Tonight the main battle is really between the humanity in Olivia and the lack of, or less of, in Ettta, who has been hardened in her constant warfare with the Observers. She without hesitation uses a horrible aging device as an instrument of torture on a human collaborator. We can well understand her resolve. Later in the story, we see the impact on Etta of seeing the head of her partner Foster, who fell into Observer hands. Peter has all he can do to keep her from opening fire in the Observer labs, which have blown her and Peter's important mission.
Olivia understands this, too. But she wants something more for her daughter - a reservoir of human decency, which makes the fight against the Observers worthwhile. For as the cliche has it, what's the point of fighting against a monster, if you have to become a monster yourself to win the fight? Except in Fringe this gambit feels fresh and emotionally effective.
Etta is an excellent character, and well played by Georgina Haig. She has elements of both Olivia and Peter - as she should - and a toughness all her own, borne from years of fighting the Observers. When tonight's episode ends with an act of mercy by Etta, Olivia felt good. So did I.
The other good thing - actually, cool would be a better word - is Walter addressing himself and our group in the future on videotape (Sony Betamax!) made in the past, just before Walter ambered the Harvard Lab. The scene had a Hari Selden feel to it - and it was nice to see that, even in this future incarnation, Fringe is still offering homage to great 1950s science fiction - in this case, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (hey - that's two blog posts in row here that I mentioned Foundation!).
And, actually, there was one more very good thing in this episode - an Observer, who looked like September, who looked at Peter as he and Etta were entering the Observer building. Given Observer time travel ...
... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves ... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia ... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest ... Fringe 4.15: I Knew It! ... Fringe 4.16: Walter Likes Yiddish ... Fringe 4.17: Second Chances ... Fringe 4.18: Broyled on Both Sides ... Future Fringe 4.19 ... Fringe 4.20: Bridge ... Fringe 4.21: Shocks ... Fringe Season 4 Finale: Death and Life
"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review
"Daddy, this is the best book I've ever read!" -- Molly Vozick-Levinson, age 12 at the time
"cerebral but gripping" -- Booklist