Season 4 Episode 13

A Better Human Being

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 17, 2012 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
321 votes
  • Creativity booster, authentic acting, fascinating topics, freaky guest, Lord of the Bees, thrilling but flawed ending (Spoilers)

    The people who viewed this episode and the previous one, Welcome to Westfield, when they aired are lucky because they had a whole week to think about Olivia's kiss and dream of the infinite outcomes. Peter slapped her ? How dare you, parallel freak ! Peter turned into a poison dart frog ? Then she died ! Olivia became a giant, destroyed the whole building she lives in and had to drink some wine to get back to her normal size ? I told you she was a freak ! Of course the real outcome wasn't as silly but it proves how much Fringe can be stimulating.

    So, they talked. If the past installment hadn't prepared us for Olivia's transformation what she said would have seemed badly calculated. Instead Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson's chat felt authentic and their chemistry seemed stronger. I mean two episodes ago Peter was still a stranger to Olivia's eyes but now she looks at him like the cosmic love of her life ! Her performance was so moving that it made me chill of happiness. And as usual the episodic story brilliantly served the main one. Her mind evolved as the investigation progressed. The closer they were to solve the case, the more she knew about him and her alt-self. Was the writers intention to compare Olivia to a bee ? When the scientist mentioned his sons were acting like a living organism, a collective intelligence, I instantly considered the possibility that Olivia could be a queen. I'm probably influenced by novels like Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) and Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein) but pure science can't be ignored when it comes to sci-fi and it's specially true for Fringe. But my theory of one livia to bind them all didn't work even if during the whole season 3 she was able to travel between both worlds using her psychic ability. Even Walter mentioned how special she was as a child and his speech about empathy was quite interesting. Indeed our growth is influenced by our interaction with other people, our environment in general, so doing everything to be loved isn't absurd at all. In fact it could actually be the best solution to become A Better Human Being !

    It leads us to the other topic covered in this episode, genetic engineering. I don't even have to cross it out from my title sequence checklist because I'm sure it's in. Moreover it couldn't be more actual considering the number of articles published about boosting the brain or manipulating organisms. Of course it's fascinating but also quite frightening because in this case the scientist didn't feel guilty. These was also nothing Frankensteinesque about him. However the young actor was one hell of a freaky guest ! At first I thought he was able to mind control other people like in a RTS video game because he was acting like someone using a virtual reality device. That's why I was disappointed he was only hearing voices but at least what Astrid said about loneliness was smart. We can't escape reality by listening loud music or reviewing TV shows. One day or an other we have to dance with the other honeybees in order to achieve our goals in life. Yes because Walter only talking about pheromones made me skeptical considering these social insects are also known for dancing in the air in order to indicate the approximate position of a field of flowers for example. You go, bees !

    As for the last minutes I was absolutely thrilled by them but also noticed a few questionable elements. The first would be the obvious kidnapping. I mean the last time a girl told me she had to pee I never saw her again ! More seriously the event could have been better staged to make it more dramatic. When Peter entered the shop I already knew she was gone and in fact I found the sequence and others anecdotic. But of course it's easy to criticize when my reviews are probably flooded by spelling mistakes and boring remarks like this one. Still an other con was Lincoln. I have never been a fan of Seth Gabel even if he had his moments but he wasn't a match for Blair Brown, specially knowing Nina Sharp was actually a shapeshifter probably capable of running on walls like Trinity and high jumping like Morpheus. However it didn't ruin the visit he paid her with Walter. From the white room futuristic design to the red-orange fluid and her black outfit that magnificiently contrasted with it that part was epic ! And Walter "teasting" the medicine seemed absolutely natural. Only John Noble can mix geeky humor with hardcore sci-fi ! The mind of a genius and the curiosity of a baby.

    Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.
  • question

    in the episode "subject 9" Walter states "I've known for 3 years that I have been a burden to Fringe division".... and in this episode (or maybe the one before this one?) Peter asks Olivia "how long have we known each other" to which Olivia replies "a few months".... if Peter just would have used a condom then season 3 could have been something spectacular. The season 3 finale was just ridiculous. Now it's airing on Friday late-night instead of Thursday prime-time.... not the best sign that it will be around for much longer. That makes me sad.
  • It's About Peter...The One & Only Peter!

    The episode starts off with a young man hearing the voices of a trio of others who are committing a violent crime. I figured it would be a case of the week, but soon realized I was wrong. It's all about Peter. I thought the Peter we are now experiencing was the Peter if he'd remained in the other universe and now I realize it is actually our Peter and in both universes there is only one and he's slowly coming back to our Peter. Excellent! It is building to some kind of unified whole where either both universes may actually exist without either's destruction, except for the fact there are the watchers who for some reason aren't suppose to allow that outcome.

    OK, maybe I'm totally confused, but I'm totally invested. Isn't that the whole purpose of a show to challenge the viewer and get him on board to see each week if what seems to be evolving is actually proceeding...Or, is there more that will take quite a different path? Well, Fringe is exactly that to me: A grand mystery of such a scale as I'm never quite sure of what is going to happen next. All the while I've grown to care for Olivia, Peter, and Walter. They are all just perfect in their roles and they make the writing so much richer. Yes, the writing is enigmatic, but it ultimately always seems to work out in keepiing me waiting to learn more.

    I think, IMHO, this is one of the best written and acted sci-fi shows I've ever seen. It's rich in nuance and even down to the music and the references to so many things I can only describe as clever. Right now I'm very into the return of "our" Peter and how Nina is implicated in what has caused all the things leading up to now. I simply can't resist watching and I have hopes this show can return to a fifth season as the slow revelation is absolutely the correct way to go.
  • Just Words:

    Twisted, Fascinating, Incredibly confusing, Awesome, Brilliant, Mind Blowing OMG.

    If i could rate this episode i would do it as 10^n (choose one number between 1000 and 1,000,000).

    As i always discuss with my friends: always semmed to be stand alone cases... until the fina 10 minutes of the show, but it was even better, we discuss that they were in a third universe as te producers/writers said once, but nothing was for sure, we keept different ideas of where they are, but now, this twisted mid-blowing episode raises more questions and mey be answer a few ones. In short therms: who is who here?????
  • Interesting Developments

    Olivia's memories of Peter's Olivia become more intense when she begins to remember all of Peter's Olivia memories. Walter suspects Peter is doing this to Olivia until Walter test's Olivia hair for test what he finds out is shocking and set off a course of events that makes a lot of things clear. The case was mediocre to me, wasn't any real purpose behind it more like a front. The real story was about Olivia, Peter and Walter events that were very interesting, this is what I love about Fringe it will spin you around when you think you have all the answers like I thought. Great show...
  • Boring case, great character moments

    I won't be as negative as the reviewer down there - because, really, the question of morality in science is one of Fringe's recurring themes from the beginning - but I agree that the case of the week was not a very strong one. It wasn't terribly original, even fairly predictable. The only good thing I can think of about it are the Astrid scenes, where Jasika Nicole gets a chance to show her talent. The best I can say about it is that it didn't distract too much from what was good.

    Because where the episode was VERY strong was, as usual, the character interaction. Peter and Olivia's relationship is so messed up and crazy right now - in a good way ! I loved Walter's concern, Peter's reluctance to yield to his feelings ... and when he finally said "When I look into your eyes, I know it's you" ... it was such a sweet moment, the one we were waiting for since the season began. Finally, the relationship has found a twisted, weird, fringe-y way to resume. The writers are really good at making us care about these two ! Joshua Jackson's and John Noble's acting was juste perfect on this one. Anna Torv was weird , with almost crazy eyes at the beginning of the episode. I understand that it was probably to show Olivia's confusion ... but it was ... just ... akward.

    By the way, the scenes with Walter, Lincoln and Nina were also well acted. You could feel the tension.

    Oh, and the ending. Fringe certainly does know how to make you want to come back for more, doesn't it ? Where's an Observer when you need one to time-travel to next week ?
  • Man, I hate it when Fringe gets dumb (SPOILERS)

    I've kept the rants about Fringe's caveman-like take on science ethics away because... well, Fringe managed to keep the dumb, dumb morals away, too, but you know when Fringe is going to drop the ball by whether an episode contains the word "hubris".

    And yep, this one does. Gloriously. As a doctor who inseminated hundreds of women with his own genetically altered sperm is caught, he says "Can you imagine such hubris, trying to improve upon God's work".

    OK, you slimy old man, let's get some things clear here. The events the show depicts you as having done are not "hubris", they're called "serial rape". And what's bad about it is not that you thought you were more powerful than God, it's that YOU INSEMINATED A BUNCH OF LADIES WITH YOUR SPERM. God has nothing to do with it. I'm sure the cops would be enough to call you out on that one. Or maybe not, because the Fringe team just lets him go on his merry way, free to be murdered by his offspring in a bizarre "oh, crap, it's minute 37 and we still have a cliffhanger to set up" turn of events.

    Ugh. I can't express how bad all of that series of events is. For the record, we improve upon God's design all the time. Last time I checked nobody was claiming that we were created with Gore-Tex, but I'm sure the writers of the show thank Him for that one when they go snowboarding. Or for, you know, chemotherapy and organ transplants.

    I'm pretty sure it's disingenuous, too. The characters in here are pretty cool and three dimensional. The show is inventive, well structured and cleverly put together. Nobody involved seems to seriously be that stupid here. I imagine this is an attempt to please their fanbase with unthreatening cliche. Or maybe somebody at the top truly believes all this stuff and just forces it into a writer's room too confused to actually find remotely sensible examples of scientific malpractice. I honestly don't know what's worse.

    Hopefully we can wrap up the season with some clever, well written fiction and character development and move away from the morality plays about science, because Fringe nosedives very hard on these when it could instead soar.

    Oh, well, apologies for returning with one of these outbursts instead of a more positive review. For your convenience, the thumbs down button is down there.


  • Great

    I loved this episode. It was one of the most touching and heart-wrenching I've seen in a while. I felt like I cared very deeply for their characters, especially close to the end. The music in this episode illustrates some key scenes quite well, I thought.