Friday brought us the penultimate episode of ‘Fringe’. By the end of this week, the series will be over, forever. For as negatively as I’ve felt about this final season, I’ve followed the show since the beginning and would genuinely like to see it wrap everything up in a satisfying manner. Does it look like there’s any chance of that? I just don’t know.
‘The Boy Must Live’ opens with Walter submerging himself in the sensory deprivation tank in hopes of retrieving memories about the Observer known as September. His unlocked subconscious leads the team to an apartment in Brooklyn, where they find the rogue Observer, now with hair and looking remarkably human, living under the name Donald. He explains that, as punishment for his actions, his people subjected him to “biological reversion,” which he frankly is quite happy about, even though he no longer has the ability to jump through time or space. He chose his new name when he and Walter watched ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. He kind of looks like Donald O’Connor.
September/Donald also explains how mankind evolved into the Observer state after scientists in the future developed the ability to suppress emotion in the brain in order to expand the centers for logic and intellect. Without emotions such as love, humanity developed new scientific methods of reproduction via cloning. (This may account for why we never see any female Observers, if men won the gender war and did away with them.)
The boy known as Michael was considered a defect because he represented a hybrid between the super-smart Observers with mankind’s original capacity for emotion. This was seen as dangerous, even heretical. The boy was scheduled for destruction until September, mysteriously feeling pangs of parental attachment, stole him away and hid him in the past.
The plan that September and Walter cooked up would require them to transport the boy to the future, just before the scientific breakthrough. If they could demonstrate to scientists at that time that people don’t need to eliminate emotion to evolve, they could stop the progression and prevent the race of Observers from ever being created. Thus, the Observers would never invade the past. Olivia believes that this means that she and Peter will also get Etta back.
Because September no longer has the ability to travel through time, he needed Walter to build a time machine. Hence the tapes with the convoluted instructions for collecting components.
Meanwhile, the Observer captain called Windmark jumps back to the dystopian future of 2609 to meet with “The Commander.” He asks permission to adjust the timeline to purge Walter and the Fringe team from existence before they can ever interfere with the Observers’ master plan. The Commander refuses, considering the rebels to be an insignificant nuisance and a waste of their time. Windmark, however, seems to be consumed by jealousy and rage, and continues to hunt them.
The episode ends with the gang nearly getting caught by the Observers, until Michael surrenders himself as a distraction.
I’ll give it this much: Even though I haven’t liked the season’s storyline at all this year, this episode brings a lot of pieces together to fill in the mythology of the show. It almost convinces me that the suddenly-evil Observers can be made to fit with their depiction in prior seasons. Almost. I still don’t entirely buy it. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see what the finale has in store.