It's Fringe Friday here on Open the "Fringe," although it's sadly not Fringe Friday with an all-new ep on Fox (I miss our intrepid team of universe-hopping agents already, don't you?) Don't worry, I've got your fix right here, and might I add, greetings from the post-season-four meltdown! I needed a bit of distance to ruminate on the intricacies of this two-part finale, hence my posting of it later rather than sooner. Of course, if you are an Observer, you would be able to see this recap from any point in the timeline, so posting time is irrelevant! Oh, don't you love Observer paradoxes? There sure were a few in this finale! But that was not the main event – read onward for some sweet recapping goodness, some squishy Peter love, and even some literary analysis!
The first part of the two-part finale, entitled "Brave New World," found commuters in a large retail/office complex bursting into flame (or, as we call it on Fringe, just another Tuesday). One woman, rooted in place, told others to stop moving, as it appeared that those who moved, died. Walter and Astrid were on the scene, with Astrid adorably mother-henning Walter and him calling the police and rescue workers ninnies and idiots. Ah, I love these two. Our other favorite twosome, Peter and Olivia, were enjoying a morning in bed, reading the newspaper and looking for places to live – potentially with a nursery. AWWWW. So cute!!
They were also summoned to the spontaneously combusting crime scene, just as Walter was chatting up none other than guest star Rebecca Mader, aka Charlotte Staples Lewis of Lost fame! Always in a fix, that one. She was quite distressed at the possibility that she might flame on at any second, and agreed to be the first one to test Walter's idea for a cure. The cure was for an infection of nanites, which were being dispersed via escalator railing, hence affecting most of the people who were on their way to work. It is here I am silently pleased that my perennial fear of down escalators leads me to seek out the stairs more often than not. Whew! The nefarious instigator of the nanites? Shockingly, David Robert Jones. We are all unsurprised, and turn our attention back to Charlotte (whose character, I'm sure, has a name, but all my notes say Charlotte. Once a Lostie, always a Lostie). [Rebecca Mader's character was named "Jessica Holt." --Ed. Note]
Back at the lab, Charlotte is garnering sympathy with photos of and phone calls to her darling little girl, tugging on Olivia's heartstrings, who clearly has the baby rabies. Charlotte begins to overheat to near-death proportions, but Olivia holds her hand and somehow stops the nanites with her mind! She's getting really powerful now; she couldn't do this stuff before. Walter synthesizes a cure and the next time we see Charlotte, she's all hugs-and-air-kisses as she bids goodbye to Olivia. Call me, girl!
Walter has taken an in-depth look at the nanites and recognizes their unique design as having been created by the one and only William Bell, who in this timeline has supposedly perished in a car crash on New Year's Eve a number of years prior. He insists to everyone it's Bell, and of course they don't believe him; he's just crazy old Walter! Cut to Jones and Bell, on a barge, and we see that Jones has been getting his orders from ol' Belly, who is very much alive, all along. Bell is giving him an analogy in chess terms:
"Chess is the art of knowing when a piece is most valuable, and then being willing to sacrifice it. In the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds, influence is maximized, and desire becomes destiny."
That seemed important so I wrote it down for y'all. And then Bell sacrifices…THE BISHOP. DUN DUN DUN. As if we didn't have enough to worry about, both Walter and Peter are added to the potential fatality list.
After raving to Nina about Bell's nanites and being told he didn't actually die in a car crash but of lymphoma (supposedly), Walter goes back to St. Claire's mental hospital, where he knows Bell visited him a few days before he 'died' in 2005, and demands to see the log book, which he takes back to the lab for scrutiny. I found this scene largely filler, and the staff at St. Claire's to be asshats. Poor Walter.
Peter and Olivia are once again engaged in domestic bliss (chopping veggies and drinking wine!) when a "focused sun beam" starts destroying a building in downtown Boston, a building situated right above an underground oil reservoir that could "set Boston on fire from below". In other words, BOOM. Broyles gets his few minutes of screen time observing the deadly beam, then makes some phone calls to get Fringe division on it. They are apparently the only agents in the whole city! Ahem.
Walter is in the lab with Astrid, fussing about with an easy bake over and pig brains encased in lemon cake, laced with cortexiphan. Tasty. He cuts the cake, but we see it reseal itself, whole once more. Something tells me this will come into play later.
Walter has also found almond oil from a specific brand of almonds Bell was obsessed with on the pages of the St. Claire's visitor log book, and decides he knows where Bell is – the almond import warehouse! He says he is going there, and when Astrid balks he goes on a tear about being right and saving everyone, call her Alex, and declares "so PEACE! OUT!" and storms out the door, only to return because he doesn't drive and needs a ride. They take off into the night!
Peter and Olivia have to shut off the frequency that is allowing that deadly, focused sunbeam to cook Boston, and they need to do so from opposing rooftops. Peter cracks "it's like don't cross the streams, but in reverse!" and I am highly amused, but Olivia doesn't get it, which makes me sad. Shameful display right there, Olivia. Didn't you even have a childhood for FIVE MINUTES?
Of course, being separated, Jones sneaks up behind Peter after they turn off the frequency and starts kicking his ass. WHY is a porous, falling apart guy handing Peter's ass to him? Does that seem right to you? But apparently it's so Olivia can take over his body and punch Jones out, leading to him getting zapped and disintegrating in the same way he did when Peter shut the door to Over There on him at Reiden Lake. Jones realized that he was the sacrifice Bell needed to make - he was the bishop. Bye bye, DRJones.
Walter and Astrid bust into the warehouse, only to be told by the totally creepy dude from the freighter of misfit creatures that he's never heard of Bell; they are on their way out when they hear the noises of the creatures and go to investigate. Creepy dude returns, and Astrid goes into action mode, karate chopping her some bad guys (yay Astrid!!!) and fleeing with Walter. They run about the maze of crates and storage containers when creepy dude pops up in front of them, shooting Astrid in the stomach. NOOOOOOO! I get worried for a minute, but then I remember she's alive in the future timeline. Whew. As Walter cradles Astrid's wounded form, Bell approaches from behind, greeting his 'old friend'. Leonard Nimoy rides again!
My Thoughts: When we first started with the nanite-case, I was annoyed we weren't getting down to the bones of the whole universes-colliding thing we've been dealing with much of the season. Luckily, the writers really brought it around. I also liked the idea that Jones had been working for Bell the whole time but, like much of the fan community, I was disappointed in his anticlimactic death. One zap from a transformer and he's gone? After Olivia shot him through the NECK and he lived? I mean, I guess it's a different form of trauma, but still. I did like the symmetry of how he died – it's very "the universe always finds a way of course correcting" and "whatever happened, happened," two very big themes on Lost and the way time travel in general is portrayed in the Abrams 'verse.
Episode rating: 6 out of 10 red vines. Points deducted for the disappointing demise of Jones, but added for Peter and Olivia cuteness, and Walter rants!
Glyph code: POWERS (presumably, Olivia's)
Check right back here on Monday for my recap and thoughts of the thrilling conclusion to season 4: Brave New World, Part 2!