Fringe Review: Liberty ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: Liberty

      Email Post       1/19/2013 01:57:00 AM      

“Sacrifice is hard, son. But you’re no stranger to it.”

If we imagine a plot as the movement of individual scenes and chapters from A to Z, “Liberty” is entirely unnecessary in the larger scheme—a letter our alphabet doesn’t need, like “ll.” A brief tangent, brought about by Michael’s unexplained exit from the monorail: by the end of this episode, the situation has more or less returned to what it was at the end of the previous episode. More or less.

But I’m not complaining. It was delightful to see Lincoln “Clark Kent” Lee and Bolivia again, and to hear that Walternate was lecturing at Harvard into his nineties, and there’s a little Dunham-Lee running around. (Not so little, I guess.) Seth Gabel’s one-off return to Fringe may have been one of the worse-kept secrets in the genre community since…since…okay, I’m unable to come up with a good comparison and I want to get this review up—complete the sentence in the comments if you want.

Lincoln Lee and Bolivia were in the previews we saw last week, and I didn’t realize then that they were meant to look older: apparently, that coffee shortage Over There really did make a difference in everyone’s skin quality. Lincoln, in particular, has made an impressive transformation from “Clark Kent” to “Sexy Older Superman.” He also got a great final scene: standing at the intersection of two hallways, symbolizing his life’s course, existing in two universes.

Throughout this episode, and the official final episode that followed, there were some beautiful images like that one; none of the cinematography felt rushed, and I was reminded for the 127th time what a lovely show this is. The glimpse through the universe window showed the Statue of Liberty: gone in the world our team has inhabited, but still present Over There. I couldn’t help but think of our first glimpse through a window of the cityscape of Over There NYC, showing the Twin Towers. Other worlds, other possibilities, and the hope that somewhere things are different and better. Olivia must have had a similar thought, looking at Bolivia’s perfect, Observer-free life. As Lincoln Lee said, “It’s crazy, how life works out.”

Some of the best scenes were also the most visceral: Windmark’s nosebleed made me smile, and that smiled widened into a grin when he started to bleed from the eyeball. (I have a vicious streak.) Olivia kicking the Observer while she was down made me laugh with glee. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a season of Fringe if someone didn’t do something intrusive and dangerous to Olivia’s body.

I don’t want to say much more in this review, since later readers might read it before watching the next episode. But Lincoln’s quote, “It’s crazy, how life works out,” and Olivia’s response that she regrets nothing, are important thematically for the end of Fringe and the question that has been looming over this season: what will our heroes sacrifice to save the world?

To An Extent We Previously Deemed Impossible:

• Cortexiphan has a shelf-life of 127 years.

• Was Donald making Kool-Aid? No wonder there wasn’t enough power.

• At first, I was worried that the Observers would start to invade Over There, since they seem to have just figured out “where” it is by following Olivia. Then I realized that they probably couldn’t organize that situation in time, before The Plan works its paradoxical magic.

• Perfect final shot: a door marked “513,” leading us into episode 5.13, the series finale.

• Best quote goes to Bolivia: “Stop checking out my young ass.”

Josie Kafka reviews Fringe (but not for much longer), The Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for


Briar said...

I *don't* like vicious, and I don't like shows that encourage to indulge our vicious streaks. Leave this to teenage sado-freaks like Tarantino. Fringe used to be better than this.

T mags said...

No Mentat Astrid!
*sobs uncontrollably*

Unknown said...

 I would just like to point out that without the observers Peter and Walter would be dead. On their return from Walter collecting Peter from the otherside (When Peter was a child) It was an observer that saved them from an icy grave. So the ending is wrong! Not good! Please someone tell me I’m wrong. Loved the whole story line I’m going to miss this show.

Dave Thompson said...

But then Walternate would not be distracted by September and he would save Peter and he would live happily ever after in the redverse like he was supposed to.

koppertop said...

Actually, if Observers never existed, Walternate would have not been interrupted by September and would have seen his cure work. And Walter would have no crossed over to get Peter. Don't you think?

koppertop said...

Actually, if Observers never existed, Walternate would have not been interrupted by September and would have seen his cure work. And Walter would have no crossed over to get Peter. Don't you think?

AmbroseCadwell said...

I think the whole paradox of September being meant to save their lives can be explained by the fact that they showed that the Observers can cross universes. Therefore it would most likely play out that an alternate September would save Peter and Walter from the lake etc.... and yes, this means that the events of Fringe in regards to the Bishops and the Observers are some sort of recurring loop spanning multiple universes- that as far as we know always works out alright in the end.

Unknown said...

My theory as to why Michael brought all this alternate universe hopping about is so that Olivia would be armed with her powers for the fight. She wouldn't have been able to kill Windmark without those powers (I still think it was Olivia, Michael's abilities seemed to be limited to psychic and telepathic abilities like the Observers. None of the Observers have telekinetic powers and even though Michael is a superior Observer, he only ever used his powers to communicate or bounce Windmark's abilities back at him). Olivia's faith was shaken and Michael sort of manipulated events 1) so that things would play out as they needed to and 2) to prove to Olivia that her faith has tangible results. I thought back to the episode with Simone, who was telling Olivia she needed to have faith and that she would find it. The finale is laden with a lot of the themes Fringe explored through all the seasons, but the one of faith (not necessarily a religious faith) being rewarded [ex. the white tulip] came to mind. The white tulip being a tangible outcome of Walter's faith/hope for forgiveness. Peter receives the same sign more as a sign of hope at the end. Even though Peter isn't aware of the meaning of the sign, we the audience know it means Peter's journey of being a better man than his father is complete. Those are some of my theories, I could be wrong.

Unknown said...

Aside from some questions about Bell the only lingering question I have is why the Observers invaded a time period before they were conceived of. Wouldn't their actions potentially change that event if say the scientist in Norway was never born as a result of the invasion?

T mags said...

No, no, no.
Peter would not be dead. He died as a child in this reality. He was brought back by September not finishing erasing him. Remember the whole last season? The reset only works right if he died as a child and came back from yet another reality.

Lccf said...

@ Ben Tobin :
That's a good question. From the Observer Commander's lines, we learnt that they can't completely control a timeline ( he forbid Windmark to kill the Fringe team as infants because it would create too much variables for them to handle ), so they could indeed, in theory, risk erasing themselves ( oops ! ). But they chose 2015 for a reason, and that seems to be that the variables were really low ( ... or so they thought ! ), that they could mold history to suit their purposes, including the birth of the Norwegian scientist ( you can assume they have instructions regarding his bloodline ). Or, the very presence of the Observers and their tech in the 21st century replaces the Norwegian scientist as the catalyst for their own creation ( kinda like Terminator tech sent in the past leads to Skynet's creation ). Or, since the Observers can move across multiple dimensions, maybe they can be a paradox, and still exist in a timeline where they never were created. But if that's the case, the Plan to get rid of them shouldn't have suceeded.
Which is why I like a theory I've read : after Walter and Michael go to 2167, the Observers still exist, but evolved differently, with more compassion, and never invaded 2015 ... which would explain why Peter met Olivia even if it should be impossible without September's interference.

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