Fringe Review: Brave New World, Part I ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: Brave New World, Part I

      Email Post       5/06/2012 07:29:00 AM      

“Anything is possible.”

And so it begins: the long, quick slide down the rocky outcropping towards the cliff from which we will hang with delicious, knuckle-whitening suspense until fall. “Brave New World, Part I” continues the great tradition of wonderful, mystifying, tantalizing penultimate episodes. And, in keeping with Fringe tradition, it is almost impossible to rate or even assess.

The first third of this episode was a fascinating low-key case of the week that set up the roller-coaster ride of the last two-thirds. Lost’s Rebecca Mader has made no secret of her membership in our unofficial Fringe fan club, and she did a wonderful job of showing us the outsider’s view of the events our heroes deal with every day. Her fear—and her strength—were a beautiful opportunity for Fringe to remind us what is at stake with every case: not just world-bending mind-altering insanity, but individual lives.

The evil burning nanites were creepy. (Nanites are creepy all the time. Like malevolent germs.) More to the point, their purpose is confusing: why would Jones leave such an obvious trail? Was he coached by Bell to draw the Fringe team out? In that case, Bell and Jones decided to sacrifice a bunch of people just to draw Walter’s attention to the continued existence of his ol’ friend Belly. And then Bell decided to sacrifice his bishop. (Jones, luckily, not one of our more loveable Bishops.)

Speaking of which: wow and double-wow! In a recent conference call, Pinkner and Wyman attested to their strong desire to get Leonard Nimoy back for the fifth season…and didn’t let anything slip about his appearance in this week’s episode. Now, not only is Bell back, but he’s possibly evil. Then again, his plans have always been mysterious: maybe he’s not a villain bent on the destruction of two universes. Maybe there’s more to this: Nina sure thinks so. Bell said he hadn’t made a move in his chess game in over 20 years. Is that an allusion to Peter’s death/abduction/etc?

(And what does Bell’s history of cancer, disappearance, and reappearance in this universe mean for the events of Seasons 1-3? How completely different were those first contacts between universes, without Bell to orchestrate them and move the pieces around the board? Argh, my brain!)

In addition to revealing Bell, the nanite case also revealed Olivia’s power of interpersonal telekinesis (for lack of a better phrase). She calmed Jessica’s nanites, and took over Peter’s body to help him fight Jones. That scene wasn’t my favorite, as the shadowboxing was clumsy, but this new aspect of Olivia’s power is both awe-inspiring and frightening. Peter promised Olivia they would figure out her new power together: “I will not lose you again, Olivia.” I can’t think of a better guarantee of something horrible happening to one of them in the next episode.

That would be emotionally difficult, as we’ve already (apparently) lost Lincoln Lee and an entire universe this season, we lost Jones in this episode, and Astrid is in dire straits. All that in an episode that also included the nanites, the sun-beam, Olivia’s powers, and the return of William Bell. That’s practically an entire chess game of events, and I didn’t even mention the lemon cake or the animalia.

Must Seem a Little Bizarre, Huh?

• Olivia: “Nursery?”
Peter: “Nursery?”
Olivia: “Nursery.”

• Walter: “…my lethal friend.”

• Peter: “That’s what happens when you drink and mince.”

• Walter: “Jones must be reflecting light off something, like one of the disco balls.”

• Walter: “…and shut off the sun. Well, you know what I mean.”

• Walter: “It’s a fool’s errand, and I am a fool. No one is asking you to join me, Alex. It’s much hunch, and I’m quite capable of pursuing it on my own. So peace out.”
Astrid: “Alex?”
Walter: “I was on a roll.”

• Walter: “I knew it! Chilean almonds!” Obviously!

• Walter: “Sounds like a rhino. But more nasal.”

• Bell: “Hello, old friend.”

• I would like to nominate “Eyes Without a Face” for the creepiest song ever, please. Especially muzaked.

• Did anyone worry that the nanites would infect anyone who touched the nanited people?

• I apologize if this is a stupid question, but why did Jones disintegrate?

Attempting to rate this episode when Part II is still to come seems like a fool’s errand of my own. So I’ll let you do it:

How many Chilean almonds out of four?

(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Awake, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for And--completely random plug--we also have reviews (by Paul Kelly) of Sherlock, the wonderful BBC series that resumes on PBS in the US this Sunday.)


Scenario2 said...

I completely agree that the episode is nearly unrateable. So to speak. Therefore, in the spirit of the benefit of the doubt, I give 4 out of 4 almonds. And, it would be a shame to be so close to death from crossing over that being knocked to the ground would cause disintegration.

Zort70 said...

Hi all,

Di anyone else notice this in the nanite image in the episode ?

Click Here

jophan said...

Jones was disintegrating after his escape from prison, and somehow managed to stay intact. This happened again in this timeline. Peter hypothesized DNA grafts, but a good theory from another forum is that Bell saved him using nanites. With his electrocution, they were damaged and no longer could hold him together.

I've never trusted Bell and will feel vindicated if he proves to be a pure bad guy. I still hold so many things against him: occupying Olivia with soul magnets, Walter's brain damage (only Bell's word that it was at his request), shapeshifters, assorted unsavory Massive Dynamic experiments. I also suspect him of worse (hint: "lab fire").

I have thought for a while that he's used the soul magnets to pass information from one timeline to another; maybe integrating too many of his own personalities drove him nuts.

loveycats said...


You all are so thorough, I was surprised not to see this mentioned (and I've been through the recent news and spoilers so if I missed the mention, forgive me) but the actress who played Jessica Holt is Samantha Noble, John Noble's daughter (the accent was a bit of a give-away, too.) Also, thanks to Josie Kafka for the added plug for Sherlock. This is a wonderful series and the second season is outstanding.

Zepp said...

Following this line of reasoning their Josie, that "everything is possible in the universes of Fringe," I do this my short review, this great episode, 421, Fringe. And when is saying "everything" is really talking about "everything", or, rather, is that such plan is not real Fringe, "everything is possible", of course, but ... Fringe does give twirls with our imagination, and our expectations during the course of the episodes will have sensational surprises, such triumphant appearance of the actor Leonard Nimoy, this penultimate episode of 4th season. William Bell - unexpectedly - came on the scene, a dialogue with Mr. Jones on his back on the dark side of a room, against the light. And I was thinking with the "myself" is it the Nimoy, the actor or another will carry out this performance of the character of William Bell? Will be, which ... When Bell's face lit up, almost did not believe what I was seeing, Nimoy was the same in person, I noticed that he was a kind of hairstyle a bit different, using misaligned, but the William Bell who was there, it was William Bell, other scenarios! Leonard Nimoy, one way or another, back again to the scenes of Fringe, WOW! I was overcome by emotion, by surprise, and aware that the universes of Fringe, nothing is impossible, in their magical unrealistic plans. As well as in their real plans, with the surprising (to me) appearance of the great actor Leonard Nimoy.

Some points I was called to attention, like Olivia, for example. If, for me, she was a hero of Fringe, now with this gift of healing through thought and topple and crush opponents at a distance, it becomes a habit, then we are facing is a true superhero. So it seems to me, Fringe is now truly a super hero, who is Olivia Dunham (!) And besides, she is a superhero who acts openly, without hiding his identity as an FBI agent, is not it? Very good it. Another point of surprise for me was to be the head of Bell Jones. Perhaps now, with the appearance of Bell, we may have some answers with respect to beings "disappeared" from the current Fringe plots, as the "porcupine men" and "shape shifters, 2.0", which simply disappeared from the current scenarios Fringe, these last episodes.

My expectations for the next episode (422) are enormous, no doubt. How will the closing of the 4th season? Does Astrid going to die? Does Bell really is the villain of this whole story? And the Observers, what they are doing with these new developments? Is Fringe, more and more sensational, yet.

Pinfold said...

Does it count as spoilers to remind everyone of things from an already-aired episode? In the Letters of Transit future-set episode we know Bell is there trapped in the amber and that Walter dismembers his hand with no remorse. Astrid is there as well- post gunshot- apparently she survives. Asking about how Walter can just leave Bell behind, Walter replies to Astrid "You remember what he did to Olivia. Even you can't be that compassionate"- telling us that some evil acts have been performed by Bell already- perhaps he is the "Big Baddie" of the entire series so far. If he was calling the shots in the nanites case it's pretty freakin' evil to let so many innocents die just to draw out the Fringe team. Costly chess move collaterally on the I'm an evil bastard karma side... I think Bell's nanites keeping Jones together is a solid theory- electrocution shorting them out and causing his disintegration would make sense. All we know is that Astrid pulls through, Bell lives on (minus a hand), Bell does/did something pretty horrible to Olivia, and Peter's a father (presumably Henrietta is his daughter with Olivia and Etta's "powers" against the Observers are genetically passed down from Olivia's Cortiexiphan treatments). We still have the Observers' rise to totalitarian power to contend with though- I perrsonally think they're potentially Bigger Baddies than William Bell could be- and Bell's "tactics" have always been a little unconventional- perhaps his nefarious acts so far have been all about trying to curb the Observer Regime we know is coming- sacrifice for the greater good, etc. (like his chess speech to Jones explains). Who knows? It'll all be very fascinating (Spock pun fully intended) to find out...

jdelprete said...

@Zort70, I totally saw that! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Olivia said the "man" with the x was going to kill her...maybe the nanites are going to kill her? Or Bell because he created them? Hopefully neither of those...the x was strange though.

jdelprete said...

Also! I just looked at a picture of the man with the x on his shirt and its like the same style x! With kind of a point at the ends...

Christoph said...

people who voted below 4 on this episode clearly do not deserve to even be on this site...there was nothing in that episode that was not below a 5...i would rate 6 if i could

chillip said...

"You all are so thorough, I was surprised not to see this mentioned (and I've been through the recent news and spoilers so if I missed the mention, forgive me) but the actress who played Jessica Holt is Samantha Noble, John Noble's daughter (the accent was a bit of a give-away,too.)"

samantha was the asylum administrator. who did not have an aussie accent. really nice scene.

jessica holt is played by rebecca mader.

Jody said...

It was a great episode because it opened up many possibilities and answered many questions as well. What didn't sit right with me is the seemingly sloppy directing. The walter-astrid warehouse scene was sloppy... As was the olivia shadow boxing.... Some angles were off--like william bell's reveals --both to jones and to walter-- they seemed anticlimactic. I dunno the script was superb... Its the directing and editing that seemed off to me

wetcat said...

I was perfectly fine with Olivia's clumsiness. She's trying to figure out how to use her power, having no idea how it's done or even if what she's trying will work. Why wouldn't that be clumsy on the first try? I appreciated her interpretation, but maybe not the way it was presented to the viewer. It took me a sec to see what she was doing.

What I hope they won't do next season is jump to the future too quickly. The Observer world previewed in 4/19 can show up in the last half of season 5. I would like to see this story played out mostly in our time. The writers would risk doing again what they did this season: making needless confusion and alienating viewers from beloved/known characters and settings. Olivia and Peter still need some time for her pregnancy, September needs to join the team, Bell needs to menace and explain himself and ingratiate both Ninas, the lab fire and Walter's partial lobotomy need explaining in a Bell/Bishop flashback episode, bring back ZFT (Bell's cult of cortexikids and critters?), and at the end of everything, they all, including Sam Weiss, travel back in time to be the First People. The End. That's a lot of loose ends to tie up, but if they stayed focused and didn't create any more gigantic plot holes, they might just do it.

So that's my wishlist, and, yeah, my mind was completely blown when Leonard Nimoy appeared. At first I thought it was another actor in heavy makeup because he said he had retired and wasn't coming back. I thought when they broke off his hand in 4/19 it was writer's revenge because his retirement ruined their planned plot! Bell is the only worthy opponent for a last season and the only brain smart enough to be the Bishops' nemesis. No more sudden retirements allowed, Mr Nimoy!

Briar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Briar said...

I just hope we do not return to the future we glimpsed in 19. That was so stereotyped. I would feel as if I had been ambered in 1984! Quite apart from the fact that it had rewritten characters (Bell; the Observers) and completely removed Olivia to achieve it! I couldn't watch the show without Olivia. What we are forgetting is a main theme of this show: there are many possible universes and (rather confusingly) many different timelines within universes. We have probably forgotten this because they have shipped original Olivia's memories over to amber Olivia (and I doubt we will get a better explanation for this than love - and audience dissatisfaction with a plot direction which had really maimed the show), but it is true none the less. This Bell is not the original Bell of episodes 1 to 3 (which might ease belief in his different characterisation). He certainly didn't die as that Bell did. Just as the amber time line is different from the original time line of the blue universe, so are certain characters. As for the 2036 future, perhaps it is the mission for the rest of the show's plot line to thwart this future from happening. Not to go there to correct it, but to correct it in the current "now" of the amber universe, as Peter forestalled the 2026 future we glimpsed at the end of season 3. I could get invested in that - but please, no more cliched future dystopias with clunky Gestapo-Observers!

Old Darth said...

As much as it pains me to say this episode was....
underwhelming. Most of it centers arounds Jone's anti-climatic demise again.

The show could still pull it off in the next episode so I'm with holding final judgement but this one lacked focus.

Blue said...

Am I the only one who feels like episode 4.19 has taken away from the build up for the end of the season? Especially this last episode. Don't get me wrong, I though 4.19 was an interesting episode in and of itself. But seeing Bell return wasn't completely shocking since he was in 4.19. If I hadn't seen Astrid in 4.19, I'd be on the edge of my seat right now wondering if she'll be ok. But since we saw her alive in 2036, I feel like Astrid being shot didn't have as much of an impact as it could have.

I'm with Briar, I hope season 5 is about trying to prevent the Observer invasion and the 4.19 future rather than jumping ahead in time to 2036.

Anonymous said...

I think Bell may be trying to prevent the observers invasion in the future and he's certainly ready to do whatever is in his power to do so, like using Olivia in a way that Walter would not accept at all. That's what I got from episodes 4.19 to 4.21.
I think 4.19 really was all about that, a glimpse of a changed future like the glimpse of a future where the two universes were destroyed in 3.22. We have now a glimpse of the future the observer are trying to make happen and Peter is a key piece, as the observers certainly don't want him in that timeline.
So Bell's building an army : monster troopers for heavy fight, metamorph for infiltration, nanites weapons, cortexikids to blast future people back to their timeline...
I think that what was all about in 4.20, the massive earthquakes : first to test the power of the kids he properly trained and second to cut the tie because if the alternate world is not healing, then ours is not either and the observers have every interest in conquering a not to tainted world.
That being said, I don't get why they didn't go back before humanity raised and began to destroy nature. I guess that would too close to Terra Nova. That or they're lazy and wanted built infrastructure.
Anyway, I find the comparison between season 1, episodes 3.22, 4.19 and 4.21 very interesting : not only loose ends from season 1 are being tied but the characters remain the same while being different. Olivia wants kid. She didn't in 3.22. Still, Dunhams are Dunhams. If it's not Ella, then it will be Etta.
Now, I'm waiting for September to introduce himself as the bald empath child from 1.15.
Oh, and anyone watched the next episode trailer ? I thought Rebecca Madder's character was way fishy...


rgos said...

I am in the middle of exams, but took an hour off of studying after much debate to watch finally watch Fringe!! I am so glad that i did because this episode was phenomenal!

Everything seemed to be falling into place in this episode and yet it still had an amazing cliffhanger and enough twists and turns to throw me off. I thought that the plan to get Olivia and Peter to the antennas was to get them away from Walter, so Bell could kill him.

Speaking of Bell! Leonard Nimoy is as fantastic as ever! I have never really watched Star Trek, but the ways in which he delivers his dialogue, his expressions, and the fact that his presence just somehow excudes a power so real, you feel as if you can touch, have made me a Nimoy fan!!

I think this episode, showed that Olivia's full powers are now in force and she can begin to control them fully. This reminded me of last seasons finale where we saw Olivia's ability.

The Peter and Olivia scene was portrayed brilliantly, not for a second did I feel as if they were not a real couple.

And Astrid! I was so caught up in the action that I completely forgot about episode 19 and that she is still alive! I actually gasped out loud when she was shot.

Finally, Walter, He was brilliant beyond brilliant. John Noble never ceases to amaze me with his flawless portrayal of Walter Bishop, and today he showed so many nuances in Walters character. I especially loved the scene where Walter was back in his room at St. Clairs. Walter pain was so transparent, without any words Walter spoke volumes about what he endured at St Clairs. I know its been said many many times, but truly John Noble deserves an Emmy.

Can't wait until Friday!!

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