Well, my friends, this is one weird, wacky and AWESOME show! As anticipated, this season's "19th" episode took us on a wild ride and made us question a lot of things about the "future" of the show. It seemed like this episode was just randomly plucked out of what would be a season 7 of Fringe. (or season 26 for that matter) First, let me get my WOW out of the way because of course it's deserving of it! Second, I just want to speculate at what the brains behind Fringe are doing here. They had always envisioned a 7 season show, but with the ratings so low they may have known that time is short and are speeding up the plot a bit. So, while the remaining 3 episodes of this season will close up this season's plot as they always planned, they used episode 19 as a chance to give a sneak preview of where the show was/is heading. (We still don't know about renewal) Maybe season 5 and 6 would have gotten us to 2015 (considering the show follows a calendar year pretty much) and we would have seen Walter encase the team in amber. Maybe a season 7 would have taken place 20 years later when they finally take the world back. But, we have already been told that this episode was a preview of what a shortened and final season 5 may look like. So maybe they showed us where the plot is going and we'll be leading up to that in a fast-forwarded story in season 5 (as well as continuing that 2036 plot). All speculation of course. They could have always planned to show us this peak into the future in season 4. We have seen other peaks into the future too. With an infinite amount of timelines, nothing is certain.
But, my intro paragraph is way too detailed in speculation and we haven't even recapped yet! So, let's get to it!
They came from the future. At first, they only watched. Arriving at key moments in human history. We called them OBSERVERS. But in 2015 they stopped watching... and seized control. Citizen uprisings proved bloody and futile. Those who survived became known as "Natives." In an attempt to show their allegiance, some Native factions became "Loyalists" and were marked by the OBSERVERS. The original FRINGE TEAM fought the invasion but was quickly defeated. FRINGE DIVISION was allowed to continue at a reduced capacity, but only to police the Natives. The resistance was quickly overcome.No sense in trying to recap that in my own words, the show did such a good job explaining and setting the scene in 2036. Walter explained it further later on in the episode and it's very TERRA NOVA - like as well as our predictions for what THE EVENT was going to be about. September (still alive?) had told Walter that in 2609, the Observers had finally ruined the planet. They poisoned the air and water and the planet became uninhabitable. So, the Observers have traveled back in time to first observe, and then take the planet back from them. And now we know and we'll dissect it more down below!
But, here we are in a totalitarian-style Earth. The year is 2036 and the Fringe team have been downgraded to a police force of sorts to keep the natives in line. There is an observer called Captain Renmark (or Wenmark or something like that), who has been assigned to keep an eye on Fringe Division. Broyles is still in charge and looks pretty awful! But, then again, it has been 23 years!
There are 2 agents, Etta and Simon Foster (DESMOND!) who go about their daily job, but with a secret objective of finding the Original Fringe team. There was no record of them actually dying, but they are assumed to be. Etta is very determined to prove that fact wrong. Walter had been working on a device (also referred to as a beacon. hmmm, we've seen a beacon before. A couple times) to rid the world of the observers once and for all. But, they need his help in completing the device. There was this guy, Rick, that was working with the two of them that ended up getting killed by a loyalist. But, not before he showed Etta what he found. And that would be Walter encased in amber! Basically, Walter intentionally put the Fringe team in amber knowing the battle was lost for the moment, but they hoped to live to fight another day. We obviously don't know the full circumstances around the "amberization" but that's what makes me speculate that present day events would lead us to that (i.e. season 5, please let there be a season 5!).
Etta is able to get her hands on some old tech at Fringe division (from a guy that is not happy on what they're doing. I actually speculated for a brief moment that maybe this guy is Mr. X but that doesn't really make much sense. But you know, in case it is, you heard it here first!). It was some crowd control gun that they used as a wand to break Walter out of the amber. Walter is free! One problem. He was so close to the Amber blast that he suffered brain damage! (more than he already had??) So, they get a little sidetracked and have to dig up Nina Sharp for help. Naturally, she's shocked to see Walter who has barely any recollection of Nina. Nina, suggests that they try to utilize Walter's missing brain pieces that William Bell removed all those years ago. Of course, Massive Dynamic is now shut down, but Simon is feeling risky and suggets they go into the Observer-packed arena.
They do come across some non-observer military-like loyalist guards (you could tell by the marking on their face) and they used some Jedi-Mind tricks to get past him. (See walterisms below) Note that they do refer to Walter as Etta's grandfather.
Broyles, by the way, is made aware of Etta/Simon being in restricted territory, and is forced to activate their trackers. But, they do find Walter's brain and are able to inject it into his head, while some light comedy ensues.
We pause and get a quick backstory on Simon. His parents were part of the resistance and they were killed in 2015. He was in college at the time and saw TV footage of people all over the world being put down like dogs. It was referred to as THE PURGE (ahh, LOST). Etta makes mention that she was 4 years old the last time she saw her parents. (woaaa, just made a connection and we'll discuss down below!)
When Walter wakes up he is very much aware of what is going on and asks for a quick update. He talks about who the Observers are and how they took over and about their ally, September. He also realizes who Etta is. But, not too much time for chit chat because they have to escape Massive Dynamic. Of course, Walter knows about a hidden exit out of the room they're in! And then he sets up some anti-matter to disintegrate Massive Dynamic. WOA!!!
|Aren't you a little short for an observer?|
Walter remembered exactly where he and the team were ambered and brought Etta and Simon there. After an optimistic speech from Simon about making their own future, they get to work. They free Astrid from the amber the same way Walter was freed. But then the wand got busted. Oh boy!! It was foreshadowed earlier that any other attempt to tamper with the amber would cause it to re-solidify on one of them. They knew they were being hunted and were short for time, so Simon did the only thing he could. He sacrificed himself to get Peter free. (of course, we didn't see it was Peter at the time) One other thing to note, William Bell was in the amber too! Walter did not look too happy to see him! We'll discuss more below. So, now Simon is encased in amber. I guess if they're going to revisit 2036, this works out in case Henry Ian Cusick's show SCANDAL is renewed and he can't get back. But surely, he could come on for an episode or two!
Broyles comes to the scene in the aftermath and realizes what is going on. Finding a half eaten piece of red licorice puts a slight smile on his face!
The revived Fringe team and Etta are on a train heading who knows where. Astrid makes reference to how important Bell is. Walter makes comments of what he did to Olivia (which we'll speak of below) and essentially said it's unforgivable. But, still they needed Bell for access to something. And that's when it's revealed that Walter sliced off Bell's hand and brought it with them, saying "we have everything we need." OUCH!!
We then see Peter for the first time and he apologizes to Etta for Simon promising to do what they can to get him out. Etta looks at Peter and asks if he knows her. Peter slowly comes to the realization that this very well could be.....why yes it is...it's Henrietta (note, female version of Henry!), Peter and Olivia's daughter!! The child destined to be born. A child of great importance, per September. They embrace and the train heads off into the night.
They surely left that open for story continuation which makes me think this is not a variation of the future which we'll never revisit again. Very much like LOST's flash forward at the end of season 3, it led to a season where we have to follow the present day story to catch up to what we know about the future story, yet we still need to continue the future story as well. That's where I think this is headed, and I couldn't be more excited!
I have lots of thoughts on the episode. Some of them might not make any sense, but bear with me. I think I have to watch the episode like 10 more times, and most likely will have to keep coming back to it as we continue through the rest of the series. I can see now how they could have gotten 7 seasons out of this story, but that is not to be. So, we'll have to make do with what we can get. And hopefully that is at least 12 or 13 more episodes! Let's dive into the analysis!
- "These are not the droids you're looking for. Move Along." - Enough said!
- The whole conversation around Walter's brain and monkey feces and the confusing them in the conversation was a good time.
- Walter stole candy from a kiosk after his infamous Star Wars quote.
- Red Licorice of course! And apparently historians have noted that it was Walter's favorite. Nice.
- And this could be a Walterism but since it was food related you have to love that since he knows he was in amber for 20 years, he mentions it must be why he's so hungry!
- There was a request for Ring Dings too!
- Walter stole candy from a kiosk after his infamous Star Wars quote.
- Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center as I believe it's going to be called) still stands as we get a shot of the future New York skyline.
- Different opening credits are always a good time. Here's some screenshots of an Observer ransacked world.
- There's no more coffee in our universe either in 2036, only coffee chews! Very strange that there's such a large focus on coffee in this show!
- Nina is confined to a wheelchair (with a bionic hand too, but we'll get there) and works at the Ministry of Science. Massive Dynamic is no longer in operation, but we've discussed that above already.
- Observers like to drink water these days and Broyles isn't too thrilled about "hydrating himself" through a flask. He'd much rather prefer some liquor!
- The Observers have the ability to wipe people's memories and/or read natives' memories in order to find out their true objectives. But somehow, Etta has the ability to block them out of her mind. Results of a cortexiphan-induced mother?
- It's tough to tell if everyone's rebooted memories from Peter's disappearance at the end of season 3 have been repaired to the original timeline. But, what throws me off is that Nina once again had her bionic hand. I don't think the Reboot Nina has one since she used her physical hand to bring Walter and Lincoln to the cortexiphan. Meanwhile, MEANA does have a bionic hand. Of course, we didn't spend much time with our characters so we had to interpret everything a crazy Walter was saying. He did make a comment that said the Fringe team did save the world once, but not without great consequence. This made me think that he was referring to Peter in the machine. So, maybe Walter did eventually regain his memories. Who knows? But, the fact that "Henrietta" was born most likely means that the "RIGHT" pairing of Peter and Olivia had a child and the cross-universal breeding of Henry does not exist anymore, per September's comments earlier this season. So, I guess it's all just a big question mark for now still. Hopefully, intentionally!
- Speaking of the other universe, there was no mention made of it existing or not existing. Our last peak into the future was a version where it was absolutely destroyed. That doesn't seem to be the case this time. So, it will be interesting to see how that factors into THIS version of the future.
- Did we meet Mr. X in this episode? The man that supposedly killed Olivia? (and for that matter, is Olivia even dead?) We did meet a very "amberized" William Bell and Walter was not to thrilled to see him. His reasoning? "You remember what he did to Olivia." My first thoughts were that he was referring to the LSD (19th) episode from last year where Bell used soul magnets to stay alive in Olivia and they went in to to her brain to retrieve her. But, Walter was pretty excited at the time that Bell was back. And of course, did that even happen in this rebooted timeline if they didn't get their memories back? Ugh.. And how on earth is William Bell alive!?!?! Did he find another way to come back? Or is this once again a result of the rebooted timeline? I forget if we were told again this season if Bell died or not. In any case, Bell's memories were merged with Olivia's mind in that LSD episode last year and that's when we met Mr. X. So, that means Bell knows Mr. X, right? Or Mr. X is a part of him. I don't know. I guess Bell could somehow be involved in Olivia's "death" if it even happened, but I don't know if I buy him being Mr. X. There was a guy earlier in the episode that may have been able to pass as being Mr. X but I don't know why he'd be in 2036.
- More speculation on William Bell. We were told he died in a car accident, but this could also be ALTERNATE-William Bell. I guess we'll see. It will be interesting to see if Leonard Nimoy will come out of retirement for one last outing as Mr. Bell!
- So, I wonder if all if all of the Observer's interactions in trying to prevent Peter from existing was to prevent Henrietta from being born and forming the resistance against them. (and ultimately succeeding?) I guess that's kind of what September was getting at. And maybe if September never interfered in the first place, none of these events would have happened to lead to any kind of resistance. Walternate would have cured his son, would Walter have ever found any other motivation to cross over and cause the whole drama that proceeded after?
- BTW, does anyone else think it's hysterical that key events in the Fringe Universe have happened in Back to the Future related years? Walter crossed over in 1985 to save Peter, the Observers took over the world in 2015. Coincidence!?!
- Not really a question, but I just had a eureeka moment that probably everyone else figured out much more quickly. Etta mentioned she was 4 years old the last time she saw Peter and Olivia. We don't know exactly when Peter, Walter and Astrid (and William Bell) went into the amber but it would seem to suggest it might be a little after 2015. It also seems to suggest that Olivia might be pregnant very soon. And one additional suggestion, I don't think Olivia will be dying any time soon by the hands of Mr. X. Etta has to be at least 4 years old before she would be getting killed. Of course, unless Olivia isn't the mother but that's highly doubtful. (and for the record, I didn't think Olivia would be dying this season. Next season? Well if it's the last, all bets are off.)
- I'm sure the memento that Etta has around her neck plays a significant role to why Olivia is not with them (yet?) in 2036. It looks like a crushed bullet, but I don't know for sure!