Fringe Review: The Boy Must Live ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: The Boy Must Live

      Email Post       1/13/2013 03:41:00 AM      

“I’m optimistic.”

I’m not sure what to say about this, the antepenultimate episode of Fringe. (If I’m reading the Internet correctly, next week will be two episodes aired back-to-back rather than one long episode.) I am past the point of wanting to evaluate the show—to point out its strengths and weaknesses, to quibble or to praise. I’m a fan of Fringe, and I doubt that will change in the next seven days.

I remain fascinated by the empathy/intelligence juxtaposition that Fringe has focused on this season. I wonder how it will color our understanding of the show as a whole, when we re-watch it in six or twelve months. Clearly, empathy is meant to be the hero in the ideological battle we are about to face. Donald, Walter, Peter (post-Observer-tech)—all have, in various ways, chosen the heart over the head.

Michael represents the marriage of intellect and the empathy: his anomalous reproduction includes the intellectual power of the Observers and the emotional power of “real” humanity in its most distilled and potent form. Is that why he gave himself to the Loyalists? Does he know that somehow turning himself in will benefit our heroes and the human race in all its permutations?

And how ironic is it, that Michael—who may be the savior of mankind as we know it—is a product of “intellectual” reproduction, in a Matrix-like pod lab that breeds little bald boy-babies? Fighting for heart may be the harder, more valiant path; but sometimes we must use the intellect to win that fight. Michael’s hybrid nature shows us that.

Walter’s nature is now hybrid, too. Michael gave him memories of Peter’s childhood; Walter now is closer to the Walter we knew in Season 1-3. He isn’t losing his empathy anymore, either. Those memories, combined with his understanding that he must sacrifice himself, have made those extra brain-bits a tool rather than a curse. Walter is no longer faced with the challenge of selling his soul to save the world; he might gain a postmortem redemption in saving the world, instead.

[And if that happens, I want cupcakes as my reward for calling it back in my review of “Anomaly XB-6783746.”]

[Does anyone else wonder if we’re in for a big, crazy reversal? Michael showed Nina something, and she killed herself. Michael showed Walter something, and he plans to sacrifice himself. Is Michael a crazed serial killer bent on forcing our heroes to destroy themselves?]

[That’s crazy, right?]

Michael, Walter, Peter, and Donald/September have all been faced with varying degrees of emotional/intellectual hybridity. It is so fitting that Walter and Donald got a few more moments together, reminiscing about encounters, planning, and generally being friends (which are in short supply in the Fringe-verse). Various call-backs to past episodes, like the white tulip and the scene of saving Peter from drowning, made me wish I’d followed through on my plan to re-watch some key episodes during the hiatus. Doing so was almost unnecessary, though: John Noble and Michael Cerveris did an incredible job of showing the connection between these two men.

Windmark was equally interesting in this episode—a statement I never thought I’d make, since Windmark has always seemed like a generic representation of Heartless Calculating Evil. (And that’s not a bad thing.) Now, though, he seems to be experiencing some “primitive” emotions of his own: rage, obsession, anger. I wonder if he’ll learn to transcend those emotions and find the better ones: love, kindness, affection for cats.

Donald has (although I’m not sure how he feels about cats). The revelation that Michael is, broadly speaking, Donald’s son, fits into the theme of parents and children that has been so important on Fringe from the very first episode. And Donald even made a joke! Nothing signals humanity like gentle sarcasm and a love of musicals.

And now he wants to send his son on a mission to save the (present) world and re-write the future. Sending Michael to the era in which human development was “bettered” by the removal of emotions is a darn good plan, albeit one that seems to rub uncomfortably against the paradoxes of time-travel. Can Fringe re-set the world one more time? Will Peter and Olivia get Etta back? Will they be whooshed back to 2013, or 2015, or stay where they are in time? Or does Michael’s surrender to the Loyalists mean that the plan we’ve been hoping for all season is now kaput? And…is Donald coming back? His departure seemed vague.


• Olivia: “Are you feeling sufficiently free and open now?”

• Walter: “You never liked public displays of affection. Or going number two in a public restroom.” (Does anyone like that?)

• Walter: “He wanted me to know that I have loved, that I have had incredible moments and connections.”

• Windmark and the other Observer listening to jazz—with toe-tapping—was masterfully shot and acted. I love it when TV shows take their time with wordless scenes.

• Why did Donald’s “biological reversal” not make his brain explode? Wasn’t that part of the risk with Peter leaving the implant in for too long?

• This is me not talking about why, in the quest to rid humans of emotions, somehow women got cut out of the equation. This is also me not talking about why only men on the show are faced with the intellect/empathy conundrum. Those are questions worth talking about, but I don’t want to get all negative when I’m enjoying the show so much.

And. So. That’s my messy, disordered “review” of an episode that was excellent, thought-provoking, and full of interesting echoes of past ideas and hints of what is to come. I am incredibly excited for next week, and I am happy that Fringe has a chance to wrap up its stories.

Having said that: many people like to skip the “next week, on Fringe” promos. Let’s respect their decision to remain in the dark, and avoid talking about the totally 100% awesome OMG cool glimpse we saw of next week’s two, final, episodes.


Lccf said...

Interesting parallel between Michael's nature and the "new" Walter. Both heart AND brains are needed indeed - and that's why, IMO, people who interpreted the presence of a Bible in Donald's apartment were wrong when interpreting it as proselytism and a dissing of science. I've understood that scene as a way to confront Windmark with concepts the Observers had lost : Nature ( the little plant ), faith ( the Bible ), art ( movies, big photography and jazz ) ... I found it was a nice visual way to emphasize both Donald's humanization, and Windmark's slow transformation. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
As for why Michael turned himself in, I had the impression he has established some connection with his "dad", and went back trying to help him somehow ( since Windmark's goons are after him ) ... or, more probably, he wants to touch Windmark, who's already experiencing some human emotions, to give him a better understanding of how human mind and emotions work and maybe make him snap and break ( kinda what Etta did when she was dying, only incredibly more powerful ).

Unknown said...

I'm really sad to see it go, but I can't wait to see Friday's episodes. Fringe is really almost over? I'm gonna miss Walter the most. His innocence and honesty made it for me. I hope Michael can get to the future so the observer's never exist. What will happen then? If I was gonna write it. We would jump back to Walter discovering the cure to Peter's disease.(no observers. September doesn't screw that moment up.) jump ahead to the park (Peter, Olivia, & Etta enjoying the day.) however it ends it's been one hell of a ride and hope to see a movie in the future?

aljaz said...

@Matt there would be no Peter and Olivia (and Etta) for that matter. Walter then wouldn't have the need to cross universes, and Peter wouldn't be kidnapped.
But on the other hand, Walter and Bell would probably make some other crazy stuff then. ;) A new fork of the series.

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

"The boy must live!" Yes, that is a sentence that I'm hearing about, this saga of Fringe, long ago, no doubt. So all those dramas of the Observer September, coming in Walternate's lab, causing him to not realize the scope of the healing process of his son Peter. And then as a result of that, the onslaught of Walter transporting yourself to another universe, to kidnap this same boy, who had the face of her dead son, to save him, all this was something else, another story? It was then another anxious father, not Walter?! Also on this occasion, when Walter and Peter, fall into icy lake, and are miraculously saved by a bald person who says, then to Walter, "the boy was important", "the boy should live," he would then, referring to his own son, and no one fainted here?! After all, then, what he was doing there in that frozen lake, the September, my God?! Ah! Sorry, but in this case, what they are telling you now is another story, another drama of another anxious father (September), and not on the saga of his father Walter and his son, not his son, Peter?! Fringe was something else and we did not know, or at least just told us that now.

Fringe, I know, this is the saga of a man with guilt complexes notorious for having first lost a sick child, without being able to do anything, and then a second, have abducted a copy of your child, another universe, leading to it, several inter-dimensional ruptures between two parallel universes! This is, for me, in brief, the story of the saga of Fringe! Now, after this episode 511, are telling me that "the boy who must live" is Michael, who is the son of September, and not Peter, "son" of Walter?

I do not know, but I'm feeling now like I was shipped a wrong train, with another trip itinerary, other main characters, other fights. But Fringe is Fringe, and I can not, even remotely, to predict how this story will end all. I hope rather that follow, the previous form, with the same purpose, all within that same "train", which took almost five years ago, I hope so...

Rena said...

How come there aren't any female observers?

Spock said...

@Matt -- I appreciate your respect for the promos. I'm one of those who turn them off before they have a chance to reveal any visuals that will stick with me.

Did anyone else feel that the observer Commander looked somewhat like Robin Williams?

Should be an exciting conclusion, and I'm really looking forward to it more than any other TV show I've ever watched. Ha ha! That could be a sad commentary on me!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Spock.... the observer Commander had a striking resemblance to Robin Williams... With prosthetics/make-up etc, it could well be him, and we know that he has many 'voices'.... Cool! If I was a 'star' I would love to guest on Fringe....
I am sitting on the edge of my seat, awaiting the final installments of my most FAVOURITE show of ALL TIME... but I am already grieving the loss of the BEST TV show of ALL TIME! I am going to be inconsolable when the final scene is played out... I hope that the end will be all that we, who have given 5 years of our television watching lives to, and the incredible CAST & CREW who brought this show to life, hope and deserve.... I will #NEVERLETGO of my love for FRINGE!

Count Screwloose said...

Did anyone else catch the odd moment as the scene changed to Windmark in his office via a pan of the city? In those familiar 3-D letters, only very small, the words in front a building read 'A New Day Arrives.' It goes by incredibly fast.

Count Screwloose said...

Oops, my bad. On closer inspection it's just another Observers poster, 'A New Day Arises.' Sorry.

milktruck said...

I am super interested by Windmarks apparent emotions. Is he somehow a way for the team to succeed? I have a feeling Michael will sense emotion in him, show him what the future could be, and Windmark will end up taking Michael to the future, after the plan somehow fails.

Just a thought. But I wouldn't put it past the writers to turn the tables on our emotions by turning the most hated villain into an unlikely hero.

Go Fringe!

134sc said...

I just wanted to respond to a comment regarding how "the boy must live" is now only in reference to Michael. Well, yes, it is in reference to Michael, but it also in refernce to Peter, because without Peter, none of this would have been possible. Thats why the Observers wanted him removed from the timeline and why September allowed him to bleed back through. His presence was essential in creating Etta, whom was a catalyst in freeing the original team this season, whom will theoretically defeat the Observers. Peter was important to September for these reasons as well as the safety of his own son.

So in the end "the boy must live" now has two conotations.

Anonymous said...

re: above - you might want to pay closer attention

WALTER: said, The boy is important. He must live. You weren't referring to my son. You were referring to yours.


they said it - not me

Zepp said...

Fringe - Episode S02E16 "Peter"

An extract of the dialogues that occurred after saving the boy alt-Peter, and Walter, on a cold and wet night, they were drowning in the icy lake, through an action of the Observer September. The three already in the car, with the little Peter lying on the back seat in the car, there was a final dialogue between Walter and September, which consisted of the following words:

Walter looks for the September and asks, "Why? .... "Why are we saved?"

The September turns away, looks at the Walter and responds: "The boy is important" ... "He has to live"

The deduction of this dialogue, is under the understanding of each.

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