‘Fringe’ 4.22 Recap: “What a Troublesome Species We Can Be”

One consequence of my traveling last week is that I’m way behind on my TV watching. In fact, my DVR overran while I was away and deleted some of my oldest recordings. (Guess I’ll never find out what happened in the last half-season of ‘Revenge’ now. Oh well…) Now that I’m back, it’s time to do some catching up. We’ll start today with the season finale (which was very nearly the series finale) of ‘Fringe’.

As I last wrote before my trip, I didn’t think much of the show’s previous episode (part 1 of the finale), which felt like a confusing mélange of previously discarded story ideas that had nothing to do with one another. Fortunately, ‘Brave New World, Part 2’ isn’t quite that bad. This isn’t to say that it’s good, but it’s less overtly awful.

Well, it is after the first scene, anyway. We open on a super-cheesy CGI rendering of William Bell’s mutant beasts frolicking in a valley. The astounding lameness of this is tempered a bit by the revelation a moment later that it’s a holographic simulation. Bell, (Leonard Nimoy, looking very 1970s dapper) pulls a “Talking Killer” routine and tells Walter all about his evil plan to destroy both universes and build a new one ruled by his genetically enhanced life forms, without interference from pesky human beings. He also reveals that he has cancer, which he’s been using Cortexiphan to slow the progress of – but, “Slowing is not stopping.” His new universe is to be his legacy. Further, according to Bell, this whole plan was actually Walter’s idea all along. Walter concocted the scheme years earlier, but realizing its insanity, had Bell cut out the parts of his brain with all the secrets behind it.

While those two are yapping away on Bell’s secret tanker ship, Peter and Olivia learn that Astrid was shot. She’s still alive, because someone called 911 for her. Who did this and why they would bother, we don’t know.

Nurse Jessica (Rebecca Mader), the friendly victim of David Robert Jones’ nanite infection scheme, turns out to be an evil spy working for Bell. She even knows a secret method of trapping the Observer known as September by tricking him into standing on a rune symbol that he can’t leave. She demonstrates to Peter and Olivia the way that the Observers can catch bullets by moving faster than humanly possible, but then shoots him with a special gun that he can’t stop. This would explain why a wounded September appeared to Olivia in a previous episode. As Jessica is about to kill him, Olivia’s Cortexiphan powers kick in and deflect the bullets back, killing Jessica instead.

Peter brings Jessica’s body back to Walter’s lab. With Nina Sharp’s help, he’s able to revive her for a few minutes to question her. (Dead Jessica’s crazy eyes that move in independent directions are really creepy.) From this, he learns that William Bell has been trying to activate Olivia’s Cortexiphan powers in order to use her as an energy source for his universe-destroying machine.

The episode climaxes after Peter and Olivia discover Bell’s ship and confront him just moments before the universe collapses. Bell, who had not originally planned for any human beings other than himself and Walter to survive the creation of the new universe, suggests that Peter and Olivia will be his new Adam and Eve.

Realizing what September meant when he said that Olivia would have to die, Walter coldly shoots her in the head. Thus, he shuts down the power source and stops the countdown to destruction. Impressed, William Bell rings his special bell and just vanishes (to the alternate universe?).

Peter is understandably upset that Walter would kill his girlfriend, but Walter has a plan. He believes that the Cortexiphan in her blood will repair the damage to Olivia’s brain so long as he can dig the bullet out (which he does by pushing it through the back of her head with an antenna). Indeed, Olivia’s wound heals up and she revives.

In a series of wrap-up scenes, we learn that:

  • The government has cryogenically quarantined all of Bell’s mutant monsters.
  • Hailed as heroes, Fringe Division has been granted a major budget increase. Broyles has been promoted to General, and he asks Nina Sharp to head up his science division.
  • Olivia has used up all the Cortexiphan in her system, and is pregnant.
  • September visits Walter to warn him that, “They are coming.”

So, it would seem that indeed the show has been lining up the pieces to play into that lame flash-forward episode after all. I guess we’ll see more progress in that direction next season.

Now that it’s over and we know that the show will have at least another 13-episode run next season, what nice things can I say about this season finale? Well, it’s relatively coherent. That’s something. On the other hand, I don’t like the way that David Robert Jones was dismissed as a henchman. I don’t like the way that William Bell suddenly turned evil from out of nowhere. I don’t like the way that the alternate universe was written out. I think that Bell’s plan to create a new universe was stupid. I don’t like the way that Cortexiphan was made into a magical substance that gives Olivia the power to do anything the plot conveniently calls for. And I don’t like the set-up for the new storyline about the evil Observers invading and taking over our world.

In short, I really didn’t care for the direction of the series in the second half of this season. I can only hope that things get back on track with the few episodes the show has left.

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