written by Graham Roland / directed by Eagle Egilsson
A part of me still misses the sense of randomness Fringe used to have, as each episode of the fifth season is just a different chapter of the same story, but it's doing a good job keeping things interesting. "Five-Twenty-Ten" was another story hinging on the search for another object to help get rid of The Observers (two of those mysterious burrowing cylinders first seen in season 1's "The Arrival"), and this again required the use of some fringe-y science (Observer technology to turn solid objects into gas, so they could access Kelvin Industries laboratory). In that regard, this episode was entertaining but just another variation on the type of story this year's been doing very regularly: the little missions collecting things required to put an all-encompassing plan into action.
However, the parallel story of Peter (Joshua Jackson) losing himself to the affects of the Observer tech he's inserted into his own brain was far more intriguing and nicely done. Jackson's performance changed considerably, with more of the tics The Observers have (angular head tilts, increased poise, concise speech patterns), and it was fascinating to see how Peter was aiming to avenge his daughter's death—by tracking the movements of Windmark's lieutenants in time and space, then manipulating events so they could all be destroyed with a briefcase bomb containing the flesh-eating toxin from the show's pilot. (A very grisly visual with an Observer's jaw literally hang off then splitting apart, too.)
As Peter's losing his humanity out of grief and a desperation to avenge Etta's death, even if it risks killing him (he's already having ear bleeds, moments of crippling pain, and his hair's started falling out), it was interesting to note that his father Walter (John Noble) has a similar concern following Etta's reinsertion of the brain fragments he had removed from his head decades ago. Similarly to Peter, Walter's changing back into the man he was in the '70s and '80s—driven by hubris, with a cruel streak—and wanted Nina's (Blair Brown) help in restoring him to his pre-op state. The fact that he now has his son Peter just won't be enough to prevent him from becoming a monster like William Bell, or so he believes. I really like this idea, and Noble did a great job playing Walter with a noticeably different attitude—which we've seen a few times on the show before. Sterner, scarier, blunter. I have to wonder now if Fringe will end with both Peter and Walter losing themselves to save their families, but perhaps that would be too downbeat. After all, even the monstrous William Bell was proven to have retained some of his humanity—when Walter found photographic proof in his locked safe that he really did love Nina after all.
Overall, I enjoyed much of this episode, even if the formula for season 5's getting a little tired in some ways (video-of-the-week replacing freak-of-the-week). I like what they're doing with Peter's change, it was fun seeing Nina again (the timeline version of her that was effectively Olivia's mother), The Observers make for very good baddies, Walter's dilemma is interesting, I was relieved Peter's already told Olivia (Anna Torv) the truth about his situation (even if it just seemed to come out of the blue), it's cool seeing the last season keep referencing events from the first, and I have a feeling the two-part finale will be a great deal of fun when it comes.