It Can't Be Worse Than This-A Review Of 3.22 ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

It Can't Be Worse Than This-A Review Of 3.22

      Email Post       5/14/2011 02:31:00 PM      

"We can cheat the rules of time.
There's no way of telling what the cost might be,
But it can't be worse than this.
It can't be worse than this."

The fun thing about writing the last review of a Fringe episode is that I've had time to sit back after re-watching it, and just let the thoughts and articles I've read about it on the internet incubate in my head. Do you remember the last time you rode a good roller coaster? There were ups and downs, excitement, and perhaps some fear as you traveled into some dark places, some relief as you emerged unscathed into the light. That's what the Season 3 Finale, "The Day We Died"(furthermore to be known as TDWD, here) was like for me.
The episode needs your undivided attention, as it is new territory-dangerous, and yet filled with opportunity, like the Chinese symbol for "crisis."

TDWD is 48 minutes of a wild ride, and just like a good roller coaster, we are left slightly breathless, bewildered, and wanting to hop right back on. The first half is informative and tells us where our favorite characters are 15 years into the future, in this particular "blue" universe. Astrid's got cool, straight hair, which makes her look more serious in her role as a full-fledged Fringe agent. The more things change, the more they stay the same for poor Walter, as he looks like a carbon copy of incarcerated Walter Bishop from the series pilot, except his face(once they can find it after he's shaved) suggests he's had a stroke-probably from all the stress of his trial, that I am dying to know more about. Broyles is a US Senator(I guessed President)and has a spooky right eye reminiscent of a certain Fringe villain from Season 1(more on that later). And our favorite dysfunctional couple is made up of two Fringe agents, and they're married(so awesome to print that)and chatting about having "a little tribe of Bishops"( a squee moment for the P/O shippers). I was a little sad, though, that we didn't get to catch up with Nina Sharp, other than to see her attending Olivia's funeral.

In TDWD we also get to meet an 18 year old Ella Jaye, Olivia's cute little niece, all grown up and decked out in Fringe Division attire as a newly-graduated agent. I think the actress did a fine job of a portraying a young woman dealing with personal loss and the bleakness of the world. One of the most intruiging conversations in the episode is Ella's reply to Walter's comments of wishing he could go back in time and make different choices:

Walter:Truly, if I could go back in time and change things, I would.
Ella: But you can't. There aren't any happy endings nowadays, are there?
Walter: No, I suppose not.

The second half of TDWD is riveting television, and showrunners Pinkner and Wyman need not worry that they didn't make the grade. Peter's thick and emotional conversation with Walternate in the cabin at Reiden Lake was one of the best in the series so far. Some people have been complaining that Joshua Jackson hasn't been given much opportunity to really show the depth of his acting ability, but I could almost feel Peter's regret mixed with seething hate in that scene.

Even though I had seen the spoiler concerning Walternate shooting our Liv back on April 3rd posted on the internet as an April Fools' spoof that a few days later turned out to be true(not a classy way to do things),the scene was still incredible to watch. We were all rubberneckers in those moments, like drivers looking at an awful crash scene while driving by. Although I would have liked to have heard every word of Peter's eulogy to his beloved wife, I was alright with the way the executive producers muted Peter's words and panned to the audience to show their grieved faces.

If you haven't yet re-watched episode 3.22, "The Day We Died," you really need to do so. It's too hard to absorb the significance of the last conversation Walter has with Peter in just one viewing. Walter is very excited as he tells Peter he can do it over, make a different choice, and that Olivia won't be dead. Peter doesn't totally understand how it would work, but Olivia's not being dead has sold him and he asks Walter, "What would I need to do?"

Thirty-eight minutes into TDWD Peter is back in his body strapped to the machine, his heartrate escalating to a dangerous level. Walternate and his pseudo-son AltBrandon are trying to figure out why their machine is going crazy. Walternate demands FauxLivia be brought to him. He shows her the drawing of Olivia and tells her to stop it, to turn it off. In true FauxLivia style, she cockily tells him that Over There outsmarted him and that now they will get destroyed. Surprisingly smoothly, we are yanked back to the blue 'verse and Peter wakes up to see our Olivia in front of him. "Olivia, you're alive," he tells her. A few seconds later the Over there crew is present in the same physical space with our Blue 'verse gang. Wow!
Peter explains to both groups that he understands where the machine came from and what it is capable of doing. He tells them he tore holes in both universes that both lead to the room they are in, that he has created a bridge so they can begin to work together to fix...And then the big cliffie happens! Peter vanishes and no one says a word.

The last scene shows at least 9 observers looking up at our Staue of Liberty.
December and September's brief conversation will run in a loop through our subconsciouses for the next 19 weeks or so:

December: You were right. they don't remember Peter.
September:How could they? He never existed. He served his purpose.

It's going to be a long summer, I'm afraid.

Things In This Episode That Reminded Me of Other Episodes

  • Injured Peter being wheeled down the hall on a gurney-reminds me of Olivia in the same position in 2.01, "A New Day In The Old Town."
  • The bar code in future Ella's arm-reminds me of the Over There subcutaneous tracker AltBroyles had in his arm in 308, "Entrada."
  • The electrolight blinking red-red-red-green-is the opposite sequence of the first amber canister Over Here in 314, "6B."
  • Moreau blowing up the Opera House-reminds me of the Orpheum Opera Houses both Over There and Over Here in 222, "Over There:Part 1" and 223, "Over There:Part 2", respectively.
  • A wormhole in "Sheep's meadow"-reminds me of the sheep going crazy in 320, "6:02AM EST," and of that Fringe music video that came out almost 2 years ago with the sheep in the circle.
  • "We were finally able to amber it over."-reminds me of the first time we hear of amber Over Here in 103, "The Ghost Network," and "quarantine amber Over There in 223, "Over There:Part 2."
  • "Some kind of light bomb"-reminds me of that great lightbomb Olivia(and Peter?) disarmed in 114, Ability."
  • Vortex on the Thames TV footage-reminds me of the TV footage of the vortex in the East River in 308, "Entrada."
  • Senator Broyles spooky right eye-reminds me of David Robert Jones' spooky right eye in 1.20 "There's More than One Of Everything."
  • Peter calling Broyles "Phillip"-reminds me of Walter and Broyles calling each other by their first names in 329, "6:02AM EST."
  • Future Peter bringing future Walter Red Vines-reminds me of Walter eating one while performing an autopsy in 2.01, "A New Day In The Old Town," Walter putting a label on them in 220, "Brown Betty," and Broyles staring at a Red Vine in 319, "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide."
  • "No matter who's at fault, you're my dad"-reminds me of the only other time Peter called Walter "dad'' in 219, "The Man From The Other Side."
  • Revisiting the bridge in Central Park-reminds me of when they tried to meet with William Bell Over There in the same area in 222, "Over There:Part 1." And Terrorist Moreau with his black hood up-reminds me of "Dark Peter" in 311, "Reciprocity."
  • The cabin at Reiden Lake-reminds me of episode 315, "Subject 13," and of Walter on the ice of Reiden Lake in 216, "Peter."
  • "If I could take back that choice I would"-Peter's tone, expression, and seatedness in this scene remind me of his apology to Olivia in 309, "Marionette."
  • Olivia getting shot between the eyes-reminds me of Olivia shooting Shapeshifter Charlie Francis the same way in 204, "Momentum Deferred."
  • Peter sad and drinking alone-reminds me of Walternate and Peter's Over Here mom drinking alone in 315, "Subject 13." It also reminds me of Peter and Broyles drinking when Olivia was comatose in 201, "A New Day In The Old Town."
  • Olivia to Peter:"Are you doing that?"-reminds me of when Peter asked Olivia "What was that? How did you do that?" after she disramed the lightbomb in 114, "Ability."

    Things That Struck Me About This Episode:
  • Peter released within hours of almost bleeding out-We need that technology!
  • The look on Moreau's face while he enjoyed the opera music-for some reason reminded me of the phantom listening to Christina sing in Phantom Of the Opera.
  • The gray credits-we need to do a separate article on these!
  • Astrid talking about her father's sermon on the End of Days-1)Who is her father? 2) Doesn't the description of a savior on the last day coming to end the suffering and take people into Heaven remind you vaguely of the story of Azrael the nun told to Dana Gray in "Stowaway?"
  • Senator Broyles-They don't explain how he got to be Senator. Maybe he'll be a senator again in another unniverse? In one of the recent Pinkner/ Wyman interviews, JH Wyman hinted we may hear more about what happened to Broyles in Detroit.
  • Future Walter had a stroke-John Noble did a good job making it appear that way.
  • Olivia controlling her telekinetic abilities-very cool. An adorable moment.
  • Future Walter missed the P/O wedding-That's just wrong, and needs a do-over, with whoever we're gonna end up calling Peter in our future! ( In a purple tux, maybe?)
  • The Most Reviled Man In The Universe-Wow. No wonder poor Walter had a stroke. And Walternate loking just like him? No wonder he was in hiding.
  • Married P/O with boxed wine and steak in a can-I like! (Not the steak, but married P/O.)
  • "It would leave a signature. Like radioactive breadcrumbs."-Love that.
  • Why is the child in Amanda's picture only holding Peter's hand?-At firstI thought it was a reference to Henry, but Pinkner/Wyman said if there's no Peter, then there's no Henry. Or, is it foreshadowing something yet to come? Probably.
  • The Peter and Walternate confrontation-So well done. "Ying and yang. One man broke the universe , the other man did nothing, but have his son stolen his life stolen, ruined." Walternate does have a point.
  • Walternate was a hologram! Didn't see that coming! Wow!
  • Peter's eulogy-Always have a tissue handy during Pinkner/Wyman/Goldsman episodes!
  • A funeral pyre for Olivia? Who does that anymore? And why didn't anyone fire shots at her funeral? Aren't they supposed to fire shots for law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty?
  • Peter saw the first 38 minutes of the episode in 60 seconds in his mind-Wow!
  • "If one side dies, we all die. So I tore holes in both universes, and they lead here to this room. A bridge so that we can begin to work together to fix...."-A shining example of "cliffhanger."
  • "They don't remember Peter. He never existed. He served his purpose." Wow. John Noble was right. We'll be thinking about this all summer. And a true story:Recently in an Anna Torv interview, she said she phoned Jeff Pinkner after 322 was filmed and asked him "What does this mean?" Now, if the actress playing one of the main characters doesn't understand what that means, how are we supposed to?! But after thinking about it, "Imagine the repercussions," as Peter said. No Peter, no Henry, no P/O love, no P/F love, no young PB dying from avian flu, no Walter going Over There to save the other Peter, etc. etc. My head hurts...
  • "I have already done it but I have no choice but to do it again."Walter says this to Peter near then end when he's trying to explain that it doesn't have to end the way it has. If anyone has read the book "Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin that we saw young Olivia reading in "Subject 13" they will recognize the reference to the main character, "Peter Lake," a master mechanic and conman/thief who disappears and shows up mysteriously 95 years in the future. He can't remember his name, but just that he must keep all the machines running because he had done it before. I may be wrong, but I think we will see other references to this book as we move into further seasons of Fringe.
  • Let's go back to Walter and Ella's conversation above:Walter tells her if he could go back in time and change things he would, just like Dr. Allistair Peck did. But by telling Peter he could make different choices, and Peter now never existing, according to September, it's a whole new world. Ella replies, "But you can't. There aren't any happy endings nowadays." Doesn't that make you think of how little Ella changed the end of Walter's cannis-created story in "Brown Betty" to a happy-ever-after ending? Supposedly it can't be any worse than this, like Walter's sad ending where Peter walks off and doesn't share his heart. It's almost like the Lady and the Tiger story with the alternate 3 endings. So hopefully we've seen the worst scenario, and "The world could get better," as Peter says to his wife, Olivia. But at what cost, my fellow viewers? At what cost?

    "The Day We Died" is a rich, intricate episode that I bet took alot of time to write. I always look forward to the episodes written by Pinkner/Wyman/Goldsman because they are smooth and rich. Although this episode isn't perfect, and in some ways different from what I would have liked, it is voraciously thought-provoking and entertaining. I look forward to the beginning of the next coaster ride that will be Season 4 of Fringe. I give this one 5 out of 5 electrolights.


EE said...

Great,great review!!:)
"December and September's brief conversation will run in a loop through our subconsciouses for the next 19 weeks or so" Yes! That last scene will be giving us more head-aches through out the summer,and I'm sure that was the writers intention.Well kudos to them:)

fringeobsessed said...

They are a little sadistic that way, aren't they? *smiles* Glad you liked it.

EE said...

Just a little bit,but they're great,so i can forgive them ;) (no better way to spend the summer than theorizing about Fringe)

Xindilini said...

Don't forget Peter bringing Walter Red Vines in 3.04 "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep"

fringeobsessed said...

Ah yes, ty, X.

Anonymous said...

Super write up FO!

I agree it's going to be a looooonnnggg summer.


fringeobsessed said...

Thanks, OD.
You know we'll try our best here to keep everyone busy with Fringe stuff as much as we can.

FringeFrogee said...

Glad you got this one back up Fringeobsessed. This has to be the closest review to how I felt about the finale (except for Astrid's hair!).

I missed the spoiler re Walternate killing Olivia, so it was a huge WTF moment for me, not because I hadn't seen it coming for awhile now but because it was so up close and personal! The absolute hatred behind it was huge.

I think it says a lot about the differences between Walter and Walternate. Walter may have started all this, but Walternate made some seriously evil choices over the years which I don't think you can entirely lay at the door of grief over his son.

It's interesting that the future world had not taken him to task over any of them. Must have had a really good lawyer!

Soooooo looking forward to next season!

fringeobsessed said...

Yes, the similar yet quite different aspects of Walter vs. Walternate are brought out in this episode. I hope that someday we get to see Walter's trial and how it plays out.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember if they explained how the fire was started in Walter's lab, thus killing his assistant, and Walter ending up in the mental institution? I wonder if that has anything to do with anything.

Katie Avery said...

This was such a great episode! Fringe is always mindblowing. I think my favorite scene in this episode had to be the one with Peter and Olivia while they ate steak in a can and talked about having kids. So cute! Walter's speech about sending the machine back in time through the wormhole was a bit confusing, but the crazy ending definitely made up for it.

I write reviews of new Fringe episodes, too, so feel free to check them out if you're interested. :)

fringeobsessed said...

Agreed, Katie.

We'll add you to the review roundup.

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