appreciate her when we had her.”

• Walter: “Now this is a ride.”

• I wish the Astrid/Walter mime/mine conversation had taken a bit longer. Really, I wish there had been some actual miming going on. Because every dystopia needs a good mime scene.

• Speaking of apples... wait, we weren’t speaking of apples? Well, we are now. It’s honeycrisp season, and if your area has access to honeycrisp apples, please go find and eat one right now. They’re the best apples in the entire world. They’re the platonic ideal of apples. They’re the apples other apples want to be. And the Observers have taken them away from us.

• The Resistance is well-connected, isn’t it? They seem to be an active organization with many members. I’m excited to learn more about them.

Four out of four wicked tree dwarfs.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. My, you sure got that one up fast Josie! (and several others at the same time!)

    This was a very moving episode... and the Recordist had me fooled right until he walked into that mime sorry mine! ;o)
    Great job from the makeup artists too! It took me quite a while to recognise Paul McGillion under that tree bark!

    Can we get more of the Resistance soon please? And I want to know what's happening with Nina and Broyles! That Observer Widmore has IDed Etta from the images, shouldn't he be interrogating Broyles about her???

  2. Great review Josie.

    And way more philosophical....It is going bad for Humanity, and yet, what I find so compelling about this show (amongst other reasons) is that the drama is on....a personal level. Almost intimate.

    Although, again, every cast member is great, I enjoy Olivia-Etta's exchanges the most.

    After last season, I'd be surprised that this one would end on a negative note. And September kept saying that Olivia had to die (yes, she did, twice ! A 3rd time ?)

    CChris, I recognized Paul McGillion by....his voice. He was also under a lot of makeup in Sanctuary.

  3. Marc it was the voice that had me going "I know that guy... who is that guy??? I know him from some other show..." Took me a while to place him because of the makeup, but what caught my attention in the first place was definitely his voice (and thx to Sanctuary so no fake-Scottish accent) :o)

    This series can't end on a negative note, NO WAY! But perhaps a bittersweet one... ;o(

  4. CChris

    My feeling is that we're going to loose a MAJOR character. But we should continue this conversation in 2013, after the 13th episode......

    FYI, I NEVER forget a voice nor a face.

  5. Great stuff. I hope this whole finding-the-tapes business turns up some interesting stuff which propels the narrative forward, rather than it just being a bog standard treasure hunt type scenario.

    Lovely scenes between Olivia and Etta. (Particularly the bit where she clutched her leg.) I'm just hoping the show's not completely done with Fauxlivia and Co. It would be nice if they turned up for one last hurrah.

  6. I have read several recaps for this episode and no one is talking about Etta the sadistic interrogator?!??!?


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