It seems like forever since Fringe was last on, so in some ways it makes perfect sense that the show's final season opens in 2036, just after the events of "Letters of Transit," but the show toys with us, opening with bucolic scenes of Olivia and Peter in a park with (presumably) Etta, only a few years old. Then Observer start popping into view all over the park, buildings disintegrate — your usual sci-fi calamity, you know.
In the chaos, Peter and Olivia are separated from Etta. Peter wakes from this nightmare, but we're not back in present-day; it's de-ambered 2036 Peter remembering the horrors of the fulfillment of the "They're coming" warning, and we learn that Peter and Olivia were torn apart because they couldn't agree on which was more important: saving the world or finding Etta. Peter and grown-up Etta, Astrid and Walter track down ambered Olivia -- she was carved out of the ambered building by "amber gypsies" and sold through the black market to Markham, who's gone from eccentric to downright squirrelly in the last twenty-one years. He loves Olivia so much, he desperately tells an angry Peter, that he had to buy her -- and then, you know, use her for a coffee table.
So now that we've got the band back together (well, minus Lincoln and Broyles, of course) it's time to overthrow the invading baldies. Unfortunately, Walter gets captured and interrogated by the creepy Widmark, who fries his brain in the process. That's unfortunate, since the de-ambered Olivia has September's titular device, which is supposed to connect the scattered bits and pieces of the resistance plan in Walter's mind -- deliberately fragmented so that the mind-reading Observers can't find them.
Walter's brain is scrambled, at least for now. On the surface, it might provide respite from the misery he's experiencing in this future world, which is largely devoid of music, and people have to eat some sort of substance called "egg sticks." But we close with Walter shuffling around in befuddlement, finding in a car a mix CD that's amusingly not scratched beyond repair and a CD player that works, and he gets to listen to Yazoo's "Only You" while looking at a lone dandelion, stubbornly pushing its way up from the charred apocalyptic hellscape. Whether the dandelion (a bookend to the opening utopia, Etta scattering a dandelion's fluffy seeds) is a symbol of hope or despair may depend entirely on how much lawn care a particular viewer has to do. Thanks to my backyard, I view them as a scourge on all humanity. Much like the Observers. But I'm sure here it's intended as a symbol of hope. And hey, Dawn came back to the party to get Tim, so that song has some kind of magic, right?
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. Each episode brings us closer to the end. Bummer, right? Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your thoughts on the episode below.
Impressionistic scenes of the happy family in a park: Peter (with wedding ring), Olivia and (presumably) Henrietta, who's happily blowing dandelion seeds all over creation. The surface happiness of the scene is undercut by audible-but-incomprehensible whisperings, so it's not much of a surprise when bliss turns to menace (of course, that describes many an opening on this show). In short order, we see a building in the distance vaporize from the skyline, while all over the park Observers are winking into view, making this one of the easier spot-the-Observer episodes in the show's history.
People run in terror as the Observers march implacably through the park, and Peter yells for Henrietta to come to him. She stands still, frozen in fear, while he races to her.
But before he reaches her, there is some sort of jolt and suddenly he's in a makeshift emergency room, Olivia nearby and getting treatment. Peter frantically looks and asks after Henrietta, but no one has seen anything.
Then Peter wakes up, and looks nearby to see his dad sleeping on the couch. Oh, so it was just a dream, and we're back to present day! Well, not exactly. Peter goes into a bedroom, where we see fully grown Henrietta, who sits up when he enters and asks if he's OK. He smiles and says he was just checking up on her, and then he walks out, leaving Henrietta to pull out her bullet necklace and look pensive before laying her head back down on the pillow.
Back in the living room, Walter sits up from the couch, looking concerned about something. Shimmers on the wall prompt him to look outside, and it's just the reflection of the sun off the hood of an abandoned taxi. Whole damn place looks abandoned.
In the kitchen, Astrid is playing some sort of Scrabble-esque game on a holographic display. She hands Peter a mug of tea and "egg sticks," which she found in the fridge and are apparently what they eat here in the year 2036. So this is right after "Letters of Transit," then. Peter strolls out as Astrid starts arguing with the computer over whether "Naughahyde" is a valid word. Astrid argues that it was a "very popular brand of premium pleather" but unless this is one of those Scrabble-esque variation abominations that accept brand names, Naughahyde isn't going to fly.
It's seven in the morning, but Walter still chastises Peter for letting him oversleep, since they should have been on their way to find Olivia already. Peter advances the position that the quest for Olivia will be immeasurably improved if Walter puts some pants on, and Walter snaps that he knows he doesn't have pants on. Anyway, he points to the map with the location -- in Columbus Circle -- where Olivia was calling from right before she disappeared.