‘Fringe’ 3.21 Recap: “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass”

Traditionally, you’d expect a show like ‘Fringe’ to unleash a giant mind-screw in the last few moments of a season finale. That sort of thing is almost de rigueur for this type of series. What you don’t at all expect is for the show to drop a huge WTF plot twist in the second-to-last episode of the season. Really, this one comes from out of nowhere, and it’s a doozy.

But we’ll get to that in a minute. Episode ‘The Last Sam Weiss’ picks up with Peter in a coma after having been rejected in his attempt to enter and turn off the doomsday machine. As a result of this failure, the vortex rifts in the fabric of the universe have been increasing dramatically. Weird dry lightning storms are afflicting much of the country’s eastern seaboard.

Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan) seeks Olivia’s help and finally reveals some information about himself. We learn that although he’s the credited author of all those old books about the “First People,” he didn’t technically write them. He transcribed them from ancient documents. In fact, he’s the latest in a long family lineage of men named Sam Weiss who have sworn to protect this knowledge. Sam informs Olivia that the machine is protected by a force field and rejected Peter because it has been tricked into believing that Peter is already inside it. He describes the machine as “frustrated,” and also insists that it’s not really a doomsday machine, but just acting like one.

Sam says that there is a way to deactivate the force field so that Peter can get inside. To do that, he and Olivia need to retrieve a “key” that’s been hidden in a museum, which will allow him to open an emergency box with a “crowbar” inside. A bunch of stuff happens to get to that point. The outcome is that they find an ancient scroll with Olivia’s picture in it. Apparently, she’s part of this prophecy too and is herself the crowbar that will shut down the force field.

While this is going on, Walter figures out that the vortex rifts along the east coast have to do with the fact that the machine on our side and the machine in the alternate universe are in different locations. He has Broyles move our machine to Liberty Island so that the two machines will align. Although this won’t stop the rifts, it should slow them down and localize them to one place.

Peter wakes up in the middle of all this, alone because everyone else is busy. He gets himself dressed and wanders out of the hospital, then hops in a cab and asks the driver to take him to New York City. Peter seems to have a strange form of selective amnesia. He only vaguely knows who he is, and thinks that he’s in the alternate universe and that Walternate is his father. (Technically, that’s true, but he acts like he’s lived in the alternate universe all along and doesn’t understand why things are different here.) He gets to New York and makes his way to Liberty Island, where he catches up with everyone else. He doesn’t recognize Walter at first, but slowly starts to come around.

Olivia manages to turn off the force field, and Peter agrees to get inside. And that’s where the show’s writers pull the rug out from under us.

Peter straps himself into the machine and immediately blacks out. He wakes up in the middle of a street. Some form of riot is happening. It looks like a war zone. He turns around and sees a monument to September 11, 2001 (which would mean that he’s still in our universe, because 9/11 never happened on the other side), but there’s a whole new building standing there, and the plaque says that it was commissioned on September 11, 2021.

Ummmm…. What?

Gunshots go off. A soldier runs up to make Peter duck down behind cover. He’s wearing a paramilitary uniform with a Fringe Division logo like they had in the other universe. He knows Peter and calls him “Agent Bishop.”

Ummmm…. What… the… F…?

So, it seems that Peter is now in the future, and the world is in total chaos. But Peter didn’t just disappear and turn up in this future year. He’s been there the whole time and people know him as a Fringe Division agent. Which would mean that his consciousness from the past has somehow jumped into his future body.

My head hurts. Of all the things I expected the show to do with this season’s finale, I never expected this. And it wasn’t even the finale! We have one more episode this week, and it looks like things are going to get really freaky. I must say, my mind is a little blown.

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