Knowing that it's more the setup portion of the two-part season finale -- and knowing that there will be more to come after next week -- makes it much each easier to handle "Brave New World."
In what felt almost like a Law & Order-esque episode structure, the first half was given over to what at first felt was a standard-issue Fringe case, with people spontaneously combusting. But it's not a surprise when it turns out to have been orchestrated by David Robert Jones, who tampered with an escalator and infected people with nanites that turn biokinetic energy into heat -- meaning that people had to stop moving so the nanites wouldn't incinerate them from within. One of the lucky ones (i.e. ones who stopped moving in time) volunteers for the dangerous transport to Walter's lab so he can work on a fix for the problem. That fix turns out, when the woman starts overheating anyway, to be "let Olivia's rediscovered telekinesis save her."
But Walter discovers that the nanites are of William Bell's design, and has decided that Belly is still alive, partly because he suddenly remembers Bell visiting him at St. Claire's after Bell was supposed to have died. No one else believes Walter, so he filches the logbook from St. Claire's and then bakes it with some Cortexiphan and pig brain in lemon pie, in order to regenerate Bell's sign-in DNA into Bell tissue, proving that Bell was alive then. Well, what would you have done?
So while Walter goes hunting (with Astrid) for Bell, we have learned that Jones is in fact working for Bell, and their new scheme is to use satellites to direct a devastating beam of sunlight through a Boston building towards an underground oil reservoir. I mean, you can imagine what would happen if that ignited, even if there's no Exxon Spill Inferno kids' game that Walter can use to demonstrate. Peter and Olivia work to switch off the satellites, fighting Jones in the process. Well, Peter gets his ass kicked by Jones, and then Olivia uses her telekinesis to use Peter's body like a puppet to fight Jones. And then Jones dies, realizing that the chess-game metaphor Bell used, about sacrificing a bishop, wasn't as much about killing Walter or Peter, but sacrificing Jones. So he's an honorary bishop!
And Walter and Astrid discover a warehouse of people with guns and huge crates that seem to be making animal noises. And Astrid lies dying, which is not cool. They'd better not have been planning to kill her off as part of a series-finale shocker. Then again, no one stays dead for long on this show.
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. If they kill Astrid, every episode in Season 5 gets an “F”. Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at email@example.com.
We're at the Clane Center, some sort of sterile new office building, all sleek lines and escalators (the prominence of the handrail in one shot providing a little foreshadowing) and ad-free spaces -- well, except for the product-placed phone showing us all just how easy it is to pay with your cellphone when you're getting a café mocha one percent, no whip, half-caf, half-fat whatever from the barista at the coffee stand in the lobby while a Muzak version of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" plays. (Is it me or does it sound pretty great?) This is what Aldous Huxley had in mind. And then he gets charged nearly five bucks, because fuck you, coffee drinker. I think the idea is that the transaction took less time then it takes to make the coffee, but that has... always been true with every method of payment ever?
Anyway, this guy Neal takes his coffee and heads down the escalator with his free hand holding the handrail, as everyone here seems to be doing a level of escalator-safety-regulation compliance I have never seen anywhere. But don't get me started on escalators and the people who get on and then just stand there with dozens of empty steps in front of them. At least in larger cities people have gotten used to the stand-to-one-side-while-others-pass-you philosophy, whereas in St. John's people behave as though their legs are being held in place the second they step on.
ANYWAY, Neal's heading outside when he drops his coffee and appears to be in some sort of distress. He clutches his stomach and then drops to the ground, smoke coming from his mouth, which is blackening. All around him, other people start doing the same thing. "What's happening to them?" says a horrified passerby and another woman says, "I think when they move, they die. Nobody move." And the camera pulls back to show us smoldering bodies littering the concrete among a half-dozen people now playing a life-and-death game of freeze tag.
After the opening credits, Peter and Olivia are being all domestic and cutesy and looking for a place together, with Olivia offering up her opinions on various neighborhoods or suburbs or streets or whatever that I hope meant something to people in the Boston area, because I don't know what's so bad about Wayburn that Olivia would go there "only if I'm dead".
Peter finds a place on Lexington with three beds, central heat and air and a dog run and then starts talking about the Labrador he had when he was growing up. Olivia's more interested in find out if the place has a nursery, like Olivia, you turn one of the BEDROOMS into a nursery. Peter, though, is a little surprised. "Nursery?" he asks and Olivia says, deadly serious, "Nursery." Peter smiles and then they start making out, but I think I'd probably ask for a little clarification, like, "Hold on, are you saying we'll need one far in the future or you want us to start needing one soon or WE NEED ONE IN NINE MONTHS?" That kind of thing.