Well holy shit, that was big. Like game-changing big. Tonight’s episode of Fringe, “The Bullet That Saved the World” dropped a rather large bomb on fans.
There’s more below, but it should go without saying, don’t read on unless you’ve already watched the episode.
Those of you who saw “The Bullet That Saved the World” probably guessed that we’re talking about the unexpected, untimely death of Henrietta Bishop (Georgina Haig) at the hands of those pasty, Powder-looking Observers.
Building up to this episode the news came down that there was going to be an unexpected death in the family, so to speak. Fringe has never shied away from bold choices, but there weren’t many of us out there who expected this one. (I predicted that Astrid Farnsworth was going down, and I’m glad she didn’t die because I like her way more than Etta.)
Etta’s death does much more than just provide shock value, it changes the direction of the entire season, and thus the remainder of the series. So much of the focus this far has been on the rebuilding of the reunited nuclear family—Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv), and Etta—but this throws all of that into a massive tailspin.
The last time the lost their daughter, both Peter and Olivia lost their shit, and it led to the end of their relationship. From here on out, one of the biggest questions is going to be can they recover from that same loss again? Just when they were beginning to feel normal again, to finally feel like a family again, all of that is taken away in one fell swoop.
Sure they do have other issues to contend with, notably trying to save the world from the tyrannical reign of the Observers. How will this tragedy impact the larger picture, the larger struggle against oppression? Will Olivia and Peter have time to wallow in sadness, disaster, and pain, or will they power through misfortune and heartbreak?
I can see this manifesting itself in two ways. First, it could completely destroy them, turn them into broken, sniveling wrecks, distraught by loss. This distraction could spell the inevitable end of the resistance, and doom of humanity to an eternal existence under the boot heel of their oppressors.
That would be bad, for them, for us, for the entire world. Before long Earth would be a carbon dioxide choked wasteland, infested with pale (are there only white people in the future? Curious, but that’s a whole other avenue to explore) assholes who go around reading people’s minds.
The second way this could go down is that Etta’s death could inspire a steely, cold-hearted resolve in her parents, spurring them on towards the ultimate goal of kicking the Observers in the nuts and taking back the planet. Maybe it will give them the resolve they need to make hard choices. Before this is over you can bet they’re going to have to get their hands dirty, and what gives you more motivation to do something nasty than a thirst for vengeance? On the other hand, a quest for revenge could make them reckless, and lead to their ultimate downfall and the failure of their plan.
However this pans out, the Fringe team finds themselves in a precarious position at the end of “The Bullet That Saved the World.” Not only did they lose one of their team, sure to be a devastating blow to Peter and Liv, but in Etta they lost their guide, the one person who can help them navigate the ins and outs of an unfamiliar world. She gave them insight and direction when otherwise they might be lost.
There are others in the resistance they can turn to, but will they ever be able to trust anyone the way they could trust Etta? Doubtful, you can’t lean on anyone the way you rely on family. Broyles is an option, but it is entirely possible he has been compromised after the incident under the bridge, but we’ll have to wait to see.