The episode starts shortly after last week’s left off: Peter — who is 47 years old now — collapses in strife-ridden New York and is rushed to a hospital. We see Astrid with a new haircut as well as Olivia’s now-grown niece Ella (Emily Meade, whom you might recall as a baby-faced prostitute on “Boardwalk Empire”). Ella’s now a junior agent at Fringe Division, working for her “Aunt Liv.”
For a time, Peter only had his 2011 memories, but the details of his future life came back to him — which is a relief, because he suffered partial amnesia last week, too. We soon discover that the Earth of 2026 is a lot like Earth-2, with Fringe Division using amber to combat the rogue wormhole’s caused by Walter’s interdimensional experiments. Worse, there’s a terrorist named Moreau who uses high-tech bombs to mess with the wormholes and accelerate the “End of Days” (which is also the terrorist’s group’s name). Moreau takes his name from H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau and is played by the wonderfully twitchy Brad Dourif, who gets little to do this week.
So what’s been going on with the regulars over the past 15 years? Well, Peter and Olivia have gotten married but Walter wasn’t present, because he’s apparently been put in jail forever for causing the environmental disasters. Not only is Earth 1.15 in bad shape, but Earth 2 is gone completely, having finally collapsed. Peter and Olivia realize that imprisoned Walter’s the only person who can figure out Moreau’s technology. Peter intercedes with now-Senator Broyles, who lost one of his eyes and has a creepy glass one. Peter says, cryptically, “If what we lost in Detroit still means anything to you, just give me a chance.”
So Walter gets a temporary furlough, highly reminiscent of his release from mental hospital on the “Fringe” pilot. Through Walter’s eyes, we get caught up on other future details: Olivia has gained control of her Jean Grey-like telekinetic powers while the equipment from Walter’s old lab was impounded as evidence for his trial. Ella serves as the “new” Astrid. Walter and Peter have some nice scenes — Peter brings him some Red Vines for old time’s sake. (Does Walter like them because their shape evokes DNA strands?) Walter recalls that Peter’s activation of the Doomsday Device sealed the fate of both worlds: “For all intents and purposes, it was the day we died.”
Meanwhile, it turns out that Walternate’s here, having crossed over 15 years ago on an alleged mission of mercy to save his world. As you might expect, Walternate’s none too happy, and is working with Moreau to bring about the end of our world in retaliation for the loss of his.
Walter gives the Fringe team the means of tracking Moreau’s technology, and which leads them to Central Park, which has a huge amber lump marking a wormhole incident. Peter discovers a key to the old family homestead, goes there alone and finds Walternate. The dialogue’s a little cornball: “I should have known that the electrolytes came from you.” “I’m going to destroy your universe, ‘son,’ only all at once.” Walternate threatens to kill something Peter loves, and Peter discovers that Walternate isn’t really there: he’s a holographic projection! Walternate’s actually at Central Park, where he walks right up and shoots her in the head. Shocking!
Next we see Olivia’s beachside funeral, which rather oddly resembles a cross between a Hawaiian wedding and a Viking ship-pyre. Denied a visit to the wedding, Walter at least gets to attend the funeral. (Nina Sharp’s also there, but we don’t know what she’s been up to 15 years in the future.) Peter and Walter, in difference scenes on the episode, talk about how if they could go back and change things, they would. Walter hits on the idea of using the device to send Peter’s 2026 knowledge back to 2011, to prevent the world-destroying mistakes of the past. We jump back to Peter in the Device in 2011.
In Earth-2, Fauxlivia shows up to discover that Walternate’s plans are going tits-up. “They outsmarted you, didn’t they?” On our Earth, Peter activates the machine and travels, with his Fringe-pals, to the Liberty Island science base on Earth 2. So Walter faces Walternate, Olivia faces Fauxlivia. As Funnybot would say, “Awk-ward!” Peter says he’s done this so they can work together to peaceably solve the problems, and just as he offers a suggestion as to how, he vanishes completely — and the others don’t seem to notice!
At the foot of the Earth-1 Statue of Liberty stand a group of Observers. One says, “You’re right, they don’t remember him.” And the Michael Cerveris says, “He never existed. He served his purpose.”
Okay, I’ll bite: Why doesn’t Peter exist? We probably don’t have enough information to really know. Since time travel is now involved, it could be that Walter and Walternate attempt to change the past, so Walter never invaded the alternate universe in 1985, causing all the trouble. And if he didn’t, then the Earth-2 Peter would never be cured of his illness and will die in childhood. (Don’t ask me to resolve the causality issues.)
Did that shot of the vortex on the Thames River come from an Earth-2 episode? It looked awfully familiar.
What did they mean about the Fringe Team being the First People? Apparently Walter of Earth 1.15 (or Astrid or Ella) is going to send the pieces of the Doomsday machine back in time, at some point further in the future. That could explain why the machine parts were discovered so far back in the past, but not who invented it in the first place.
Will we see Earth 1.15 again? It’s hard to believe they’d go to trouble of making a new credit sequence, or casting Brad Dourif as a bad guy, without revisiting those things. If so, maybe we can find out what happened with Peter and Broyles in Detroit, or see some future pop culture inside jokes. I was looking out for something like a movie marquee with Star Wars VII playing, but didn’t notice anything like that, except for the canned steak and the box of wine.
Did Olivia and Peter have fertility problems in the future? That seemed to be the subtext of their warm domestic scene together.
Will Peter be there on Earth 1.15? Since the Doomsday Device sent Peter’s consciousness in the past, there’s no reason to believe his body isn’t still there, in the future. Is Earth 1.15 on the same time-line as the Earth-2 universe? At any rate, we can expect that Season 4’s initial episodes could have Peter non-existent in the present, and Olivia dead in the future.
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