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‘Fringe’ recap: What the Fringe!?

May 7, 2011 |  9:35 am

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

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