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Anomaly XB-6783746 is the tenth episode of the fifth season of FRINGE. It first aired on 21 December, 2012. The science team makes a raid on a former Massive Dynamic lab to get the equipment they need to communicate with the Observer progeny. Nina Sharp helps the fugitive team avoid capture and is faced with a lethal choice.
In Walter Bishop's laboratory, deep in the Harvard restricted zone, young Michael, the bald child recovered from Thimble Island undergoes physical inspection after his night with the science team. Peter checks the back of his neck and there doesn't appear to be a brain stem implant like the Observers. There isn't even any scarring in the area. Walter fumbles through his old child-psych tricks and offers Michael a licorice whip. Yumm - they are good. No Sale! The solemn, stoic, pre-tween wants nothing to do with the gesture. Olivia uses a fresh, 'we bonded once' approach. Very maternal,
yet BFF-y, she recounts how she and Michael knew one another from her second-hand memories of a separate timeline. Not an elegant orator, Michael would write things down for her - they even caught a bad guy because of his inputs. Does that ring a bell? Peter politely tosses a question at Michael - do you remember that Walter worked on an important plan with a guy named Donald? Walter, frustrated and aggressive, barks at the intimidated boy. You do - and you know me! Walter just wants to do the science on the kid - put him in a coma like any lab rat, load him full of drugs, then probe his brain to see what information he can extract. NOBODY in the room is going to allow that, and Walter is way out of line to even suggest it. Walter redirects his semi-tirade at Michael - Who is Donald? Where is he? Is he alive? I must find him. We have got a world to save! Astrid! Get back to liberating the video tapes from the Amber - the boy is obviously no help! Walter's obstinance has the team heading for neutral corners of the lab. Olivia grabs a sidebar with Peter... Michael is an empath and used to feel what she felt, and he would communicate what he sensed back to her... now - nothing. Maybe a old friend can help?
At the Ministry of Science building on the Brooklyn waterfront, Nina sits in her office reviewing a large, three-dimensional, inter-active holographic schematic
emanating from her desk top. Nina's comm device rings loudly and she answers the call. Her assistant in the adjoining office space notices the personal call for Nina that wasn't filtered through her first. Olivia is on the line with the communication issue they are have with the lab's latest test subject, Michael. Aware there are prying eyes about the office, Nina needs to proceed with caution. How about if she calls Olivia in a few minutes when
she is on safer turf?
Not long after the call from Olivia, Captain Windmark and two colleagues march past Nina's Assistant and into the now unoccupied office. Windmark questions Nina's aide, reminding her that as a Loyalist, she already knows how important it is to answer him. She does. As intimidating as the thought of holding back information from the Observer interrogation expert is, she offers all she knows. Nina took a personal call about twenty minutes earlier and left the area on an early lunch excusal. She has no idea who the call was from, but Nina is normally back in her office by one o'clock. Windmark directs one of his men to leave and return with an LQ-7 unit. The unit should still work, but there isn't much time before the sonic residue in the office windows becomes unreadable. The underling steps through his own trans-dimensional portal to retrieve the LQ-7. Windmark takes a few seconds to explain his unannounced presence in Nina's office, to her Assistant. Wanted fugitives have used a Sublimation Device recently and the device was traced back to the Ministry. Someone from this office likely provided that tech to those fugitives. Once the LQ-7 is retrieved, Windmark's aides deploy the sensors associated with the unit and spray a fine mist of resonance enhancing fluid on the glass panes of the office doors. At first the message is garbled and broken, but after some refinement technique, the Observer's hear Nina's half of the conversation she had less than a half hour earlier... a child... a child Observer? The message strikes a chord with Windmark. This was not a scenario he had accounted for.
On a sidestreet near the Ministry
of Science offices in Brooklyn, Nina
meets with her long lost posse once again and offers what resources she can muster. Olivia
is appreciative, while Walter
is only concerned that it is getting cold out - a personal inconvenience at a time when all are sacrificing tremendously. Nina introduces herself to Michael
and wants to take everyone to a nearby laboratory that Massive Dynamic
kept hidden from the invading Observers
. The Resistance fighters have used it on occasion and Nina has some advanced technology
there that might help them more effectively communicate with young Michael. Loyalist patrols and Observer traffic keeps them team on their toes and the immediate plan is to walk over to the secret lab on foot. As everyone spreads out so they aren't all walking together and draw attention, Peter
hangs-back with Nina to talk about Walter. Which Walter? The gentle benevolent one that is fading or the grumpy antagonistic one replacing it? That's what Peter wants to discuss... Walter told him that she, Nina, agreed to arrange the procedure that would remove the portions of his brain that were recently regenerated - once the plan to defeat the Observers was through. Peter won't accept that arrangement. Nina points-out that if the plan takes any longer to come to fruition, Walter may totally regress and nix any brain altering procedure. Neither prospect pleases Peter - he may lose his
Walter no matter what happens, or when. Nina has known Walter longer than Peter has - and one thing is certain - Walter understands that anything worth fighting for comes with a cost
. Up ahead, Olivia and Michael wait at the corner and one of the Resistance propaganda posters catches her eye. It is her daughter, Henrietta
. The sudden sighting plucks an emotional nerve and she takes a step back to balance herself. Peter walks closer and sees what Olivia sees, and how she is feeling. They look at one another and Peter confirms the emotion - yeah... me too. A somber mask of grief covers their faces and the disjointed hike through the urban jungle continues.
In Nina Sharp's office, Captain Windmark
waits silently as the high-speed trains rush by and the clock on the wall approaches quarter past one. As his men pack-up the LQ-7 unit, Windmark suspects that Nina may have been alerted to their presence at the Ministry. If he can't interview Nina, Windmark's next action
will be to inspect the facility where the Sublimination Device was stored, before it went missing.
Deeper into the light industrial neighborhhod near her Brooklyn office, Nina leads the science team and Michael to a simple paneled garage door on a quiet sidestreet with little activity. She enters her code and the door raises-up and presents a substantial heavy-duty, stainless steel, elevator to take them down to the secret lab. Everyone loads in and in less than a minute they step out into a well-appointed, multi-roomed, laboratory with much of the advanced technological and scientific support equipment that Massive Dynamic operated with decades earlier. Nina asks Olivia to keep Michael from the back room as they power-up the rest of the lab. Many of the chambers in the back are full of deceased Observers - something Michael might find upsetting if he were to get full run of the area just now.
In her secret Brooklyn lab, Nina Sharp explains to Peter and Walter what they learned from the Observers they studied here. As Peter and Walter cover the corpses so Michael can't see them when he comes in, Nina expands on what she and The Resistance learned - one of the goals was to find a counter-technology that
would prevent the Observers from reading thoughts. They did not accomplish that goal because they could only extract bits and pieces of data in the conscious minds of the Invaders they captured. The neural stimulation techniques they used were insufficient, but those methods might be enough, now, to open-up some form of communication with young Michael. Peter returns to Olivia and to escort Michael further back in the lab. He sees that she is still thinking about their daughter and asks if she is okay. Sort of. Whenever she sees a poster of Henrietta, her heart kind of jumps. Peter too. The posters are hard to look at - but at the same time - it's good to see their daughter. Olivia's sentimental posture doesn't go unnoticed by Michael. With everyone gathered in the backroom, Nina explains how the ECog, or Electro-Cognitive translator, they used is designed to work. It interprets patterns of electrical activity in the Observer brain into words and images that non-Observers should be able to understand... allowing us
to read their
thoughts. Walter likes it - prep the subject! Peter has to rein-in Walter again... his name is Michael - he is a boy - not a lab rat.
At the Ministry of Science, Captain Windmark makes his way through the large archive storage warehouse to the upstairs office space at the back. The Native staff has been gathered and is lined-up to go through preliminary interviews with the no-nonsense interrogator. A Loyalist aide reports to Windmark that Nina Sharp's comm device is off-the-grid for now. Seated and waiting for Windmark in a stark room, Roe is first-at-bat in the straight-forward interviews that are scheduled for the archive staff. Nina Sharp is a traitor and working for The Resistance. Do you have any knowleledge of that, or know where she is? More than a bit intimidated, Roe's answer is No on both counts. Windmark studies the man, looks into his mind and is satisfied - I believe you.
Back in the secret lab, Peter fits Michael with the cranial ECog halo while Olivia comforts and prepares him
for the non-invasive test. It won't hurt at all, and if he wants to stop, all he needs to do is squeeze her hand. Walter immediately sees that Michael's cortical activity is off-the-charts
, well beyond their ability to measure. The question - Do you remember why you're so important to Walter's
plan? - gets Nina's attention on the monitor she is following. Michael is processing the question, but in a way unlike any of the Observers from previous experimentation. The ECog software can't interpret anything the child is thinking - something fundamental has changed in Michael. Nina has an idea - from what they told her about Michael, he established an empathic connection with Olivia. Maybe he can't communicate now because that empathic connection has vanished. Maybe... they need to set-up the test equipment so that Michael can access one of their minds - instead of them trying to read what's inside of his. Walter thinks that is a brilliant idea. But how? Nina will need to reconfigure the ECog software while somebody makes their way back to the Ministry of Science warehouse to retrieve a second ECog halo and neural adaptor. Her pal on the staff there, Hastings, the guy who hooked them up with the Sublimination Device a few weeks back, should be able to sneak-out the second ECog.
Interviews in the archive warehouse continue as those waiting seem just as harried as those who have met, and escaped, Windmark. The queue moves slowly up the stairs as Hastings, Darryl R., waits his turn for the on-deck circle. Gulp.
Still waiting in line to be interviewed at the Ministry of Science warehouse, Doctor Hastings receives another phone call. Nervous about his predicament, he won't answer his comm while all of the Loyalist enforcers are lolling about.
In the alley outside of the Ministry's warehouse, Olivia, Peter and Walter arrive in their vehicle to see if they can gain access to the warehouse and the neural translator they need to communicate with Michael.
Olivia has been calling Hastings, but still can't get him to pick-up. Walter's frustration is mounting - the situation is intolerable. Without Hastings, they won't be able to get through the security system, and Nina can't help - she is well below ground in her lab and not able to receive calls. Peter has an idea and contacts Astrid back in Boston. Astrid is good with stuff like this, all she needs is the Model Number of the hardware locking the access door.
Inside the warehouse, Hastings number is up and it is his turn to go toe-to-toe with the nefarious Captain Windmark. Name-rank-serial number
identifies Hastings, a Doctor, as the Quality Assurance guru for the archive, assessing and maintain the technology warehoused in the facility. He doesn't report directly to Nina, but, in the course of business, does indirectly share information about the happenings there with her.
Windmark does not like what he is sensing about the good Doctor.
From Walter's lab, Astrid's research allows her to direct Peter as he bypasses warehouse security. A brown wire in the touch pad attached to a comm node will allow her to send a continuous data stream to short-out the locking circuitry. Peter makes the connection - oh, and stand back. The overload works, Olivia ends the call and the trios enters the warehouse in search of the target hardware.
Inside the warehouse, Hasting's interview is taking a turn south. Windmark tells the engineer what he already knew... what he aided and abetted - a Sublimation Device from this facility was provided to known fugitives. Are you aware of this? No. Windmark knew the answer before he even asked the question - I do not believe you Doctor Hastings. Windmark has his perpetrator and orders him handcuffed. The rest of the staff waiting in line may be dismissed.
On the large warehouse floor, Walter looks at row after row of tall metal shelving packed with containers and supposes they are looking for a needle in a haystack. The inventory is well marked and properly arranged, maybe they can find what they need on a nearby computer. Peter quickly finds the item, and its storage location, in the database. A dash through the shelving finds the storage location and the three retrieve the ECog equipment with a tall, rolling platform ladder. While Walter cracks open the suitcase-sized carrying cases to verify they have what they are after, Olivia keeps guard and notices that Windmark has Hastings isolated in the upstairs office.
Windmark conducts another invasive, physically damaging mental probe. This captive, Hastings, doesn't have the ability to block his thoughts from the Observer, and quickly admits his part in releasing the Sublimation Device to Walter. Even with the growing agony being inflicted by Windmark, Hastings can honestly say he doesn't know where Nina Sharp and the fugitives have disappeared to.
Back in her underground lab, Nina excuses herself and leaves
Michael on his own for a few minutes. Up at street level, the garage facade opens and Nina wheels out of the elevator and away from the building a few yards. She reaches for her comm device and places a quick call. At a nearby Loyalist security post, the monitor starts flashing and a map of West Brooklyn identifies where the signal they have been waiting for is located. They know where to start looking for Nina.
In the warehouse, Walter completes his equipment inspection as Olivia answers the call from Nina. Olivia has the bad news that is unfolding before her eyes. Windmark has Hastings - which probably means Nina's anonymity has been compromised - she can't come to work and can't go home... ever. Sorry Mom. Nina grasps the full weight of her situation, disassembles her phone and destroys it so she can't be tracked. Olivia is watching when the news from Loyalist security about Nina's location reaches Windmark - within seconds the Observers in the room disappear. The science team grabs the gear they came for and takes a detour on the way to the exit - to free Hastings. Two Loyalist goons are sent in to the upstairs office to fetch Hastings - someone they intend to make an example of - and Peter and Olivia tailgate in behind them with their pistols drawn. A few spent casings later, the Loyalists are the example and Hastings is liberated. His spirit crushed, Hastings did what he could to resist Windmark, but was no match. Worse than that - they tracked Nina and know where she is.
Back down in
her secret laboratory, Nina rejoins Michael with a look of overwhelming self-disappointment on her face. She assures him that everything will be okay, even though he can see, and sense, that it will not. Don't worry. Michael helps Nina through her growing distress by approaching and placing his hand to her cheek. A tender act... certainly - but she gasps and rises in her wheelchair when the vision and knowledge that he telepathically passes to her sinks-in. Oh my God
. He drops his hand and looks at the monitor displaying activity on the exterior security cameras. Windmark, escorted by Observers and Loyalists, have arrived at the front door and are gaining access through the keypad to the garage facade and
elevator. Nina deactivates the monitor and directs Michael to quickly follow her.
On the busy streets leading back to the secret laboratory, the science team turns the corner only to find traffic backed-up. Up ahead, Loyalist patrols have established a security checkpoint to inspect vehicles and their occupants. Turning around on the narrow avenue might draw unwanted attention, which could lead to capture or another gun battle. The best plan is to park the car and find another one nearby that they can heist for the rest of the ride back to the underground lab. They park and abandon the car one-by-one, each carrying a piece of the ECog gear. Walter slinks away first, then Olivia, followed by Peter. Walter turns down a sidestreet devoid of Loyalist Guards, then is corralled by Olivia into a parking structure. Peter dashes in after them and locates a generic looking minivan to hot-wire. With everyone loaded and the ECog equipment secure, Peter races out of the parking garage and away from the security roadblock.
On the street above Nina's previously clandestine lab, Captain Windmark steps into the access elevator, calculates where it goes underground, then steps through a trans-dimensional window into the lab. Two of his lieutenants follow via their portals, while the Loyalist enjoy the Muzak ride down in the elevator. The assault team spreads-out to locate all present. Nina isn't hiding though... and Windmark demands to know where Bishop's science team is.
Nina knows ego and isn't intimidated by the fascist thug - refusing to be bullied. Her colleagues are long gone. Windmark attempts to read Nina's mind, but only has limited access due to her blocking skills. He senses her loyalty to the Fringe team, which is misguided - and he reads the importance of the child Observer to them. The removal of a few dropcloths show the extreme experimentation conducted on Windmark's captured comrades. Windmark is almost
emotional over the atrocity - Natives are such animals
. Why is the boy important? He is just the freak by-product of an old experiment... a curiosity more than anything - an anomaly that should have been destroyed. Now where is he? The Loyalist leader reports that Nina is the only one in the lab... which only means Windmark needs to make his mentally invasive probing a little more brutal for Nina. Again, Windmark doesn't intimidate Nina much. She knows his type. Reptilian that is. For all of the 'evolution' the Observers pride themselves on, they have essentially 'devolved' - loss of emotional capacity, primitive instincts, lizard-like traits and dehumanized existence, etc... YOU
are the animals. Windmark knows disrespect when he hears it and orders the wheelchair-bound octogenarian in the underground bunker with only one exit - restrained
! Defiant to the end, Nina Sharp will not go quietly into the night. She snags a pistol from a Loyalist lackey and aims it at the surrounding crowd. Windmark is unconcerned - that
weapon cannot kill him. Nina could care less. The bullet in it is not for him - it is for her. In her final battle against the invading Observers - Nina Sharp makes the ultimate sacrifice and puts a bullet in her own skull - denying Windmark his information about the Fringe science team and Progeny XB-6783746.
With the intel that Hastings provided about the compromised secret laboratory, the team races back in the van only to find it unlocked and abandoned. The three take the elevator down and Peter and Olivia enter the lab with their pistols drawn and ready to engage the enemy. The lab is still and a quick check around finds Nina where she made her final stand - dead in her chair in the middle of a large pool of blood on the floor. Walter's
heart goes out of him and he rushes to her side. Olivia finds a sheet and covers her and everyone takes a minute to grieve silently. Walter's mind turns to Michael... he must have been captured - who knows what they'll do to him? Peter
notices the cameras mounted up in the rafters and decides to check and see if anything was captured and recorded. He calls up the monitor and finds footage of Michael touching Nina's cheek, and her reaction. What did the boy do to her? Peter fast-forwards through the archived video. Nina and Michael hurry off-camera before Windmark and his crew arrive. Windmark
begins his initial interrogation and Nina
grabs the pistol that will take her own life. Olivia has to turn away. It becomes obvious - Nina sacrificed herself to save them, Michael, and the plan he is the key to. Windmark leaves without Michael so they start searching the lab to see where Nina hid him. Olivia
finds Michael - hidden under a panel in one of the chambers holding a dead Observer
. Michael is alright until he notices Walter, who is still grieving by Nina's side. Michael walks closer and sees that Nina is gone. In an emotional moment, either from sorrow over Nina, or empathy for Walter's loss - Michael sheds a tear.
After the terrible day in Brooklyn, the team safely returns to Walter's lab
in Boston to rejoin Astrid
. They brought all of the ECog equipment they intended to use earlier and have it configured and ready to let Michael attempt to make cognitive contact with Walter
. The two sit facing one another with the cranial halos on and operating. Michael understands Walter just fine - and he remembers meeting Walter and Donald years ago. The next few answers don't generate a response - do you know how you fit into the grand plan? Why are you important? Unable to express what he does know, Michael
removes his halo, walks over to Walter and touches the scientist's cheek like he touched Nina's. Michael closes his eyes and passes the visions he has to Walter. Walter closes his eyes and bolts as images from timelines gone-by start flooding in: Young Peter in his death bed
, his initial crossing at Reiden Lake, nearly drowning after falling through the ice at Reiden Lake
, September reminding him that "the boy" is important and has to live, the moment Michael was discovered in his catacomb
marked for demolition, Michael's bond with Olivia and the moment he and September crossed paths, Walter's extraction from St. Claire's
to join Fringe Division, September's injury and his kidnapping by his colleagues, Walter's brain surgery at the hands of William Bell
, Walter's love and adoration of Nina and Henrietta
. Walter revels in the incredible lightness of being
Michael is giving to him. The final vision Michael passes to Walter is from his old campus home in Cambridge. A trusted colleague stands near the window. The young gent with well-groomed dark hair, dapper in a preppy sweater and button-down shirt, turns and looks at Walter, then smiles
. It's Donald. Walter opens his eyes, and they are full of thanks for Michael. Walter turns to the others and shares what he just learned... he knows who Donald is. Donald and September
are one and the same.
1) Do not answer the questions here.
2) Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
- What information did Michael empathically pass to Nina that gave her such a charge?
- Did that information make it easier for her to perform the ultimate sacrifice and take her own life?
- Is Michael able to make anyone's life pass before their mind's eye, or just people he is familiar with?
- Does Captain Windmark have a personal and/or professional interest in the original case where Michael went missing from the ranks of anomalies slated for extermination?
- Was the original mandate from September - the boy must live... he is important - referencing the young, genetically-challenged Peter, or the not-so-young, genetically-abled Michael?
- With Nina gone from the picture, has Walter lost his option as far as having the regenerated segments in his brain removed once again?