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

Fringe Review: Brave New World, Part II

      Email Post       5/12/2012 04:16:00 AM      

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


Gary said...!/JWFRINGE/status/201142870978207744

Walter is not Mr. X
The hole story about Mr. X is not about a actual person killing oliva. It's about Bell master plan and and that was always present

Stefan said...

This one the weakest finale yet. ;( Good review Josie, as always.

SheHateMeBro said...

Dissapointed. It seems the only alternate ending was the few seconds with September at the end there, otherwise the rest of it was going to wrap up with the old smiles at the doorway while the couple kisses.. bleh, too trite for this show.

Graeme said...

I think the episode was written/filmed without certainty of season 5 so they could have ended it there and then....

MannyE said...

I think Graeme hit the nail right on the head

Anonymous said...

You know, I think I can understand some peoples' disappointment, IF this was the end. It's not. We have 13 episodes left, and if JP And JW can lie through their teeth about Leonard Nimoy's return, they can damn well lie about not knowing they were going to get what essentially equates to a half season and a two hour finale. This episode was NEVER going to be the end, and yet a lot of viewers' mindset sees it as that. This is the problem.

I loved it, because it is the calm before the final storm, and to me, this will fit perfectly in the whole mythos of Fringe.

johnb593 said...

I've been pretty well disappointed in this whole season 4. It just hasn't been up to the "somewhat believable" previous seasons. I can see why viewership has declined. Maybe some new writers should be brought in. I hear that next season is to be the last. What a shame for such a "neat" show.

Fringe Lover said...

I loved it very very much. Thought it was a great finale and set up for next season. Yes, I agree.. the calm before the storm. I also like to believe that our heroes deserve some moments of happiness! In fact it is my hope that the story ends with them all living happily ever after!

wetcat said...

The biblical parallel you were trying to think of... was it Jesus's mission? According to Christianity, God became a man to connect with his creation, that man was Jesus. Jesus recruited and taught his followers, the disciples. Jesus was killed by his own people, who rejected his claim that he was not only king, but God incarnate. By his death, he made it possible for creation to be saved from sin (that is, the evil force that will corrupt the world and its people until its restoration and renewal). Jesus died, and then rose from the dead after 3 days: not just human, but more than human, restored, renewed, and reunited with God's spirit, as humans were in the beginning, before sin (First People or sometimes Paul calls the disciples the first fruits of the new creation). Jesus was the first to be resurrected, and his followers believe that they will be reborn after they die, in the new restored world called Heaven.

Bell said he was not the first god to die for his creation; he was referencing Jesus' sacrifice of his own life. Olivia also died for the world and was resurrected. Whether Bell was supposed to be Satan, an angel who wanted to be God, not just like God, and therefore corrupted the world, or another parallel remains to be seen. We'll know if he resurrects also.
Many followers have died in Jesus' name and many followers have died carrying out the work of evil who were just as convinced of their righteousness. No human should desire to be God; it is our place to be content in the blessing of being like him in being and being able to wonder at his creation. We are not yet perfected, therefore we should understand that our minds cannot create anything perfectly and should leave the task of being God to him. Bell was not unlike Lucifer in Paradise Lost.

The four years of peace that Fringe is about to experience before the evil Observers return is a bit like the Millennium in Revelation. There will be a period of peace after Jesus' return to rule the world and then the beast/Satan/Lucifer will be released again into the world. Jesus and his army will triumph over the beast and evil will be destroyed forever. Even though the people on earth at that time will have experienced perfection of being in Christ, some will choose to follow evil/the beast. God never controls our ability to choose, which is what makes us in his image more than any other characteristic. Since we've already seen the mark of the beast on the Observers' loyalists in the future, I do expect many parallels. Best to brush up on theology in preparation.

pMaestro said...

I thought the finale was excellent, as has this entire fourth season. There is something really neat and novel about a tv show whose *true* timeline (ie Season 4 aka amberverse) is predicated upon an alternate timeline (ie Seasons 1-3 aka blueverse) in which we how the central plot of the whole show to date (ie William Bell's and Walter Bishop's meglomania) is ultimately thwarted by the anomaly created by the blueverse timeline (ie Peter being saved by September and growing up to adulthood). Unlike most people––and sometimes I think the writers give viewers far more credit for their presumed sophistication than they deserve––I have not felt like the past three seasons were a waste because of the reset timeline but rather a unique use of dramatic irony so that the audience (together with Peter, September, sundry observers, and to some extent Olivia) have a meta-perspective of the world of Fringe.

I thought it was absolutely brilliant of the writers to parallel Olivia's death in this finale with last season's: she not only gets shot each time by Walter (or a version of Walter) but shot in the head the same way. It seems obvious now, but of course it made sense that the September whom Peter and Olivia met in the warehouse is a younger version of the September which Olivia met in the opera house. (Borrowing pages right out from Doctor Who, The Time Traveller's Wife, and other classic time-travel stories.) I *never* thought about the fact that even though September is seen in every episode, September himself is not always ageing chronologically with each episode either. So, when September comes to warn Walter about the imminent arrival of the Observers (as confirmed by the glyphs which spelled PURGE) who knows at which point in September's own timeline this occurs. (Anyone else also notice the parallel reference with Peter when September also said 'They are coming'?)

While most people have griped about how 'Letters of Transit' has robbed the finale of its bite (ie Astrid doesn't die after all and William Bell's reveal wasn't as powerful), I think it was absolutely crucial that 'Letters' aired when it did because the conversation in the last act of the episode makes even more sense NOW after the finale. Walter's justification for not releasing Bell from amber––(to Astrid) "Remember what he did to Olivia?––means so much more now, as does the bullet which Etta carries. AND just because Olivia was not ambered with everyone else did not mean that she will not be alive in the future.

I'm sad that the series is definitively ending next season but I sure as hell can't wait to embark upon the rollicking 13-episode ride. Two thumbs WAAY up!

KT said...

GREAT recap - especially enjoyed the pull back from Etta and the bullet!!! This is and was a fair synopsis. Thank you!

demanda said...

pMaestro thanks for that great review, i concur completely - can't wait to see the final 13

Matthew M said...

GEEZ!!! Can we get some cheese for all this whine, please.........
You call yourselves fans? You're all just spoiled children who want things their own way. If you can do better, let's see it. Where;s your TV series? Where's your scripts? Where's your best selling novels?
None of you deserve "FRINGE".

Anonymous said...

I have certainly enjoyed this season quite a lot. I loved all the references and parallels to seasons 1-3. It gave me the sense that all of this WAS planned from the beginning, even seemingly random episodes like the flying porcupines have become important. Everything is connected. I think the way this show has evolved is a rare and wonderful piece of television, and I feel privileged to have been able to witness it.
Regarding the finale, I think it was a very good episode, perhaps not as action packed as previous finales, but certainly a really brilliant conclusion to the season. From a personal standpoint, my only real issue was Jones' premature demise. I love the character and really wanted to see more of him, but after multiple viewings, this decision is growing on me. Leonard Nimoy's return was also quite welcome. I didn't necessarily expect it, as I thought in 4.19 that it was more of cameo (What did spoil it was the promo for 4.21 where they show that clip of Walter revealing this. 4.21 was also awesome for the scene with Nimoy and Jared Harris. I think the complaints that have been coming out are like season 3's alternate universe thing. At first people were mad, and I believe by the end of that season and certainly during 4.20 people were mad that the alternates were going away. Personally the farther down the rabbit hole we go, the happier I've am.

Francisco Solares-Larrave said...

I really like your style, Matthew M!! My thoughts exactly!

As for the episode, I liked it. It was supposed to be an ending for the season, and it does so reasonably well, still leaving some food for thought (did Bell really disappear, are the Observers the new threat, will Peter and Olivia get to enjoy at least a weekend of peace?). I don't think leaving all the fans facing another summer wondering WTF happened in the season finale (remember "Where's Peter Bishop?" and all the speculation about it?).

Trust the writers to surprise us every week. I do.

Briar said...

Since I hated 4:19, and have felt disappointed by the show's direction ever since, I for one am not looking forward to the truncated fifth season. It's a universe away from the Fringe I fell in love with, and while of course every show has the right to develop the way it likes, I have the right to part company with it when it morphs into the sort of show I don't watch. While I found Josie's review excellent, I am surprised that she thinks the writers will have freedom in season 5. In fact they seem to be now boxed in: the Observers must be evil. Billions of people will be purged. Walter, Astrid and Peter (and Bell) will be ambered. Olivia will be - where (oh dear, not another four episodes spent finding a main character)? There will be alien invasion, massive death and destruction, heroic fight back after almost everyone has died and final victory. Yawn. I never read comics, but Fringe has turned into one. The only hope of reprieve for the show is if they spend the *present* averting the *future* disaster again, saving billions of lives (but retaining the arguments for austerity cuts, sadly - apparently providing decent lives for ordinary people costs rich people too much). I could get into that, but if all the people who expect us to now leapfrog into 2036 for the remainder of the show are right, then count me out.

scully8 said...

@johnb593 I totally agree with you. I'll even go further and say that I would have been satisfied if this had been the final episode of the season. IMO, BNW 2 was perfect in that it allowed for closure of the story and culmination of the relationships of the main characters that were built over the four years.

This 5th season will allow them to take it a bit farther. I could actually see a spin off focusing on Etta and the 2036.

In any event, I LOVED this final -- maybe because I've always followed Fringe for the relationships not so much for the weird science and twisted (although I do enjoy it immensely) mythology.

On another note, I will say I didn't love this season (4). It felt disjointed. The addition of the over here Lincoln didn't really add anything to the story. He always felt like an intruder, albeit, very nice intruder to the party. :) I still don't get the significance of Lincoln, but we may see more next season.

Anonymous said...

@pMaestro and @btobin
Well said!=)

Anonymous said...

I'm really disappointed to hear about all the disappointed people (and soon to be ex-fans). But I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion and feelings. I do agree that this episode did not end with a bang, BUT... I, for one, have always been a sucker for happy endings (even tho it's not quite the end yet.) So I very much enjoyed this finale. Besides, I think heroes deserve a break. :)

One more thing to note, I remember an interview with John Noble saying they had shot 2 different endings. I hope the dvd reveals the alternate ending. Maybe that would have been the "big bang" we were all expecting. Either way, this episode was intended to be set up for next season so it makes perfect sense why and how it all came together.

I am excited for S5. Someone (like myself) who is truly a sci-fi fan (because yes this is science-fiction, not reality tv bull crap) can appreciate a show like this.

Anonymous said...


@ all the disappointed people:

I'm curious to know how you all wanted this to end and what could be more brilliant and genre appropriate than saving the world from future mankind?

Mallory said...

Thank you Matthew M! It's quite ridiculous that some people have the audacity to call themselves fans! It just sickens me with all the complaining. Seriously this is the best show ever and it deserves wway more! anyways I love the season finale it was definitely thrilling, exciting, gut-wrenching, yet happy all at the same time. I called the olivia being pregnant since practically the beginning of season 4, and the last episode gave it away, which kinda sucked in a way but still awesome in the same! I really hope they don't do 13 episodes of in the future but I will still watch anyways because if the writers were to do that, it would still be amazing! :)

jacksonheights said...

Excellent end to season 4. To those who think the season was to pat for answering our lingering questions, are you the very same people who were clamoring for answers. Still so many questions ahead. What made Walter go crazy, where is Olivia in 2036,. If her powers have been "turned off" due to the bullet to the head, then how will she fight the observers in 2036. What happened to William bell. I love the ride the show runners have taken us on. It is not always satisfying but always compelling.

Zepp said...

I consider without a doubt, this latest episode of Fringe, its 4th season (4.22), simply excellent! Without restriction or qualification mine, only my applause to all the executive producers and too all the cast of actors and support team from Fringe, by the realization of this exceptional 4th season. But, recalling the "Brave New World - Part 2", for me, the guy most surprised of all was the story that Walter, with this sensational "self-unmasking" of his old friend William Bell. I just kept looking at the faces that Walter did, while the Bell paraded his arguments relating to that series of megalomania and insanity, he spoke in that dark ship ark sailing on a Dantesque raging ocean. And the stunned Walter should be thinking that he and the rest of the Fringe team, had spent everything, trying to fix or remedy the matters provided by "The Pattern", unaware that the great "thinking head" of all those acts of terrorism Scientific , lethal shapeshifters, and even men-porcupines flying (!) came, or were the work of his old friend William Bell! And, moreover, that the old friend in front of her, alive and well, saying it was better than God! WOW! Walter definitely those moments should be felt totally lost in that obscure ship, full of strange creatures and objects as if they were a real freak show, navigating a stormy ocean, going to the center of a universal cataclysm, and him there alone, alongside his old friend, smiling, talkative and totally insane William Bell. Here, in these moments that I think Walter was stunned because at that moment, he really realized that the real crazy this whole story was not him, but that old friend of his, who was there.

Walter must have been feeling lost, hopeless, when you saw Olivia and his son Peter. And, as always, the Fringe team saved the day once again.

It was a fine closing episode of the season, no doubt. It remains for me, from now on, count the days and hours to the start of the 5th season finale, watching all the previous seasons until this last episode.

Two thoughts:

- Observers in the episode "Brown Betty," also were the "bad guys", as now;
- The only impossibility that occurs in the universes of Fringe, is a dying man, definitely. Nobody dies from too much time on Fringe.

LittleWing said...

I loved the finale and can't wait to see what they have in store for us with the final season. The finale made perfect sense to me given all the writers have to tie up next season.

Favorite moments from Brave New World Pt. 1 and 2:

1) Olivia telling Peter she's pregnant.
2) Astrid shooting her gun while running with Walter.
3) Olivia blocking bullets for September.
4) Walter slapping Peter (it was awesome to see Walter take control of the situation for a change.)
5) Olivia's expression when Peter tell her that Walter made their dog hypoallergenic. Subtle, but hilarious!
6) Peter's expression when Olivia mentions the nursery. JJ is such an amazing actor.

Looking forward to watching all 4 seasons again this summer.

Steiko said...

I really like all seasons, including fourth and it's final episode. I'm only upset and sad because the five season is the last one. I would like this show to continue with season 6,7,8, etc... Bring growing new enemies or whatever, but something. LIKE A++

Stefan said...

@Matthew M: Just because some of us found this finale (or the whole 4th seasson) weak, it doesn't make us "spoil" or ungreatful for that mater. Being a "best selling" doesn't indicate that something is very good, also. So, let people have their own opinion based on their reasoning and give your own, but don't humiliate others because it is you who looks "childish". I personally didn't like the Biblical connotations as well as the apocalypse scenario. Others did and that's fine too.

bloodyspartan said...

Guys I got to tell you I love Sci-Fi but this Anti white male, Stong Woman and Science bad is the Primary reason this show is dying and will die.

Read the Old stuff and then you will understand.

Riddle me this Batman if Walter is so bad how do the Observers do it? They really should be called Regulators.
Now since I am going through the seasons on a binge I am faily observant and logical.. I see to many problems and inconsistencies.

Regardless, especially with my anti Lib conservative views.
To watch Walter alone is worth the price of the Blue-ray DVD's . 10 times over

I think he is a phenomenal actor equal to the greats . Phenomenal talent.

Fix the lib crap and maybe it can be saved.

Go Read Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.
Robert Heinlein

Loose the Negativity and Hypocrisy or we will have to wait another 20 years for the star Trek reruns

Anonymous said...

I liked the final episode of the season., but didn't love it. The chain of happy ending was a little pat, but I can live with it. I wonder if we're going to get more Olivia memory drama because she lost most of the cortexifant in her brain? I doubt they're going to mess with her relationship with Peter, related to memory, again, but who knows. I sure hope the writers have more of a plan than just dealing with the plot points revealed in Letters of Transit, though!

megawang said...

I dont know what people are crying about. I think the fact that the fans helped in getting the final 13 episodes made gave people some sad sense that they have some sort of say in the show. I thought it was excellent. OH NO THINGS ENDED NICELY. Seriously? This season they answered a bunch of questions from early episodes that I never thought would be brought up again. They even gave fans and FOX network a reason to really want more episodes by showing the future episode unfinished. It would have been a tragedy if it ended on the finale but its not over. And for the love of GOD J.J Abrams if you have any more shows you want to put on the air DONT GO TO FOX. It wouldnt have had the same budget but if Fringe was on say FX we could have had 8 or 10 seasons of Fringe. Even NBC or CBS would have given them a better chance. FOX never promotes right or air shows on the best night and times. They may have let Fringe go longer than most shows not doing well but they cancel more good shows than any network ever. If they had done right by the show early on I would have even had a Fringe movie in my DVD case!

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