The Bullet That Saved The World
Walter to Olivia: ‘You can't imagine what it's like to lose a child.’
Fringe Season 2 Episode 16 - ‘Peter’
Etta to Peter: ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’
Fringe Season 5 Episode 4 - ‘The Bullet That Saved The World’
"Only the dead have seen the end of war."
Death by its nature is divisive.
In reality it is the line between the known and the unknown. It is inevitable and beyond our control.
In fiction, everything is controllable. Even death. The dispensation of that control can be used to raise story stakes or it can be used as a cheap story tactic to illicit short term emotional responses.
|Clanging cymbals is never a good omen!|
In both instances the responses it generates invokes a wide spectrum of responses. Just as it did with Peter, Olivia, and Walter as they saw Etta taken away from them.
As expected, reactions to this episode range from, ‘My God, that’s very bold,’ to ‘That’s a cheat! Nobody ever really dies in SF. She’ll be back at the end!’ to shock, ‘How could they do that?’ to somewhere in the middle, ‘I need to see how the rest of the story plays out.’
The short term shock waves of Etta’s death will throw the Fringe Team into chaos. We already have been shown how Peter and Olivia responded to loss of young Etta. It is going to be painful to watch them go through it all again. The surprise of Etta’s death is that it came so soon into the season. Her demise makes those moments she shared with Peter and Olivia in the first three episodes even more poignant. It also serves as a reminder that in life that there is rarely a good time to die. When death strikes it is often a messy business for the those left behind to pick up the pieces.
|A moment of joy...|
- toy monkey with cymbals clanging always a bad omen
- ‘If you want to make God laugh. Tell him your plan.’ aka ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.’
- Peter puts everyone at jeopardy trying to do a good deed by buying a replacement necklace for Etta
- creepy moment when Observer gives Peter the necklace
- Walter & Astrid continue the tape hunt in the lab
- Peter expresses doubts about how to beat Observers because of their abilities
- Etta’s - ‘We beat them one at a time,’ and her unfulfilled vow to teach everyone how to block the Observers
- Etta’s prophetic - ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’
- Walter and mother going on Manhattan Mystery Tours
- Walter’s lab equipment and EasyBake Oven hide his underground lair
- Astrif! Prepare the laser!
- Old Fringe cases and, ‘Time we create a few Fringe events of our own!’
- gross moment of the episode - Walter tasting a 20 year+ old jelly doughnut center
- Observer interrogation of the Loyalist watched by Broyles - who is the Dove? Broyles? Nina? My money is on Nina.
- Walter and Peter airgunning Astrid as she is working on a weapon of mass destruction
- Etta/Olivia talk about, ‘The Bullet That Saved The World.’ Olivia urges Etta to keep it.
- Lab is re-Ambered to fool Observers
- clandestine and emotional reunion with Broyles under bridge with graffiti - ‘Manifest Destiny’ - Agent Dunham. Philip!
- Broyles saw Etta and thought it was Olivia
- Etta in her dying moments remembers blowing dandelions and never knowing when to give up
- Etta gives bullet necklace back to Olivia
- Etta blows up building with her and some of the enemies but Windmark escapes
- the reaction shots from Peter and Olivia at the end after the warehouse implodes
|... a moment of grief....|
From a story telling point of view a couple of concerns worry me as to how the rest of the season will play out. By killing Etta this early in the season the amount of navigable dramatic maneuvering r
oom has been reduced. Given the show’s history of malleable timelines and alternate universes; the pressure to succumb to a reset will be immense. Especially for a story that is winding down. Many are hoping the show leaves the characters in a good place and the fans happy.
To do that a resurrection of Etta is high on that Things That Must Be Done To Make the Fans Happy list. (Assuming of course a reset is in the cards to begin with.) The conundrum is how to do that? Make it as easy as flipping a switch and Etta’s death is reduced to a cheap story telling trick. Make it too hard and fans will be turned off by piling more misery and pain on the Fringe team.
The trick will be to construct a story line that returns Etta to the fold at some cost that is not too depressing. An ending that may be tinged with feelings of loss and sadness on one hand yet still is uplifting, tinged with hope, redemption, and feels right; on the other.
An ending that feels honest.
This episode definitely accomplished several things. It has jolted the fandom and pushed the season into unexpected directions. The Bullet That Saved The World has also magnified how evil the Observers are and how difficult it will be to defeat them.
When I reviewed the previous episode, 'The Recordist,' I remarked on how I wanted the show to put the focus back onto to the main characters. In a textbook case of, ‘careful what you wish for,’ Bullet definitely did that.
For the Fringe Team, and for us, this war just got real.
|... a moment of ?|