Luke Treadaway, Sienna Guillory

Given what the town of Fortitude has been through in the last few weeks, it comes as no real surprise that this week’s episode takes a moment for everyone to take a breath. Of course, because this is Fortitude, they only way people can truly take a moment to breathe is if they’re standing on the brink and staring into the abyss. As of yet, the abyss is content at just staring back at them. Time will tell how long

As we move into the final stretch of episodes, it makes sense that this episode offers a slight pause in the action that we’ve been experiencing for the last two weeks. While “Episode 9” wasn’t necessarily up to the level we’ve come to expect from the show, it’s an unfortunate truth that sometimes heavily serialized dramas require episodes that primarily serve to get characters in position for whatever the future holds. In lesser shows this can feel like wheel spinning, but on Fortitude it gives the characters an opportunity to hunker down and figure out how they want to proceed, something not so unrealistic given the circumstances they find themselves in.

Old dudes are doin' it for themselves.

The most obvious avatar for this phenomenon is Henry who, after an emotional scene with Dan, endeavors out into the wilds on his own to greet death head on. He perches himself on the side of a bluff, arms wide, determined that he will have agency in whatever comes next. It’s liberating to watch Henry take these actions, seeing as agency is really the last thing any of the residents have when it comes to the future, whether in terms of basic economy or ancient mammoth rabidity.

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The downside, though, is that few other residents take this agency as well as Henry does. For instance, Frank seems dead set on clearly defining the thin line between agency and vigilantism. With blood. His Guantanamo tactics throughout the episode are excruciating to watch, all the more because, unlike much of the violence we’ve seen on the show before, these actions are being perpetrated by an individual of (largely) sound mind and body. Frank may not be driven by a curse of the ancient world rattling around his brainpan but what infects him may be even worse. He’s driven, as Jules so helpfully points out to him, by guilt. Because if Markus isn’t responsible for Liam’s actions, that means that Frank is, virus or no.

As frightening as the mystery ailment seeping into the veins of the town is, it may actually be no match for what’s truly plaguing the town: guilt. Elena is haunted by her past, Frank by his negligence, Henry by Pettigrew’s death, and the list goes on. Something cracked when the town was beset by violence, and the tenuous balance its inhabitants had with their secrets was lost. Moving into the final four episodes of the first season, when all is said and done, the question inhabitants are left with may not be, “How do we survive this?” but “How will we move on if we do?”

But what else?

It was a strange episode, if nothing else, where simultaneously a lot and a little happened. Things took place, yes, but much more time was given over to silent mood segments and cross-cutting, like Henry on the glacier and Morton in the dark room and/or any number of autopsy/torture scenes. Anything that did happen often took place in scenes of exposition, by which I mean, we would check in with a character solely for the purpose to see what they were up to, not so much to progress their plot.

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But for purposes of the section, here’s what little did happen. Elena opted to stay with Carrie at the house, because she thinks Carrie, at long last, could use some stability in her life. A bloody glove they suspect is Ronnie’s was found outside of town but they want to ask Carrie about it when the time is right.

I hate that glacier.

Hildur and Eric have it out in her office and after crying it out, it would appear that their marriage is over. That said, Hildur is under a tremendous amount of stress as it would appear that the drill and construction crews have been canceled for her project, leaving the entire glacier hotel project SOL, not to mention the fact that they’ve decided to keep the details of Shirley’s attack on her mother on the down low, to attempt and keep from the town the fact that they were precisely the same. That should go well.

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As mentioned earlier, Henry spends his time going around town and saying his goodbyes, making a point to stop by the Sutter house and deliver Liam’s tupilak. He informs Jules that he’s getting the hell out of dodge and advises her to do the same. He also stops by police headquarters and has a long, sad talk with Dan which resulted in a lot of emotions all around. Then he headed out for the glacier with his gun and his booze, ready to settle in for a long winter’s suicide.

I mean… it’s not NOT true.

Frank missed a lot of this hullabaloo, as he was tied up at the neighbor’s house. Rather, the neighbor was tied up and Frank was torturing him. Yes, that’s a far more accurate description. Markus wasn’t very cooperative, likely because he’s innocent, so Frank went to some extreme lengths to coerce him into taking the blame for Liam’s behavior. Eventually Jules tracked him and talked him down, freeing Creepy McStuffins and returning her husband to their home. Frank didn’t end his destruction there, however, taking the time to destroy Liam’s bloody tupilak and upsetting his not yet recovered son. Thankfully, Jules appears to be attempting to patch it back together. Hopefully all the magic hasn’t seeped out of it yet.

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In the lab, delayed approval from the late Professor Stoddart came in approving dissection of a polar bear to investigate the aberrant behavior they’ve been tracking in the animals. They determined that the animal had an elevated level of toxins in the body and wanted to autopsy Shirley to see if they had similar findings. After some good, old-fashioned, head-shaving, scalp-peeling, skull-sawing fun, they determined that Shirley, too, had elevated toxins in her system. The next step, then, is to do a lumbar puncture on Liam to see check his system for the same results.

Morton’s Corner

Morton’s back to the fringes of the episode, after a rollicking time as Dan’s sidekick in “Episode 8.” That’s okay, though, because he has plenty of other people’s beeswax to mind. This episode sees him digging deeper into the ballistics of the weapon that killed Billy Pettigrew and it would appear that he may have determined that it was not actually a police weapon that killed him. He also, in visiting the taxidermist, realized that Henry was headed to the glacier to die and took the opportunity to rummage around in the dark room, coming across the negatives of the photo of Billy Pettigrew’s wayward arm, handcuffed on the beach. Which feels like something he’s going to want to have a conversation with someone about next episode.

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But did he smirk?

Meanwhile…

…on a completely different show. Ronnie is apparently a zombie. So he has that going for him.

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Stray observations:

  • Yo Fortitude, Imma let you finish, but Randy Orton is the apex-est predator of all time.
  • That’s it. That’s all I got. A joke about professional wrestling.

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