Well this has been a long-time coming. Back in September, when I was figuring out what I wanted to blog about for the rest of the year, I came up with the idea for the “Fringe Files”. Fringe was entering its final season, so I wanted to write about every episode as it aired, like I did with Lost’s finale season. Only I stopped blogging and I stopped watching TV. Now that we’re in 2013, however, I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I’m finally starting the fifth and final season of Fringe, as the series finale airs later this week. So I thought that I may as well record my thoughts as I viewed, no matter how random and scattershot. So here we go. Spoilers, obviously, to follow.
Fringe 5×01 – “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11”
“What on earth are Amber Gypsies?”
Oh Fringe. It’s so good to have you back.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, this, the final season of Fringe, takes place in the year 2036, following from the excellent season 4 episodes, “Letters of Transit”. The show wastes no time setting things up, choosing to throw us right into the middle of the action, picking up directly where “Letters of Transit” left off. While this is the right choice for this shortened season, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a little sad that we’ll never get to see that pre-Observer world again (other than through sparse flashbacks, I’m assuming). I’m excited about this new direction and it’s the kind of risky move that I wish more television series’ had the guts to follow through with, but there’s still three years worth of stories in the past that I’m sad to have missed.
There are two parts to this episode – the search for Olivia (who was not with Peter or Walter in their separate chunks of amber) and the rescue of Walter (who is captured by Loyalists during the search for Olivia). In “Letters of Transit”, we are led to believe that something happened to Olivia, something involving William Bell. None of that is mentioned here. All we are told is that Olivia and Peter became separated when she joined Walter to fight the Observers while Peter continued searching for Henrietta, who went missing in the chaos caused by the Observers arrival. Walter had sent Olivia to retrieve a device from grand central station, a transilience thought unifier, which would access Walter’s mind and unify different parts of a plan that September had partitioned in Walter’s mind. Only the device doesn’t work because these portions of Walter’s mind were seemingly destroyed during his interrogation at the hands of an Observer. How convenient. I can’t help but think that we’re about to be led on a merry chase to find all the different components required for Walter’s plan, such as the unifier and William Bell’s hand, which will be required for… well, I’m sure we’ll find out. As things stand though, without Walter’s plan, things are looking pretty dire for the Fringe team.
It’s not all bad news though. This episode gives us two reunions, one between Olivia and Peter, and one between Olivia and Henrietta, and they are both heart-wrenching. “You’re beautiful” Olivia says to her daughter. “So are you” she replies. “Last time I saw you you were 3 years old.” “All this time I thought I was 4.” The two embrace. “You were 3 years, 1 month, and 5 days.” I know that we’ve only known Henrietta for a very short amount of time, but it works because of the connection we have with Olivia and how well Anna Torv sells the scene. Beautiful work.
The final scene of the episode shows a brain-addled Walter attempting to rest, but he’s distracted by flashes of light on the wall. He wanders out into the street without pants and finds an odd sculpture composed of broken CD’s dangling from strings, which are what reflected the sunlight onto his wall. There’s an old bag on the ground, which Walter picks up an examines from within a broken down old car. He finds a CD called “Trip Mix 6” and inserts it into the CD player. Yazoo’s “Only You” begins to play and Walter experiences music for the first time in ages. As he listens, he looks out and sees a single dandelion growing in the middle of the street, amidst the desolation all around them. Walter struggles to hold in tears because in this moment, he feels hope. John Noble does a fantastic job in this scene and it brings us full circle, to the dandelion that Etta is blowing in the flashback, before the Observers show up the first time. This dandelion is a relic of a world that no longer exists, but it’s breaking through and it has managed to survive, somehow. Maybe humanity can as well.