The Observers! Mysteries revealed! A race against the clock! This week’s Fringe made some big promises, and it certainly delivered on some of them. While this wasn’t the shocker some might have been expecting — you know, those episodes where you go “Ohhhhhhhh!” after a big reveal — it was a solid episode, driven by some (mostly predictable) plot twists and clever deception.
Fringe is as much about heady, often obtuse philosophical questions about identity as the quirky scientific ideas that drive its plot. As our characters investigate the events and mysteries, they’re often investigating aspects of themselves, sometimes more literally than not. “The End” asks us to think about who is being rescued as we watch the rescue unfold.
“The End” was also a great episode for bringing back a lot of elements from previous episodes and seasons: Olivia’s light box, Walter’s ability to merge two individuals’ consciousness, Cortexiphan, Peter’s son with Fauxlivia. If this turns out to be Fringe’s final season, it’s a good idea to pull a few of these loose strands together and signal toward a possible endgame.
So what were some of the reveals? The biggest is around the Observers, not so much the who or what but the when. It was a muddied answer (are they super evolved humans from the future, or something other than human?) but as Fringe goes, it was an answer. Unfortunately Peter is yanked from September’s head before he’s able to get at the right questions and answers, and the the Observer’s body completely disappears. Perhaps the other Observers finally delivered on their warning that he’d be punished for messing with the timeline and going AWOL.
We also learn what’s really happening in that abandoned hospital, where Jones has seemingly captured Olivia and Nina for the purposes of once again “activating” Olivia’s telekinetic abilities, just like in another season, another timeline. Of course, the captured Nina is acting; she’s another of the dopplegangers that Jones has recruited, pretending to be Olivia’s Nina in the hopes that their emotional connection will help activate her abilities.
It doesn’t work, not only because she’s not the right Nina, but because Olivia needs Peter. The Cortexiphan (or maybe Peter, or something else) has written over Olivia’s identity — just like the recording disk hidden in Olivia’s apartment — and buried aspects of her true self under layers of new memories and connections. That had the unintended side effect of rekindling Olivia’s feelings for Peter, which still has our lovebirds befuddled: Peter’s wants “his” Olivia, something that’s becoming less and less likely to actually exist.
“The End” was enjoyable, and it’s a shame that we have to wait a full four weeks before the next episode (but then it’s eight in a row). There are still a lot of places this season could go, and while it’s been a bit frustrating trying to follow all the different threads without much to go on — and these constant breaks from FOX aren’t helping — I’m glad this season is playing it fairly close to the chest. There are still plenty of hints at Fringe’s possible endgame, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
Kevin’s Grade: A-
- The inside of the Observer’s brain looks an awful lot like something out of Doctor Who.
- “Fringe benefits.” Heh.
- There wasn’t really anything in this episode I didn’t like, but I will say that it was a pretty dire episode, without a lot of room for the dark, whimsical humor
- I love Seth Gabel’s Lincoln Lee, but he doesn’t really serve much of a purpose yet this season, does he?
- I’d have to rewatch, but was that Leland Spivey who got fried by Olivia’s electric light show? Does that mean the whole thing with the recording disk didn’t even matter, Olivia escaped anyway?
Things to Think About
- Olivia mentions that Jones originally wanted Olivia’s abilities for the purposes of crossing between universes, which is something he seems to already have a handle on. So what’s his endgame? Theories?
Next Week: 4.15 “A Short Story About Love” airs after the break, on March 23. See you then!