Fringe: Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

“Resistance is futile.”

While we’re all sad that Fringe has only 13 episodes left, there’s something to be said for the showrunners knowing when a story is going to end, in time to craft a beautiful ending. In the past, one of Fringe’s strengths is that it forces us to ask questions. But its greatest strength has been that it reminds us that questions can change, as in last season’s switch from “will they or won’t they” to “who are they, and is identity a stable category?”

This season, with its focus on the darkest of timelines and the possibility of a dramatic, scorched-earth finale, the foremost question in my mind is, “Can this future be changed?” I like the vagueness of it: a changed future could imply that the Fringe team returns to “our” time, and Peter and Olivia raise Etta. But a changed future could also imply that the anti-Observer revolution is successful, and this future world can start to remake itself. (And re-stock coffee and chickens, because tea and “egg sticks” sound almost as bad as the obliteration of freedom.)

That might not be the right question, though. Perhaps we will learn that changing the future makes it worse (again). That our world is inevitably on decline. That our choices are between fast destruction, like that averted in last season’s finale, and slow death by carbon monoxide poisoning. It seems unlikely that a show would end with the destruction of the world as we know it, but Fringe is at its best when it is committing impossibilities with wild, joyful abandon.

Regardless of where it ends, the journey looks to be fascinating. I’ve seen a few reviews that have kvetched about the similarity of this dystopia to others (Blade Runner, especially in the market scene), but I like it. Gray, sad, slightly dirty, with a combination of old and new “tech” used by the numerous people who live on the border between law and revolution.

The characters, too, continue to fascinate. Olivia and Peter have a new set of relationship problems that stems from their different reactions to the loss of Etta. Etta has to learn how to be parented—by people who don’t look that much older than her. And most heart-breaking? Walter, who regained so much mental power in last season’s “Letters of Transit,” only to lose it yet again, attempting to keep the plan for revolution safe from the Observers.

Peter, Olivia, and Astrid were all business in this episode. They had a few moments in which they reacted to the horrible future they had a hand in creating (“Not by half…”), but it was Walter whose reactions gave us a chance to really think about everything that has been lost: the pleasure of music, the destruction of cities, the egg sticks. The most beautiful scene in the episode was Etta kissing Walter, acknowledging him as her grandfather, even if she can’t remember him. The most tragic scene was Walter finding music, and hope, amid a cityscape nearly as ravaged as his brain.

What a Miserable Future:

• Why would someone pay $3000 for walnuts? Are they good for anything other than a quick snack, or on salads?

• The Markham scene was so odd. May he die a hero’s death, no matter how creepy the Olivia-as-coffee-table thing was.

• Every time someone says “William Bell’s hand” a line from a Pearl Jam song goes through my head: “Who’s got the brain of JFK, and what does it mean to us now?” Is anyone else having this problem?

• If you watch the promo for the rest of the season closely, I think you can spot a much-loved actor. The back of his head, at least.

• My work schedule is fairly busy right now, and while I’ll try to post reviews as soon as possible, they might not happen until Sunday.

Four out of four dandelions.

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

24 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

I enjoyed Etta kissing Walter, too. I like that he could still see her as a little girl, despite her being all grown up, and having to engage in adult things. (No, not those sort of adult things.)

I half hoped he'd get Astrid's name right too, but, alas, it was not to be.

It's so good to have Fringe back. In fact, it's good to have everything back. Hurrah for everything! Hurrah for Josie! Hurrah for expensive walnuts!

celticmarc said...

Great review Josie. LOL Paul.

I like this ep more AFTER rewatching it. (Idem for most of last season's)

(A MASSIVE amount of text about this ep on http://www.fringetelevision.com/. I'm not copying the URL for comparison purposes, but only for those....who love to read about the show that we love.) (and this blog remains my number one)

***

And after checking rapidly on Person of Interest on this blog, I'm tempted, yes, to check it out. It never ends. So much good and great stuff out there...

Jess Lynde said...

Walnuts are pretty damn good in brownies. So there's that. :)

I really loved that Walter's hope, once again, took the form of a flower in an unexpected place. (Although, I also can't help simultaneously thinking that dandelions are the cockroaches of flowers. Leave it to those weeds to survive the Observer apocalypse.)

Paul, I think Walter purposely gets Astrid's name wrong now. When he called her "Afro" it was his way of letting everyone know he was reasonably okay. It certainly flooded me with momentary relief.

In general, I was so happy to spend an hour with Fringe again, that I didn't feel too critical about anything. Time well spent for me. I'm so glad we've returned to the dystopian future. Even if they no longer know that Naugahyde is a premium pleather. :)

Josie Kafka said...

Celticmarc, I post my Fringe reviews there, too. But thank you for having my back!

Jess--so you play for Team Nuts in the brownie wars? I play for Team No Nuts in brownies, cookies, and all other baked goods.

celticmarc said...

Oh. Ah. I'm relieved. LOL, always thought that they'd serve themselves by copying your reviews !


Sigh of relief here.

Jess Lynde said...

It depends on the item. I prefer brownies with no nuts, but with walnuts is fine by me, too. And I'm never going to turn my nose up at a macadamia nut and white chocolate chunk cookie. But I wouldn't really care for nuts in a regular chocolate chip cookie. I'm Team "Sometimes Nuts in Baked Goods are Awesome".

I think Walter would approve of this discussion.

Billie Doux said...

My favorite moment of this one was Walter calling Astrid "Afro." Like Jess said, I thought it was his way of letting everyone know he was still Walter.

I do like how wild and crazy they've gotten, going into the future with little Etta like this. I love unabashed full throttle science fiction, and there just isn't enough of it for me. Please, let there be a cool ending!

Billie Doux said...

And I love nuts in everything, and even by themselves. Although I don't get why anyone would spend that amount of money on walnuts, no matter how rare they are. Coffee or chocolate, yes, but not walnuts.

celticmarc said...

Billie, quoting you :

"I love unabashed full throttle science fiction".

Lemme rephrase that : "I love unabashed full throttle action on a crazy Island that really *bleeps* my mind season after season. (and I see polar bears all over) (no, no need for a shrink thank you)

Oh, and also, I love unabashed full throttle comedy too.

And that reminds me, I also love unabashed full throttle clever TV shows that nourish my Imagination...

Mark Greig said...

A great start to what will hopefully be a terrific final season. For me, the best scene was the final one, a perfect mix of great acting, directing and music selection.

Only downside is I now have that Yaz song stuck in my head.

Paul Kelly said...

I think 'Only You' was by Yazoo, Mark. Are you mixing them up with the girl who sang 'The Only Way Is Up'... a song I'm far too young to remember?

Mark Greig said...

They go by both Yaz and Yazoo, Paul (and you call yourself a music teacher).

Paul Kelly said...

Yes, but I'm not a band names teacher. How was I suppose to know they had an American name too? I'm still trying to come to terms with tires and color.

celticmarc said...

Paul,

FYI, over here, we drive on the right side of the road.

My fave Brit :

http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/

Paul Kelly said...

Marc, we drive on the right side of the road here too -- the left.

And what's the meaning of the link? I'm from Yorkshire. Wallace is from Lancashire! This is how the War of the Roses got started! ;o)

celticmarc said...

Paul,

I'm a (bilingual) French Canadian. Am I forgiven ? Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish building my rocket so I may get more cheese on/from the Moon.

Paul Kelly said...

Of course you're forgiven. And since I don't live too far from Wensleydale, I'll send you over a block of their cheese as a peace offering. You'll have to supply your own toast though.

celticmarc said...

Oh goody !

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/thegoodies/)

I'll make sure that I'm NOT wearing the wrong trousers.

Paul Kelly said...

Goody goody yum yum.

celticmarc said...

Just for that Paul, I'm your fan ! (AFTER Billie and Josie) (of course) (duh) (blimey)

another reason why I love the Brits so much :

http://www.fanderson.org.uk/

FAB ! SIG !!

Mark Greig said...

Oh god, not the War of the Roses again! Are you guys ever going to let that go?

PlatinumRosebud said...

I love this show, a lot! Though it will make me sad, the producers are just about right to end it in season 5. Taking it to more than that will drag it out to oblivion. Will truly miss Olivia, Peter, Walter, Etta and Astrid. I have a feeling for a spin-off though. Just throwing it out. :)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the dandelion had greater significance? Etta was blowing on a dandelion as a young girl (symbolic of the scattered memories?) and at the end there was a new dandelion growing in the rubble which seemed to make Walter smile (symbolic that they can regained?)

topher darling said...

I love the Fringe team as revolutionaries and I like that they added more layers of mysteries as I was a little unsatisfied after the big resolve of last season.

On a side note, the Yazoo song at the end made me smile, especially considering the cover art of their Best Of album.

http://alisonmoyet.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Only-You-The-Best-of-Yazoo.jpg