'Fringe' season finale review: Killing to live, living to die ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

'Fringe' season finale review: Killing to live, living to die

      Email Post       6/08/2012 08:43:00 PM      

'Fringe' season finale review: Killing to live, living to die

by Ken Tucker

Fringe closed out its season with an hour that wrapped up some of this season’s loose ends, settled some timeline hash, quoted some William Butler Yeats, answered a few nagging Observer observations, and rang William Bell to a fare-thee-well.

The first satisfying twist in “Brave New World” part two was (SPOILER ALERT!) to have Jessica Holt prove to be a pistol-packing baddie (I got that vibe off her last week, but wrongly thought — silly me — from the color of her hair she might prove to be Nina’s evil daughter). In the cosmic balance of things, Astrid lived even as Jessica died a lingering death. Holt shot the Observer September (his blood-stained white shirt an immediate visual reference to the “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” episode) but then Super-Olivia deflected further bullets which ricocheted back into Jessica.

With the help of Nina, Walter, Peter, and Olivia kept Jessica alive long enough for the show to work in some nicely off-putting googly-eyed special-effects and information about Olivia’s importance to the future/present/past. (Pause to congratulate Josh Jackson for delivering the line that instructed Olivia to inject Jessica not in her body but “right in the thinker,” pointing to his head.) By the climax of the episode, it was Olivia taking a shot to the head: A bullet fired by Walter in a startling desperation move, guessing/knowing that Olivia’s Cortexiphan consciousness would quell the vortex, heal the worlds (as well as her wound). This was also an answer to the earlier episode’s Observer message that Olivia would die in all possible futures, something September uttered without knowing how it could be true until it happened here.

Fringe has taken risks, repeatedly over the seasons, with the riff of bringing characters back to life, if not resurrection from final death at least reviving a spark of consciousness on the verge of flickering out. This night’s variation on that riff was a superlative one, almost Reanimator-funny except that it was also so emotional. After Peter’s initial agony at witnessing his father shoot the woman he loves, the sane-mad-scientist scene of Walter pushing the bullet through Olivia’s skull, her wound quickly healing from its Cortexiphan content, was exhilarating.

Leonard Nimoy has made for a marvelous overreaching genius, his booming voice the perfect instrument with which to deliver sermons conversationally. Which is to say that not many actors, hemmed in by the small screen, could talk about how much Walter “hated God” after Peter’s deaths, could go Biblical about God “creating us in His image” and then rejecting the idea that he was “playing God” because: “I am.” Those two flatly inflected, chilling words were fully as potent as his earlier, more lyrical recitation, that “I grew older; I grew cynical; I grew cancer.” And unlike Walter’s watery grave Reiden Lake, Bell wanted to seek his solitary death on a more utopian island, William Butler Yeats’ “Lake Isle of Innisfree”:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

But first, there was the new world as both Walter and Bell had conceived it; indeed, this was as explicit as Fringe has ever been about how the standard notion of scientists thinking of themselves of as gods and then believing their own hype. Stoked on the ideas that Walter originally cooked up like so much LSD and then had removed from his brain, Bell had gone so far as to build and stock an ark, one that would contain all animal life-forms except the corrupt, sinful, fallen human ones: “I assumed Walter and I would die off,” said Bell, with the new collapsed world he left behind “unencumbered by the savage whims of mankind.” And even the unexpected presence of Olivia and Peter didn’t faze him: the megalomaniacal Bell concluded, “You will be the new Adam and Eve!” No, it turned out, he ultimately upgraded Olivia “the Redeemer.” As I said, this was Fringe going very on-the-nose with its religion, and all the more vivid for being so boldly direct.

Read Ken Tucker's entire entertainmentweekly.com article here.


Briar said...

Thanks for this interesting review, which was certainly thought provoking. Fringe certainly has used religious echoes persistently for thematic reasons, though not (thank goodness) to preach any bronze age gospel! White Tulip got it perfectly - Walter receives the note and assumes it is a god given sign. We know that it was made possibly only by science and that the man who sent it was using the information Walter gave him to help in making the decision to tell Peter the truth.
You say: "This was also an answer to the earlier episode’s Observer message that Olivia would die in all possible futures, something September uttered without knowing how it could be true until it happened here."

In fact September says he has viewed every possible future and that is how he knows Olivia must die. We don't know, nor does Olivia, but September it seems does.

Zepp said...

I also liked these thoughts of Ken Tucker, very interesting and good. Indeed, the Observers were sometimes a bit annoying, even though they are only "observing", but the September was undoubtedly the principal herald announcer these sentences "final" or "definitive" in Fringe. Olivia has "died too" in the Fringe universes, or at least "is dead enough", I think. Olivia, from what I remember, "died" on two occasions with a fatal shot in the forehead, but in one way or another she resurfaced (or reappeared) "super" alive and well. For me too the revival of William Bell, as the main villain of all these stories, it was very important to our understanding of almost all the plot of Fringe. Bell alongside Olivia, are the characters "immortals" in the universes of Fringe, I see. They took shot in the forehead, disintegrated at the crossroads between the worlds, have merged as a magnetic soul(Bell inside the mind of Olivia), had been together in many situations of danger ... I even thought for a moment, that Olivia was the true daughter of William Bell (!)… And just to point out, the actor Leonard Nimoy, was stupendous, scoring his presence indelibly in the last moments of this 4th season of our beloved Fringe, was a pleasant surprise to see him staging William Bell, again .. I hope we have a Fringe, even toward his (sadly) ending with the whole team joins Fringe without the "death" of any of the main characters, like Walter, Peter and Olivia, even though the focus of the plots are taking place in 2026.

Zepp said...

I was wrong in the year in which the next plots Fringe will happen. When I said the year 2026, I meant 2036. It is that these numerous passages of time here, time to there, my timing was a little "unbreakable", sorry ...

fringeobsessed said...

No problem, Zepp. I knew exactly what year you meant. :)

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