With tonight’s episode the Fringe team really did manage to pull off a season finale that (aside from the last two minutes could have been a reasonably satisfying a series finale. We got a few curve balls, the answers to questions that have been lingering since the introduction of the alternate universe, and an utterly wonderful guest appearance from Leonard Nimoy (who really ought to come back for at least part of season 5).
Bell and Walter stand looking out over a holographic mockup of the new universe Bell has created, which he says he couldn’t stop at this point even if he wanted. Despite the fact that he has essentially played God, Bell talks about divine providence bringing everything together (including delivering Walter unto him) at just the right moment.
Peter & Olivia head into the lab looking for Walter & Astrid, who are (of course) nowhere to be found. Peter wants to talk about Olivia’s “Jedi mind trick” in the fight against David Robert Jones, but Olivia isn’t so big on the chit chat. He does get her to somewhat haggardly agree to having Walter run some tests when he returns, though.
Olivia suddenly gets a call from Jessica (our redhead from last week) who thinks she’s being tailed. We see that there is a man in the apartment with her, even as she’s telling O how freaked out she is. It’s September, who quickly finds himself caught in a Supernatural “devil’s trap”-style insignia on the floor.
Act One – Faster than a speeding bullet
Olivia & Peter go to Jessica’s house, but, like the lab, it seems empty. Her purse and wallet are still there, but the chunk of her floor where September was standing isn’t. Olivia is worried, of course, but this worry is soon superseded by the news that Astrid has been shot. No one knows where Walter is, and Astrid doesn’t remember anything after getting shot at the warehouse (which is not where she was found). Poor Astrid has to cope not only with having just been shot, but also with guilt over not being able to get Walter out and away from the armed baddies.
Even though Bell’s crew is probably long gone, Peter & Olivia decide to take a trip down to the warehouse. What they find there is September, still attached to the bit of Jessica’s floor by what we learn are stasis runes and there “not of [his] own volition.” Jessica ambushes the crew from behind a shipping container, forcing them to give up their weapons if they ever want to see Walter again. She reveals that she works for Bell and that the nanite “attack” was really just a ploy to put Peter & Olivia in danger so September would appear. She shoots at September, whose catches the bullets because Observer tech allows him to move super quickly. He can’t catch the bullet from a special gun Bell created, which pierces his chest. When Jessica fires at him again, though, Olivia is able to deflect the bullets and return them to Jessica. Right in her sneaky little chest.
Act Two – “I got the idea from you!”
Olivia tries to get September to sit down so she can control the bleeding, but he literally can’t until they break the runes that bind him. Olivia makes a comment about now knowing how he gets shot and explains his ominous comment at the Opera House (that in every future, Olivia must die), to which he returns confused glances. Those things haven’t yet happened for September, so our bald friend poofs off to “investigate the future, to find out what [he] meant.”
In order to get some info about Walter and Bell, Peter & Olivia bring Jessica back to the lab for a little of that super creepy talking with the dead that they and Massive Dynamic do so well. Nina saunters in with a couple of helpers, bringing additional technology and a gun that shoots probes into Jessica’s temples. While waiting for everything to kick in, Olivia & Nina once again discuss Olivia’s concerns about her Cortexiphan powers and being manipulated through her intense compassion for others. Nina remarks that Bell must be targeting her because he needs something only she can provide.
Cut to Walter asking why Bell would want to do this? Why would he need to? Well, because Walter was angry with God over Peter’s death(s) and wanted to make a new universe without such a cruel creator. When Walter realized he could actually do it, he had Bell cut the ideas out of his head. Bell didn’t think about it anymore until faced with his own imminent mortality, when he suddenly understood “everything”: that God made us in his image and, if we have the potential to be gods, then it is our destiny to do so.
Let’s just all take a moment and appreciate the zeal with which Nimoy seems to have attacked his role in this episode. Because he really is brilliant here, and a gorgeous foil to Noble’s Walter.
Act Three – Wake the dead
Oh, Fringe. Thank you for the nightmares. When they wake Jessica up, her voice modulates absurdly and her eyes open, close and move independently from each other. She starts freaking out a bit, babbling nonsense about her childhood. Eventually, she says some nonsense about Bell and a boat before talking about how Bell is a great man. A man who needed an energy source. That we are all expendable in the face of creation. Olivia gets all worked up over the babbling and grabs Jessica, causing her and the equipment to short out. Everyone finally realizes that Olivia IS the energy source Bell needs to collapse the universes.
They rush over to Fringe Division headquarters, where Nina says she can identify the exact location where the universes are overlapping using the frequency Olivia is emitting or vibrating at. That is also the “eye of the storm” where Bell might possibly ride out the universe collapse. As she and the squints set to this task, Olivia slips away.
Poor Olivia. She just looks tired and not even Peter’s usually comforting “it’s going to be okay” speech doesn’t quite cut it. Olivia’s exhausted and frets that she’s still that little girl being used and experimented on by Bell, fearful and alone. Except, Peter points out, that she isn’t alone this time.
Back on the ship, Bell tries to get Walter all hot and bothered about the universe collapse, which basically looks like the biggest, nastiest electrical storm of all time.
Act Four – Martyrs and Sacrifices
They pinpoint Bell’s location and Nina, Peter, & Olivia chopper out to it. Walter begs Bell not to do finish what he’s started, but Bell just shouts that they “deserve this” and shoots Walter the coldest of looks.
When Peter & Olivia get to the merge point, it’s already passed into the other universe and only Peter can see it (being from there). The only way for them to get to the ship now is to use Peter’s ability to see it and Olivia’s newly reclaimed ability to jump between worlds. After a brief and awkward “you had it in you all along” speech from Nina, Olivia & Peter jump, hands clasped, out of the chopper and land on Bell’s ship in the other universe. They head down into the
belly of the beast Ark.
Bell recites a poem by Yates as a kind of meditation, while Walter contemplates a gun on Bell’s desk. Just as Walter takes the weapon out, Peter and Olivia burst in. Bell wasn’t planning on having any humans in his new universe (after he and Walter died) to mess it up, so he’s a little annoyed with the interlopers. But he quickly accepts them as the new Adam and Eve – a final “breeding pair.” Peter threatens to shoot Bell if he doesn’t stop the collapse, and Bell tells him to go ahead and “sacrifice” him for creation.
As Bell compellingly but disturbingly pontificates to Peter about creation, how Olivia is The Redeemer, and so on, something terrible dawns on Walter’s face. He mutters “forgive me” then shoots Olivia in the head. It stops the universe collapse, but kills Olivia. Bell is amazed that Walter had it in him, but disappointed. As he flutters out of phase, he mutters, “We could’ve all been so happy together.”
Act Five – Endings and Beginnings
Since his dad just killed his girlfriend in order to save the world, Peter is freaking out a bit. Time is of the essence, though, so Walter literally slaps some kind of sense back into him. Walter explains what we all learned about the regenerative power of a Cortexiphan-soaked brain, but that they must work quickly. The first thing they need to do is create an exit wound for the bullet in the back of her head. Then, in another bit of nightmare fodder, Walter uses a long rod of some kind to push the bullet out of Olivia’s head through the entry wound in her forehead. The disturbing action is tempered with the painful pause as the Bishop boys wait for Olivia to heal, and the (inevitable) moment it works so beautiful. They touch the tops of their heads together in exhausted, pained joy.
A politician thanks Broyles for the Fringe team’s work keeping everyone safe, then grants him a promotion to General and a fully-funded Science Division for the team. Broyles offers the job of running it to Nina, who smiles and kind of giggles as the two walk away.
Waiting for Olivia at the hospital, Walter surmises that most of Olivia’s abilities should have been drained – at least for the foreseeable future. The still-recovering Astrid joins them just before the doctor informs them Olivia is cleared to go home. Peter dashes off after his lady, leaving Astrid to have a little moment with Walter. She offers him some Red Vines, he calls her by her right name. All is well with the world.
September was right: In every version of the future, Olivia did have to die. He just never said that death was permanent. For the millionth time this season, Peter tells Olivia he won’t lose her anymore and the two embrace. Olivia then reveals that she’s pregnant – which comes as no surprise to any viewer, but is kind of a sweet moment anyway. Astrid and Walter crash the moment, but it’s cute. While the showrunners deny that a different ending was shot for the episode, I’d bet good money that this is where the “series finale” would have ended: everyone happy, slightly too sweet, nice and tidy.
Since we are getting a fifth season, though, we cut back to the lab. Walter makes a toasted PBJ and hums “rockabye baby” to himself. September appears, but he’s not there for a sandwich. He says they have to “warn the others” because “they’re coming.” We close with Walter’s ominous – but obvious to us – question, “Who’s coming?”
That’s all, kids! We’ll see you next season to recap and review the final thirteen episodes. For now, though, what questions are you left with? Any predictions for season five?