They promised us insanity, and they gave us insanity! Friday’s game-changing episode, “Letters of Transit,” was one hell of an outing and one of the best Fringe episodes to date. Are you renewing this show yet, Fox???!!?? It’s damn awesome! But we know this. Now, onward to recap!
Welcome to the few-cha, brotha! (insert Desmond’s Scottish accent here.) It’s the year 2036, and the Observers are our supreme overlords. They apparently landed in 2016, four years from our current timeline, and proceeded to take over the world because they’d destroyed their own (bye-bye oceans…). Humans were either summarily executed or forced to submit. The Fringe Division still exists, but it’s to police the Natives (what human survivors are called) and it’s run by Broyles wearing old makeup! He’s pretty grumpy about the whole thing, and I don’t blame him – as the new and exciting credits tell us, in this society, fringe concepts are joy, freedom, imagination, community, free will…sounds like a super fun place. There are also Loyalists, who are basically the Third Reich, policing their own people in military uniforms with Observer symbols tattooed on their cheeks. We first meet Etta, a young, blonde Fringe agent, as she makes contact in an Observer club with a black market dealer named Rick. Rick has found one Walter Bishop, frozen in amber – seemingly at his own hand. Etta hops into his van to check out this discovery, and Rick is gunned down before he can tell her where the rest of Walter’s team (a man and a woman) are located. Etta thinks that finding them is the key to the resistance – she is not fond of her supreme overlords.
Neither is Simon Foster, Etta’s partner in Fringe Division, portrayed by none other than the dashing Henry Ian Cusick! I may have some serious love for him. Anyway, Etta trusts Simon and lets him in on her new find: Walter! Simon is pretty thrilled as well, and devises a way to free Walter from the amber with electrical nodes and a repulsor gun (for crowd control?). In the split second it takes for the current to liquefy the amber, Walter is blasted out with the repulsor gun. Simon is pretty much the most prepared guy on the planet, and hands Walter some Red Vines! Walter is very excited about the licorice – too excited, in fact. His brain has gotten a little mushy from all those years in stasis. Unsure about what to do, Etta and Simon hit up Nina Sharp – now rocking some silver hair and a wheelchair, all Professor-X-style – for help. She suggests they infiltrate the old Massive Dynamic building, even though it’s in The City, where their technology was locked down after the Observers invaded. There they will find those pieces of Walter’s brain he had removed all those years ago, tying up a loose end in the Fringe mythology and giving us a solution to our future problems! Wonderful! Meanwhile, Walter merrily hopped around on a bench next to the water. Don’t fall in the Hudson, Walter. Nasty.
Nina mentioned that there had been great consequences (or was it grave consequences? It was windy out there) when the Fringe team saved the world before – is she talking about the Machine? The Bridge? Peter’s journey into September’s mind? The future we saw in another timeline, when Peter’s consciousness jumped forward and we saw Olivia die at the hands of Walternate? I’m excited to see what they mean. Perhaps when Peter was in September’s mind and he said “they’re coming,” he didn’t just mean the team that extracted him. Maybe he meant all the Observers, and because Peter showed him the universe again, he can hold off the invasion, at least for a little while. Can’t wait to see!
In order to get Walter to Massive Dynamic, Etta and Simon first had to get him past some security checkpoints. In what was perhaps Walter’s most hilarious moment, he said to the guard, rather calmly, that “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Yes! Geek points to Walter all the way! Jedi mind trick for the win.
Needless to say, they made it to MD successfully and Walter’s brain was still in cold storage. While waiting for Walter’s brain bits to repair his mushy parts, Simon revealed just how much he hates the Observers and why he longs for a better future – he was at Stanford when the Observers invaded, and his parents were murdered. Cusick brought just the right amount of emotion and gravitas to this scene, allowing us to see just how the Observers have taken a toll on this future Earth. Etta responds that she was only 4 when her parents died, and she can’t remember them. It is SO BLATANTLY OBVIOUS at this point that she is Peter and Olivia’s daughter, but of course they don’t tell us that yet. When Walter wakes up a restored man, he does recognize her (“you!”), but they have more pressing matters to attend to. The Observers are coming to get them! Never content with one way out of a room, Walter holds up his hand and a secret door appears and releases them. After pausing to make an anti-matter bomb and vaporizing not only the Observers and Loyalists on their tail but the entire MD building (damn, son!), Walter takes them to the ambered underground Ninja Turtles hideout where the Fringe team and some old typewriters were hidden. Seriously, I was expecting Raphael at any moment. Simon and Etta set to freeing the team – and the woman was Astrid, not Olivia. What the…not that I don’t love Astrid, but where is our homegirl?
Of course, the repulsor chose that moment to fail, with Peter still in the amber. Simon hurriedly tried to fix it, as Astrid looked around and discovered none other than William Bell, hands outstretched and also frozen in amber! Walter put a finger to his lips – don’t tell! Ahhhhhh!!!! Screamed all the Fringe fans!
Simon decided the best way to free Peter was to push him out of the amber, encasing himself in the process to save the Island timeline universe! Desmond would be so proud of your heroic self-sacrifice! Just in time, too, since Broyles and a team of Observers was about to bust in on their asses. They found nothing except Simon encased in amber, and Broyles found a half-eaten Red Vine that he smartly chose to keep to himself. The Red Vine of Hope!
The final scene showed the Fringe team on a train, having evaded capture once again. Astrid asked Walter if they were just going to leave Bell there, to which Walter responded that after what Bell did to Olivia, he wanted no part of Bell. Besides, he’d hacked off Bell’s hand, still in amber! That hand would give them the access they needed (to what, he didn’t say). Etta was staring out the window when Peter came up behind her. She asked if he knew who she was, and it slowly dawned on him – “Henrietta?” he asked hopefully. “Hi, Dad,” she responded, and then there was hugging! Dawwwww. Sad face though – Etta was wearing a damaged bullet around her neck, presumably one that they took out of poor, dead Olivia. Maybe we can change that, though. Anything is possible here in Fringe land!
My thoughts: Holy crap, I loved it. Our Glyph clue from last week, Simon, obviously referred to our attractive Scottish friend. The episode was extremely important in light of the one thread that has been in every single Fringe episode – the Observers. Who are they, what is their mission? I think that September and his ilk (all the other months!) have been watching for other reasons – either trying to fix what went wrong that prompted the Invasion, or picking the right moment to invade. I prefer to opt for the less sinister of the two. September knew what he was doing, I think, when he kept saving Peter. Peter is necessary not only to bridge the two universes, but to prevent the Invasion, therefore preventing the Earth from Observer-inflicted destruction. See, if the Earth never gets messed up, the Observers never invade their past/our future, and maybe Olivia won’t die? So many outcomes, and the Observers can see them all. Why did they choose this one? Surviving at the cost of the entire human race doesn’t seem like their style, especially as scientists. It does seem like someone else’s style, however…do they have a supreme overlord? What caused Observers to come into being? They do not seem 100% human, but they can bleed and stuff. Are they the ultimate outcome of the David Robert Jones shape-shifter experiment, and then like Skynet and the terminators, they take over? I like this theory! I’m going with it until proven otherwise!
If I’m right, Jones is just SUCH a jerk. Really.
One tiny point of dislike: the hashtag was #FightTheFuture. Why must we steal the first X-Files movie title? Why?
Plus, what is going on with the Other Universe? Over There didn’t seem to be around, and no one mentioned it. Had they lost the ability to see it or access it? Not that many people knew about it to begin with, so my guess is that it was sealed off after the Observers invaded. Can’t have people universe-hopping when you are trying to keep imagination and free will at bay!
If Etta is 24-ish, that means Olivia is preggers…right now. Peter didn’t hestitate to hit that, did he?
Did we not adore Henry Ian Cusick in this role? It’s so wonderful to see him on TV again, and in so many places – he’s also currently on the new Shonda Rhimes show, Scandal. Perhaps this Emmy-nominated Scot will bring some awards love to Fringe just as he did to Lost! Also, the Fringe team can get him out of the amber pretty quickly, all they need is a brand new repulsor gun. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Etta – hopefully this means we haven’t seen the last of Simon, either!
Geek Explosion: The Star Wars references were EVERYWHERE. Not just Walter’s quote about the droids, but Bell losing his hand (Darth Bell?), being reanimated after being frozen in carbonite amber, Etta I am your father, total domination under the Observer Empire…let’s hope the rebels blow up the Death Star and win in the end!
Walterisms: “And LSD. I loved LSD!” Also a long bit about monkey feces and brains.
Episode Rating: 10 and A HALF Red Vines! Gotta count the Red Vine of Hope!
Glyph code: QUAKE. Uh-oh. Shaky times ahead!
Next week also looks absurdly exciting, as both sides band together to continue the fight against Jones in “Worlds Apart”. Stay tuned!