FRINGE: A Fond Farewell to Friends

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Final Episode 12 “Liberty” & Episode 13 “An Enemy of Fate”

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]

The last couple days since the Fringe finale, I’ve carried around an aching heart. The experience isn’t as bad as putting your pet down, but it still hurts pretty good. I’ve also whined leading up to this final post about the challenges of saying goodbye to beloved characters who’ve become a part of your weekly routine and your family culture. I won’t say anymore on it, other than tissues and red wine have nursed me through. Enough about my grieving process; let’s begin.

We start with the rescue of Michael, who in the last episode, had stepped off the train and surrendered himself to Loyalist guards. Fortunately, the team still has informant Agent Broyles. He guilts a Loyalist lieutenant into divulging Michael’s detainment location at Liberty Island, but not before mocking the lieutenant’s suspicion that Broyles is The Dove; as a black man, Broyles points out he’s much more like a raven. I love that this writing team isn’t afraid to acknowledge skin color or ethnicity, and the humor that is to be found there. There is no disrespect intended that I can discern, and it helps to lighten otherwise dark atmospheres on the show.

The security on Liberty Island is impenetrable, so Liv suggests they use the alternate universe as a way to pop in, grab Michael, and pop out. Of course, “they” really means Olivia, since she’s the one with the ability to phase over to the alternate universe, but Olivia will need fresh doses of Cortexiphan. Walter has to balance his dosage calculation; too much and he kills Liv, too little and she risks being stranded in the alternate universe with Michael. Peter protests; he’s lost Etta and can’t bear the thought of losing Liv, too. Olivia persists; Etta died for this cause, and they had both agreed they were both feet in.

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Concerned the alternate universe may have changed in the past 20+ years, Astrid suggests a peek in the universe window. All is well, so the team arranges with Anil a med lab where Olivia can receive the injections. The ensuing scene is incredibly tense. Walter has determined that Liv needs four injections directly into the brain stem so the drug takes effect quickly. With her pupils massively dilated, her heart rate up to 200 BPM, and Liv generally sweaty, disoriented and screaming with each injection, Peter protests. Walter, however, insists; she has to cross four times, they cannot risk stranding her.

Liv phases over in front of alt-DOD. The alt-Fringe team captures her and notifies the twenty years older Fauxlivia and Lincoln, as planned. Inside Fringe division, Olivia explains what she needs, but while providing history and context, she experiences side effects of the drug…ones that Walter had warned her would require immediate return to her universe. Ah, but our girl Olivia isn’t one to go out without a fight, so she forges ahead, and Lincoln arranges transport over to the island.

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In the meantime, Windmark has continued his own machinations. His initial interrogation of Michael is satisfying to the extreme. We’ve seen Windmark mentally shred several subjects, and Windmark interrogation of Michael is dreadful. But Windmark is out of his league; his efforts simply bloody his own nose and eye, without any reaction at all from Michael. F— you, Windmark! Ha!

This result obviously does little to soften Windmark’s assessment of Michael. When Windmark  shares with his commander the results of the neurological studies on the boy, Windmark concedes that Michael’s intellect is greater than the Observers’, and that his emotional responsiveness exceeds that of native humans. The commander insists they must study the boy, but he has no preference whether the boy lives or dies. Windmark opts for dead; Michael is wheeled into surgery for disassembly.

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Olivia phases over to Michael’s detainment room. Michael’s not there; she unholsters her gun and ducks into the adjoining hallway. Liv struggles with the effects of the drug as she makes her way down the hall; people flicker in and out of her perception. She caps an Observer or two before she is attacked by one, but with her enhanced mental abilities, she takes out the lights above them, and distracts and shoots the Observer.

When she finally arrives in the operating room, Michael smiles when he sees her; it’s a rare moment of outward expression for this unusual boy. An Observer apparates into the room. Without any further ado, Olivia phases over to Fauxlivia and Lincoln. While a couple of Observers follow her to Fauxlivia’s world, they are quickly dispatched by the happy Fauxlivia-Lincoln couple, and Olivia and Michael take the boat back to Battery Park. There, they easily phase a final time back to our Battery Park, where the team is relieved to see them. Liv warns that the Observers know she phased, so time is an issue.

During the rescue attempt, Donald assembles the time machine at the lab. Upon completion, the machine powers up without a problem, but then quickly powers down. The problem: the initiating reactor that provides the initial surge of energy is Observer technology with only one replacement source. Donald approaches December, another member of the original twelve Observers who provided recon for the invasion, though the intent of their mission was unknown to them at the time. December and Donald consider fate, destiny, and sacrifice, and December eventually agrees to help his friend.

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Broyles contacts the team as they leave the park; he plans to return to his office to get a few things and then will reconnect with the team. But Broyles should have known when the rescue would occur. By waiting until after the high-value detainee was rescued to go to the office, he endangered himself. Why wouldn’t he have taken care of business prior to the rescue? This is an experienced agent who keeps guns and ammo in his trunk, so this storyline doesn’t fit with the agent I know.

Windmark’s lieutenants sweep Broyles’ car with an LQ7 sound wave extractor. The results confirm Windmark’s suspicions about Broyles, so Windmark pays Broyles a visit. They briefly converse about the Dove; the conversation simply delays Broyles so the Observers can follow him to the Fringe team and Michael. In his car, Broyles spots Observer gloves on his dashboard, so he knows he’s compromised. He intends to draw out the chase as long as possible, because once he’s caught, he’ll be read and the team’s location will be known.

At the lab, the team discusses the plan and remaining steps. The magnet is properly positioned, and will hold the cylinder at the precise angle to enter the wormhole created by the device. The cylinders will stabilize each end of the wormhole. All that’s left to do is cut a synchroscope from the amber, get the replacement reactor from December, pack up necessary materials and leave.

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Peter extracts the synchroscope and discovers a video tape addressed to him. Peter plays the tape wherein Walter reveals his plan to accompany Michael into the future. The tape soliloquy is classic John Noble: a vulnerable, guilt-ridden, heartfelt expression of a father’s love for his son, his desire to right wrongs, and his wish to give Peter his family back. Peter and his father embrace and weep, and there is something wrong with you, viewer, if you didn’t cry with them.

Olivia and Astrid go to December’s apartment for the reactor replacement. December’s door is ajar when they arrive. They enter quietly and see Loyalists, so they sneak into the next room, where December hangs from a beam. Hanging is an odd way to kill somebody if you have a gun, but December’s face appeared bruised. Did December hang himself to avoid being read, or did the Loyalists do the job for him? Realistically, it doesn’t matter. The replacement part has been taken back to Windmark.

Without the reactor, there is no way to use the device, so Astrid suggests using an Observer shipping lane. The team still has the old shipping manifest from “An Origin Story”, and it indicates the next delivery is the next morning in New York. All they need now is a cube.

Plans are coming together, and it’s time for the team members to expose their hearts a bit. Astrid leads Walter back into the amber so he can see Gene, his beloved bovine companion; Walter tells Astrid that her name is beautiful and lets on that he knew her name along, the old rascal. Donald convinces Walter that because of the father-son bond, Donald must be the one to conduct Michael to the future. Peter and Liv share their sweet “I love you’s.”

In glorious contrast, Peter and Olivia next don gas masks and wreak mayhem on an Observer facility by dumping a veritable smorgasbord of old Fringe biohazards into the air intake system. What follows is a carnival of carnage; Observers and Loyalists alike succumb to horrible and gruesome deaths, while our stone cold killer couple calmly search for the cube they need. Then, serendipity baby; Olivia sees a nearby captured Broyles on camera, so they’re able to rescue him, as well.

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The team converges on the final showdown in New York, along with Anil and his guys. They uncover the magnet, Donald sets up the cube and activates the shipping lane, while Walter attaches the cylinder to the magnet and sends the cylinder into the wormhole. Loyalists shower them with automatic gunfire throughout the scene, and yet, manage to miss repeatedly.

Windmark arrives and grabs Michael, but just before skedaddling, Peter attacks him and they re-apparate nearby. An Observer lieutenant shoots Peter with an ineffective weapon; it knocks Peter back a few feet, but Peter doesn’t sustain any injuries. Meanwhile, Liv enters the fray. Windmark chokes and throws her, but when she sees Windmark go after Michael again, Mama Bear’s gloves come off.

Olivia reaches out with the full fury and strength of her mental abilities and residual Cortexiphan, and car alarms go off and building lights go out for blocks around the area. Windmark wheels around. Olivia stares him down, and he stares back…so intently, he never notices the SUV Liv slams into him. In a moment of profound satisfaction, Windmark’s head is squashed like a grape. Good.

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Donald rushes Michael to the wormhole for their escape, but the Loyalists finally figure out how to aim, and Donald goes down. Walter bravely holds his hand out to Michael, and steps into the role of father figure for the child. Peter watches aghast, but it seems that he and Walter have finally reached an accord; Peter mouths, “I love you, Dad,” Walter smiles, and enters the wormhole with Michael.

We are instantly transported to that Boston park in 2015, where we can revel in the modest serenity of a cherub-faced, honey-blond little girl blowing dandelions and her parents planning the mundane task of an evening bath. They leave the park, arrive at home; Peter checks the mail. An envelope with Walter’s handwriting is addressed to Peter. The white tulip is contained within.

The afternoon before the show’s conclusion aired, Josh Jackson met with members of the press, and I listened in. Mr. Jackson said that his favorite part of the show was the work that he and John Noble did to keep the father-son relationship honest and dynamic. I agree with him; their portrayal was riveting. I also have dearly cherished Olivia’s evolution from a damaged and closed-off woman to wife and mother.

While I’m desperately sad that the show is over, Mr. Jackson pointed out that the network gave the show a gift of an acknowledged last season. It allowed the writers to create a solid story arc with a satisfying and honest ending for the characters. Considering the alternative, we were blessed with the five years that we had, and this final season that thoughtfully tidies all the loose ends. Thanks for being on the journey with me, fellow Fringe fans. It’s been a wild ride.

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[Official Show Site on FOX]    [Previous Recap: “The Boy Must Live”]

One thought on “FRINGE: A Fond Farewell to Friends

  • February 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm
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    I’m still catching up on Season 4 and didn’t read enough of this to get the spoilers. Fringe is one of the best scifi shows I’ve seen in a long time. The last of this quality was Odyssey 5. But unlike the idiots at O5, the powers that be for Fringe know that a story needs a good ending in order that the story itself be considered good and not merely a shaggy dog. I’m very pleased indeed with your comment that the show ended well. I can’t wait to get there – and I share the same pangs as you – you never want to say good-bye to good characters.

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