Fringe Season 4 finale: Brave New World, Part 2 *Spoilers*

Fringe finale: Walter asks the Observer if he wants a sandwich

And just like that, the Fringe season finale is over. The second part of Brave New World saw William Bell monologuing like a lunatic, spilling his plans to create a brand new universe to Walter upon his very own cross-dimensional arc.

So the dinosaur footage we saw on the teasers for this episode was a bit of a fakeout. I’m glad, because essentially Bell was trying to recreate Terra Nova, and we all know how that ended.

As much as I enjoyed this closing chapter of Brave New World, it wasn’t without its flaws. For every moment I cheered or laughed out loud, there was something to groan about. Bell’s zany plan – to reboot the Earth and eradicate the pesky human race – was the stuff of Sci-Fi cliché. I can never quite understand the notion of returning to the time of the dinosaurs – why do megalomanical scientists always think this is a great idea and that they can proceed with these schemes without asking what the rest of the planet thinks about it? Let’s get philosophical here: what’s the point of Planet Earth if there aren’t sentient human beings around to enjoy it?

I was pleased when Jessica from last week’s episode turned out to be a minion of Bell’s. You know how in 80s shows like Knight Rider and The A Team, you could spot a bad guy a mile off? They were always middle-aged white guys in tan suits with receding hairlines and bad skin. In the Noughties, the TV equivalent is the sexy mole. Jessica was pretty enough to stand out from the other extras in the escalator scene, but from the way she struck up a conversation with Walter to the confidence trick playing on Olivia’s compassion, I felt something was up. Anyway, yay me. This paragraph was totally self-congratulatory.

What was truly inspired was the scene where Jessica caught September in a “stasis rune”. Not only is this new tech, but it’s a potential way of stopping the Observers. Store that one away for next season, viewers! And surely everyone else noticed that Jessica compared September’s bullet-catching abilities to technology – does that mean the Observers are robotic in nature and not some kind of sub-species?

Olivia’s Cortexiphan powers were front and center in this episode – and weren’t they brilliant? We knew she could manipulate emotions – and we saw that in Brave New World, Part 1. But in this episode she caught bullets faster even than September – and threw them back at Jessica, killing her (temporarily). Then she caused a massive power surge which killed Jessica (permanently). Finally, she and Peter literally jumped between universes. And that’s not to mention the awesome “Jedi mind trick” she pulled last week where she remote-controlled Peter’s body to beat up David Robert Jones.

Of course, being a super-powered female with a compassionate heart, Olivia couldn’t keep having all the fun. And so the writers decided to write her back to normal again. This may have been the single most disappointing thing in the Fringe finale episode. Which brings me to…

Walter Shooting Olivia Dead (temporarily)

Olivia Dunham Dead

It had been prophesied from the very beginning this year. In all possible timelines, Olivia Dunham would die.

And so she did. At the hands of the bumbling, amiable scientist (and future father-in-law) Walter Bishop. My jaw hit the ground in shock, but it made perfect sense. William Bell had ranted that he couldn’t stop the collapse of the universes now even if he wanted to. The wheels had been set in motion, and there was a sense that the end of the world was inevitable.

Except that Olivia was clearly the energy source that was powering Bell’s endeavour. And it was Walter who realized this and did the only thing that would work: shooting Olivia would stop the collapse of the universes. Still, it was completely shocking. And then – and I don’t know how the Fringe writers do this – they turned the tragic scene on its head with Walter slapping a hysterical Peter and telling him “This is no time for emotion!” Olivia’s dead, and I’m laughing uncontrollably!

Happy Endings?

The last few minutes of the episode were filled with happy endings. Was this the plan in case the show didn’t get its fifth season? I don’t know, but Astrid survived that pretty nasty bullet wound. (Side note: did we ever establish who moved Astrid and called 911?) Olivia survived that potentially fatal bullet in her brain, though she lost her powers. On the plus side, she’s knocked up and she and Peter can go apartment hunting. Walter’s got liquorice, and Broyles has been thanked profusely by the government and given a promotion. Nina Sharp – who I still don’t trust – has been offered a job on the much-better funded (as a result of saving the universe) Fringe Division. Hooray!

P.S. If Olivia has a baby, will it be a Cortexi-infant?

The Future of Fringe?

The one nod to a continuing saga is September appearing to Walter with the ominous warning that “they” are coming. My initial reaction is that the other Observers are catching up to September and this may dovetail nicely into the future from Letters Of Transit.

Other evidence for this? Olivia is pregnant. Peter meets his grown-up daughter in Letters Of Transit. Olivia is dead in that future. You do the maths. Could it be that September’s prophecy hasn’t really come through yet?

Selected quotes

  • William Bell: “The Bible tells us God created his universe in seven days. It’s taken me considerably longer.”
  • September: “The conversation you are referring to has not yet happened to me…I hope I get back to you in time.”
  • William Bell: “God made us in his image. If that is so, if we are capable of being gods, then it is our destiny to do so.”
  • Nina Sharp: “You have the most extraordinary gifts, but the only one you were denied was knowing it. You’ve had the power all along.”
  • William Bell: “Well, this is unexpected. You know I was not planning on having any humans. What a troublesome species we can be, after all. I had assumed that Walter and I would die off and my new universe would thrive, unencumbered by the savage whims of mankind.”
  • William Bell: “Olivia is a living uncertainty engine. Every breath she takes brings us closer to nirvana. Every beat of her heart tears the world from its hinges. She is the redeemer.”
  • Walter Bishop: “Peter, this is no time for emotion. Time is of the essence. We have to move rapidly if we’re to save her.” Slaps Peter.

by Gerard McGarry on May 12th, 2012

Gerard is the founder and editor of Unreality TV. He writes about TV dramas as well as reality TV talent shows and is obsessed by sci-fi and Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @gerrybot or Google+

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