Review of Fringe: 3.21 - The Last Sam Weiss ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Review of Fringe: 3.21 - The Last Sam Weiss

      Email Post       5/04/2011 07:43:00 PM      

The Two Towers aka The Two Machines

Apologies for no review for the previous episode but business travel and the Easter Weekend made it too problematic for me to do one for, '6:02 AM EST.' You can check our FBI podcast for the episode - FBI 3.20 Podcast Review of 6:02 AM EST - to get our thoughts on it.

On the positive side of a delayed review, both ‘6:02’ and ‘The Last Sam Weiss’ can be analyzed together since they form one episode. Overall the last two episodes did not land among my top episodes of the season. Both episodes were somewhat uneven because there was a definite feeling of padding out things before we arrived at that final scene of Peter in a future timeline. ‘The Last Sam Weiss’ was the flabbier of the two episodes with the parallel Peter and Olivia/Sam storylines. These last two episodes could have been combined to make one awesome ninety minute episode.

Following the tried and true epic storytelling format, most notably used in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and aped ever since, the Bishop family is scattered to follow their own paths. Olivia has been off fighting world ending fires because of her knowledge of such protocols perfected in the RedVerse. Meanwhile Peter has come to terms with his destiny and the Machine. Facing his destiny Peter tries to enter the Machine with Walter’s help.

It was not too surprising that Walternate started up the Machine in his world first but it was a total shocker to me when Peter was rejected by the Machine in our universe – something which Fringe does on a consistent basis and is one of the big reasons it is such a great show.

‘The Last Sam Weiss’ continues the fragmented Bishop storylines with Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid following their own paths. Taken on their own the Peter and Olivia storylines turned out to be a tad underwhelming. The Olivia and Sam hunt for the key had some of the most clunky dialogue this season. The reveal of Sam’s backstory was rather mundane and diminished his character. It was also a side step around an opportunity to provide some much wanted answers about the First People and why Peter and Olivia are linked to the Machine. To top it off the – Sam Weiss bowling a skull to knock over a vase to block the descending security gate was pretty hokey - and very Un-Fringian in concept and execution.

On the Peter front, his temporary amnesia storyline fizzled out as it progressed and there was a definite unpleasant feeling of audience manipulation at work. It turned out to be nothing more than a sleight of hand story device designed to keep Peter occupied and allow him to end at Liberty Island with a newly acquired silver dollar, which ended up in Walter’s possession by all appearances.

Where the episode shines is in the moments between the regular cast members.

Special note has to go to Jasika Nicole and Astrid this episode. She has become the de facto ‘Heart’ and Emotional Traffic Cop of the Bishop family. Every scene with Astrid and Walter was great; from the Astrid luring of Walter with Tapioca pudding to her tie-in proclamation from the previous episode of Walter’s plea with God quoting Benjamin Franklin’s – ‘God helps those who help themselves,’ to her and Walter taking that Franklin reference to go kite flying to find out that the dry lightning of the impending Universal Armageddon does strike more than once for a reason.

Olivia’s scenes with Walter at the typewriter were equally touching and a watershed moment for the two characters. Olivia’s plea for more Cortexiphan was heart breaking and demonstrated how desperate she was to be willing to allow more of a drug that has forever changed her life be administered to her. Walter’s telling Olivia how special she was because of her gifts, much like Walter’s lost brain pieces made him a better and special person, cemented their perceptions of each other.

Once Peter and Olivia were reunited, the payoffs from discovering she was the ‘lever’ needed to open the Machine were awesome. It had been my fervent hope that Peter and Olivia would pair up to face the Machine together as equals.

And they did.

Working together successfully they overcame the obstacle of the two Machines, now in the same location in both universes – paralleling Peter and Olivia being reunited, and Peter was able to finally fulfill his Destiny and enter the Machine. It was an elegantly set up moment for this couple and demonstrated that they are equals and at the same time make each other stronger because of their shared bond.

When Peter went into the Machine I had no idea what was to come next. Once again, Fringe - Thank You! So Peter being transported to the Future was a total shock. Question du jour – is this what the Machine was designed to do or was this a malfunction?

Episode 'Patterns': Add your own in the comments.

  • did this episode set a record for callbacks?
    • Olivia and flashing light bomb defusion
    • the typewriter and mirror
    • Sam and bowling - one I could have done without
    • callback to Walter's chapel talk from the previous episode with the 'God helps those who help themselves' quote
    • Peter and his lucky silver dollar
    • Be a better man than your father
    • post more of them in the comments!
  • Tapioca pudding
  • Riders of the Storm & Dry Lightning
  • Ostrich
  • Olivia is the Lever!
  • Walter and Olivia bonding
  • Olivia and Peter stronger because of each other
  • the Machine is a Time Machine?

These last two episodes have finished off the Season 3 story arc. The next episode is the setup for Season 4. A little disappointment lingered after this episode completed because of the number of unanswered questions that seem likely to live past the end of the next episode. Hope remains, as Fringe has done an admirable job to date in not letting too many dangling questions linger past fan frustration points.

The strong parts of ‘The Last Sam Weiss’ were very strong indeed.

Bring on the Season 3 Finale!


Gene the Cow said...

You asked if the machine malfunctioned or whether this was what it was designed to do?

I believe that the flash to the future is the equivalent of a laser sight on a gun--it doesn't actually fire but it shows you what your going to hit.

In this sense, based on Peter's mindset and emotional make up as presently constructed, the machine showed the path of destruction that would ensue if one "pulled the trigger."

Peter will come back to the present with ten minutes to spare at the end of the episode with a clear vision of the destruction that he will wrought if the laser sight isn't altered.

I am reminded of the observer in Firefly saying that "Various possible futures are happenging simultaneously" Peter is being given a chance to push the reset button.

By the end of the episode we will be totally blown away by the present path and long for a different path.

Long live Season 4

fringeobsessed said...

"the two Machines-now in the same location in both universes-paralleling Peter and Olivia being reunited..." I hadn't thought of it this way! Nice catch, OD.

FringeFrogee said...

Old Darth, not sure I agree with you on the amnesia thing.

I didn't feel the amnesia was fully gone, that Peter was...well Peter! While he did seem to grasp he wasn't where he thought he was, he did seem to be playing along in part to what was going on around him. There seemed to be plenty of clues in his actions, words and finally his visions of the past and future that he wasn't seeing things from his normal viewpoint. The flash back/forwards all didn't add up, it was like a twisted hotchpotch of the two worlds and his own experiences.

However you could be right, there have been times where I've been left wondering (like why was Rachel & Ella missing from Olivia's apartment when Faux came over, and why Nina never met Bellivia because that would have sooo fun top see), but most times I've found something to be a little odd or out of character for the show, it's popped up again again further down the line with a jolly good Fringe style reason it all.

FringeFrogee said...

Do agree on 6:02 Old Darth, it was good but not quite there in many ways.

The Last Sam Weiss had a lot of "Oh cr*p" moments for me, moments where I really wondered what that might mean for now and for the future of the universes. The non reciprocal I love you for one!...It was when I really started to seriously wonder about Peter's amnesia.

I was just about climbing into my computer screen by the end of the episode (I have many weeks before we get to see this on TV here). There were so many lovely moments in this one and I'm loving seeing Astrid grabbing hers with both hands.

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