Thoughts on Fringe’s Final Season Premiere: Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

by Amy Yen

There are a lot of ways you could describe what kind of show Fringe is. It’s really well acted. It has a rich & terribly complex mythology. It’s got a lot of ludicrous science that doesn’t make any sense. It can be, in the same hour, terrifying, thrilling, hilarious & heartbreaking.

It’s incredibly brave.

Whether you thought the Peter disappearing arc really paid off or not, or whether you think they really told all the story there was to tell in the red-verse before closing it off, or whether you think it’s the best choice to set the final 13 episodes in 2036, you have to admit, Fringe doesn’t do safe storytelling. That may mean it can go off the rails a little, but you have to admire it for trying it in the first place.

Fortunately, based off of “Transilience Thought Unifer Model-11,” this final leap may pay off yet. I found 2036 this time around completely engaging. It was smart to bring the entire core team forward, so that we haven’t actually missed very much of their story. And Etta — perfectly cast Etta (who, looking at her now, I can’t believe we went through “Letters of Transit” without knowing who she was, because it is so very obvious) — Etta is exactly right, exactly who a daughter of Peter & Olivia would be. A wonderful performance from Georgina Haig, highlighted by the scene reuniting her with Olivia. 

Really, every performance was pretty much amazing in this episode, although it would be a crime, which should be punishable by horrible Observer mind-probing, to post this without saying that John Noble was, for the millionth time, incredible. And although I found the scene between Peter & Olivia, where they explain to us, but mostly to each other for some reason, what happened to them after they lost Etta, clunky & unnecessary, I did think Joshua Jackson did an admirable job selling it. I just don’t really see why it was necessary to break them up again. (It reminds me of Amy & Rory’s break-up in this year’s Doctor Who premiere. Is it just that the writers think it’s more interesting when they’re a little star-crossed? In both cases, I just feel like the characters have developed beyond that.)

Anyway, overall, I found the whole thing reason to hope, like a single dandelion growing on scorched earth, that this final season, which we are lucky to have regardless of what it turns out being, is going to give this story the ending it deserves.

More random thoughts on “Transilience Thought Unifer Model-11”:

  • I thought the callbacks to the some of the familiar little things we know about these characters, like Walter trying to eat egg sticks like licorice (“What a miserable future.”) and calling Astrid “Afro,” were used really well. Not only did it bring a little humor, but it was kind of subtly sad, calling back on something that was lost in this future.
  • “You seem much more interesting as a human being than a vegetable. But, all things being equal, I don’t mind which one you end up.” They’ve done a great job of making the Observers straight-up terrifying.
  • If Peter & Olivia lost Etta when the Observers invaded when she was three, how does she know who she is? And what exactly happened to her?
  • The carbon monoxide thing was a nice touch. If you think about it, the air is only going to get more polluted in the future, where the Observers came from, so it makes sense they’d adapted to it. And ironically, by polluting the air on purpose now, they may be speeding up the ruining of the world that eventually leads them to go back in time in the first place.
  • I did think during the scenes at the resistance headquarters that those bits would have been so much more interesting with Simon still around. Stupid Scandal, ruining everything. (I don’t mean that, I actually quite like Scandal.) Now that Henry Ian Cusick’s available, I really hope they find a way to bring him back. With the way the bit of dialogue referencing Simon was written, I have to assume we will.
  • I wonder what happened to Ella, Olivia’s niece, in this version of the future. If you remember, in the “The Day We Died” future, she ended up a Fringe agent.
  • It’s kind of nice to see Markham again, even if him using amber-ized Olivia as a coffee table is really messed up. I have the feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of familiar faces on the farewell tour this year.
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