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FRINGE: I Asked for Episodes with Wallop…

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Episode 504 “The Bullet That Saved The World”

THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]

Be careful what you ask for.  A couple of weeks ago, I asked Fringe to give me episodes with a wallop, given that there aren’t many episodes left.  This episode over-delivered.  If you have not seen the episode yet, I promise that you want to watch it before you’ve read this review.

Peter initiates a hunt for a replacement necklace for the bullet Etta has been wearing, after using her old chain for solder in the previous episode. Peter attracts the attention of an Observer who has tried to read his mind, but Peter manages to escape with few bumps and bruises. Although Etta is clearly delighted with the necklace, she is concerned that Peter’s mind had been read, and promises to teach the entire team thought-reading prevention.

Walter and Astrid extract the next video tape from the ambered Harvard lab, and in it, Walter hints at the location of the resistance plans: the subway platform at Newark Penn Station. Unfortunately, both Loyalists and Observers man a checkpoint to all the stations, so the team needs a diversion to enter the hideaway. Walter’s resolution to the problem is genius: use artifacts from their old Fringe cases. As Walter puts it, “There was a time when we solved Fringe cases, now it’s time we created a few of our own.”  It’s a perfect solution: completely logical, but we the viewers never saw it coming. Thank you for this flawless execution, Fringe writers. Smart TV is alive!

At the same time, Broyles and Windmark meet at the shop where Peter purchased Etta’s necklace, and Windmark puzzles over Peter’s risk for something with no obvious value. Windmark postulates due to the brazenness of the Fringe fugitives that they are being tipped off, and he suggests that Broyles start an investigation with a security guard who has recently failed a security test. Broyles observes an Observer’s interrogation of the guard over camera feed. The Observer reports that someone called “The Dove” is involved, and that the old Fringe team is holed up in the Harvard lab. Broyle’s face during these revelations is stone-cold, and if it weren’t for the fact his gun is unholstered, we wouldn’t know if he still has any allegiance to the old Fringe team. Fortunately for our heroes, he is still on the side of right, and communicates to them through Etta that the Observers are on their way to the lab.

Before Etta hears from Broyles, she and Olivia have another lovely mother-daughter exchange about the necklace and the bullet on it. We discover that a thirteen-year-old Etta made her way back to the house of her childhood and found the bullet in a matchbox in her mother’s jewelry box, thinking that if her mother had saved it, it must have been meaningful. Liv agrees, calling it the “bullet that saved the world”, but tells her daughter to keep it. Etta then received word from Broyles about the lab, but knowing they can’t leave the lab and ever come back to it again, Liv suggests that they re-amber it and hide. Sure enough, the Loyalists show up, sweep the lab, and never clue into the ruse. This was another clever plot twist a la Olivia. She’s a sharp one.

The team next descends on the checkpoint at Newark Penn Station. The poor idiot Loyalists and Observers there don’t stand a chance. Walter uses a Fringe weapon on them to hyperactivate scar-building protein, and the hapless (yet deserving) victims quickly grow tissue over their mouths, noses and eyes. Eek. Walter retrieves the undecipherable plans, and the team escapes and rendezvous with Broyles. What follows is another scene with Olivia that endears Anna Torv to me in ways I’ll never fully articulate. When Olivia sees Broyles, her joy plays all over her face.  Her simple gesture of clapping her hands together in front of her face speaks such volumes. She approaches him, and he says, “Agent Dunham.”  Her reply, “Phillip” contains just a slight touch of quaver, and they hug. Ok, I’ll admit it, I got a little teary. Good TV, good boy.

Broyles shares how he and Etta met, and that he knew who Etta was all those years ago because it was like looking at Liv. And I really have to admit, the casting directors really outdid themselves when they cast Georgina Haig as Henrietta Bishop. Georgina is completely believable as both the sweet daughter who never quite got over the loss of her parents and as the deadly Fringe double-agent bent on the destruction of the Observers. She also does look she could actually be the grown daughter of Olivia and Peter. The resemblance to both Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson is uncanny, so Broyles’ claim is a digestible one.

Because it’s Fringe, the happy moment fails to endure, and Observers begin popping up thanks to a tracking device planted on their get-away car back at the checkpoint. Broyles escapes by car, but the rest of the team runs to a set of buildings nearby and hides within. After splitting up, Etta is capture by Windmark. He asks her about the necklace, and the images that he sees of a little girl blowing on a dandelion and running in to Peter Bishop’s arms inform him that the necklace is really all about love.

Then, just like that, we apparently enter Game of Thrones world, because bull if old Captain Windmark doesn’t shoot Etta right in the chest. Hearing the gun shot, Peter, Liv and Walter run to Etta’s side. Peter and Liv can’t bear the thought of leaving her behind, but Etta forces the issue by activating an un-deactivatable antimatter baton. At this point, I’m holding back tears, because, holy cow, Etta is dying!  But when Etta  hands her mother her bloody necklace, I start boo-hooing my eyes out. I might have cried harder when E.T. died…maybe. The final scene contains a stunned but tearless Olivia, standing next to a wrecked Walter, and a grim and also tearless Peter. Walter for once is the voice of reason and practicality, and spurs them into leaving with, “She’s gone, son, we have to go.”

Peter’s resentful expression and next week’s previews indicate that Peter plans to head to the kitchen and whip up a nice steaming dish of revenge for some Observers. Although one might see it as folly, it’s certainly understandable why Peter might want to make some Baldies pay for both losses of his daughter. Redemption and resolution are the best possible outcomes for all of these characters, and with eight episodes left in the series, it’s still doable. My fingers are crossed that Peter gets redemption all right, just after he gets to open his can of whoop-ass and we find out who The Dove is.

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[Official Show Site on FOX]     [Previous Recap: “The Recordist”]

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2 Comments

  1. Danny October 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    This was a roller coaster of an episode. I’m sad to see Etta go but I also understand why.

  2. lesliecwalker November 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Danny, I agree. It makes for better TV, because we can relate to the loss and helps us root for the heroes more…it’s more personal. They’re not just fighting for values or for humanity; that’s all lofty goodness. But revenge and righteous fury, well, that’s some good drama right there. Thanks for reading!

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