Was the opening part of the Fringe season finale as brave as we hoped, or was it something of a let-down? Read our take.
- Pacing, action and significant developments.
- Various overarching mythologies woven back into play, adding texture to ongoing story.
- The return of an emotionally committed Olivia.
- The return of William Bell as an antagonistic figure.
- The positive nonlinear implications derived from “Letters of Transit”.
- The episode felt forced in places, taking something away from my overall experience.
- Jones’ demise: the resolution of his arc largely unsatisfying once again.
- Walter’s science bordered on contrived science, at times.
- The negative nonlinear implications derived from “Letters of Transit”.
The opening was classic, ominous Fringe. Though it’s somewhat amazing that the survivors were able to combat David Robert Jones’ nanite attack. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but still pretty fortunate.
Still, this sets the stage for Olivia’s own moment of inspiration. But before then, we see her in a marmalade moment with Peter making plans for a family — foreshadowing the arrival of their bundle of joy, Henri-dontcallmehenry-Etta.
Intriguingly, the baby foreshadowing opens up a side to Olivia that arguably hasn’t been seen since the third season. It’s certainly good to see a more emotionally engaged and determined Olivia; one who cares about the people she’s trying to protect, though it does feel forced when she saves Jessica essentially because she has a daughter.
That said, the value of having Olivia invested outweighs the slight forcing. What is perhaps harder to swallow on first consideration is Olivia’s surprise over her ability, given that she saved one of her Cortexi-pals in a similar manner back in “The Road Not Taken”. It’s fine lines though, as it’s only right that Olivia questions how the ability works, particularly as she’s still making the transition between timelines.
The reemergence of Walter as a leading figure and the return of William Bell were also important aspects of this opening salvo, helping to contextualize their upcoming amberization.
I didn’t take well to Walter dismissing Jones’ intelligence after lauding him in the previous episode, but again it’s another case of the narrative rearranging the pieces to suit this episode, figuratively sacrificing Jones before his actual fall. Still, Walter linking the nanite compound to his former lab partner (more on that in the upcoming Observations) works well enough in itself, as it’s the kind of pattern he would pick up on.
The scene between Jones and Bellie was one of the episode’s highlights. Jones’ anxiety when giving Bell the ‘bad news’ was interesting to note, particularly given his desire to be special in Bellie’s eyes. Bellie’s cavalier attitude dwarfs even that of Jones, as it’s confirmed that he has been pulling the strings all along.
Bellie’s chess analogy was a bit convenient, to the point where I wondered how else he would have conveyed his double-edged message about sacrificing ‘the Bishop.’ Good thing Jones didn’t comment on something less ‘metaphor-able’. That aside, it was good to scratch the surface of Bellie’s psychology. We get an idea of his patience in ‘playing the game,’ and his willingness to sacrifice important pieces at the right time.
I do feel that Jones, as smart and similarly-minded as he is, should have known that Bellie was referring to him as “the Bishop”. That aside, I almost take Bellie’s explanation as a little twisted nod of appreciation, which (in essence) is what Jones originally craved other timeline, and possibly in this iteration too. Though it might also be a case of their ‘brave new world’ not being big enough for the both of them.
The notion of sacrifice is important, not just in relation to Jones, but to the bigger picture. So much of this story is about sacrifice, a concept intertwined with love. Whether it’s Walter sacrificing an entire world, Peter sacrificing an entire timeline, or Olivia giving her past life the boot, it comes in many forms.
Another major thread running throughout the episode was Walter struggling to convince the team that Bellie was alive. Though Nina’s resistance is easier to accept, (assuming she’s on the up and up) she probably doesn’t want to think that he kept her out of the loop.
Bellie’s earlier nod to patience is reflected when we get more insight on the night he faked his death. Before then, he visited Walter in St. Claire’s to say goodbye, but Walter can’t remember what he said due to the extra helping of shock treatment.
It was interesting to see Walter return to St. Claire’s to look for evidence of William Bell. It may not have captured the heartache of “The Equation” but it’s another glimpse into the trauma that place represents for Walter.
The Olivia/Peter scene at home represented a change of pace, scooping up some emotion dust for later. Worryingly for Olivia, Peter tells her in no uncertain terms that he wont lose her again, which pretty much guarantees that bad things are ahead for the Dunhamnator, with X marking the spot.
Peter’s hopes of a home-cooked meal are shattered by operation Kill Bishop, as Bellie illustrates the might of his power by destroying a building using the sun’s rays. An impressive feat, even though the scale of devastation and sense of actual loss isn’t quite conveyed. How different from “Ability,” when the threat to civilian life felt more palpable because Olivia was such an emotional Titan. Forged in the rings of Saturn, and all that.
That said, the ‘ease’ with which the building is destroyed kinda works in illustrating the god-like power Bellie is acquiring — though clearly he still wants Olivia, his proudest creation. Natural and unnatural.
Jones’ final stand was rather out of character, reduced to a crowbar hack. This is the first time we’ve seen him so physically aggressive, as a result it felt contrived. There are so many questions, including: why Jones would attack Peter himself?; why he didn’t just use a gun?
Of course, it’s for the drama, but I do wish it wasn’t at the expense of a great character. What came next was probably as close to “soul magnets” as Fringe dares go again, as Olivia, unable to stop Jones kicking Peter’s ass from the other rooftop, ‘projects herself’ through Boy Wonder, controlling him like some kind of Real Steel Bad Robot. WHAT. THE. FRINGE!?
Questions as to why Olivia would even think to go avatar on Peter are somewhat tempered by the earlier scene with Jessica. Aside from the contrivances, I enjoyed the moment, as it represents a new tool in Olivia’s arsenal, but mostly because she reminded us who really wears the trousers in that relationship. (which means Peter wears the bra and panties?).
While Jones’ death pains me, Jared Harris gave an excellent final turn with his “I was the sacrifice, I was the Bishop!” realization. I prefer to view the crazed look on his face as a kind of twisted joy at the thought of being so special that Bellie would sacrifice him. For me, that offers the better closure, as it suggests that Jones got what he really wanted in the end (it’s still rather pathetic, but I’ll take that over another tame exit).
Sure, he was an antagonist, but his value to this season and the serialized arc of Fringe in general is not to be underestimated. While others were picking flowers and drinking rainbows, Jones was plotting and driving the overarching conflict. He was damn committed. I may have wanted to delve deeper into his actual psychology, but he gave me flickers where he could. As disappointing as his demise is, it’s fitting that Olivia had a fist in his exit this time. RIP David Robert of Jones. May we forever swoon your memory.
Walter’s use of Cortexiphan and pig brain to track down Bellie was a bit of a reach. Though it was good to see KickAstrid kick some ass before getting shot (so this is why she stayed in the lab in the other timeline). We know Astrid wont die, since she’s alive in 2036 — one of the unfortunate downsides to nonlinear forays, they can take the weight out of the room.
The face-to-face meeting between Bishop and Bell was fitting, though it undercut the significance of Astrid ‘dying’. Still, it was hard not to feel a slight shiver down my Cortexi-spine at those words, those patient, patient words: “Hullo, old friend.”
He may have had more lives than a cat trapped in Westfield, but I must admit its good to see Willum again (aside from the whole killing Jones, getting Astrid shot, and destroying universes thing). But make no mistake, he has some ‘splaining to do..
- Love Walter throwing up the deuces. Love Astrid’s bemusement at yet another name-fail.
- Cortexiphan being regenerative feels a bit contrived due to the convenience of its use in this episode, though it’s not a real surprise given the role it plays in limiting limitations. Highlighting this aspect now also feels like a pointer to future events.
- So, this week Olivia plays Geppetto, and Peter plays Pinocchio — the Fringe/Once Upon A Time parallels are getting scary. Next you’ll be telling me September is The Blue Fairy..
- I hope Petah doesn’t sue Olivia.
- As foreshadowed in the past couple of episodes, William Bell is indeed alive. Jones was working for him.
- Bellie was dying before he faked his death.
- Bellie used Jones as a sacrifice to open up new ‘opportunities’ (presumably he has designs on Olivia).
- Olivia discovers a new ability in her Cortexiphan toolkit.
- Cortexiphan is apparently regenerative.
- How will Astrid be saved?
- Bellie’s ultimate goal?
- Is Bellie still dying?
- Does Bellie want Olivia so he can control her? What are his aims for Dunham?
Best Moment: Olivia showing real steel by going Bad Robot on Jones through Boy Wonder.
Best Performer: John Noble
Best Quotable: “I was the sacrifice! I was the Bishop!” (Jones to Jones)
9/10 Seriable Stars