Fringe season 3 episode 21 review: The Last Sam Weiss

The penultimate Fringe episode of the season sends Peter on a journey he wasn't anticipating…

This review contains spoilers.

3.21 The Last Sam Weiss

I find it slightly disorientating that the end of season 3 is in sight, because it only seemed like a blink ago that Olivia flew through the windscreen of that car, and a shapeshifter killed Charlie. But the show has come so far in those twenty episodes, mostly by almost negating the standalone stories this season, that a strong if convoluted narrative has been forged.

For the creators of the show, it’s now time to cash in the chips they’ve been hording over the previous episodes, and splurge the proceeds with total abandon. This story, The Last Sam Weiss is a splurge, although it left me feeling rather satisfied, rather than the empty hollow response that these experiences often evoke.

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As the title suggests this brings Sam Weiss (Lord Of The Rings reference, maybe) into the foreground, as it’s revealed that he’s part of a chain of his ancestors that have carried the secrets of the machine through the centuries.

The only unfortunate aspect to this for me was that it all ended up like an obtuse homage to National Treasure, with Sam and Olivia tracking clues between ancient artefacts to solve their problem. Some of this didn’t actually make that much sense. Like how did Sam’s father know that inside the native American artefact was the ‘key’?

Having saluted Nick Cage and co, the writers then decided to pay their respects to show creator, JJ Abrams, when the key reveals the ‘crowbar’ that will open the machine and allow Peter into it. The key is Olivia, who is beautifully drawn on an ancient manuscript that was probably created by Milo Rambaldi (Alias reference). OK, I made that last bit up, but the parallels between this and an entire subplot of Alias were laid on thicker than chocolate frosting on a Yule log.

If I’m making this all sound a bit cheesy (or chocolaty), maybe it was, but it was wholesome fromage, and the pace of events kept things moving along in a way that didn’t allow me to dwell too long on those parts that didn’t quite work.

As ever, the bits that really delivered were the character interactions. The highlight for me was a tiny, but brilliant scene where Walter and Olivia work on operating the psychic typewriter, Turning back time, Walter becomes the forceful mind and Olivia the fretful child given strength by his resolve. Her inability to solve the problem at this point is slightly blown later on, because she does so without understanding how she did it, disappointingly.

But everything I’ve talked about so far is purely window dressing to the main event, Peter, with Olivia’s help, getting into the machine. What happens then wasn’t expected by me, or anyone else who isn’t working on the production, I suspect.

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I’ve looked at the roughly one minute of footage after he gets into the machine at least a dozen times, looking for clues.

Peter wakes in the future (as the 9/11 monument is built), near a plaque dated September 11, 2021, and ten years on from present day, Fringe division isn’t just the tiny team in the lab. The FD trooper calls him “Agent Bishop”, which isn’t a title he uses, and there appears to be a war going on in New York, with bodies littering the streets. If ever the ending of an episode was going to make you watch the next, then this was it.

Myself, I’ll be glued to my TV for the final Fringe of season 3, if just to find out how crazy the Fringe creative team are willing to go, and where this might take us in season 4!

If only all TV shows were this entertaining.

Read our review of episode 20, 6:02 AM EST, here.