Fringe Review, Season 4, Episode 14: “The End of All Things”
Written by David Fury
Directed by Jeff Hunt
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
This week, on Fringe: Olivia gets some inspiration, Peter gets some answers, and September disappears
For many, the highlight of this week’s much anticipated episode will be the answers we finally get about the Observers. For this reviewer, it’s the return of the mysterious season one lights and Olivia’s abilities. If memory serves, this is their first mention since David Robert Jones came around the first time, and that plot line is one many had written off as an abandoned element of the show, one of those early ideas, like the Pattern, that the writers toyed with but ultimately chose not to pursue. Perhaps this is the case, or more accurately, was, and the PtB only chose recently to revive it. Or maybe it’s been the plan all along. Either way, it works well, further connecting this season back to the beginning of the series.
While the information we’re given about the Observers may be unnecessary, it is at least handled well. The reveal is logical and not unexpected, but with enough mystery and holes to allow for any number of future adjustments. The visual effects used to show us inside September’s mind are pretty great too, though he and Peter don’t feel very present or weighty. Once again, they go for simplicity- a clear room, surrounded by Time. A few lines feel a bit awkward and overly expositional, but for the most part, it’s well handled. Bringing in Henry is a nice move, clearly explaining his nonexistence, for those few fans still wondering, and potentially giving Peter another reason to get back to his timeline. This Olivia may have essentially turned into his Olivia, but nothing but his original timeline will let him meet his son.
The news of which, by the way, Peter takes very well. However, if, as September implies, Peter needs to get back to his timeline to fix everything and build a life with his Olivia, how will that change anything? September says Henry should have been Peter’s Olivia’s son. That ship has sailed. Is September implying that Peter should somehow return to an earlier point in his own timestream to prevent Henry’s conception with Original Fauxlivia? Or does it not matter? Or is there a loophole? Or is this just another case of viewers overanalyzing what isn’t there? Whichever way the story goes, it’s certainly fun to try to puzzle it out.
We get an answer this week to Nina’s confusing sincerity last episode. Bad, evil, torture-enduring Nina (Nona?) has been skulking around making life difficult for sweet Olive-adopting Nina. Blair Brown plays the hell out of Nona’s scene with Olivia, selling her hard before making the rookie mistake of going into too much not-researched detail. Anna Torv gets less to do this week, but is fun once she gets her badass on towards the end. The most engaging performance is once again Jared Harris, though he is restricted to very few scenes. The character certainly knows how to make an exit, however, and this kind of upping the stakes is exactly the right move before a four week break.
Despite the forward motion on much of the arching serialized elements, this episode has a few flaws holding it back. The most significant of which is the clear contradiction of last week’s episode. The notion that Peter had been projecting his Olivia onto the Newniverse Olivia was disproven when she came out with memories to which Peter had never been privy. However, this week, that tidbit isn’t mentioned at all. What was the point of writing it in last episode if Peter isn’t even going to mention it when he’s being accused and harassed by Walter and Lincoln? Then at the end of the episode, Peter makes mention of his belief that Newlivia is separate from his Olivia, but somehow has her memories. Why the about face? Without a bit more context to Peter’s decision, this feels strange and sudden and not dissimilar to the frustrating ploys so many shows devolve into to keep their main couple separate as long as possible. Hopefully this trepidation is unwarranted.
A final thought- what of the Other Newniverse’s plea for help with their war against the insidious threat of shapeshifters? After an intriguing setup episode establishing the dynamics of the Other Newniverse, this thread feels completely abandoned in favor of Peter/Olivia drama and cases of the week. Hopefully the two threads will coincide sometime soon, if only to give Lance Reddick something to do.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Did you like the Observer reveal, or do you prefer their previous unknowable mystery? How long ‘til we see a pre-gutshot September? Post your thoughts below!