Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fringe 4.22: "Brave New World (Part 2)"

“No, something has changed. This time, you’re not alone.”

While it wasn’t as emotionally affecting an episode as “Letters of Transit,” I thought that “Brave New World (Part 2) largely succeeded as a season finale for “Fringe.” If this had been the series finale, I might have been a little upset, but since it wasn’t, it worked well. We got a clear sense of what next season’s big, final threat will be, and it actually doesn’t seem to involve one of the characters disappearing! Oh and Leonard Nimoy, as William Bell, played a more significant episode in this episode than he did last week, which was highly enjoyable. And also, on the positive side, there are some really wonderful and exciting developments in Peter and Olivia’s relationship. While there are ominous predictions hanging over our characters, everyone seems to be in a fairly happy place at the end of the episode, and I appreciated that. The characters can weather the storm of the newest doomday prediction in due time, but for now, it would be nice or them to have a little breather for the summer!

The episode opens with Bell and Walter on Bell’s Ark. They’re looking at a landscape with all sorts of strange animals grazing in the distance. It’s a simulation of the universe that Bell wants to create. Bell turns the simulation off, and he tells Walter he thinks that providence brought them back together after all these years. Walter, understandably, is not so impressed. Back at Harvard, Peter and Olivia find the lab empty. At first they figure Walter and Astrid must have gone out for breakfast, so Olivia starts the coffee. Peter’s concerned about her because the new abilities she has shown, and he makes her promise that she’ll let Walter run some more tests. Before they can continue this conversation for too long, however, Olivia gets a panicked phone call from Jessica (“Lost’s” Rebecca Mader). She says that she feels like someone has been following her. Peter and Olivia promise they’ll be right there. Meanwhile, though, at Jessica’s house, September is standing in a back room on top of a fiery symbol of some sort.

By the time Peter and Olivia arrive at Jessica’s house, it is abandoned. Peter knows that a piece of the floor (the piece that had the fiery runes) is missing. It’s been completely carved out. Before they can really investigate, though, they get a call from Broyles. Astrid has been shot (as we knew from the last episode), but she survived and she’s in the hospital in stable condition. Peter and Olivia head straight from the hospital. Astrid tells the rest of the team that where she got shot isn’t where she was found. She was shot at the warehouse, of course. Peter an Olivia are going to go investigate the warehouse and try to find Walter (who they now know is missing) while the Boston police work on helping Jessica. Peter and Olivia go to the warehouse, and they are met by September, who is still frozen in place on top of the runes. Jessica’s there too. Apparently she’s been working for Bell, and she has September frozen thanks to “stasis runes.” First she demonstrates that September, as an Observer, can catch bullets fired from a gun. Then she demonstrates a new, faster gun. This one does indeed hit September. She can’t stand watching the torture, so Olivia, even though she just wants to negotiate, ends up using her powers to grab the bullets and throw them back at Jessica. This kills Jessica, of course.

In the aftermath of this confrontation, Peter frees September from the runes. Olivia mentions the conversation she had with September earlier in the season, where he said that in “all possible futures” Olivia had to die. September is confused by this. The conversation hasn’t happened for him in his personal timeline just yet. He goes off to investigate why he might have said such a thing. After September has left, Peter and Olivia decide they need to question Jessica. Because this is “Fringe,” the fact that she’s dead really isn’t an obstacle. Because Walter is still missing, they have to get Nina’s help in setting up the tech. While Peter is making some adjustments, Olivia and Nina have a conversation. Nina says that Olivia has a great sense of compassion, but Bell wouldn’t be bothering her if there wasn’t something he needed from her.

On the Ark, Walter and Bell talk about Bell’s plans. Walter really wants to know why Bell wants to destroy two universes to create his own. Bell says it was originally Walter’s idea. Once he realized that he was actually capable of making it happened, though, Walter apparently got cold feet. That’s when he asked Bell to cut out the infamous sections of his brain. I like that we got an answer to this major piece of the series mythology, even though we still have one more season to go. Anyway, as Bell got older, and especially after he was diagnosed with Cancer, Bell began to think that maybe Walter had the right idea. Bell’s been taking Cortexaphan to prolong his life, by the way. He will eventually succumb to the cancer, but the Cortexaphan somehow slows the process.

Back at the lab, Jessica is hooked up to Nina’s tech, and the questioning starts. Jessica is really blinky throughout, and it makes for an extremely creepy scene. After rattling off a series of non sequeturs, Jessica finally divulges some useful information. She reveals that Bell is currently on a boat, specifically his own, personal Ark. Jessica is fading fast, though, and in an effort to keep her talking a little longer, Olivia accidentally shorts out Nina’s tech. It’s quickly apparent that Olivia herself is the new power source Bell is going to use to collapse the universes and make his new universe. FBI headquarters informs the Fringe team that a storm is brewing off the coast and several small-ish earthquakes have also been detected. Olivia and Peter need to find and confront Bell, but Olivia is coming down with a case of the “why mes.” Peter says that yes, Bell might be still experimenting on her like he did when she was a child, but this time, she’s not alone. Out in the ocean, Bell shows Walter the storm that is brewing.

Peter and Olivia are in a helicopter on their way to the eye of the storm (Bell’s suspected safe haven to wait out the collision). Only Peter can see the actual boat, though. This means that the boat has already phased out of our universe. Peter can still see it because he’s officially tuned to the Other Side. Nina points out that they can still reach the boat, however. Peter and Olivia need to use Olivia’s universe-jumping abilities. Both Peter and Olivia jump out of the helicopter, and they both land safely on the boat. They almost immediately confront Bell, who says that the reaction which will destroy the universes has already started and can’t be stopped. Walter has a way to stop it, though. He puts a bullet in Olivia’s brain. Peter cries out in anguish, but as Olivia dies, the storm immediately stops. Bell knows he’s been had for now, so he rings the soul magnet bell and disappears.

Walter gets Peter to calm down by saying he thinks he can save Olivia. Cortexaphan had healing powers for Walter’s lemon cake, so if he can get the bullet out of her brain, he thinks it can do the same for Olivia. It’s a pretty gruesome procedure and almost makes Peter even more upset than he already was (Walter has to create an exit wound for the bullet), but when the bullet’s out, sure enough, she heals. Later, we see Astrid and Walter at the hospital, waiting to hear a medical report on Olivia. Walter is so changed by the recent experience that he actually bothers to call Astrid by her real name! Peter is the first of the team to go in and see Olivia after her medical evaluation, and she reveals that she’s pregnant. The smile on Peter’s face at this news is lovely to see. Walter and Astrid heard this from the doorway, and they’re all smiles, too. Back at the lab, Walter is happily humming “Rock-a-bye Baby” while working when September appears. He says that they must warn the others because “they are coming.” Presumably “they” are his fellow Observers, on their way to enslave humanity like we saw in “Letters of Transit.” Should be some good stuff to explore next season.

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