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Fringe: The End of All Things

“Maybe you could tell me a story.”

Once upon a time, I was friends with a good storyteller. A good storyteller, but a bad storyender. Whether it was the time he and a gang of bikers rescued an abused young woman, or the one about the guy, the banana, and the French bulldog, each of his stories ended the same way: “So that happened.”

I said those words out loud last Friday night, to an empty room (if you don’t count the cats, the cat hair, and the cat paraphernalia). So that happened—or did it? By some reckonings, we learned so much. By other counts, we didn’t learn nearly enough. That Peter was incorrect, and that Thislivia isn’t Ourlivia, was simply sad, although not surprising given the emphasis in the previous episode on the vagaries of perception and subjectivity.

Jones’s Evil Plan is still murky, but some of his techniques are right out of the Evil Villain playbook. I realized that captive-Nina wasn’t real-Nina quite quickly, because I’m supercool like that. And as soon as Peter encountered Leland in his house, with the classic reading-lamp misdirection, I knew he was going to get sapped. At first, I felt disappointed that his techniques would be so obvious, but it fits Jones’s m.o.: standard bad-guyery, fringy motives. What’s frustrating, though, is that Amberlivia and Peter both know a lot about Jones—but not enough to stop him.

Peter’s walk through the Observer’s consciousness was interesting. It’s nice to know that Henry hasn’t been forgotten, and that he has a purpose. (And now we know why Bolivia’s pregnancy was accelerated, yeah?) And it’s interesting that the Observers are future humans, although I am sad that we’ve lost all of our hair and turned exclusively white and male. Alas.

Olivia’ conversation with Nina was wonderful. Watching Nina try to cover her own guess-work, and watching Olivia try to hide her growing realization that this was not the Nina she was looking for, I realized (as I do every now and again) just how skilled this cast is.

But I continue to struggle with this season’s goals, as I’ve written before. I suspect these episodes will be great in retrospect, once we know where they’re going. Now, though, I feel frustrated and confused. Confused about what’s going on (is she or isn’t she?) and confused about what I’m supposed to want: at this point, can “Peter returns home” be enough? Would we lose Team Amber then, or only see them sometimes, the way we aren’t getting much of the red universe this season?

It seems that Olivia’s superpowers aren’t helping her brain-merge with her alternate selves; those powers are a detriment that have put her at psychic risk. That tells me that a universe-merge probably isn’t the goal of this season. But, like Peter, I have come to care about these new people that look so much like my old friends. And the more I care, the more I wonder: how can this all end happily ever after?

What Happened to the Table?

• Lincoln: “She is not your Olivia.” Did anyone else think of “these are not the droids you are looking for”?

• Broyles: “If a shapeshifter were responsible, you’d be dead.” Broyles, you’re missing something…

• Lincoln: “Short of the sixth amendment being repealed, I don’t see her talking any time soon.” Did anyone else think of Alec Baldwin in The Departed: “Patriot Act! Patriot Act!”

• Lincoln: “Your Olivia and our Olivia? I thought they were one and the same to you.”

• Anna Torv is always beautiful, but when her hair is loose and wavy, she crosses the line into astonishing.

• Walter designated September as “Mr. X” on the brain-merge-ometer. So Walter, that.

• Fringe benefits. Ha!

• Olivia’s conversation with Peter reminded me of “Marionette.

Three out of four butter-and-sprinkles sandwiches.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I had a completely different take on what transpired here. Peter is now making a mistake in refusing to believe that this is his (and our) Olivia. He completely missed September's point, because he got stung so badly by making this mistake before. September basically just told him that they rewrote or overwrote the previous timeline. They didn't create a new reality, they merely altered this one.

    Walter bringing up the palimpsest is the key here. It isn't the microchip that's the palimpsest --- it's everyone in Over Here and Over There (except for Peter). Our Olivia had another layer put on top of the woman we knew, in an attempt to rewrite her, but now that layer has been peeled back somewhat, and she's remembering who she used to be. Peter just can't let himself see it. Tragic. Frustrating, but tragic.

    That was my take away, anyhoo.

  2. Funny thing though: even though I interpreted what we saw differently, my overall reaction to the episode was much the same: "So that happened."

    I'm definitely struggling a bit to come to grips with a season in which I can't tell at all what it is building towards. I often enjoy individual episodes and moments, but I keep waiting for it all to make sense. For something to click into place where I feel like I've gone on a complete journey. Right now I feel like we are largely flying blind, and though I'm still intrigued and hopeful, I'm starting to get more regular twinges of frustration and anxiety over the progression of things.

  3. I have to agree with Jess Lynde. I think Peter is in the right universe but has let Lincoln, Walter and his past mistake with FauxLivia convince him that he isn't. I think the seizures are what pushed him over the edges. My guess is that they really WERE because Olivia had expended so much power, plus Cortiphexin, plus still having two sets of memories in her head. However, Peter panicked that he was making the same mistake twice and jumped to the wrong conclusion.

    Plus he has baby with wrong Olivia gets erased from time by the Observers in his head. So now all he wants to do is find the RIGHT Olivia, throw away the condoms and have a kid.

  4. Nice review Josie !

    Have Faith Jess ! I feel almost like you, BUT, it WILL be better when we'll have the entire season to look upon.

    We now keep looking at the room through the key hole....and the view changes every week (and now, a lousy Month coming up, arrgghh)

    Yes, the cast is fabulous. But Fake Nina gave it away rather soon when she was with NAI-Olivia (new and improved LOL). Check her eyes, wow. So subtle, yet, busted !

    Yes, a fifth season would be great...

  5. I am also confused, but I think the palimpsest idea is important. The observers being "one possible future" people was great, and I think future people probably look so wild and funky that "bald white men" is a disguise. :)

  6. Billie,

    Every time that I see the observers, cannot stop thinking about the classic novel "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit"

  7. I agree with Jess, too. I also think we're finally starting to see where we're going, and palimpsest overlap is my bet.

    (I had a terrible professor once who insisted on the palimpsest throughout the semester. That brought me unpleasant memories.)

    Celtic Marc, I wish I shared this enthusiasm! No irony, I think it's positive.

    Certain "projections" on how men will look like in a few centuries depicts us bald, pale and having enormous heads. The Observers make a little sense.

  8. Gus, me too. I was having flashbacks to giving an in-class presentation on Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, about which the only comment was that I'd continuously elided the second "p" in palimpsest. (It's hard to say!) That's what I get for connecting that novel to Don Quixote.

    Also, Walter got it wrong, sorta. That later meaning isn't incorrect, but the original meaning was a wax tablet that could be used repeatedly, common in ancient Rome.

    Jess, I like the idea that the palimpsest could be the "key" to this episode, but that makes me almost more discontent: we're stuck identifying with Peter (at least I am), and as he vacillates, so do we. These past two episodes have been about him changing his mind rather than any material development. Grr!

  9. I'm with Jess on the palimpsest thing too! In fact that's what I thought was going on from the beginning of this season and have just been waiting for Peter to figure it out and give up on his "going home" idea. He is home! He just has to get people to remember him!!! The Observers have said they were erasing him from memories, they just missed a trace and so he came back because he's that important! (September said as much when he showed Peter how he distracted Walternate from finding the cure)

    Plus, he has to remember that Olivia has memories he would know nothing about, like the explosive that blew up her partner in the pilot episode! He's just too scared about making the same mistake twice, hopefully Olivia will help him overcome that...

  10. I agree that this is the "right" Olivia and the palimpsest concept applies to her memories (I've been expecting it all season). But Walter and Lincoln have a point, too. Peter got awfully mad when Bell took over Olivia. Is it any less tragic if Amber Olivia is overwritten by her prior self? Is that what September meant by "You have to die"? With more work with Walter, perhaps an integration (glyph: UNITE) will happen.

    Dealing with Jones was frustrating in season 1, too. We got little insight into his overall purpose --the ZFT manifesto said little to the point. If he's seeking the high ground in the war between the worlds, how has he managed to recruit so many accomplices on the other side? They can't all be shapeshifters; he didn't have that many.

    Jones' alleged motivation as revealed in the S1 finale (wanting to prove himself to William Bell, and possibly kill the man) was weak. The fact that Nina came up with it leaves me suspicious of both Ninas. We may not get the real answer until this finale.

  11. "I realized that captive-Nina wasn't real-Nina quite quickly, because I’m supercool like that."

    Priceless, made me laugh out loud.
    Pleasant as always, keep it coming Josie Kafka.


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