"Fringe" episode "Anomaly XB-6783746" clearly shows the contrast between Observers and humans. "Anomaly XB-6783746" is the name given to the "Child Observer" by the Observers. It's a name that helps remove traces of humanity. When he received the name "Michael" by his adoptive family, it did not help to humanize him. The name only allowed the family to keep their own humanity. It takes the ultimate human act to coax a human reaction from Michael.
Michael cannot connect
The team studies the newly obtained piece of Walter's Plan to save humanity from the Observers: Michael (Rowan Longworth), the Child Observer. Michael's brain does not contain Observer tech, and he is not able to communicate. Walter's own fragile brain, with all of its missing pieces returned, demonstrates frustration. Evil Walter begins to emerge, furious that Michael won't immediately give him the information he wants.
The rest of the team thinks calmly about the problem. Michael used to be able to connect with Olivia (Anna Torv) back when she had an empathic connection with him. Now that nobody can read Michael's thoughts, the team needs a neural link to force the connection. Only Nina (Blair Brown) knows where to find the technology they need: in one of her hidden "black labs," unknown to the Observers.
Nina is discovered
Nina brings the team to the black lab in order to find what they need. The lab contains a plethora of technology designed to study Observers, including the bodies of dead Observers. While she's away, the Observers enter Nina's public office and scan the windows for traces of the recent past. The scan allows the Observers to identify Nina as a Resistance member.
Michael opens up
The team needs to obtain one more item in order to get what they need from Michael. The problem is that the item is located in the storage space of the public, "ministry lab," which is already compromised by the Observers. The team goes off to find what they need while Nina stays behind with Michael. While at the ministry lab storage facility, Olivia sees that the Observers are interrogating Nina's man, Hastings (Gabe Khouth). Hastings is loyal to Nina, but it doesn't matter; Windmark (Michael Kopsa) tracks Nina's signal when she calls the team.
Hastings is able to warn the team that Nina's loyalties have been sniffed out, but it's too late. They tell Nina what has happened, and she's clearly upset to learn that she must go into hiding. Michael reaches out to touch Nina's face, seemingly to console her, but connects with her mind instead. Michael shows Nina the truth, just as Windmark shows up outside the black lab building.
Who are the animals?
Nina hides Michael to protect him from Windmark and the other Observers, but she stays in the open. When Windmark sees the bodies of the Observers in the lab, he says under his breath, "You animals." Nina picks up on the irony, informing Windmark that studying Observers has taught her that Windmark and his "friends" are more like lizards than humans. Their reliance on technology has removed all sense of emotional intelligence, rendering Observers "stupid" in the ways of humankind. Windmark begins reading Nina's mind in an effort to find where Michael is hidden. In the most human act of all, Nina sacrifices herself to save Michael by shooting herself in the head.
When the team returns, Walter (John Noble) falls apart when he finds Nina, his good friend, dead. This most human act of sacrifice has put Walter in danger of losing his own humanity: Nina was the one who had promised to re-remove the pieces of Walter's brain that are making him evil. But her act also coaxes a tear from Michael's eye: The first sign that Michael is capable of emotion.
Perhaps Walter will no longer need those parts of his brain removed with Michael's help. When Walter uses all the technology the team went to great lengths to obtain in order to connect with Michael's mind, Michael shows the team how it's done. He simply reaches out and touches Walter's face. Now, why didn't he just do that before? Perhaps the events that unfolded were required in order to reach a positive future conclusion, which only Michael can see.
Either way, Walter now knows what is going on in the whirlwind of his own Plan to save humanity, which had been hidden in the recesses of his own mind. Donald (Michael Cerveris), the man who had helped Walter create The Plan and hide Michael, is actually the helpful Observer, September. Now we just need to know whether September is a human disguised as an Observer or another of the Observer emotional anomalies sometimes disguised as the human, Donald.
More from this contributor:
- Michael Kopsa
- Michael Cerveris