Fringe 4.14 Review/Analysis: You Want Answers? Be Careful What You Wish For, Sweetheart
All of the pieces from the puzzles of the Fringe past, present and future came together in an episode that promised “Answers.” This past summer, I took part in Fringe Television’s Summer re-watch of seasons 1-3. Each review was to take into account how the different episodes connected together. Reviewers were also to consider the effect that a missing Peter would have. This will be a different kind of review, as I consider this episode very much a compilation of key threads in the loom constructing the Fringe mythology – unraveled by a new set of circumstances in a new time-line, and expertly rewoven into a much stronger, brilliantly colored canvas. Joel Wyman and Jeff Pinkner assured viewers that three years of Fringe history were not wasted. The End of All Things shows how the past weaves its threads into the current tapestry.
Yes, there have been a ton of Where, Who, What, When and Why throughout the series, and some of it is addressed in this brilliant culmination.
As Lincoln and Peter searched missing Olivia’s apartment in a bid to find anything that might point to why she was taken, Lincoln was quick to damn Nina Sharp as to having a role in the kidnapping. Peter, who was frantically looking for clues, was not amused with Lincoln also subscribing to Walter’s theory, that he was projecting his memories onto Olivia, and therefore was the cause of her strange behavior.
Their confusion is the case for many Fringe fans as well. Is this Olivia, Peter’s Olivia? Every time I hear someone say, “that’s impossible” on Fringe, I have to roll my eyes. Hello. You guys have alternates in another universe. Lincoln, that guy Peter standing in front of you? He popped into your world from another timeline…
But… Peter may have been right about the impossibility of cracking Nina Sharp for answers.
Meanwhile Olivia found that she was not the only one captured – so was Nina. It wasn’t long before Mr. Jones made an appearance, delighted to see Olivia Dunham, just as he was in In Which We Meet Mr. Jones. Olivia was not amused and her look of defiance is very clear. Damned good acting from Torv.
Jones referred to Dr. Bishop’s notes about Olivia’s abilities needing high emotion as a trigger. This was his finding in Subject 13. However, when Olivia fled the school, she must not have come back, due to never having met Peter in the field of white tulips. Jones’ plan would fail however due to the fact that Olivia’s memories of being raised by Nina were being replaced by the memories of the old time-line.
The switching of twins is something that Olivia knows about all too well. In Amber 31422, Projection Peter talked with Olivia about two twins that both made excellent grades, even though one was smarter than the other, because they switched places. Olivia was switched with Fauxlivia… and now, we have Nina switched with her alternate?
Nina Sharp… always the wild card. I suspected something was not quite right about the Nina that forced Cortexiphan into Olivia. When she was shown typing away to David Robert Jones, I still could not believe Nina, “our” Nina, had ill intentions for Olivia. This ruse set up a perfect situation for Jones. He was able to coax information about what truly amplified her abilities. Plus, there was the added bonus of the real Nina Sharp being handily under arrest, her influence and knowledge denied as a form of assistance.
Although we were promised a lot about the Observers, I am still unclear concerning their agenda. Near the start of the episode, December basically put a hit out on the rogue September. However, I’m not sure if he, or any of his chrome-domed minions, knew that September had suffered a catastrophic gunshot wound.
In Ability, Olivia was supposed to turn off the lights in the box. Here, Jones wanted her to turn them on. But she couldn’t because “the only person this ever worked with is Peter.” There’s an answer. Peter is quite literally a “turn-on” for Olivia. This is something fans have long suspected, especially since that pivotal scene in Ability, when Peter came back as Olivia was trying to diffuse the light-box bomb. He could have died along with Olivia, but he did not abandon her. With Peter present, Olivia was able to turn off the light box.
It had not been explicitly stated on the show, but several occurrences over the series have led to the belief that Peter must be present for Olivia’s abilities to work, in addition to heightened emotion such as fear and love. Examples include, the Jacksonville “almost kiss,” Peter/the apartment glowing in 6B, the typewriter in The Last Sam Weiss, and also Olivia’s telepathy used in The Day We Died. Some fans, myself included, believe that Walternate had to separate Peter from Olivia in order to kill her. Otherwise, she could have used her abilities to stop the bullet or to remove the gun from his hand.
September confirmed this when he blinked into existence, pale and white save for the contrasting crimson of his wound. He told questioning Peter, “She needs you.” He also stated that Jones’ goal was the same as that from his attempt to activate Olivia in the old timeline. So now, we have one answer, but still a big question. What the heck is Jones’ reason for doing all of this?
Finally…. Peter has the guy that has been one step ahead of him for all this time. The one that really took to shooting him with his magic air-gun. Peter asked him in The Firefly, “What’s going to happen to me?” September’s cryptic answer of “It must be difficult… being a father,” like many things said on Fringe, had a double meaning, as we saw with the next highly emotional scene.
Peter risked it all in Lysergic Acid Diethylamide for Olivia, so doing the same by entering the mind of September was an easy choice for him. I have to say that this scene between Michael Cerveris and Joshua Jackson just plain made this pivotal moment so special- so magnificient. As Peter awakened to the dreamscape of the Observer’s mind, he witnessed the awe-inspiring creation of universes. The look of wonder on his face just took my breath away along with his. The lighting upon him in this scene, accentuating what Jackson does best – saying it all with his face and body. Jackson’s stance showed a man desperately trying not to crumble, like the scenery surrounding him did.
But, somehow, I could not help but think of a line from the Violet Sedan Chair song, “Last Man in Space.”
“It all ends here, where it started. Another Big Bang and we’re broken hearted now…”
Peter asked September a question that the audience thinks is relevant, although the Observer did not – Who shot him? I could not help but grin at Peter’s expression that seemed to say, “Are you kidding me?”
But… Baldy does have an answer we’ve sought. The Observers are human, their purpose is as scientists, and they are from a possible future. That they have the technological capability to observe events in time. Peter, of course points out to September the principle of the “Observer Effect,” saying to him that they have done more than just merely view. Michael Cerveris’ performance showed a clear look of self-disappointment in September’s usually emotionless face. It was he that set these events in motion, he revealed to Peter via a stirring flashback to Walternate’s lab. Peter became Observer to the key mistake that altered his destiny, and in that vein, that of many others.
Remember when the Observer August was faced with intefering on the behalf of a young woman, that Walter told him:
Well, in that case, if you cannot persuade the others of your conviction, then you must do something to prove it. You must make her important. And of course whatever you do, you must be prepared to face the consequences. (August)
For whatever reason, September wanted to keep Peter important. And he accepted the consequences.
We learn that Peter was important – but meant to grow up in his home universe. He was also meant to meet and fall in love with Olivia from this universe. Somehow, someway, they would meet, even if Peter was not raised over here. Speculation among many, myself included, is that Peter and Our Olivia would be the genetic “Adam and Eve” of the Observers, if you will. But there is a monkey wrench thrown in that theory.
“A child that was not meant to be.”
“Your son. Henry.”
It looked like the wind was knocked out of Peter. Of all ways for him to have found out about Henry, this was pure story perfection. Fans were worried about how this matter would be revealed to him, and how he might react. All I have to say is well-done, Fringe writers. I was never a fan of the baby storyline, thinking that there had to be more to it. Here, in this crushing moment, it all fell into place. Peter could have been angry that his mistake with Fauxlivia culminated in this child, but he showed nothing but the intense desire to touch his son. I had always thought it would be a terrible thing for him to know about a son that he may never be able to hold, and I was right. September’s explanation to Peter that the boy no longer exists, brought forth one of the best reactions I have ever seen from Jackson – and there have been many good ones.
This gives the answer to why the Observers never wanted Peter to ever return to Over There. Henry would be used as Walternate’s pawn, causing Peter to make the quick choice to protect his world by destroying the universe of his origin – setting the unbalanced survivor on a path of slower destruction.
Yet, I still wonder why it was totally necessary for Peter to be erased from the timeline after he chose to make the Bridge. Was there another reason Henry had to be removed?
September tells Peter to “Go Home” to find Olivia. Then as the dreamscape shatters, says “They are coming…” Who are they? I don’t think they are the other Observers…. Are they Emmanuel Grayson’s “renegade Romulans from the future. Sent to change the time-line?” (The Road Not Taken)
All summer Fringe fans asked the question: “Where is Peter Bishop?” Now, at the end of the fourteenth episode of season four, we’re still asking that very same question. I have been in the “this IS Peter’s home, and this is HIS Olivia” camp all season. Walter and Lincoln keep confusing Peter, a man that in his heart must know there is no other home to go to. When Lincoln said “Your Olivia and our Olivia. I thought to you they are one in the same,” I just wanted to yell, “they are.” September showed Peter the Olivia Dunham from this universe and its timelines. The Olivia from the other universe and its timelines is not his Olivia.
The escape from Jones’ clutches was racing and quite telling. Olivia was feeling the ill effects from using her amazing skills to fry a few of their captors. Peter went through all the stops to help protect her in their escape. But this time, Jones escaped through a portal, despite being shot by Olivia. He said something about the advantages of being reassembled on a molecular level that echoes the past:
The teleporter, it may be killing me, but in the meantime, it’s made me something rather special. You see, your bullets just go right through me. And soon Doctor Bell will see just how special I am. (There Is More Than One Of Everything)
Also, he looked oddly at Peter, who also had been through a similar process of re-materializing…
So, after such a great tandem escape, we’d expect a wonderfully romantic scene between the two lovers, right? Well, I knew something was up just by looking at how stand-offish Peter appeared by his distance and the concerned look on his face. He was not only concerned for Olivia’s health, but looked absolutely terrified. Poor Olivia all smiling and expecting the same lover’s embrace as the audience. Once again, the universe dropped a tremendous guilt trip on Peter’s shoulders and he reacted in a totally believable and human manner.
OLIVIA: Peter, I don’t understand what’s happening to me any more than you do. But that doesn’t change what I do know, what you know — that if you look at me — if you — if you look — if you look into my eyes, then you can see that I am her.
PETER: No. No, you have her memories, or you have my memories of her. You’re a projection or — I don’t know what. But when I looked into your eyes, what I saw was what I wanted to see. I know she’s out there… my Olivia, in my timeline, waiting for me. And I let myself forget that, so I’m sorry, Olivia. And I’ll be sure that Walter can fix you up somehow and give you back your life. But for right now, I think it’s better if I just stay away.
OLIVIA: Okay, Peter, I – I – I’m in love with you, and I – I can’t just — just turn that off now. I don’t want to lose you. W – where are you going?
PETER: Home. I have to go home.
And so, Peter left a heart-broken and confused Olivia, much how he was left in Barrette’s garden in Marionette. Can I just say how much I could feel Olivia fall apart? Anna Torv brought so much power to Olivia’s hurt. The pain, the love, the confusion – they’re all there. These two characters are going to be the death of me, they feel so real.
After picking my heart up off the floor, and reassembling it with duct tape, what did I think? Well, I am still convinced that this is the Olivia that Peter loves. As much as it pains me to see her heartbroken, I cannot blame Peter for his reaction. The man was just shown that there were terrible, soul-crushing consequences to the mistake he made in not going with his gut feeling about Fauxlivia. An innocent child was born and then ceased to be. Peter was getting it from every angle – from Walter and Lincoln. Plus, this Olivia was put into great danger, an being ever the self-internalizing man, Peter had to have been beating himself up over the thought that it was his fault. The man is simply not allowed to be happy. He is always searching for “Home”.
Every character is different in this time-line, but let’s take a look at Peter. Peter has changed and developed quite nicely since Season 1. I feel, contrary to the belief of some, that Peter is the most developed character. He has experienced the most evolution over the course of the series.
However, if we scratch beneath the surface, the old Peter is still there. His “tape” is still programmed with that stolen and confused little boy, seeking his way home. Peter is still very much tuned to run away as a defense mechanism to deal with things he just cant’ handle. He ran away to Europe when his mother committed suicide. While feeling trapped by his father, he prepared to slink away in The Arrival. After the details of his origin became clear in The Man From The Other Side, he took off. In Reciprocity, Peter felt that he needed to find answers on his own. Peter doesn’t burst into tears, he doesn’t blow up in anger – he just leaves and/or takes matters into his own hands. But, keep in mind that he ALWAYS comes back. Even when wiped from the face of time, he always comes back – for his Olivia. As a child, Peter was made to believe that a different place was home. Now, will he have to accept this new time-line as home?
But I am very afraid that no matter what Peter does, Olivia will always die too young. Will Peter be fated like Alistair Peck in White Tulip? Always trying to alter events “meant” to happen?
Bring on a Short Story About Love and the rest of this season. I absolutely adore this half of season four. The first half set-up some of the best episodes in the series.
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A~freaking~MEN!!! I totally concur with everything you said & I had said since the beginning of this season that I definitely thought that something will turn out like the Peck incident. Also, you forgot to mention in that White Tulip episode the comments Peter made about deja vu & how he had never had it & when you do, it means your inline with your destiny where you belong….he said he felt deja vu this season….remember?
Yeah, I forgot about that this season. hmmm…. 😉
Thank you for your great thoughts. I had forgot that for Peter, everything is about going home. It happens quite a lot when I think about. As he said in “welcome to Westfield” Olivia is his home. I agree with you that Peter has develop quite a lot, and I hope Olivia will live somehow.
Well, we have been shown that things are not always as they seem. Keeping fingers crossed for the happy version of Brown Betty’s ending. 😀
I realise I’m in the complete minority here, but I just can’t believe that this timeline is where Peter is meant to be. This Olivia may or may not be his Olivia, but this Walter is most definitely not his Walter. So much has been about Peter and Walter’s relationship that it doesn’t seem right that Peter is meant to be in a reality where Walter doesn’t accept him as his son.
I think Walter has been changing as well. He’s been warming up to Peter. Making mixed drinks in the lab. Coming to the Bishop house to offer his help. Making crepes for dinner and wanting to share them with Peter. Showing concern when Peter wanted to enter September’s mind. This Walter is not the same as when he first was introduced to Peter in Novation.
And the flip-side to this time-line is that Walternate was more accepting of Peter from the get-go.
I do hope there is a bit more about Walter in the next episodes.
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