“Fringe” season five premiered on September 28, and the episode “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11” is the beginning of the end for this sci-fi drama. This 13-episode season promises to be completely different too, and not just because it takes place in 2036 and a world where the Observers rule.
It’s also different because the family dynamics are refreshingly new too. In the first 20 minutes or so, Peter (Joshua Jackson), Walter (John Noble), and Peter’s daughter Henrietta (Georgina Haig), also known as Etta, are searching for Olivia (Anna Torv), who disappeared 20 years prior when she was running an errand for Walter. If they can find Olivia and one piece of the puzzle, they might just be able to save themselves from a “miserable future” full of observer tyrants and egg sticks.
Their only clue to go on is Olivia’s location back in 2015 near Grand Central Station, and in the world of “Fringe” and J.J. Abrams, that’s enough. They find amber and discover there’s missing chunks of it. That leads them to a gypsy underground, which leads to book store owner Markam, who wants to be Olivia’s hero.
But that role will always belong to Peter. Still, he can’t save everyone. When some observers and “police” raid Markam’s place, not all are able to get away. Walter is captured, and then tortured in a horribly painful scene in which a top observer tries infiltrating his mind. The observers may claim on “Fringe” that “resistance is futile,” but Walter proves them wrong.
September taught Walter things, like how to partition. Walter knows how to keep the plan fragmented — but that doesn’t stop the observer from trying, even causing Walter to bleed from his nose.
Still, again, the observers never counted on Peter, Olivia, and least of all Etta to rebel. While Walter is being tortured, the family — along with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Etta’s friends — are creating their plan to save Walter, and in turn, save the world.
But first, Olivia and Etta reunite after being apart since, as Olivia says, Etta was just “3 years, 1 month, and 5 days old.” It’s one of the most heart-warming scenes that has ever occurred on the sci-fi drama, other than when Peter first found Etta. But it also leads to more questions about what happened to Etta that Peter and Olivia lost her, which still gives Peter nightmares about the observers and how they took Etta, or so his nightmare implied.
But back to the puzzle. Olivia’s piece is a thought unifier, which is supposed to re-partition the pieces of the plan in Walter’s head to defeat the observers. And in order to get Walter back, they need the help of Etta’s friend Alin (Shaun Smyth) who has some tech that makes someone appear dead. They decide to use it, because “killing our enemies is one thing, saving the world is another.”
Peter, Olivia, and Etta infiltrate the observer headquarters and seem to save Walter — but there’s a problem, as there always is. The thought unifier turns on when Walter touches it, but it doesn’t make sense of the scrambled plan.
Walter is missing entire memories, and there’s nothing left to unify. As best as Etta can guess, the memories were destroyed when he tried to fight to protect them from the observer.
But is the plan really gone forever? Walter made the point of how important music is to his thought process, and in the final moments of “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11,” he finally gets to listen to music, Alison Moyet’s “Only You,” instead of just remember it. And then he sees a dandelion growing among the destruction, the eternal symbol of hope in an otherwise frightening world.
“Fringe” airs on FOX in Chicago on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Central.
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