"A Short Story About Love" was a long time coming. I don't know that I was ever as excited about the return of a program from hiatus as I was for this particular episode of Fringe. It literally felt as if I was waiting for the world to start spinning again. I had to know what was going on with Olivia and Peter. It might sound ridiculous to someone who doesn't watch Fringe, but it was an actual physical need to see it.
The week focused mainly on Olivia as she came to grips with her fading memories, and what would happen to her as time went on. While the thought of losing yourself would seem problematic, she only saw the benefit of being with Peter again, consequences be damned. Until the realization that she could be faced with a world in which she loved a man she would never have, she didn't give a second thought to letting go.
With a reach of her hand, Olivia was able to make Lincoln feel for her exactly what she felt for Peter, and yet she was unable to see the similarity of their situations. In her defense, she was rapidly losing her memories, so her thoughts had to be worlds away from remembering how close she and Lincoln were once becoming. The scenes with she and Lincoln were well played, the tangibility of Lincoln's own position very clear.
Given what was going on with Olivia and Peter and their intense love for others, the case of the week was particularly disturbing. A severely burned man was essentially stealing the life out of men passionately in love with women and then using their essence to capture and kill their wives and girlfriends. This won't be PC, but it amazed me that not one of the women he encountered initially screamed when they saw him. He was a strange man in their house, and he looked like he was out of a horror movie. Within seconds he had them kissing him. Could condensed pheromones really be that impossible to resist?
This was an incredibly emotional episode of Fringe. The scene between Olivia and Nina, when Olivia chose to go with love, even if it meant giving up the life she new, to feel something that so few have had the opportunity to experience, was out of the park sensational. I don't want the relationship between them to disappear completely, as it grounded Olivia in a way that allowed her to be vulnerable as she otherwise might have found impossible had Peter not been erased. Their discussion, some of which is detailed in our Fringe quotes section, was tear inducing.
Which leads us to the ultimate fourth season moment. Walter was able to stop Peter from leaving town and found an implanted document of some sort in Peter's eye. This discovery led Peter to the September's room and finally Peter found out he had always been home. He was erased, and through no scientific explanation other than the strength of his love and the love of those for him, he was unable to be eliminated.
HAPPY DANCE! I didn't give up the fight. I never lost hope. I believed in the love of Peter and Olivia, and I believed that the Fringe team would never truly tear our couple apart. I am not, by nature, a faithful person, but damn if I wasn't proven right in allowing myself to feel it. I've watched the last ten minutes several times and every time I get as choked up as if I was watching for the first time.
But what about you? Were you able to keep the dream of Olivia and Peter alive? Did you appreciate that Fringe was invoking the power of love by not introducing another timeline, and merely altering, through great sacrifice, the one they were in? Because it was Peter's love for two universes and his desire for them both to flourish that he lost his life, and it was the love of those he left behind that brought him back. It was ultimately simplistic, but real love like that depicted is so rare that some were unwilling to accept that there weren't other factors involved.
It was for this simplicity and certainty that I gave "A Short Story About Love" five stars. It gave me hope.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.