‘Fringe’ 5.01 Recap: “What a Miserable Future”

‘Fringe’ returned for its fifth (and final) season this past Friday. I suppose that I ought to be more excited about this than I am. Unfortunately, considering how poorly Season 4 ended, and considering the path that this season has already decided to take, I think that I’m ready for the show to just be over with already so that I can move on with my life.

The alternate universe storyline is done. We’re apparently not coming back to that. William Bell’s plot to destroy the world has also seemingly been forgotten. Instead, the premiere episode, titled ‘Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11’, propels us into the future for a direct sequel to that cheesy flash-forward episode that was pretty stupid and didn’t need to be revisited. It looks like the whole rest of the series is going to be devoted to this.

The year is 2036. The Observers, previously a passive race, turned despicably evil out of the blue and took over the Earth. The world is a dystopian society. You’ve seen ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Dark City’ or ‘The Hunger Games’, right? Same deal, lower budget. Free will has been abolished, resistance is futile, yadda yadda yadda…

Peter, Walter and Astrid had frozen themselves in amber and remained in stasis until Peter’s now-adult daughter Etta could free them. Now, they need to find Olivia, who’d done the same. The problem is that her body was stolen by “amber gypsies” and eventually sold to Markham, the Little Person book store owner, who claims that he’s in love with her and wanted to be her Prince Charming as soon as he could figure out a way to free her from the amber. In the meantime, he’s been using her as a coffee table. All of this seems very silly.

So, they get Olivia back and release her from the amber. She and Peter have a nice reunion, and Olivia meets her daughter.

Before he was frozen, Walter and the good Observer known as September had formulated a plan to defeat the evil Observers. However, in order to prevent the information from being pulled from his mind by the other Observers, September scrambled it in Walter’s head. The only way he can remember the plan is to obtain the title device, a special contraption that will decode Walter’s thoughts. In trying to do that, Walter is captured and tortured .

Peter fakes his death in order to break into Observer HQ, turn off their carbon monoxide machine (it seems that our air is too pure for the Observers, whose bodies are accustomed to much greater levels of pollution) and rescue Walter. Sadly, by the time they get him back, Walter’s brain has been so badly abused that the plan is gone. Even the Unifier thingamajig can’t retrieve it.

Then, at the last minute, Walter hears some music and sees a dandelion, and appears inspired. Either he’s remembered the plan after all, or thought up a new one.

In summary… Meh. The episode isn’t outright awful. Within the limitations of the dumb premise, it does what it needs to do, and has several good character moments. Still, I feel like the writers have needlessly pulled the rug out from under the whole show for no good reason.

Does anyone remember the ‘War of the Worlds’ TV show from the ’80s? The first season had an intriguing scenario where aliens tried to invade the Earth by taking over human bodies. But then, the second season jumped forward to a super-cheesy dystopian future where the aliens had won and none of the surviving characters behaved like their earlier selves. This reminds me a lot of that.

1 comment

  1. I was just thinking it reminded me of War of the Worlds, and then you beat me to it. 😉

    Honestly, I enjoyed series 4 of Fringe, including the ending. And assuming it’s not done horribly, I don’t mind the fairly major change they’ve made. At least it shows a willingness to do something different and not stick with the same thing all the time. There’s nothing worse than shows that are unwilling to mess with the status quo. It didn’t really work with War of the Worlds because of the low budget, but hopefully Fringe can make it work.

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