Fringe Review/Analysis 5.11: The Boy Must Live - Preparing to Let Go ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review/Analysis 5.11: The Boy Must Live - Preparing to Let Go

      Email Post       1/11/2013 10:04:00 PM      

Rich in answers, this episode is truly the mythology follower's dream. Another winner written by Graham Roland (Five -Twenty - Ten) this season, HERE is where the climax of Wyman’s love letter to the fans starts to culminate for those with patience. Walter’s plan, its implications, its meaning to the show and characters, and connection to the past, are all discussed. It also brings us the most touching scene between Walter and Peter in the entire series. Yet, given what we learn in this part of the story, surely there is more to come.

The Plan… Exposed?

So, I think that I enjoyed watching Peter laser amber just a bit too much. Loved the safety goggles, but boy, did he jump at the headlights going by the lab… Even more so when he thought someone was in the lab with him. The funny thing is Walter just stood there –didn’t flinch—then the two trade excuses for being up. Aw, the life of fugitives.

After having a good laugh at Walter’s insistence of going skinny dipping in the old tank—and poor Olivia’s not-so-amused-reaction reminiscent of a scene we’ve seen before—it doesn’t take long for the team to obtain the information they need and for the action to get rolling. Why did it amuse me that Donald lives under a bridge? Maybe it is because bridges have always been important in the show—the most prevalent being the one in The Man from the Other Side and the bridge between universes. They even appear in the small set details such as pictures hanging on a wall. Fringe has also been big on using rainbows which are kind considered as a type of bridge in some mythologies, and they symbolize hope, forgiveness and promise. I am sure that we will see some kind of rainbow before the end of the series.

Windmark’s journey into the future literally took my breath away for a moment and gave me a smile – “Oh, cool.” Though I was expecting the Cobra, er.. I mean Observer commander to be someone really amazing, and maybe someone we’ve seen before…  Darn. I found it funny that the fugitives were of no consequence to him, but Windmark was about to pop a cork.

“It should not exist."

 "But someone ensured its survival. Because they thought it was important.”

Wow. If we go back to August, that particular Observer fell in love with a woman he had watched since she was a little girl, altering her destiny. The “insignificant” was made significant.

Peter was brought back from his state of non-existence due to the people who cared for him not letting go him.

We’ve wondered why the Observers just didn’t go back and stop Walter from being born or something, but here, we have learned that they just can’t change stuff willy-nilly
We also now know why there are no female Observers. Women have the reputation for being too emotional, for one thing. Plus, who needs a hormonal womb on two legs when you can grow people to specification in a tank, like the decanting room in Huxley’s Brave New World? Complete with its own Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning? Ew…

Fatherly Love

When September looked at Peter in The Firefly and said the simple line, “It must be difficult… being a father,” at that time it was assumed to be in reference to his knowledge concerning baby Henry and also Walter’s actions to save the life of Peter—the alternate version of his dead son. Later, we could also see that it could apply to Etta, who was killed by Windmark in The Bullet That Saved the World.
Never, in all of the guessing that I’ve done over the years about the boy—Michael—did it occur to me that he was September’s son. I was even ready for the Observer caretaker to say the genetic material was taken from Peter and Olivia. Well played show for still being able to surprise me, because it was obvious to me that Donald was September.

I was head-over-heels happy to see the return of Michael Cerveris. The September character has always brought a great source of mystery to the show, and it’s so cool that he is such an integral part of the mythology here at the end.  I always thought he had manipulated events in order to distract Walternate on purpose. It looks like he may have. Or as someone pointed out in a discussion with me, he may have truly made the mistake because he wanted to watch a signifcant moment in history: The development of a cure for a deadly disease. Nothing more.

All of this time we have thought “The boy is important. He has to live,” referred to Peter. The Inner Child episode always perplexed fans about the boy’s fate. Now we know he was integral from the very start. 

As Donald sees him again for the first time in a long time, I loved the way that Cerveris integrated some of the old September into Donald. The head-tilting and manner of speech was not as graduated or cadenced as September’s, but the underlying character was still evident.

If he was not referring to Peter, why was the moment in which Walternate cured him significant enough to observe? Is it because of Walter crossing over, not anything particularly special about Peter? I later got to thinking, however, about what September told Peter in The End of All Things:

It was important. You are important. It was why I could not allow you to drown at the bottom of Reiden Lake, why it was necessary to allow the other Doctor Bishop to cure you instead. 

As Donald talked about his son, I was just so overwhelmed with the intricate, artful layering of themes found in this show. September understood Walter’s desperation to save his son, because he had gone through great lengths to save his own.

Speaking of Peter, I at first found it odd that Walter and Olivia were so worried about him suffering irreversible damage from the Observer tech in his head, but September was able to feel emotions after having his device taken out. But of course, he went through “biological reversion” as punishment for being a bit too involved with the Fringe team. Donald smiled as he says it wasn’t a punishment. After all, look around his apartment: A piano and music sheets are prominent, as is a butterfly music box.

Donald’s story about how the Observers began had a stark parallel… with Walter and William Bell, who were seeking to untap the potential of the human mind using Cortexiphan. Yet, these future scientists sought to eliminate the “wasteful” process of emotion in favor of sheer cognitive intelligence, whereas Cortexiphan worked in Olivia through heightened emotions—the simultaneous experience of love and fear.
I couldn’t help but notice that as the narration was taking place, Michael was observing a pet lizard in an aquarium, which reminded me of Nina’s reptile speech to Windmark.

The Observer commander was perplexed as to why September went through all of this trouble to save an anomaly. This is something that Windmark actually has some understanding about. Etta showed him what love was—her last thoughts were of her mother and father. Her father was willing to throw himself away due to his anguish in losing her.

We Don’t Have to Go Back… But We Hold on to the Past

As Donald retrieved the odd looking piece of technology, he and Walter discussed the plan. Walter spoke about needing to be a sacrifice for the plan to work, and Donald asked him about something that only Walter and Alastair Peck would know: The white tulip. September has a notebook!

This was a symbol of strength for Walter. To me, it has always symbolized the essence of Fringe; no matter what our mistakes are there is a chance at redemption. But alas, it is lost. Will we see it again?
That beautiful scene of Walter and Peter from near the start of the episode also came to mind. Their love for each other expressed in the rain – Walter “singing in the rain” and carrying a black umbrella. I’ll take that over possible implications in Casablanca any day…  Walter described what we love about this father/son relationship; all they have experienced and all that they’ve been through… starting with, “I thought you’d be fatter.” It was The Man from the Other Side in which we heard Peter say, “I want you to get some rest, Dad.” Knowing what came shortly after that…

Peter talked to Walter about that day when Peter chose to try and get into the machine in 6:02 A.M. EST.  Walter has never wanted to give Peter up; to let him go. Now Peter will possibly have to let go of his father. I am going to need a huge box of Kleenex for next week…

I am also glad that this will replace my other association with “Singing in the Rain;” Malcolm McDowell singing it in A Clockwork Orange… *shiver*


All of this time many have thought the time reset would be at some point in the past. However, in this case, what happens in the future can impact past events. 

"That moment, that I told you about, when scientists first started to sacrifice human emotion to increase intelligence; that was the turning point in human evolution. If we can send the boy into the future -- to that moment -- he can demonstrate to those scientists a different kind of intelligence--an enlightenment." - Donald

I am speculating here about the one ending I really did not want to see for Fringe. Walter will sacrifice himself for the plan. The Observers will never exist—therefore September will never exist—which means he never distracted Walternate, who would cure Peter, and the boy would be raised Over There. So once again all of the wonderful stuff from the past few seasons would be tossed in the air. Or maybe I am missing the paradox implications -- which make my head ache with their illogical implications.

But the one good thing is… if Walter sacrifices himself in the future… doesn’t that mean he will get to live his life again, but this time there will be no Observer invasion. Yet, he will not have Peter in his life, and as a fan of the bonds formed between these two men over the years—I love the Bishop Boys as much, if not more than Peter/Olivia—that kind of ending would slay me. A Walter without Peter is just incomplete and vice-versa.

In Donald’s kitchen, Olivia was choked up beyond belief when she thought that she and Peter could get Etta back. I don’t know for sure, but I think Peter, having played this game before, knows the potential real cost. I’ve always wondered if he remembers what happened in the 2026 future. The show has never really mentioned it, although the D.C. comic authored by Joshua Jackson suggests it.

Olivia was having her own issues as the mother of a lost daughter, and this moment between the two parents touched me as much as other great Peter/Olivia moments. Olivia wanted to so desperately believe that they could have Etta back, and Peter’s profound gaze of sadness just added a few tears to the small puddle I had already been accumulating. I think I could fill a small bathtub with the number of tears that have fallen over the years of watching this series; half of them this season alone.

It has been sort of hinted at since The End of All Things that Peter and our Olivia were meant to share a life together, meaning that they’d end up meeting somehow. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is not the ending of the finale. Part of what many of us love most about these characters is a product of the experiences that each have gone through. A Peter raised by Walternate would not be the same Peter that I, or Olivia, loved.

Please Fringe, don’t go there. I can’t believe I am even considering they would.. but it's human nature to fret.

The Universal Language

It was fun to observe the Observers checking out Donald’s apartment.

The New York snow globe was a nice touch, having made several appearances in the series, such as in Momentum Deferred and Amber 31422. I also think it is the clue about the next episode, Liberty. Are we going to Liberty Island, and if so, what for?

Yes, Mr. Windmark. All you need is some jazz in order to melt your ice cold heart.

Watching his companion try to tap his foot and keep time made me laugh out loud. As a drummer, it sometimes just feels like tapping is an inborn reflex.

Green-green-green-red. Boom. And darn it, Windmark got away

Getting Off this Train and Approaching the Final Stop

What really had me scratching my head is why did Michael deliberately get off the train? Did he think there was another way other than the plan his father and Walter were working on? Did he know the costs of the plan; that these people would possibly never meet and that he’d never be created? Forgive me if all of this timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly paradox stuff is throwing me for a loop. 

And we only have next week. That’s it. I’m so going to miss this frustratingly beautiful show that has made me feel the heights of human experience and emotion with this broken group of people trying to hold on to one another. And even if the end is the mentioned dreaded end, I am sure it will be written in a way that will make me feel like a fool for fearing it.

Fringe has had a way of doing that, and I love it for it; every season.

And hey, I loved Lost’s ending, so what do I know? ;)

Check out The Final #Fringe Events: Celebrating the Finale with a Bang at Fringenuity. We are going to announce something special for the fandom on Sunday, January 13th. This is the one year anniversary of our first Fringe Twitter/GetGlue event,  #CrossTheLine


Unknown said...

surely if the observers are deleted peter will die because september saved him?

Unknown said...

maybe not because if september never distracted walternate, walter would never have crossed over to save peter and therefor peter would never have fallen in the lake??

Lou said...

But perhaps since peter used the bridge machine his connection to survival isn't merely based on time and space but a manifestation of love. And therefore he could potentially survive. Also it would violate a major law of story telling to kill both peter and Walter. Also let's not forget the boys ability to feel other peoples emotions with the proper connection. That may also be why he decides to leave the train and hopefully accomplish an alternative victory.

Lccf said...

I share your fears too ! Of Walter dying / being separated from Peter ( perhaps going to 22nd century with Michael ? ), of Olivia and Peter never meeting ... I think I'd be left in shock by such a finale.
Oh, and you're not alone, I loved Lost's finale too ( the flash-sideways parts anyway ).

SheHateMeBro said...

Regardless of how this ends, I'm guessing some will be very satisfied and other may be disappointed. Hard to wrap this whole thing up in 80 minutes including a trip to the redverse. Heck, they haven't even dug out all the tapes.

Reinbeast said...

It's so nice to get out of my own head once in a while and see what others think...and it's all the same fears and loves that Fringe has provided over the years, especially the potential devastating end. I, for one, didn't like Lost's ending, but that's just on par with almost ever other series finale. I'm disappointed so much of the time I really stopped caring. Fringe is the only show in my life that I have absolute faith in. It may end in the saddest way possible, but I know it will be written so as to make me love it more, if that's even possible.

Unknown said...

@Reinbeast I've had several private discussions in which I've unloaded my fears and listened to that of others. We agreed that Joel loves this show -- so much that he was filmed with tears streaming down his face when he spoke about ending it. We agreed that we'll reserve final judgement when the curtain closes next week; actually after taking time to think about. Often, my first reaction to an episode changes later.

Jjb said...

I was with you all the way, until you said, "And hey, I loved Lost’s ending, so what do I know?" I loved LOST, but like most people I hated the ending and felt it was very unfulfilling, unsatisfying, what have you...

Zepp said...

For anyone who has watched Fringe, as I and all of us here, we discuss, think, suppose, make mistakes, sometimes we hit the prognostications of future scenes, and we receive an end this saga the way, or form, "it was all a dream ", or as" repetitions of time, as in White Tulip "," joins similar experiences in opposing universes ", or" oh, now I woke up, where am I? ... "or also as" I was dead and did not know. "These would be, for me, the kind of end to Fringe, even if that happens, do not admit, could not, in good conscience, assuming they were, none of these have stated, or the like. This fabulous series Fringe always ended their seasons very smart, striking and totally unexpected ways. And I can not even assume or even think about assuming that we have an ending, so ordinary, usual or simplistic aspect for Fringe, I can not really admit it.

Unfortunately, as the course of this fifth and final season of Fringe, I see that things are forwarding a final, not much waiting for me. The great values, objective and subjective, that our beloved series are gradually being "evaporated", eliminated or simply relegated to the common. The Observer September, now nothing more than an ordinary citizen, powerless, like a senile person inside your apartment. Earlier, September, which could have been the "savior", now it's not, Peter was a real promise of a rematch against the Baldies, and is no longer the Olivia from the beginning, this 5th season, it is silent, inert, without haste, only supports, and no more leads, Walter, walking from one side to another, and does not conclude anything and Astrid is the only one that is still the same.

Finally, the Fringe team, ended, faded! It's two final episodes, and the bad boys, increasingly strong, indestructible (Baldies), and from what I'm noticing all this is leading us to an ending like that, I would not want that to happen on Fringe. I trust only in this dimension likely, broader, and more creative of imaginations, which undoubtedly must have the executive producer and writers for all of us; we are really presented with a final, fully, to the height of Fringe.

Unknown said...

@JoJoBeans: That's why I was being sarcastic. Actually, "most" people did not hate LOST's finale. I know plenty who liked it. It's just negative thoughts can be very loud. ;)

Unknown said...

@Zepp Fringe has always had lessons that everyone can be extraordinary. You don't need to be an Observer, have Cortexiphan, or even be fully sane to save the world.

Reinbeast said...

I have certainly seen how much Fringe means to Joel. With every minute of the show, every interview, and every Twitter interaction my admiration grew. That he shed tears in a video doesn't surprise me at all. I'm sad I missed it. I've heard the emotion in his voice quite a few times and I thought I saw tears once. He's such a sweetheart.

Jjb said...

Sorry, Aimee. The written word is often misunderstood. I was not trying to be insulting. I thoroughly enjoy your reviews and your writing style. I did not like LOST's finale and I really haven't met anyone who does, but that's just me. I'm glad you enjoyed it and know many people who did, as well.

Unknown said...

Oh, you weren't insulting. That ending is something that has people still riled up to this day. xD I hope Fringe does not get such a division.

Zepp said...

Dear Aimee, I read your comment, liked it, but even so, he is directly or diametrically in opposition of my perspectives and prerogatives of what I think, what I'm finding on Fringe this season. Yes, of course, that anyone can be the "savior of the world", my dear, but if not, the Fringe team (now depleted and overwhelmed), I simply will not like nothing, nothing at all. For me, the young Observer, Michael, is a new factor now placed as an element or character "hybrid", within that, already classic, script Fringe, and I'm not staying here, thinking, or constructing assumptions and adjustments thousand on top of that new fact (Michael) to convince me, that everything is "Fringe," because it is not. Every film work in the form of series, has a narrative style, a cadence itself, which, I guess in Fringe, was broken. Although I liked your thoughts Aimee, your posting this, I still firmly with my ideas and opinions reported above. Thanks for your time.

Zepp said...


Dear Aimee and other fellows of FTV here, please excuse me. Kindly ask everyone who disregard this my comment, which is up there, because he was very insensitive, irrelevant and totally pointless. I could not delete it because I do not find a way to do it ...

We are all of us, almost in foreclosure of this stupendous work that we love and venerate, that is Fringe, and now is the time of great fellowship, explosive joy, and, finally, of the consecration only. I strongly believe that Fringe will have an end to its height, which will undoubtedly magnanimous, wonderful and unforgettable. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I am very glad that the answer to "what happens if the Observers are altered" is that Peter was unaffected by the reset because he was a paradox due to his prior erasure from existence. Thank you so much Fringe for 5 wonderful seasons.

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