I knew going into this episode of Fringe that it was set to begin the countdown to the finale. In various interviews both cast and producers have discussed how the finale storyline is more or less spread over the last three episodes. I expected big things from 6:02 AM EST, and it most certainly did not disappoint.
Just to get it out of the way, the only thing about which I’m mildly displeased is the fact that Walternate was able to use Peter and AltLivia’s son — whose name has finally been revealed as Henry — to activate the machine. Up until this point, one of the only things we knew about the machine was that it is intended for Peter and responds only to him. The notion that Walternate would be able to activate it with only half of the genetic profile it requires never quite made sense to me: by that reasoning, both Walternate and Elizabeth could conceivably activate the machine as well. Although I do like that Walternate didn’t simply use the sample he took from Henry, but removed the genes from AltLivia leaving behind a pure sample of half of Peter’s genes. That particular detail salvaged the plot point for me.
I can’t help but think that the reason the machine isn’t working the way Walternate intended — that is, it doesn’t yet seem to be helping heal their world, though it has certainly destabilized ours — is because he cheated the system, so to speak, by using only half of Peter’s DNA. Sam Weiss told Nina that Peter had a choice to make, that he would have to choose between the universes, and that that would be, in part, decided by which Olivia he chose. It could also be that the machine requires an actual person with whom to interact, and not merely a genetic sample. I also wonder if this is why Peter was blocked from accessing the machine — since it was activated with only half of what it should have been, perhaps it’s gone into a sort of lockdown. I wonder, though, if it has something to do with the fact that it was activated Over There, so Peter can’t enter the machine Over Here. If that’s the case, I’m hoping we see our team crossing over in the next couple episodes.
Fringe has always been a show that isn’t afraid to cross the line, and they took something of a gamble last season when they decided to introduce a whole new universe of disconcertingly familiar characters: there was no way of knowing how the audience would react to these doppelgangers. From the beginning I loved the glimpses at this Other World. I think that everyone involved has done a phenomenal job in making us see the humanity in these Other characters, and in many ways we’ve taken the same journey that AltLivia has, albeit in reverse. I loved that AltLivia made the decision to commit treason in an attempt to save both worlds — her time on the Other Side really did make her see that they aren’t the monsters Walternate portrayed them as. I get the feeling that though she’d be unwilling to sacrifice her world for theirs, she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t at least try another way than the destruction of billions of lives.
I was half-expecting AltLivia to actually make it Over Here during this episode and prolong Peter’s attempt to enter the machine. I thought the parallel imagery with AltLivia between this episode and the episodes when our Olivia was in captivity Over There was neat to see. Walternate made an interesting point to AltLivia, that they’re more alike than she thinks considering that she too was willing to sacrifice her son for the greater good. I’m hoping that her captivity doesn’t keep her out of the way for the coming episodes, because I’ve come to like AltLivia a great deal. Perhaps Lincoln and Charlie, already suspicious of Walternate’s motives, will break her out.
There were too many heartbreaking Walter moments in 6:02 AM EST for me to really name one favourite: suffice it to say that fans have renewed their clamouring for John Noble to finally receive a long-deserved Emmy nomination in the coming cycle. One thing I love about Fringe is their talent at continuity, and that events from previous episodes continue to have an effect later on. In the episode The Firefly, we saw the Observer put Walter through a trial of sorts to prepare him for the moment we finally saw last night.
In one particularly heart-wrenching scene between John Noble and Josh Jackson, Walter tells Peter that he ‘was never good at letting you go’, and it was due to that that very inability 26 years ago that our characters find themselves in this position today. The scene with Walter in the chapel was also quite something: Walter begged God not to save his son, but to save their world. I always find myself intrigued when Fringe explores Walter’s search for redemption, which he thought he had found when he received a white tulip. Seeing Walter come to the realization that, as he sees it, he hasn’t been forgiven for his actions all those years ago was hard to watch.
And Walter isn’t the only one who has changed: it’s been nice to see Olivia happy for once. It’s also almost bittersweet because, inevitably, things get worse for her and Peter as soon as they find happiness with each other. The awkward naked scene between Livia and Walter had me in stitches, as did Peter’s revelation that Walter always cooks naked on Tuesdays. And while it seems like Peter and Olivia are finally at a point where they’re being more honest with each other, I found myself quite indignant on Liv’s behalf that Peter would chose to enter the machine without telling her first. It seemed a cruel thing to do to her, particularly given that he ends up in a coma.
Needless to say, I loved this episode of Fringe. It had everything I adore about the show, from wickedly funny moments with Walter to threads of the larger tapestry of the mythos to touching and heartbreaking moments between our characters. The scene right before Peter attempts to enter the machine is a perfect representation of how very much these characters, including Broyles and Astrid, have become intertwined with one another.
I am intensely curious as to where the last two episodes of season 3 are going to take us, and I have no doubts that it will be a wild ride. It’s going to be a long, long wait to next Friday’s The Last Sam Weiss. A