Fringe season 5 episode 1 review: Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

Fringe returns for its fifth and final season with the brilliantly titled Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11. Here's Billy's review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.1 Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

It was only a few minutes into the new, and final season of Fringe that I wished that they’d created some sort of preface for the show. Because I was struggling to remember exactly where we’d left things previously. Fringe got very complicated at times, and the version of reality that they chose to go with is very different from what came before.

In Transilence Thought Unifier Model-11 we go into the future where the Observers take over and the Fringe team hop over the twenty years to the year 2036.

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What this story brings us is the certainty that Letters Of Transit wasn’t just a twist in the Fringe timeline, but the model for a post-alternate world narrative. With only 13 episodes in this final Fringe outing, clearly it will mostly involve fighting the once-benign Observers, and maybe putting a few things back to how they once were.

It all starts well enough with a flashback sequence in which we see the married bliss that Olivia and Peter enjoyed before bald men in hats materialised like a scary version of The Adjustment Bureau. After establishing the characters old and new, and the world they now inhabit, it’s on to find Olivia, now part of a unique furniture collection owned by ex-bookshop owner and Maverick fan Edward Markam.

Where things start to become bogged down is all the emotional reunion scenes, which dragged on for this reviewer. It also struck me that some of these meetings seem less dramatic when you consider that in Olivia’s experience, she only left Peter an hour previously, even if twenty years have elapsed since. I’m also of the opinion that you’d have difficulty connecting with an adult person who you once knew as a child having skipped most of their development.

Then we have the interrogation sequence after Walter is captured by the Orwellian Observers special police, which seems to draw much from a similar one in the original The Matrix. The effects which saw Walter develop haemorrhages was most effective, and conveyed that he wasn’t really built to withstand the assault wrought on him.

His rescue was fine up until the point that Olivia appeared. I’ve watched this a number of times, and I’m sure a vital scene got dropped, because how did she end up in a cell inside the building with her backpack? The guy with the Scottish accent gives Etta two injectors, but the other body that’s delivered with Peter is the freedom fighter who was already dead. Astrid is hidden in the van, so where did Olivia come from? And if she came from the outside, why didn’t Peter just come with her? This seemed so odd I can only conclude that something got edited out that needed to be there, because it just didn’t join up correctly.

In the end, somewhat predictably, victory isn’t victory, and salvation isn’t at hand to truncate the whole season into just one show.

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So, given what we’ve been handed here, what can we deduce about the rest of the season? I suspect that the information that September put in Walter’s head, that’s now gone missing might be something of a red herring, because he knew Walter would be interrogated. And, that the true knowledge to destroy the Observers can only be revealed by that process and the deletion of things from Walter’s mind. Or is this too clever?

What I’d really like to see them do is bring all the threads of Fringe over the previous four seasons together in this one, using the Alternate universe again to attack the Observers in a way they’d never predict, and bringing back William Bell and Nina along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have Fringe back, I’d just prefer these final episodes are part of the greater Fringe adventure rather than an addendum to a story we’ve already seen.

This coming week having lost something (parts of his mind to be precise) Walter does the obvious thing and retraces his steps, taking him back to the Harvard Lab. I just hope someone milked the cow in the past twenty years, or there’s going to be a mess waiting for him.

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