Fringe: Brave New World, Part 2

“She is the redeemer.”

Fringe finales are usually remarkable works of art: emotionally affecting, scientifically (and delightfully) improbable, mythologically fascinating. This finale was not remarkable, merely good. It is more interesting to wonder what will happen next than it is to consider what has just happened.

The plan to collapse two universes in order to create a third—the plan we had briefly attributed to Jones, but now know is Bell’s—requires a massive energy source: Olivia. Her increased superpowers are the result of being dosed with more Cortexiphan and jump-started by recent events. The power that has always lurked within her (as Nina cheesily informed us) can be used against her, and against the world.

The plan still seems rather silly to me, which may be part of why I was underwhelmed by this episode. Of course, I am neither a megalomaniac nor a comic-book fan, so universe destruction! doesn’t do much for me. Bell’s desire to become a god was fascinating, frightening, and then over.

The necessity of sacrificing Olivia seemed obvious, as did the importance of the regenerative properties of Cortexiphan. We finally know what September meant when he said Olivia must die, and we finally know the identity of Mr. X from “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”: Walter himself. Problem solved.

In fact, “problem solved” is the theme of this episode, which saved Astrid, gave Walter a chance to save the world and Olivia, allowed Peter and Olivia to work effectively as a team and find out they’d created a baby, and lead to that greatest of all possible unlikely events: increased funding during a recession.

That would have made for a horribly unsatisfying series finale, because everything feels too neat and tidy. As a stepping stone to the final season, this feels like the calm before the storm, the Whedonesque moment of happiness before great tragedy. The future we saw in “Letters of Transit” has now become the future, if I’m reading September’s final declaration correctly: the evil Observers are coming.

I am extremely curious about how Fringe will make that work, as we have seen the future but our heroes have not. How will they know what to fight? How will they be able to understand September’s predictions? And how will they (and we) know if they are successful or not? I think the freedom of knowing that the series must end will give the showrunners some freedom, and I hope they’ll do something insane. Like set the last 13 episodes in the future. Or do a flash-forward/flash-back structure with a constantly-altering future. I also hope Seth Gabel returns, and the we find out what series of events led to William Bell being ambered with our heroes, except Olivia.

The Eye of the Storm:

• The glyphs were interesting and cool.

• Please, please, please tell me that Rebecca Mader’s eyes were CGI during the brain-interrogation scene. No one should be able to do that. And was anyone else reminded of a similar scene in Lost?

• William Bell’s “I am” was very Yahweh. He loves those cryptic declarations of Being. And Olivia's resurrection has some sort of biblical parallel, but I just can't put my finger on it.

Three out of four Noahs.

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

9 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Great review Joise. I was really underwhelmed by this episode. I am glad it didn't end up being the series finale. It would've been a very 'meh' way to end the series. I like the idea of the final season being set in both the future and present. I imagine it would be similar to how season three had one episode over here and one episode other there. And I really hope they find some way to bring Lincoln and Desmond back.

Rory said...

I have been an absolute sucker for this season. I started off very doubtful - annoyed and frustrated that all the emotional investment of the previous three seasons had been for nought...and yet, and yet, I found myself going with it, and being very glad I did.

I have cried several times (snif-snif) so something really reached me. I would have been perfectly satisfied if this had been the final episode of the whole series. Now I want to own it! I feel like I want to watch it from start to finish all over again. Yeah, there are probably several loose ends, but it wrapped up good enough to satisfy my sensibilities.

I think they will use the last thirteen episodes to tell the story of the Observers take-over - a Fringe mini-series. It would make the insertion of this season's "Letters of Transit" a canny piece of scheduling.

Season 5 will take it up to 100 episodes (I believe). If they undo anything that went before I will be seriously miffed, but I feel confident that won't happen.

Anonymous said...

"Please, ... tell me that Rebecca Mader’s eyes were CGI during the brain-interrogation scene. ... And was anyone else reminded of a similar scene in Lost?"

I was reminded of a similar scene in "Men in Black," in which Tony Shalhoub plays a pawn broker from outerspace. His eyes do the same thing.

Very disturbing. CGI for sure.

Eldritch

Juliette said...

I would have been happy if this was the series finale, because it was nice (to the point of vomit-inducingly cheesy, but still) and I like nice. Give me a happy ending and you can't go too far wrong. But I'm glad the various shenanigans from Letters of Transit are going to be addressed (and of course, I'm glad we get 13 more episodes!)

I think the writers have been watching too much Wrath of Khan again though.

Also, Walter's blood type and the total lack of angsting over the sudden wiping from existence of baby Henry will annoy me forever. But I'll shut up about them now. For the moment.

Gus Brunetti said...

If not for the fact that she posted it before I actually watched the episode, I'd say Rory pretty much read my mind. Unless... Are a time-traveling Observer?

I'm pretty sure season 5 will be about fighting the Observers. They filmed two endings in case the series got canceled, so I think a series finale now would be different somehow.

I think this episode would have much more momentum if it had aired right after the last one.

Last week I thought to myself: I'm glad Rebecca Mader isn't playing a villain this time, it seems all of her guest spots after LOST are bad girls who die. Guess I spoke to myself too soon.

I'll on my corner anxiously waiting for season 5 and Josie's reviews, in case anyone needs me.

Paul Kelly said...

I really liked this ending -- as I've really liked this season -- but I kept on wondering throughout: if this had been the finale, what would they have done differently? We know they filmed two endings, so what would have happened in the 'finale' ending? Would Olivia have stayed dead? Would there have been no ambiguity about the amount of cortexifan in her system. Would Spock have died? I hope they answer these question in a DVD commentary somewhere.

Jess Lynde said...

I really like the idea of the combined flashback/flashforward structure for the final season. I think simply laying the groundwork for the future we've already seen would feel anticlimactic and would drain the show of some tension. But continuing to advance the future tale, while laying in flashbacks to what brings us there has the potential to be more satisfying.

I rather liked elements of this finale. Some of it was certainly cheesy, but I really liked the echoes of last season's finale, as well as events from this season --- from Olivia and Peter working together as in last season's finale, to Olivia getting shot in the head, to Walter using a procedure that very much resembled the lobotomy he almost gave himself. It gave everything a nice synchronicity. And I particularly liked the revelation that everything was happening because of what Walter had become in a world without Peter. Bell got all the ideas from Walter, and just took them to the next level when he got sick. Things changed, but we still ended up in that place where a version of Walter shot Olivia, and Olivia and Peter complimented each other's abilities to save the world.

Not mind-blowing by any stretch --- except for that horrifying stuff with Rebecca Mader's eyes --- but still satisfying as a *season* finale.

Billie Doux said...

I agree that it was a three star episode and a bit too tied up in a bow. But I also wouldn't have been unhappy if this had been the series finale because like Juliette already said, I like a happy ending. I'm glad they have 13 more, though.

CrazyCris said...

Like Billie and Juliette said, I would have been fine with this being a series finale, happy ending and all, although I would have been frustrated with them having lifted the curtain a tad bit to show us the evil Observers, and then take it away from us! So I am VERY excited for season 5!

So Baby Henry (and Peter is now the only one who knows he existed, and he simply told the fact, it's not like he connected with him, so it's understandable that little Henry isn't really "missed") is going to be Henrietta, who will save us from the evil Observers? yay!

I was shocked during several moments in this episode: Rebecca Mader's eyes of course, Walter shooting Olivia (my heart stopped for a moment there!), Bell disappearing...

BRING ON SEASON 5!!! :o)