Spoiler Heavy Reviews: Fringe – “Brave New World (Part 2)”

by Kevin on May 11, 2012

Fringe wrapped up its fourth season tonight, which I suppose might be a good chance for reflection. But I’m finding that difficult, both because of the unevenness of the season’s storylines and because of FOX’s erratic schedule, causing Fringe to disappear from our TVs for months at a time. Someday in the future I’ll be watching all five seasons and perhaps notice more of a logical arc in this season, but for now I can’t help but say, “Huh.”

There’s a lot I’d like to have seen more of, and less of, and stuff that didn’t quite work for me. But overall, this season’s decision to bring in William Bell as the ultimate villain—and let him escape to cause more shenanigans in Season 5—was quite welcome, even if it didn’t exactly come off as the best planned reveal. Although I will add that Bell sure took his defeat awfully well, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I can’t help but think that if your evil plot to destroy the universe involves giving your enemy superpowers to use against you, you might want to rethink your plot. But Bell has a plan for that, and it involves making sure Olivia is fully activated while still keeping her more or less in the dark about the role she plays. Somehow, though, Bell seemed to overlook the inevitability that our heroes would, y’know, figure it out, and simply counted on Olivia staying alive in order for his plan to work.

So let’s talk about that plan. Two weeks ago it became clear that the villain behind this whole collapse-the-universes-and-create-a-new-one thing was Bell, not Jones, and that Olivia was the key to the entire thing. It wasn’t that Bell wanted to rule over this universe as a god, necessarily, but that he wanted to create something, then pass on, knowing that there were no pesky humans out there gumming up the works. He could leave behind a peaceful utopia, one filled with wacky life forms, animal-men, and lots of clear blue skies and green grass.

The idea, Bell explains, was originally Walter’s, and it was a nice surprise that Fringe brought back an old plot detail I had forgotten about until now: that at one point Walter had asked Bell to cut out a piece of his brain. It turns out that after Peter’s death—both Peters, that is—he cursed god, asking some of the usual questions after the loss of a loved one, wondering how any god could allow such suffering, etc. So he decided to create his own universe, one that adhered to his rules, and once he realized he could actually do this, he got nervous and asked for a lobotomy. Probably should’ve insisted Bell get one, too.

On board Nemoy’s ark, Bell reveals everything to Walter, assuming that his plan was unstoppable and that he and Walter would see the birth of this new universe together. He also knew that even if Walter killed him, it wouldn’t matter, because he wasn’t doing anything anyway; everything rested on Olivia, and it was simply her continued existence that was causing the universes to collide together. In other words, Olivia would have to die.

Fortunately a lot of threads from last week—and a few from earlier in the season—all came together at the right time to bring our heroes together. Jessica returned, revealing that the entire thing was another setup and that she was working for Bell the whole time. She captures an Observer using some bizarre technology to root him in place, then continues to poke and prod Olivia until she gets dispatched in the coolest way possible. (Again, I have to wonder why Bell thought giving Olivia these powers was in any way a good idea. When she showed up on that boat he must have shit himself.)

I will also add that the reanimated Jessica might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. But she and the Observer each do their part to get Olivia and Peter the right information, giving them the chance to save the day. Although I suppose it was Walter who saved the day…

Seeing Olivia shot in the head was, at the moment, a hell of a shock. A hundred thoughts raced through my head: only Fauxlivia next season? She’ll come back as a suspended consciousness? Something about ghosts? But then I remembered that this is Fringe, and we still had about eight minutes left, which was plenty of time for us to remember Walter’s pig brain lemon cakes from last week. Once again, all’s well that ends well.

So we’re set up, I suppose, for our fifth and final season, which I expect will be primarily concerned with the Observer invasion of 2015. Fortunately our exiled Observer is there to give ample warning. Whether we end up completely preventing the invasion or jumping ahead to the resistance—or both—remains to be seen.

Kevin’s Grade: A-

Season Grade: B+

The Good

  • Astrid’s OK! And Peter and Olivia are having a baby! And Walter has licorice! Yay!
  • Bell’s dream universe looks a lot like the dinosaur books I used to have as a kid. I can dig that.
  • Observers catching bullets is pretty excellent. Olivia catching and returning them? Way more excellent.
  • Significant funds to upgrade Fringe Division’s scientific equipment? This can only be awesome.

The Bad

  • Since when is Walter a crack shot?
  • Could have used more weird animal creatures. I mean, we were on a boat full of them. Now we’ll have to wait to see if any of them are actually studied next season.

The Weird

  • Lots of things being stuck into people’s heads tonight. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Well, Fringe fans, that’s it for this year! I might be back next year for the final season… My wife and I are moving and won’t be getting cable, so I won’t be able to see the show live. If I can count on getting it by Saturday morning through Amazon, then maybe I’ll stick with it. I guess somebody has to write about the fight to save the earth from the Observers…

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