Fringe finales are usually remarkable works of art: emotionally affecting, scientifically (and delightfully) improbable, mythologically fascinating. This finale was not remarkable, merely good. It is more interesting to wonder what will happen next than to consider what has just happened.
The plan to collapse two universes in order to create a third—the plan we had briefly attributed to Jones, but now know is Bell’s—requires a massive energy source: Olivia. Her increased superpowers are the result of being dosed with more Cortexiphan and jump-started by recent events. The power that has always lurked within her (as Nina cheesily informed us) can be used against her, and against the world.
The plan still seems rather silly to me, which may be part of why I was underwhelmed by this episode. Of course, I am neither a megalomaniac nor a comic-book fan, so universe destruction! doesn’t do much for me. Bell’s desire to become a god was fascinating, frightening, and then over.
The necessity of sacrificing Olivia seemed obvious, as did the importance of the regenerative properties of Cortexiphan. We finally know what September meant when he said Olivia must die, and we finally know the identity of Mr. X from “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”: Walter himself. Problem solved.
In fact, “problem solved” is the theme of this episode, which saved Astrid, gave Walter a chance to save the world and Olivia, allowed Peter and Olivia to work effectively as a team and find out they’d created a baby, and lead to that greatest of all possible unlikely events: increased funding during a recession.
That would have made for a horribly unsatisfying series finale, because everything feels too neat and tidy. As a stepping stone to the final season, this feels like the calm before the storm, the Whedonesque moment of happiness before great tragedy. The future we saw in “Letters of Transit” has now become the future, if I’m reading September’s final declaration correctly: the evil Observers are coming.
I am extremely curious about how Fringe will make that work, as we have seen the future but our heroes have not. How will they know what to fight? How will they be able to understand September’s predictions? And how will they (and we) know if they are successful or not? I think the freedom of knowing that the series must end will give the showrunners some freedom, and I hope they’ll do something insane. Like set the last 13 episodes in the future. Or do a flash-forward/flash-back structure with a constantly-altering future. I also hope Seth Gabel returns, and the we find out what series of events led to William Bell being ambered with our heroes, except Olivia.
The Eye of the Storm:
• The glyphs were interesting and cool.
• Please, please, please tell me that Rebecca Mader’s eyes were CGI during the brain-interrogation scene. No one should be able to do that. And was anyone else reminded of a similar scene in Lost?
• William Bell’s “I am” was very Yahweh. He loves those cryptic declarations of Being. And Olivia's resurrection has some sort of biblical parallel, but I just can't put my finger on it.
Three out of four Noahs.
(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Awake, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com)