This review contains spoilers.
As much as I enjoyed Five-Twenty-Ten, it did serve to underline how this show was once about Olivia, and now she’s been demoted to supporting character to Peter who is certainly centre stage for the final season of Fringe. That’s slightly sad, but then the whole mood of the Fringe story seems to be a generally depressing one as they try to piece together a solution they don’t understand, fighting a foe they can only now just begin to fathom. Given the writers decided to kill off Etta, one can only wonder who else might not make it to the end of episode thirteen?
But back to this episode, which has a very obvious theme of unwanted change. The changes in question are a parallel alternatation in both Peter and Walter, both caused by them having things in their heads they’d rather not have there. Well, I say that, but with Peter it is hard to know what he’s actually thinking as he transforms into an Observer.
Is he the first Observer, creating a looped time paradox? Possibly, and that by saving him from being drowned in the lake all those years ago, did September save himself at the expense of humanity? If the answer to those questions is remotely ‘yes’ the the final episodes of Fringe are going to give me an Observer-tech sized headache.
I’m also very curious what Joshua Jackson is going to look like bald, and if they’re going to use a skull-cap makeup, or actually cut all his hair off. Some men look fine without hair (hey, Patrick Stewart made a career from it!), but some others look decidedly odd. It’s all about skull shape, and soon we’ll get to find out how strange Joshua Jackson’s is.
As for character development, we’ve seen Peter act aggressively before, but terrorism using biological warfare is a diversion even for him. What he’s really capable of might be very unpleasant, and make him a character to whom it’s much more difficult to relate.
From an implication viewpoint it is easier to follow Walter’s change, as he becomes essentially a copy of Walternate. As we become older, most people become aware that they’re not the same person, personality wise, as they were when younger. Walter’s snag is that he’s desperate not to become someone he once was, even if that persona has always been just below the surface since we’ve known him.
What’s great here is that we get to meet the now-aged Nina Sharp, to explore his fear about what he’s becoming and how desperate he is to not let that happen. Though, and this is what makes Walter such a rich character, his indignation about William Bell taking his record collection was finely crafted humour.
I’m not sure Walter really wants Nina removing parts of his brain, even if he’s asked her to help him do that. The silent partner in this triumvirate is William Bell, who is still trapped in amber, one assumes. But that is a big assumption. Just because Walter chopped off his hand, it doesn’t mean that we won’t see William Bell one more time, I suspect, but I’m now wondering if the stealing of Walter’s Bowie albums is the last straw in this relationship? I suspect so.
What Fringe has done is create a ton of questions for the viewer, which unfortunately we now have a month to mull over before Fringe returns for a final tranche of stories, culminating in the finale on the 18th of January.
With Peter turning ‘Observer’ and Walter reverting to being Walternate, that leaves a void into which Olivia can again take centre stage, which is how the show should really end, isn’t it? She is the Fringe Queen, and she deserves to be critical to events when it ends.
While I’m aware that some Fringe fans aren’t very happy with the gloomy nature of season five, we have to have confidence that those behind the show will give it a conclusion worthy of the wonderful characters they created. Fringe is usually at its best when it goes bonkers, and looking at the current status of the plot lines, we’re getting there.
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