It’s the year 2036. As a scrolling marquee informs us, Observers took over twenty years before and brutally put down any resistance – including the original Fringe team. Humans are now “Natives” and Natives collaborators receive facial tattoos and the label “Loyalist” from the Observers. The remaining Fringe Division exists only to police the Natives.
At a high-end club where Observers “fraternize” with Native ladies, one Observer gets a little fresh with a lady and the club owner steps in. He ends up punching the baldy in the stomach and then spitting on another Observer, who begins to boil the man’s brains. A blonde young woman knocks the club owner on the head before permanent damage is done, citing her jurisdiction over the Native as a Fringe agent.
In the alley, the club owner and the agent talk about Observers “reading” them and it comes out that the woman can trick a reading – quite a valuable and dangerous skill. The owner then reveals a van with significant but mysterious cargo that he show to the agent but cannot explain to the audience before getting his brains blown out by an unknown assailant. The agent drives the van to a secluded spot and reveals the cargo in the back is…Walter! Encased in amber!
Cut to a bleak and fantastic new version of the credit sequence:
Act One – Sleeping Beauty Awakens
The agent walks into what seems to be a control center, where
Desmond her commanding officer, Simon, hassles her a bit for her lateness but lays off when she reveals the club owner’s death. They excuse themselves for a coffee (chew) break, where they discuss her previously futile efforts to locate the original Fringe team. Simon reminds her that they are dead – not in Peru, not immortals hiding out someplace – but changes his tune when he sees the ambered Walter.
We cut to Broyles, who is apparently still alive and in charge of the (now Vichy-esque) Fringe Division. He looks a bit more like a darkly varnished mummy than a person at this point. The Observer (Widmark) from the club pays him a visit to inform that the club owner’s death in a “Native on Native” crime simply “will not stand” and throw his weight around a bit. Broyles insinuates that Widmark must have made a major mistake in the future to get stuck with such a crap detail, but Widmark simply replies, “I like animals.”
Simon and the blonde agent continue examining Walter’s amber, eventually using some “Level 2 Tech” to basically sonic blast Walter out of the amber before it can resolidify around him. Walter is dazed and unsure of where he is and what is going on. The blonde agent reveals her name is Etta and Walter reveals that 20 years encased in amber makes a man very hungry.
Act Two – Who are you?
The records show that Walter loved licorice, so Simon presents him with some and Walter brightens considerably. As Simon and Etta try to explain what they know about how the Fringe team responded to the Observer invasion and get some information from Walter, it becomes clear that his already sensitive brain was not helped by 20 years in amber. A brain scan – during which Walter calls Simon ‘Peter’ – reveals Walter’s neuropathways have degraded, thanks to being so close to the amber blast.
Etta takes a trip the Ministry of Science in Brooklyn, where she is oggled by an Observer before her meeting with an be-scootered Nina. Nina is quite sassy at first, but then reveals that she too is in on the resistance. Nina tells Simon and Etta that Massive Dynamic has a piece of Walter’s brain that they might be able to use to “inspire” Walter’s brain to heal itself, but getting it from the old facility in the city (full of Observers) would be tricky.
Act Three – “These are not the resistance fighters you’re looking for”
Walter fiddles with Nina’s arm, apparently fixing what has been inoperable for quite some time. Using transit passes Simon & Etta “acquire”, the three brave transit into the city. Walter draws attention to them by yelling “MONSTER” at an Observer, after which they are interrogated by a Loyalist. In a pretty obvious bit of foreshadowing, Simon and Etta try to play off Walter as Etta’s mentally incompetent grandfather. Walter makes a hysterical New Hope reference. The Redverse must not have Star Wars, though, because it somehow it all works! Walter steals a snack in celebration. Once in the Observer-overrun downtown, Walter, Etta, and Simon break into Massive Dynamic’s deserted old headquarters.
Broyles is notified of a break in at the facility, then makes a phone call to Widmark.
The trio retrieve bits of Walter’s brains – which look like monkey feces to Walter – put Walter into a deep medicated sleep, then inject the brains and some growth hormones into Walter’s head. While they wait for the treatment to work, Simon and Etta discuss their reasons for joining the Resistance. Simon describes watching Observers “purge” the population – dragging people out of their homes and “putting them down like dogs” – on television in 2015. His parents were part of the Resistance and those killed that night, as well. Etta was only 4 when last she saw her parents and confides that she can’t even remember what they look like, pulling on her necklace all the while. Suddenly, Walter wakes.
An Observer leads a a force of armed Loyalists into the facility with the order to “shoot first. [He’ll] read them later.”
Act Four – Why you shouldn’t leave antimatter laying about
The security force heads through the building as Walter examines the hologram of the device designed to fight the Observers decades before. He tells Etta and Simon about September, his revelation that the Observers destroyed the planet to the point of uninhabitability in the future before returning to colonize the past, and was so tragically lost.
Etta probes Walter as to the location of the rest of the Fringe team, her insistence prompting Walter to look deeply into her eyes and ask, “You?”
Before anyone can elaborate, the elevator sounds and they realize they’ve been found out. Using a secret exit Bell & Walter designed into the room, the three escape just in time. The Observer uses his weird sonic gun to bust open the secret door, though. Walter hooks up a makeshift antimatter bomb on his way out of the building, which removes the whole building from existence.
Walter takes Simon and Etta to where the rest of the team was ambered. Simon asks Etta what happened between she and Walter and her protests that nothing happened don’t seem to quite sate them.
Back at Vichy Fringe Division, Broyles gives the order to activate Simon’s tracker and assemble a team to go after him.
Act Five – Two gained, one lost
Walter and Simon work on removing the team from the amber, with Walter chastising Simon when the younger man gets a little preachy about the need for free will and imagination and so on. Eventually, they begin blasting people out of the amber, beginning with Astrid. The process stalls when the sonic blaster immediately breaks down. Astrid recovers from the initial shock of her release and stands staring into the amber with Walter. The camera reveals that William Bell is also encased in the amber, – a fact Walter urges Astrid to keep to herself with a gentle “shhh”.
When the equipment begins to malfunction further, Simon realizes his tracker has been turned on. In order to get the team out before the Vichy Fringe Division shows up, Simon sacrifices himself to pull someone else out of the amber. He is all Broyles finds when he arrives on the scene – and a piece of licorice.
On transit out of the city, Astrid questions Walter as to why they left Bell behind when they need him to “gain access” to something. His response is cryptic and cold: “You remember what he did to Olivia. Even you aren’t that compassionate.” Walter then shows her that he did salvage what they really need – Bell’s hand, still encased in amber.
We also see it is Peter who was released from the amber. He tries to console a contemplative Etta, telling her that they’ll do all they can to save Simon. She asks if he knows her and, after a brief moment, the realization dawns on Peter. She’s Henrietta, his daughter (remember – foreshadowing?!). The two embrace. The end!
Next week: It looks like we’ll be jumping back to the present day and continuing on with last week’s revelations about the goal of David Robert Jones. But what of the larger questions from this week? Why did Walter encase them all in amber? Where is Olivia in the future? There’s only a few episodes left, Fringies!