Fringe season 5 episode 11 review: The Boy Must Live

Review Billy Grifter 14 Jan 2013 - 07:00

The penultimate episode of Fringe provides some long-awaited answers. Here's Billy's review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.11 The Boy Must Live

As we near the end, so many things are explained in the penultimate Fringe story.

What's been great about the last few stories in Fringe's ultimate arc is the focus on story, one that looks like it was worked out in the very early days of the show. I could be wrong, but it seems we were always destined to get here, irrespective of how many seasons it took to turn full circle. Though, it's worth noting that even in this final season they've taken entirely pointless detours, like the one where Walter feared he was becoming his previous dark persona. That's wrapped up here through the magical touch of Michael, though it does come with dire consequences for the ultimate solution to their problems.

What went better was the Donald exposition, where we find that September was made human again for transgression, and, as I've suspected for some time, Michael is his son. It's a wonderful performance here from Michael Cerveris (Donald/September) as he carefully blends enough of his original Observer performance with the more human Donald to great effect.

However, here's a couple of questions they didn't answer. September gets fatally shot at some point, but is that in his future or past? And, why didn't they simply take the Observer tech that Peter had, put it in Donald and let him take Michael to the point in time and space that he needs to be? These are questions they might answer, or choose not to, it could swing either way.

Especially neat plotting was the splice into the foundational events on the frozen lake, where September says "The Boy Must Live", where he was talking about Michael and not Peter. Though, why he'd say this entirely out of context for easy misinterpretation seems at best confusing. I hope that was always intended, but it might have been a recent addition. The existence of Michael, the Observer with emotions is less unexpected, because his father was already experiencing them, leading to him altering the timeline by saving Walter and Peter, and numerous other adjustments, before hiding Michael.

Another nice addition to our Observer knowledge was the maturation chamber sequence where we got to see an Observer grow from a embryo to a fully mature creature. It explained why we see no female Observers, and the transition from CGI to live action was pretty seamless for a TV show. Manhattan in 2609 was pretty cool too.

What I found much less convincing, although in an infinite universe all things are possible, is Olivia's assertion/hope that the demise of the Observers will be resurrection for Etta. Clearly Peter is thinking the way I was, that no observers means no September to pluck him and Walter from the lake, and therefore no Etta. Except that's a time paradox, because confusingly the Observers can't be stopped if they never existed. They must exist, but they must also be emotional, and have the knowledge to go and perform the critical modifications to the timeline that are necessary for them to be in that enhanced form. If that sounds like a tall order, I can imagine the final double episode just a week from now is likely to give some people a headache, as it is doing right now to me thinking of how this can be neatly resolved.

But before I look forward to that, let's revisit the final part of the story where the team tries to evade the forces of darkness in the train station. This created some much-needed tension, although on numerous occasions they all seemed intent on drawing attention to themselves. I noted that Olivia had hold of Michael's hand right up until the moment he stepped off the train, which he clearly planned to do all along. Windmark seems thrilled that he's captured the boy, but I'm less convinced that he's going to like the end result. It's a strong possibility that Michael's powers of mental invasion are much more powerful than Windmark's, and he might find himself an unwilling ally to the cause.

It's time to buckle up tight, because the final Fringe is almost upon us, and I've got the vibe it's going to be an epic finale.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Anomoly XB-6783746, here.

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A good episode, but can't help but feel that we maybe looking at a LOST style disappointment next week. Still... Fingers crossed

You were conviced the observer boy was September only a couple of episodes ago.

I suspect the odd detours it took were to throw off those tedious people that spend hours trying to guess every possible scenario then bleat on that they knew how the show was going to end.

At first I thought about the Lake, too. No Observers would mean no one there to pull them out of the ice cold water. But than I remebered that without the Observers there would not be any need for it. September pulled them as far as i remember out of the Lake to undo the mistake he made, standing in Walters Lab and disturbing him while Walter was making the cure. The Moment walter would have seen that the cure was good he turned to September.

My first thoughts concerned the events at Reiden Lake as well, but then, if my memory serves me correct, I realized that in the alternate timeline September didn't pull Peter and Walter out of the Lake. That all happened in the first timeline. In the alternate timeline, Walter crossed over to the other side but Peter died in the process of returning him to our side. I need to go back and review some episodes in season 4 to get all of my alternate timeline details sorted out. But I'm pretty sure the writers have established that Peter's existence is not contingent on any other factor except for Olivia's love for him.

I'm guessing the Observers are defeated some other way, prehaps by Michael. If the Observers never exist then Peter stays in the alternate Universe & Walternate has no reason to destroy our Universe. Too many things go belly up if this plan to go to 2167 is the solution. Plus wouldnt it be the 2167 version of the world where Observers rule rather then the original 2167 where these scientists first work on increasing intelligence?

Exactly. Without Septembers intervention Walternate would have saved his son's life, and unless Walter outright kidnapped him (which would have been a complete departure from his original motivation) he would have lived his entire life in the Redverse. Meaning he and our Olivia never would have met, and at best Henrietta would have become Henry.

Also, the reviewer mentions that September got shot, but that was in his past since that is when he got captured by the others (which we saw happen). I guess they wanted him alive to be punished and so healed him. Also, mentioned is that Donald only needs an implant to be able to time jump, not quite because not only did they remove his implant, but the other Observers also de-evolved him somehow. On the other hand, when he went off to get some more unspecified tech, an implant may have been part of it.

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