Drop in TV – in which I choose to watch an episode of a programme that I have little of no experience of, and try to figure out what in the hell is going on. First up, the Fringe Season 3 finale. Spoilers of course.
What I know – I’ve seen the first five or six episodes of Fringe. I know that Olivia was a government agent in a X-Files type ‘weird sh*t’ unit, possibly called Fringe Unit, Fringe Division, or neither. Walter Bishop specialised in Weird Sh*t until he went mental. Olivia used Walter’s son, Peter (still trying to not call him Pacey) to get Walter out of the nut-house to help them. Peter showed his own usefulness, and the three of them formed a team of Weird Sh*t investigators. Daniels from The Wire was their boss, and there was some girl helping out, maybe an admin type, who may have a bigger role now, or may be written out completely.
What I think I know – A wise man on a train filled me in on the backstory for this episode. There’s a parallel universe in which 9/11 never happened and hydrogen balloons are a popular mode of transport. Peter died in our ‘verse, and Walter took alt-Pete and brought him here. But doing that has caused the borders between the two dimensions to start to break down. This doesn’t sound quite right, I think I’ve erred somewhere. I’ll find out soon enough.
The following are my notes in chronological order. They’re tidied up, but not changed due to information revealed later in the episode. It’s my confusion in its purest form. Onwards:
There’s a shot of a 9/11 memorial. I’m still surprised, even ten years later, that shows are working it into their universes. Rubicon and V have done so also. Am I looking at the alt-verse now? Is the point of this scene to show that the past has been changed there, and 9/11 did actually happen? Or is it just to show that we’ve simply moved on? I’m in the future, one way or another. Check my spacesuit.
It’s 2026. When I first saw Fringe I assumed that it was set in the present day. But no one seems to have aged much. I’m confused. Olivia is now a boss-type, which the show takes great pains to explain. I was quite convinced that this was the alt-world. Now I’m not so sure. Pacey (dammit) are Olivia are knocking boots, this is obvious. Now, given how much of the show I’ve missed, I can’t tell if this is something to show that things are different, or simply something that occurred ages ago. I’ll go with the different bit.
There’s a bad guy called Moreau, who is the doctor from Deadwood. He’s using a light-bomb thing to do something naughty to the universe. There’s a group dedicated to bringing about the End of Days. In a dazzling display of creativity, they’re called the End of Dayers.
Peter goes to see Walter in jail. This is reminiscent of season one and getting Walter out of the asylum. So I presume that either:
- This is the alt-world. Walter in jail is this world’s version of him being in the nut-house.
- This is the real world. Walter did something very bad.
There are other options of course. But I’m barely keeping up as is.
One of the things that put me off watching Fringe originally is how cold and clinical it looks. There’s clearly a distinct and deliberate visual style here, but I feel like there’s a patina stopping me from getting properly connected with this world.
I’m leaning towards this simply being real-world future now. Regardless, Fringe is making another effort to show that things are different now. Daniels from The Wire (I never caught his name here) is now a Senator, instead of simply Olivia’s boss. He also has a weird shiny eye. It looks into my soul. Peter is a Fringe agent now. I don’t know if ‘Fringe Unit’ was an actual, formal thing in season 1, but it is now.
Okay, now some major backstory that I was unaware of is coming to light. Walter did something with a machine that connected to the alt-verse, killing most/all of its inhabitants. It also killed people on Earth, presumably a lot. And this world is gradually dying too. Okay, I’m now sticking with this being the real world. Peter talks to Senator Daniels and mentions “What we lost in Detroit”. I’m generally baffled. I hope this relates to Walt’s opening of the wormhole.
In Season one I had the suspicion that Olivia and Peter would end up together. Pacey is an arch-bushman after all. But they’re married? Doesn’t seem right. Probably because Josh Jackson hasn’t aged since Dawson’s.
Olivia stops a box falling by using her psychic abilities. So an alt-world got destroyed, lots of people died on this world, this world might also end, Walter is responsible, and Olivia is psychic? Okay got it, is there anything else I’m supposed to know?
Peter is from the other world! What? Wait, I did know that, courtesy of the briefing I received. My head still nearly exploded regardless. There’s mention of someone called Waltener or similar. So he’s an alt-Walt, I think. He has Walter’s face anyway.
Okay…so Walt used the machine to open a portal to this other universe. Peter died while opening it. So Walter took alt-Peter and brought him back, adopting him as his own son. This destroyed the alt-world (?). And now our world is collapsing. Exhale. And they say that Lost was mental. For some reason I dwell on the smaller stuff, like – how did alt-Pete settle in here? He seems comfortable enough here, and Olivia is treating him as normal Peter.
Wait! Does anyone else, besides Peter’s dad and alt-dad know that he’s not the real thing? Is he just acting like he’s the real deal? My head hurts.
If Walt and Peter are responsible for killing an entire world’s worth of people, and a large amount here, does that make them the biggest killers in TV history? Peter ends up with a mystery key. I love mysteries and I love keys. Conveniently, he’s given it when Liv’s back is turned. This key of course would be a mystery to regular viewers. But I’m utterly lost anyway, so it’s just another on the pile. The pile of confusion. Uhhhh.
It’s a mystery quickly answered. Peter uses the key to enter a cottage, and awaiting him is alt-Walt. He’s differentiated from Walt by having intensely white hair, which seems to glow in HD.
The two have a discussion about death and revenge. They talk of our Walt and this one being yin and yang, both sides of the same coin. The person who invented the machine, versus the one who discovered its use. For all the Walt/Walt symmetry, this scene plays the duality of Walt/Peter well. Incidentally, the actor playing Walt is good at acting evil.
Alt-Walt’s revenge will be destroying this world. Seems fair enough, giving that his got destroyed too. Quid pro quo. Mi casa es su casa. Unga bunga binga. But Peter will stop him, right? Anti-right. Alt-Walt isn’t even there, this is merely a hologram. He’s outside, and he’s just killed Olivia HE JUST KILLED OLIVIA!!
No doubt about it, she’s deader than Elvis. I remember her lover being brought back to life in season one, but presumably that idea has either being ignored, or the science is no longer. She’s brown breid. Unless, of course, there’s some other way to save her. Finding alt-Olivia isn’t an option as that world was destroyed (right?). But earlier there had been mention of wormholes popping up all over the planet, some of which allowed time travel. You see where this is going? I’m thinking Superman flying around the planet to rewind time. Well, along those lines. Okay, not at all on those lines, but time travel regardless.
In my original notes, when Olivia got capped, all I had written was WTF!
The timeline is explained. Season one began fifteen years ago. It was present day after all. A small victory. Being a genius, I was right about the time travel. Walter has picked up on my idea. He’ll make Peter’s consciousness time travel so that, when he originally activated the machine all those years ago, he will know what he knows right now – that both universes are linked and whatever he did with the machine will destroy one and begin to ruin the other. Then he’ll find a way to save everyone. Possibly.
And we get right to it, going back in time to the machine stuff. Peter creates a “bridge”, bringing alt-Walt and alt-Olivia to this world with their un-alt counterparts. He explains to them all that they can work together to resolve this problem. Then promptly vanishes mid-sentence. Still, they seem to be positive about what they can do. It’s all looking good, no more questions from me.
Cut to a pride of Observers outside. One says “They don’t remember Peter”. Whattt!!!???!!