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‘Fringe’ recap: What the Fringe!?

Fringe_322_055 What the… huh? What? 

Wow.

"Fringe" doesn’t mess around when it comes to season finales. In Year One, "Fringe" ended with Olivia thwarting David Robert Jones and then popping over to the alternate universe to meet with William Bell in his World Trade Center office for some tea and soul magnets. Season Two ended with Olivia and Walter busting Peter out of the other universe and bringing him home, though unbeknownst to them, the real Olivia is still trapped on the other side and replaced by Fauxlivia. This year, "Fringe" jumps 15 years in the future, destroys two universes, kills off a major character and erases another person from history. 

That’s what I call a season finale!

Last week, Peter stepped into the universe-destroying doomsday machine only to find himself knocked into the future, where soldiers of the "Fringe" army roam the street and he’s wearing a wedding band (as one of my very watchful-eyed commenters pointed out). Now we’re not in the normal blue universe or the red universe we’ve grown to love this season, or even the 1985 retro universe. This week takes place in the gray universe. Fifteen years after Peter stepped into the machine, where the mysteries of the opening credits include "Thought Extraction," "Neural Partitioning," "Dual Maternity," and "Biosuspenstion" (whatever any of those are). Oh, and "Hope." That can’t be good.

So what did we miss over the past decade and a half?

When Peter stepped into the doomsday machine, it worked as advertised and destroyed the other universe. Little did anyone know, there were two universes for a reason. The moment the red universe is sucked up a wormhole, our universe’s fate was sealed as well. This world is dying, and there are some people trying to help it along in the process.

This was an hourlong finale that deserved to be two. There were so many aspects to this future that I wanted to see more of:

Agent Ella Dunham –- She might have just been promoted, but Olivia’s little niece is all grown up and part of Fringe Division. Might as well, she has already been exposed to mind-melting computer viruses and Walter’s drug-induced storytelling. In a world condemned to death, she’s following in her aunt’s footsteps to try to do something. 

The End of Days -– Brad Dourif is too great an actor to get so little screen time. Plus he’s playing a character that has chosen to aid the universe in its destruction. "Fringe" has done a great job this season of making its villains human. I would have loved to see what they could do with Moreau. 

Peter and Olivia married -– Husband and wife, only their happily-ever-after is severely stunted.  Sure they’re heading up Fringe Division together, but they’ve also decided not to have children, not knowing exactly when reality will fall apart. 

Walter in prison (again) -– Seems the world has found out exactly what Walter did. How he broke the universe and doomed everyone. That would have been a cool trial to see. The outrage. Though it does bring us full circle, to the bearded Walter freed from the mental hospital back in the very first episode of "Fringe."

Sen. Broyles -– What’s the deal with his eye? I mean, yeah, Broyles is a senator now, but really, what’s the deal with his eye?

Silver Fox Walternate –- While his universe was falling apart, Walternate came here seeking help only to become trapped in our world. Now he’s a recluse with the same face as the most hated man in the universe. All along, he’s secretly helping out the End of Days send this world to oblivion. He’s so full of rage, he wants to shoot Peter but kills Olivia instead. 

Walter’s brilliant plan –- In the end, Walter comes up with a brilliant plan to save both universes. Right at the end. In the last 10 minutes of the episode. There really wasn’t much time to show. Walter got out a quick explanation. They are going to throw all the pieces of the device into the wormhole in Central Park leading back to Earth at the dawn of time, making them the “First People.” Then he’d figure a way to grab Peter’s consciousness right before he gets into the machine and bring it forward so he can see what the world will become. I guess this episode is what he saw. 

All of those details could have been expanded into entire episodes on their own. Only now that modern-day Peter chose not to destroy the other universe, that future won’t exist. Instead we get a bridge between the two universes where Walter can stare down Walternate and Olivia can face Fauxlivia. "Fringe" has reset the rules and opened up endless possibilities on where the Season Four can go. Only now we have to wait all summer long to find out what happens next.

Product Placement -– I understand that Sprint needed to get its cool dual-screen phone a little exposure, but this is 2026. Shouldn’t cellphones project directly into our eye sockets by this point?

Astrid Action -– What’s this? A new hairstyle for Astrid? Oh yeah, and she’s a full-fledged Fringe field agent too. Even though she’s spread her wings, as Walter describes it, it’s good to know that Astrid is still so nice that her fellow coworkers have no problem leaving their trash on her desk. She never stops picking up after absent-minded people eating. That’s our Astrid.

Spot the Observers –- I’m not sure if he was hiding anywhere else, but the Observer and all his bald-headed, black-suited buddies were standing outside the Statue of Liberty while inside the two universes were coming together. September (or Observer) and December (another Observer not as cool as ours) exchange some super-cryptic dialogue. They know that Peter flicked and disappeared after the two worlds collided and that no one remembers he was there. Apparently he’s been erased from existence now that he’s served his purpose. I can’t wait to see how "Fringe" gets out of this one, but unfortunately, I’m gonna have to. Oh well, this will give me until the fall to get all my friends addicted to "Fringe."

Related:

"Fringe" recap: God helps those who help themselves

"Fringe" interview: My lunch with John Noble

Complete "Fringe" coverage on Show Tracker

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: John Noble as Walter Bishop. Credit: Fox Television

 
Comments () | Archives (22)

People were complaining a lot how Joshua Jackson's character has been given nothing to do in this season. I think the season finale actually explains why Joshua Jackson's character hasn't been given much. Though I agree that there's not that much he can do, but this is the way Peter is supposed to be. He is constantly in conflict within himself and he is trying to understand where he really belongs to. We see some progress in his character development throughout the whole show, but the end of season finale explains it all - Peter simply never existed.
Can't wait till Season,4.

I wasn't too into it, I felt so much time was wasted in the future world. But the last 10 minutes made up for all the craziness. I think a re-watch or two is in order. Peter never existed?? Woah...

Unfortunately today's science fiction writers don't know science.

Apparently there's a 60 min version of the finale, hope we get to see it on the DVD.

I agree too much time was spent on the futur, not enough in present time to resolve the majority of the season threads.

But they did a great job with the team 15 years from now, some really nice touch like Walter and Ella little conversation.

Now, wait a minute, didn't Walternate say, in his "ghostly" conversation with Peter, that he wanted to kill someone that Peter loved? Isn't that why he targeted Olivia?

ha, like you, i've been trying to get more people on board w/ Fringe every summer between seasons. but it's just not the kind of show most people are excited for, and i always get some lukewarm response, they don't like to commit to or be confused by serialized shows. although, to be fair, i'm not into the crime procedural shows that my friends are into either. i was able to get my family addicted to it though (after I did a marathon of first two seasons last summer for them), but that's because we're all a bunch of science nerd that are into the crazy Fringe science stuff.
i agree, this episode had so much information that i'm hoping they go more into details next season. i especially want to see how the future Walter get that message to Peter, and how the pieces of machine were transported. and ya, i can't wait for them to explain the Peter paradox. it's shocking how much the show has evolved from its monster of the week format.

Yeah - God forbid a science fiction show depicts something that is not currently scientifically possible, given facts know today. If you are some physics guy, and require exact science adhered to in a fictional show, then I recommend The Science Channel, where you can watch Firefly, which must be scientifically accurate, or it couldn't be on The SCIENCE Channel. Jeez! Fringe is just a very cool story! Go with it and enjoy the ride!

Science, schmicence. Once you accept 2 universes, everything else is possible. I buy it but I've been reading SF since I was a small boy.
I really liiked it. It's a treat to see an episode with too much rather than the normal too little.
And by the way, if 2-or 3-universes are possible, why not a thousand or a million or you get the idea.
Phil Brown.

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Fringe! So do many of my friends. The Nielson ratings are so behind the times. They need to figure out how to keep up with rapidly progressing technology and be able to count people who record, Tivo or watch the show online for the convenience of watching it when they chose to. A huge number of fans will be so disappointed if the show is cancelled. I know people who've just caught on to the show and are purchasing previous season episodes to catch up. It's going to be a long dry summer without Fringe. Oh, by the way, Peter's a part of all our hearts, so writers, can't wait to see how you bring him back cause we can't do without him.

I thought it was a good episode. I don't think I loved it as much as the two-part "Over There" last year, but I liked it a lot. Seeing Olivia murdered in cold blood was very difficult to watch. What was with that funeral, though? Was she a secret Viking that they set her casket afire and send her out to see? I wouldn't have thought customs would have changed that much in 15 years! I didn't see the disappearance of Peter coming, but it makes sense. I think a good part of next season will be devoted to remembering and recovering Peter. I wonder if Projection Peter will start paying visits to Olivia?

Loved seeing little Ella all grown up and following in Aunt Liv's footsteps, although I wonder that her last name was Dunham. Weren't we told that Rachel was married and that Ella's father at one point tried to get custody? I would think she'd have her father's last name. I don't think Olivia and Peter were running Fringe Division together; I think Olivia was in charge--taking Broyles' place--while Peter was a senior agent, just as she used to be. Everyone calls her "Boss", remember.

I'm really fascinated to see where they can take this. I'd love to have had more time in that bridge room with the two Walters and the two Olivias, not to mention the coldest scientist in two universes, Brandonate.

It took me 15-20 minutes to figure out what the hell was going on then when it came together I was like " ahhhh, now I see what the deal is" Hate having to wait 4-5 months to see what happens.

P.S. Love the hair on Astrid. Jasika Nicole looks damn hot with it.

Fortunately, Wyman has already assured the Fringedom that Josh Jackson WILL be back for Season 4. What we don't know yet is how...

Hope seemed to be in short supply in the future....guess that's why it appeared in the opening credits.

Pinkner, Wyman, et al, seem to be asking us to take yet another leap of faith with them. They relied on us to create a Season 4....so I guess I'll take that leap and rely on their storytelling to bring the Bishop Boys home again...It's going to be a LONG summer.

If Peter was never born, why were the universes in danger? Wasn't the red universe slowly being destroyed in the first place because Walter had gone over to steal/save Walternate's Peter? If there was no Peter, why would Walter have gone over? Etc. And yes, this should have been at least a two-hour finale, and yes, more Brad Dourif!!!

I love this show!! Only trouble i I cant find anyone around here to watch it. My country is so far behind its not funny so I watch it on the net but none of my friends or family are interested enough to hunt out new episodes.

Never mind though, I've got the net so when I burst out with "AARRRGGGHH I cant wait until fringe comes back" people understand haha.

Not only "what’s the deal with [Broyles'] eye," but what's up with Peter's comment to him: "If what happened in Detroit means anything..." So was it some vortex Fringe-division disaster, or did Peter and Broyles get just a bit too drunk one night?

I'd place good money on some of that now-erased future appearing in future episodes. Particularly Ella and Brad Dourif, although Detroit and the eye may go the way of many of the smaller mysteries on Lost.

I loved the stare-downs between the Walters and Olivias. Fauxlivia let go with just the tiniest of smiles which had to be because she's got Peter's baby. Deal with that Olivia!

Walter stated in the episode that what has occurred can not be changed. If there is a change in what has already then there will be a paradox. The fact concerning Peter is that he wasn't exactly changing something that had already happened, he was given the option by Walter to chose a new path which would lead to different circumstances than the horrific ones that were faced in the future. As many have stated it will be interesting to see how Peter will fit back into the equation, but not just that. I'm also curious to know what is next for the rest of Fringe department in both universes and how they can possibly co-operate together. I feel the producers are taking a gamble on season 4 in an attempt to boost ratings, although current ratings are still sufficient.

The final episode of season 3 was well planned out and as certainly left the audience wanting to know more and being further grasped into the show.

I love "Fringe" too, but thought the last episode was a Bob Newhart ending—and if the series were not getting renewed, this would be the perfect ending. "Fringe" is coming back—only, I hope there's not an additional parallel universe—perhaps Bizzaro World! If there is Heaven and Hell, then why not Purgatory!

I guess I have a couple questions:

1) If Peter was a "projection" where is the real Peter and how/why was he projected.

2) Where did the machine come from in the first place? I mean if Walter sent it back in time it still had to come from somewhere. So who built it?

Great show, keep up the good work.

More Astrid!

Its interesting that at the end of (the season, not days), we can see the need for the spare set of characters - there is a Fauxlivia, and her mutant baby with the now erased Peter, our Astrid has cool hair, theirs has autism, our Walter has a beard (or did) and theirs has all his brain cells. Of course paradoxes abound here:
1) if the machine did not get sent back, it could not appear in the first place, and of course,it seems that no one actually built it either...just a thought
2) All of those first people books, also popped out of existence, since no one wrote them either (talk about sucked down the wormhole)
3) Sam Weiss can go back to the bowling alley and listen to Procol Harum some more
4) We still have to wonder about Nina's hair color (okay, not a paradox, simply inexplicable).
There are also some McGuffin's laying around - the cartoon guy who wanted to kill Olivia, who provides janitorial service in altverse (and will they leave things in the "bridge room" too?).
But, on the whole, it seems this was the end of the series episode, not end of the season. Think about it, if the two universes are brought together, there is no reason for "crossover" which can cause fringe events - which were all based on weird technologies from the other side.
Or, the alternative course, Walter can remember that he is a billionaire, who owns a global corporation, and go look through the secret room of William Bell goodies we saw earlier. And, he can take on a new assistant, instead of poor Peter, the great/evil guy from Massive Dynamic.
This offers a more compelling sort of story line too -- like X Files from days gone by, we can alternate odd weird things one week, and then move the story arc along in the other - there was that early reference, in altverse, when a vortex appeared, and alt-Charlie said, "I hope its not bugs again" that still suggests a ray of hope here - why just two inverses? Why not lots?

 
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