Saturday, May 07, 2011

Fringe: The End of Days

“You were right. They don’t remember Peter.”
“How could they? He never existed. He served his purpose.”


Oh.

My God.

Tonight’s season 3 finale of Fringe was the most exhilarating hour of TV I’ve watched since the end of Lost, with the same sort of mind-boggling “what the hell is going on” factor that I’ve missed from that other Abrams show. I was gripped right to the end, watching the time travelling argument play out again (this time with Walter convincing Peter one could go back in time to change it, the opposite of Daniel explaining that one couldn’t do that). And that last minute? Full-on hand-over-mouth gasping aloud, with a loud, NOOOO!!! to follow it. To make matters worse? I was watching it alone. (Hm.... like I watched the Lost finale.)

So... as I suspected in my post last week, Peter has jumped ahead in time to a moment after 2021, in our universe. (I giggled this week while watching that I made that assumption last week based on the minute at the end of that episode, only to be met with a ton of comments saying, “Now wait a minute, Missy... you’re not overthinking this enough!” I was thrilled by the response, and felt like I was back in our old Lost discussions... only for it to turn out that it wasn’t meant to be overthought, and we really were in the near future in our world. It made me a bit sad that you guys weren’t right, actually, because I loved the idea of a third universe.)

Peter is now 47, it’s 15 years in the future in 2026. There were hints right away that we were in our world... Ella is there, Olivia’s niece, where in the alt-universe Rachel is dead and Ella never existed. Astrid isn’t autistic (or whatever she is in that other universe) and Broyles is alive, albeit a senator who is blind in one eye. Last week I pointed to the fact that the WTC didn’t exist as the proof, and as suspected, they’ve erected another monument in its place. Others pointed out that the Fringe team wouldn’t be as out in the open as they seemed in that episode, and I suggested that actually, if we consider that for the past decade the vortices have been opening wider, the Fringe team might have been forced out into the open just as it was in the other universe. It appears that’s exactly the case.

The opening credits were neither blue nor red; instead, they were black and white, as if to signal a bleak future that has no colour left in it. When Peter goes to see Walter for the first time in a long time, we’re meet with a repeat of the pilot episode. A shaggy, institutionalized Walter is led out of a holding cell, but this time, rather than being met with an angry, sullen Peter, he’s met by a son who welcomes him and doesn’t seem to hold any ill-will towards him for what he did. Walter appears to have had a stroke (he can’t move his right side the way he moves the left), and Olivia is also very warm to him.

Ella has grown up to emulate her Aunt Olivia, who is now married to Peter quite happily. It’s not clear how long they’ve been married, but they are still passionately in love. Olivia wants children, but cannot convince herself that theirs is a world worth bringing children into. If the End of Days is coming, there’s no future for anyone.

In the present, Walternate is not the bad guy. He’s a man who’s stern and cold, and who has reacted to what was done to him, but he’s also someone we can sympathize with for what he’s been through, and as I’ve said many times, he draws a line on experimentation that Walter didn’t. But in the future, Walternate has snapped, and truly is the bad guy. He’s lost his entire world, and is now on a revenge mission, with Peter as the main target. The red world is gone, and Walternate is the only survivor. The moment that was clear, I couldn’t help but mourn the loss of Alt-Olivia and her newborn baby.

Highlights:
• Gorecki. I can’t even begin to explain the excited gasp I gave when I heard it. When we see the End of Dayers come into the opera hall to set up their device, what you hear in the background is Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. Now, it wasn’t live... it’s clear they were simply playing the most famous recording of it, because there’s no doubt that was Dawn Upshaw singing it. But here’s why it excited me... this has been one of my favourite symphonies for years. And I hadn’t listened to the CD in ages when I spotted it on one of our many CD racks a few days after watching the end of Lost, and I put it on. As the music rose and rose in the first movement, I was literally brought to tears because I had the Lost finale on my mind, and it just seemed to encapsulate the glory and massiveness of the whole thing. So, I decided this symphony would be the soundtrack I would use to write it. I put it aside, and when it came time to write the finale chapter, I was alone for a weekend, I had prepared my notes for that chapter over several weeks while writing the previous chapters, and finally I sat down, and put on Gorecki. I listened to that CD on constant repeat for two full days... and I mean constant repeat, from 7am until 11pm for two days. I must have listened to it 40 times. The music swelled as I typed furiously about the history between Jack and Locke. It was quiet as I wrote about the impact that show had on popular culture. Dawn Upshaw’s voice rose majestically as I talked about the church scene. Probably due to a combination of this incredible music, my love for the show, and the sudden realization that hit me as I was working on the Jack/Locke section that this might be the last time I really get to write about those two, I cried for much of it. Tears rolled down my cheeks, hour after hour. I typed 15,000 words on one day, and another 10,000 the next. It’s the most I’ve ever done in a single day, or weekend, but it was because I knew exactly what I wanted to say (and at 97 words per minute, my fingers can almost keep up with my brain). And Gorecki soared throughout the process. So now I will forever associate this magnificent symphony with the power a certain television show had to move me. And for that reason, you can now imagine how I felt when I heard it in the finale for Fringe. Wow. Talk about my heart leaping suddenly and gloriously. OK, nostalgia moment over.
• Brad Dourif! This continues the spate of Deadwood spotting that began on Lost. I wonder if he’ll be in there more next season?
• Watching Walter’s face as he eats the Twizzler. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: where the HELL is John Noble’s Emmy?!

Did You Notice?:
• The glyphs spelled out NOMORE. As in NO MORE dual universes... NO MORE Peter...
• The ringleader of the End of Dayers is named Moreau... as in Dr. Moreau, a literary precedent of Walter’s. In The Island of Dr. Moreau, Moreau has done horrific experiments on creatures with no care of their wellbeing, sending them back out into the world as groups of mangled things. Much like the cortexiphan kids in the experiments Walter and Bell did on them years ago.
• In the future, steak will come in a can and wine will always be in a box. But good ol’ vodka will still be in a bottle in the freezer.
• Also in the future, cellphones will be bigger than they are now (?) but cell signals will still be crap.
• I’m assuming the missed call that Peter got on his phone was Walternate calling him to pick up a signal of where he was, so he’d know how/where/when to transmit himself sitting in the chair? (Or perhaps I missed something where someone else took credit for calling Peter in that moment... I’ve still only watched the ep once).
• Peter gave Olivia the same burial at sea that the Others gave Colleen Pickett in “Stranger in a Strange Land” (minus the white tunics they were all wearing).

Any Questions?
• Is Peter really gone? Is it true he didn’t exist? If that’s the case, then what was the event that sparked Walter crossing over to the other side in the first place? Wasn’t it all because of Peter? Does this mean there wasn’t a Peter on either side?
• Will we get another glimpse of the future? Or was that simply an It’s a Wonderful Life cautionary moment to show us what could happen if they didn’t wise up?

23 comments:

Max Wallis said...

Just O M G. OMG. OMG. OH MY FUCKING GOD.

Page48 said...

I think that's the obvious question. How can the problems plaguing the 2 universes be in play if Peter never existed? Walternate still blames Walter for causing the destruction Over There, so there has to be a new catalyst for Walter's reckless behaviour, since rescuing Peter seems to be off the table.

Why did Peter disappear in mid-sentence? It seems like a strange time to reset. He created holes in both universes that meet in that room, but if he never existed, how did they all end up in the same room?

Did they just flash forward to 2026 so that Peter could be "47", Bad Robot's favourite number?

Peter and Olivia are pushing 50 and still haven't decided whether or not to have kids???

This is all very Doctor Who-ish. As the 11th Doctor freely admits, (extremely mild spoiler coming, which really just states the obvious) "time travel, you can't keep it straight in your head."

Nina Sharp, what a disappointing season finale this was for you. At least you got to attend Olivia's funeral. And, could we not have brought Charlienate over here at the end along with the others?

I've always believed that both sides needed to work together to find a solution rather than racing to destroy each other. Broylenate gave his life based on Olivia's promise to work on such a solution. The question now, though, is a solution to what, since there shouldn't even be a problem?

Clearly, we don't yet have enough intel to figure out WTF really happened with Peter in this finale, but I'm sure that veil will be lifted next season and this will all make more sense.

Another great mystery to me is how anyone who watched the past 1.5 seasons, including this jaw-dropping finale, wouldn't just go ahead and burn their Season 1 DVD's.

JS said...

I literally was in front of the TV screaming at the end, and at Olivia getting shot, and for several other moments. My husband kept coming in to see if I was OK. It was amazing, so jam packed with information. I too mourned for Altliva and Henry, I wondered if Olivia and Peter ever found out about him.
I thought of Colleen as well during Liv’s funeral, and heard the Giacchino-esque music. The whole thing had a very LOST feel to it, I thought of Daniel as Walter talked Peter into going back, with Peter being the variable, the thing that could change the past. And of Desmond as Peter is the only one who can be in the machine, and can see the future.
They did manage to kill Olivia in this episode, in the future, so they kept that promise. And they killed Peter. But I cannot believe they would get rid of the character.
At the end, I was really hoping for a Walter vs. Walternate fight! John Noble and Anna Torv must be nominated this year, and John Noble must win. I have to watch the episode again, but I only remember seeing Broyles, Astrid, the Olivia’s and the Walter’s. What about Brendan, and Lincoln, and the rest of the fringe team. Can they just walk into this hole between the universes whenever they’d like? Peter was so happy to see Liv and tell them the solution. I cannot figure out what anything means without Peter. Did he never exist, or are they all going to just forget he existed, and find other explanations for everything he did? I find that over analyzing Fringe just doesn’t pay off the same way as in LOST. I am never even close to right!

Stephen 'Socks' Bowron said...

I've barely had my jaw hit the floor for an entire episode of anything other than Lost, but this episode certainly did it for me..

It was all about... "They just killed Olivia?! Whaaaa?" and then realizing that Alt-livia and her kid and all the others we've come to love were just.. dead. No justification, no real satisfactory death... but then we went back.

Epic mindf*ck when Walternate revealed he was a hologram.

I liked that it was all very Lost season 5 in time travel, destruction of the earth(s) and an uncertain future in two timelines.

Though the episode was full of back and forth amazingness, pulling the rug from under us, I was left slapping my laptop (overseas viewer on the d/l) when the Observers claimed peter doesn't exist.. There has to be some kind of leg-pulling on this... Pete can't just.. be gone.

Mind, we're going into season 4 with some epic head-to-heads, Walter, Olivia, Broyles and Astrid (if I recall correctly) are now in the alt-universe so there's not only the dilemma of solving the world's problems but is it just a case of doing somethingorother in that soft spot on liberty island to get them all back or is it something more?

Honestly, this finale had me both enraged, upset and screaming with excitement.. The perfect blend.

I also almost agree with Page48. The show has come so far that season 1 is almost nothing of the show we have today.. which is AWESOME.. it's just going to be weird on rewatches when we're down to semi-procedural episodes without the heavy serialization of season 3.

I. Am. Excite!

Cindy/SenexMacDonald said...

As with everyone else, I was so glued to the tv that I think I stopped breathing at one point. I did not talk, I just watched ... and rewound my PVR on occasions to ensure I did understand what everyone was saying and in what context.

Lots to think about - so let me start with my main thought last week in my first post. A third universe.

Peter opened two holes - one in our universe and one in the alternate universe so as to allow both universes (and the main players) to come together in that room with the machine. I am going to believe that means the machine he stepped out of is in fact the two rolled into one.

If that is the case, we have a blended reality here and even though it might be restricted to that one room, I don't know if that is fact. Either way, something new was created by Peter and the machine. Dare I say it? Another universe? Even a teeny, tiny room-sized one? Isn't there something in physics that talks about co-existance between worlds? Where is Scotty when you need him? SCOTTY????

If that is the case, as Peter is the only person who does not have a 'duplicate' of himself - is that the reason he disappears as he can not exist within this blended universe?

Of course knowing LOST and how JJ Abrahs and co. work, everthing we are seeing might not be what we believe it all to be.

I loved the touch of grey on Peter's temples. And if he and Olivia are both close to 50, I want whatever they are using to keep themselves looking that good - right now!

Now I am off to rewatch this ep again so I will be back. :)

Batcabbage said...

I'm a day late on this, having watched 2 seasons of Doc Martin and the two Chris Nolan Batman movies yesterday. I'm surprised that there hasn't been more fervent discussion considering the UTTER EFFING AWESOMENESS OF THIS EPISODE.

Talk about a mind-frak. I love that there is still a show on TV this amazing that can elicit such a response in me. And to think that the story for this episode (in conjunction with the episode scripters) came from a man partially responsible for the worst hate crime committed against the Batman mythos, Batman and Robin. (No matter how good Fringe gets, I'll always hold that grudge against Akiva Goldsman. Bat-Nipples? Bat-Ice-Skates? ICE TO SEE YOU????!!!! HATE CRIME!!!)

I'm stunned, as a matter of fact. I'm glad it turned out to be our future, and not a third universe. I think what I loved the most about this episode is that instead of introducing this future storyline to go on into the fourth season, they did it in the last episode of the third, and resolved it during that episode, leaving us with an even larger mystery to ponder until later this year (I HATE waiting until the next season!). It's a brave move, and a brilliant one. It's a testament to how incredibly good this show really is, and I'm so thankful that it got renewed.

I think that 'WE are the first people' was a great twist, and it was great to see Walter in the future. His timid line when he first gets to his lab again - 'Will Astrid be here?' - was delivered with such skill, and was so heartbreaking. You're right, Nikki, John Noble deserves an Emmy for his performance this season. And the showdown at the end! Two Walters, face to face, and the difference in each - it's as though it's literally two different men playing those parts. Man, that guy is talented. AND Australian! OI! :)

All in all a most satisfying finale. I actually thought we had one more episode to go - so disappointing! But at least this finale was in no way disappointing. Can't wait for season 4!!!

Jim Treacher said...

I've been wondering about the missed call too. But Walternate already knew exactly where to project his hologram: their old lake house. That's why he left the key where he knew Peter would find it.

Now I'm wondering if the call was somehow from 2011 Peter, from wherever he is now. I'm calling him DisapPeter.

John Noble is the best actor on television..

Musolf said...

Did you notice the phrases in the title sequence?

Cellular rejuvenation
Thought extraction
Cryptozoology
Neural partitioning
Brain porting
Temporal plasticity
Dual maternity
Chaos structure
Clonal transplantation
Water
Biosuspension
Hope

I loved the episode...I really liked how they went in a direction I would have never guessed the finale to go...

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I have to assume there will be a Peter for us next season, because Fringe without Peter Bishop would be like LOST without Jack or Sawyer. It just wouldn't be Fringe. How they do it will be worth waiting for.

I love Astrid's haircut 15 years into the future. She is just awesome and beautiful.

I miss the cow with kind eyes too.

John Noble never ceases to amaze me. His ability to look like an emotionally deflated, stroke striken enemy of the state scientist was amazing. I adore this actor and the character of Walter Bishop. I love his comment on missing swivel chairs and then swiveling on them :)

Senator Broyles is still a great guy. Creepy blind eye and all.

I hope I never see Olivia with a bullet hole in the center of her forehead again.

Shame on Fringe for not giving Nina more of a role in the season finale, but at least we know that she's still on the right side, which to be honest, is still at question some of the time.

The music in this episode SO reminded me of the LOST finale. When they were in Central Park at the amber contamination site, and then later when Olivia saw the worm hole, I was mentally picturing Jack, Hurley and Ben at the entrance to "THE CAVE" (in all its golden glory :)) Thank you Michael Giacchiano.

Fred said...

@JS I find that over analyzing Fringe just doesn’t pay off the same way as in LOST. I am never even close to right! So right, and Nikki so right about suggesting we not over-analyse. A friend of mine said today, that while LOST made her think, Fringe seems more easier on the brain. I suggested the producers/executives wanted this or the show would get too cultish, like LOST or some of Whedon's shows. And if that happened, then audience numbers might drop. And yes, I was one of those hoping for a third world.

@Page48Another great mystery to me is how anyone who watched the past 1.5 seasons, including this jaw-dropping finale, wouldn't just go ahead and burn their Season 1 DVD's. Don't know if you agree, Page48, but when Fringe started it seemed to be a copy of X-Files gone lite, but still with the wierd monsters and supernatural events that have scientific explanations. Once serialization started, it went in a wholly different direction. Are we going to hear that Abrams had had this planned all along?

Also loved the send up to LOST with Broyles one eye white, one eye black, like Locke in Clair's dream. The other send up to LOST may be a slight nod to the game of chess. Obviously we have two Bishops. In the first season, Peter explains if he uses an alaias he'll use a similar name, like Knight or King. In the episode, "The Equation" there is a reference to a red castle. And in "The Last Sam Weiss" Peter is looking for a pawn shop. Nothing more in this than speculation.

mgkoeln said...

Great season! Great finale! Far forgotten are the days when I thought Fringe was just an unoriginal X-Files clone!

Two questions are bothering me:

- How did Altlivia get out of her cell and back into the machine room? Will we ever find out or is it just a plot hole?

- And: Where was brilliant danish actor Ulrich Thomsen who voiced "the man who is going to kill me" in the animated episode? Was this dream-like character just meant to be a foreshadowing of Olivia's future death (and Mr. X the subconscious stand-in for Walternate)? Or will he come into play in season four? Thomsen is actually to big of a star in European cinema to just have a small voice only bit-part.

Oh, and Peter will be back somehow. No doubt about it!

myselfixion said...

So....
FuturePeter47 went back in time to erase his existence? Was that the choice he made? He figured out how the machine worked and, rather than just making the choice to not enter the machine and destroy the alt-verse as Walter seemed to suggest, he somehow went back in time and erased his existence?
Peter existed only to go back in time and erase himself?

Fred said...

@myselfixionFuturePeter47 went back in time to erase his existence? Was that the choice he made? Well, if you look at the finale the same way as most, that's just about it. Of course, we have a paradox. How can someone who has no existence make a choice to have no existence? I'm guessing, seeing all the Watchers outside at the end, that maybe this will allow Peter (and us) to explore the world of the Watchers. I for one would really like to know who they are, and what they are on about.

Page48 said...

@mgkoeln: Walternate sent for Altlivia to be retrieved from her cell.

@Fred: I agree completely that serialization is what kickstarted "Fringe". Was this what Abrams had planned all along? It should have been, IMO (in which case the first 30 episodes wouldn't have been mostly a write-off), but sadly he seemed blissfully out of touch with his fanbase when he was out promoting "Fringe" back in 2008.

Throwing "Alias" under the bus, considering it launched the JJ Abrams brand (apologies to "Felicity"), was shortsighted and offensive and brought into question JJ's understanding of what actually makes his shows appealing in the first place.

It was only in January of 2011, that he back peddled on the standalone, casual viewer stance that he was spouting in the early days, and revealed that, unlike when he was slagging "Alias" 3 years ago, he really is in love with serialization.

"How can someone who has no existence make a choice to have no existence?"

I asked that question on another blog and I haven't seen anyone attempt to answer it yet.

Page48 said...

Another question I pondered on another blog was "How can there be a shared crisis-center room between the universes, created by Peter, if Peter never existed?"

Fred said...

Page48, I am getting the sinking feeling we are back to the conundrum of LOST: how can you change the past? One solution in the case of Peter Bishop is that he must work to restore the two worlds, but that what is out of place is his existence. Since he died in our world, he should have in the alternate world. This may be too simple, but what Peter may eventually do, after so many seasons, is correct the mistake of Walter taking him from the alternate world and saving his life--in other words, Peter must be the cause of his own death. Now if that doesn't raise your radar regarding paradoxes, well.

Page48 said...

Peter ceased to exist in mid-sentence. Did he even know his new choice was about to delete himself from the flash drive of history?

myselfixion said...

Does this all connect to the fact the the Watchers in fact saved Peter from drowning when he was a child in this world? Did he drown originally? Were they course-correcting because he was supposed to live to be able to make the choice himself?

Nikki Stafford said...

myselfixion: You've just pointed out the one scene that I've been thinking about for a few days now... that moment seemed to be where the Observers changed time in some way. We saw back in the episode "August" that things had changed because of that action. I wonder if Peter DID drown, and what we saw was fake Peter from that point on.

But then again, they said he never existed, so if he NEVER existed, then there wasn't a drowning at all. But if they mean the adult Peter never existed, then perhaps that's what happened there?

I feel like I need to go back and watch the whole thing again and try to figure out if it works if Peter doesn't actually exist. If he didn't, then it really WAS an alternate universe all along in a sense, one that was created to play out a storyline that would affect the other two worlds. Perhaps this means that the Walter and Olivia who were standing there at the end aren't the Walter and Olivia we thought we knew; after all, if they existed without Peter, then aren't they necessarily very different people now?

verif word: brabless: what happens when feminists decide to throw of the restricting brabs.

Fred said...

@myselfixionDoes this all connect to the fact the the Watchers in fact saved Peter from drowning when he was a child in this world? Did he drown originally? I took the saving of the drowning Peter to be a violation of the Watchers' credo, or whatever we want to call it. We understood that by saving Peter, the father of the little girl died because she did not catch the butterfly, as things had so slightly changed. So here we have the butterflty effect.

The whole idea of "cause and effect" is out of whack in the universe. We saw that a few epsiodes ago at the apartment. Walter flips the coin and it comes up heads each time. Notice the apartment name is a nod to Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead as the apartment was called the Rosencrantz. However, Walter blames himself for the dissociation between cause and effect as when he tells Nina he caused the effect of heavy metals cuasing lighter than air effects.

But back to Peter. I think the destiny of the young Peter was to have died in each world. So simplifying what may happen, either the story line will move towards Peter helping that destiny along (a severe paradox); or Peter will with the Watchers alter the timeline and save his alternate self in our world, the end result being two Peters.

mal said...

I had the same reaction when I heard Gorecki's Third. I turned to my wife babbling like a kid about the symphony Dawn Upshaw's unmistakeable voice. I just watched the show yesterday (Monday, May 9th, 2011) so I had to do a little treasure hunting to discover who else had caught it.

Anonymous said...

Hi girls and guys from overseas (I'm German ;) ),

I loved this episode as well. I do have a different thought about Walternate though:

Is Walternate really evil? Couldn't it be that he killed Olivia on purpose to make Peter go back in time? Maybe I'm just messin' around, though.

Lostie said...

This finale was ok....i watch Fringe for the simple things not the high tech sci-fi stuff.....i kept thinking what happened to the cow...until the girl mentioned him..lol....and the main thing i was so confused in the whole epi was that they went from 2011 to 2026 and nobody aged....maybe Peter looked somewhat older but the others didnt look a day older...and plus when they talked bout having a baby...lets say Olivia was 30 yrs old in 2011 then it would make her 45 on 2026, right.....they were thinking of having a baby at 45....come on.....

yes u guys were right, this epi sounded like a Lost epi in alot of ways maybe cause of JJ...lol.. :-)