Fringe's Season 5 Premiere: The Future Is Dandy(lion)

Fringe S05E01: "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11"


Feel free to listen to some Yazoo's "Only You," the song from the final scene of tonight's episode, while reading this!


Fringe is no stranger to throwing things out the window. Just ask the perturbed fans of the show who whined about Season 4's reset, in which Peter Bishop was erased from the memory of Olivia, Peter, and everyone else in the new timeline that Etch-a-Sketch'd all the relationships that had been built up over three seasons. Similar things are afoot in Season 5, the series' final (sad face), as things have jumped forward two-dozen years to 2036.

This jump might be easier to land for fans, as all the characters' relationships are intact—it's just the setting that's changed. And we were all aptly prepared for the year 2036 thanks to Season 4's daring "Letters of Transit," one of the most ambitious episodes of Fringe to date. In fact, it's reasonable to say that Season 5 started with "Letters of Transit," as the "What if?" scenario posed in that episode proved to be more than a hypothetical question.

I love Fringe for these maneuvers; you just don't see a lot of television shows making these kinds of creative decisions nowadays. The idea of alternate universes in Seasons 2 and 3 posed all sorts of metaphysical questions about human nature, and Olivia and Peter's burgeoning romance put those questions in bold and became more important to me than the fate of the world. Season 4 did wonderful things with the idea of love being stronger than even existence when it erased Peter from Olivia's mind and the universe somehow slowly filled her heart with memories from another plane. It's deep stuff, guys. Fringe is a thinking person's show, the kind of nerdy philosophical drama where the greatest rewards come after episodes end and pay off for hours, days, and weeks while we stare at the ceiling in bed and contemplate not only what happened on screen, but how it relates to the core of being.

That's why I'm slightly hesitant about Fringe achieving that type of mind workout with Season 5 and its 2036 storyline. The entertainment value will be there for sure. I mean, "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" was awesome—just for different reasons. But I wonder where the questions will come from in a season that appears to be largely plot-driven in order to come up with a satisfactory conclusion for the series. And with 13 episodes, I'm not sure there's time for the show to put its finger on its chin and ponder the ramifications of jumping forward in time, being frozen in amber, or whatever else can be twisted into existential questions.

But there is one thing that might be the key to all that, and we'll get to it in a bit. "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" was Fringe without being Fringe, a sci-fi action movie where Hollywood leads were substituted for our favorite Fringe characters. Things picked up some time after "Letters of Transit" took place (at least enough time for Astrid to familiarize herself with the 2036 version of Words With Friends), with the most obvious goal being to find Olivia. A few amber gypsies later (really? Amber gypsies?) and we learned she's become the sweetest coffee table ever for Edward Markham, Peter's bibliologist buddy with a hard-on for Olivia. Still encased in amber, she was the Han Solo of the group, but was quickly ejected from her orange prison following a sweet fight with some very incompetent loyalist cops. I loved how well Olivia took waking up in the year 2036. That's a solid woman! What she didn't take so easily was seeing Henrietta, all grown up, standing before her (again, more on this later).

I'm not entirely happy with the "we found one team member but lost another team member so now we have to go looking for the other team member again" pattern that occurred after Walter was captured while rescuing Olivia, but it allowed for the great exchange between Observer bad guy Windmark and Walter, establishing Windmark as an irredeemable jerk and Walter as a feisty old man who's more than a handful. That was John Noble doing more work that Emmy voters refuse to acknowledge, and Michael Kopsa held his own right there with him.

The rest of the episode was a lot of fixing broken things (the titular Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11) to repair other things (Walter's mind) and rescuing the old man with some other unusual technology. And this is where this season of Fringe will depart drastically from what was the core of the show in Season 1. It's called Fringe because the show has dealt with fringe science, technological advances just out of our reach. But in going to 2036, Fringe might want to change its name to Far Out, because the series has now moved into pure science-fiction with its ability to partition brains to obscure thoughts and create serums to simulate death (though to be fair, there are no flying cars or personal jet packs). Again, this isn't a problem for the series, as so far everything has stayed within fathomable canon, it's just become a show with a different set of roots compared to those of Season 1.

But underneath, Season 5 of Fringe is still Fringe. It may be in a new place with new enemies and new science, but the show is still so very strong in its characters and character relationships. You can see it in the genuine glances everyone gives each other, and it was especially strong tonight in the episode's emotional ending, when Walter followed the beacon to the CD tree and abandoned taxi cab. Earlier in the hour, he and Windmark had discussed music, something Windmark didn't understand. It's a fact that was clearly meant to distinguish Observers from us (they do party to shitty techno, after all), as if their milky white skin and need to make everything such a formal occasion with suits weren't enough. (Note to self: Invest in Men's Wearhouse in 2015.) But to Walter, music is a sign of something more. It's hope. And as Walter sat by himself blasting Yazoo's "Only You," he saw the ultimate sign of hope in this wasteland desolated by the Observers: a lone dandelion with the strength to crack the pavement. (What, no tulips?)

Maybe it's a sign that getting rid of the clean-air hating Observers lies in reclaiming the planet with shrubbery and other Oxygen-creating vegetation (remember, they paved over a park to create carbon monoxide pumps, as they aren't fans of Earth's Oxygen-rich atmosphere). But it's also more than just a Wall-E moment. It's a sign that their hope is pinned on Henrietta. If the official plant for Olivia, Walter, and Peter is the White Tulip, then the dandelion is Henrietta. We saw her playing with one in the opening flashback to 2015 when the Observers came, and it's her symbol.

And that leads us to what is perhaps the most important point of discussion of the episode. Henrietta. We don't know everything that's going on with her, but we have enough info to have questions. I'm not even sure she's who she thinks she is. Did Peter really mean that they "lost her" in the past? Did she actually die in that opening flashback? Was that enough to put so much stress on Olivia and Peter's relationship that they split up, enabling Olivia and Walter to move on and work on saving the world while Peter stayed behind to find a way to bring her back? Was she captured by the Observers? Olivia said Henrietta was three years old and change when she last saw her, but Henrietta swears she was four years old when she last saw her parents. That's not just a detail thrown in to show that Henrietta has memory issues. There's something big going on here, and I'm happy the episode didn't make a big deal out of it, instead allowing us to say, "Wait, WHAT?" and pursue it on our own. I welcome all your theories in the comments.

We're in the year 2036, Gene the cow is probably long dead, and alternate universes are a thing of the past. But Fringe returned strong because of the show's constants: showrunner J.H. Wyman's strong vision, impossible production values on a shoestring budget, and impeccable acting and unbreakable passion by the cast and crew. Things on the outside may be different, but the heart and soul of Fringe lives on.




NOTES

– Anyone else think the action-packed rescue of Walter was an homage to rescuing Princess Leia in Star Wars? Straight down to the sounds of the pew-pew lasers. And seriously, how horrible of an enemy are these loyalists? Olivia and Peter had no problem shooting multiple guys before they could even get a single shot off. Stormtroopers are better than these guys. Our Fringe agents thawed out more badass than ever, apparently.

– I loved Peter's reasoning while trying to cut off the machine in Observer HQ: "It's always the red wire." *Nothing* "Unless it's the white wire."

– More Hollywood eco-conscious propaganda! Plants good! Fifty square miles of asphalt bad! Maybe some of us LIKE coughing up brown chunks of phlegm after a walk around the block, ever think of that, Tinseltown?

– It looked like Henrietta was wearing an old bullet around her neck. Was that the same bullet that "killed" Olivia in the Season 4 finale? I think so!

– Henrietta and Olivia! Hottest mom-daughter duo on television? Yes and YES! What about Rachel and Charlie from Revolution? Or Honey Boo Boo and Mama Boo Boo?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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What's the point of that whole 'Peter playing dead' thing, if eventually they just open a door and let Olivia in?
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i love you fringe welcome back and please don't leave me!
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Oh yeah, Gene ! Please, please, PLEASE writers, make it so the cow was ambered too ! Or Walter gets a new one ... This future definitely needs a "moo" factor !!!
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The moment, the observer started interrogating Walter- it is Matrix - like Agent Smith interrogating Morpheus. It is the same thing that trying to get something out of the mind that they do not want the other party to know. Fire Alarm as well. Only part that I was little dissappointed is the rescue. It seemed too easy. And they have some tech lying around that let them act dead. It is like the "Wesley" factor in Star trek - suddenly the kid has a breakthrough no one thought of.



It is part fringe, part rushed up - understandably because of the 13 episodes. I agree with the author of this article. This is fringe - you should not rush things.



All in all, I think the director (and crew) did a great job in setting the atmosphere and there is real sense of danger. They are working a tight ship and they delivered it better than most shows with budget. If this was renewed properly, I am sure it would have been even more awesome.
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Did anyone else think that there is more on that cd than just what Walter listened to? We saw it shining into his room way to early into the episode for it to be just music that he has so longed to hear. I want to find out what's on it after the end of what played in this episode
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it just occurred to me...(if I rememeber correctly) the observers considered Henrrietta to be important. What if she was important because her disappearance almost destroyed the Finge team/family leaving them mentally incapable to defeat the observer's takeover, like a soft-spot in history the observers could use to insert themselves into our world for good. (that's why they were just observing and shaping our lives to find the optimal point in time for taking over)

Anyway, loved the episode but i found the use of the death serum pointless. Etta didn't really need Peter with her. She could have just taken in the dead guy, then gone alone to the back door and open it for Olivia (and Peter in this case)...On the other hand, how did Olivia get to that door? wasn't that place heavily guarded?
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I don't think Fringe has gone Far Out. You made an example of the serum that simulates death but even now there are drugs that slow the heart down so much that the beat is undetectable. So really that serum wasn't the craziest thing to come out of the Fringe Universe.
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Olivia/Henrietta vs Rachel/Charlie is a tough call, but I'll stick with the former cause I fell more attached to them, though i wouldn't mind a bikini cat-fight defining this contest
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John Noble makes this show for me - I absolutely adore Walter and the relationships he has with the other characters. For me, he always finds the hopefulness in the show, and he is just so beautiful. Of course I love them all, but Walter is my favourite!
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In "letters of transit" Etta made reference to her mother who had died some time before and the bullet she wore around her neck was the bullet that killed her mother. It struck me as kind of weird at that time because I probably wouldn't want the bullet that killed my mother hanging around my neck all the time. But, of course, we didn't know who Etta was back then. This episode struck me as being a lot like the Pilot and early episodes of the 1st season in that we (the audience) have been thrown into a world that we know almost nothing about except who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. The rest we are left to figure out as we go along. Also, the characters are pretty much on their own in fighting this fight against the observers in that it's not like they can just call for backup when things get rough. In fact I'm not sure they are even FBI/Fringe/Anything agents in this future. Although the definitions of "FBI" and "Fringe" have changed substantially since season 4.
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Loved the episode. At first I didn't like how they set it in the future. I wanted a bit more time before the 'invasion' happened and would have love to see it happen in real time, but oh well. 13 episodes and limited budget, its understandable. I like how the episode was so quiet, and then Walter explained why they wasn't any music anymore. When they released Olivia from the Amber and met Etta, it was so touching. Even though I find it really weird seeing relatively young parents with their adult child. I can't wait for it all to conclude so that I'll stop worrying for the show getting cancelled.
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While I was watching the episode, I was afraid that all of these profound questions and simple answers were going to take a backseat this season, but the final scene (John Noble should get every award that exists for his performance) made me cry. (And that never happened before!!!) It was so emotional and so weird that in this gray, hopeless world, a half-naked Walter goes outside and on this dirty, abandoned street, he finds a CD and a little flower that gives him (and us) all the hope he needs. Again a tiny thing, but a big emotional response.

Fringe: I love you!
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Yes, that was an amazing scene with Walter and done brilliantly by John Noble. I did love how it just ended there.

I really am hoping the music somehow gets him back to his intelligent self, as I feel there is more character exploration there.

And Anna Torv really showed how great she can do the emotions with the meeting Henrietta scene.
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That final scene... so heartbreaking! What an amazing actor John Noble is! To be able to drive the audience to tears without even uttering a single word! Hey, if the Emmys won't acknowledge his work, then we should create an award just to give it to him. Seriously, he is such an amazing actor!

I'm guessing the main plot of the season will be the reconstruction of Walter's fragmented thoughts, ending with the team carrying out the plan to stop the Observers.

I'm not really sure if I'm into Henrietta just yet... And it's so akward to have a grown-up woman call a man just a few years her elder "dad"... Was is just me or there was some sexual tension between Peter and Henrietta?
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I'm going to try and be civil, but there is just a bunch of stuff in this review that I really disagree with, and a few things I just have comments on.



"as all the characters' relationships are intactit's just the setting that's changed."

Not really, as it is still the case that only Olivia and Peter remember past events. The history and love that comes from knowing someone for years is gone, along with all that had happened between them.



"That's why I'm slightly hesitant about Fringe achieving that type of mind workout with Season 5 and its 2036 story-line."

I don't know how, you having seen TTUM-11, could say that. The episode was so deep, and brought up so many layers of the human condition. The full arc of the dandelion, and it's correlation to the amazing analogy of music and hope (you mention this yourself), not to mention all of the "what does it really mean to be human" ideas that come with any story-line about oppressive regimes.



"I'm not sure there's time for the show to put its finger on its chin and ponder "

If this episode didn't leave you a multitude of "deep stuff" to ponder... I don't know what to tell ya.



"Peter's bibliologist buddy with a hard-on for Olivia."

Not really his buddy, since he didn't really know them in the rewritten timeline.



"I loved how well Olivia took waking up in the year 2036."

Really, you thought she handled it well, she seemed to handle it the worst out of all of the team.



"And this is where this season of Fringe will depart drastically from what was the core of the show in Season 1. It's called Fringe because the show has dealt with fringe science, technological advances just out of our reach. But in going to 2036, Fringe might want to change its name to Far Out, because the series has now moved into pure science-fiction with its ability to partition brains to obscure thoughts and create serums to simulate death (though to be fair, there are no flying cars or personal jet packs). "

This is probably where I take most offense. In the sense of what you are describing, Fringe has not changed at all. There is still plenty of fringe science. There has always been weird gadgets and serums, they are fringe science. If you didn't consider the previous seasons of Fringe to be Sci-Fi, then you shouldn't consider this one to be either. What is more to the point of technological advances than what we saw in this episode? The Observers are fringe science. Their abilities, from catching bullets, and probably partitioning brains, is all advanced, human civilization tech, exactly what we have seen from the beginning. And how are flying cars or jet pack science fiction? We have both of those things today



"Again, this isn't a problem for the series, as so far everything has stayed within fathomable canon, it's just become a show with a different set of roots compared to those of Season 1."

I completely disagree, it looks and feels different, but it is still very much rooted in S1. You say "fathomable canon" as if it's getting too close to reaching outside of some kind of imaginary boundary you've put into place. First of all, when has Fringe not done that? Second of all, it has not even come close to doing that in this first episode, not even close. I just don't agree with your assumptions of Sci-Fi and fringe science, and the apparent boundary they are supposed to stay inside of. I don't like labels, and really don't like someone trying to label Fringe, constricting its possibilities because of preconceived ideals.



" But underneath, Season 5 of Fringe is still Fringe."

There is no "underneath". Fringe is Fringe from the surface to its core being. Just b/c it looks different does not mean anything is hidden or lost. I don't know why you find it so jarring.



(What, no tulips?)

I get that you're just making a passing comment to the use of tulips in the show, but it's kind of rude to play down the significance of the dandelion. The whole scene wouldn't have worked if it was a tulip, not to mention how the dandelion goes back to Etta (again, which you mention yourself). That final scene was so epic b/c it was a dandelion, a weed, something considered insignificant, but yet it was fighting, striving to live amidst all of the obstacles holding it back.



"But it's also more than just a Wall-E moment."

It's not a Wall-E moment at all.



"enabling Olivia and Walter to move on and work on saving the world while Peter stayed behind to find a way to bring her back? "

I'm not buying the whole "Olivia moved on" I think that is just Peter's view of the whole situation, and his typical narcissism and hero complex coming into play. Olivia would not "move on".



"Henrietta swears she was four years old" "I'm happy the episode didn't make a big deal out of it"

The episode didn't make a big deal out if b/c there is nothing to make a big deal out of. I don't think it means anything, it was just thrown in b/c the writers thought it was a nice way to re-introduce the two.



"showrunner J.H. Wyman's strong vision, impossible production values on a shoestring budget, and impeccable acting and unbreakable passion by the cast and crew."

Couldn't agree more! ;)

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it doesn't seem to me that you're disagreeing with tim, it seems that you're stating in every single one of your comments that you're version of seeing things is right..



you say things like you're the one who wrote them.. i mean don't get me wrong i agree with a few things you say but there is a way of saying them in a better tone.. tim is just throwing theories in the air and allowing us to discuss the possibilities of what it all means, but you're not discussing, you're imposing.. and its annoying
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Your complaints about Fringe science being too Sci-fi in the premiere is kinda silly, season 1-4 were set in our time and look at the technology and science that happened. 24 years in the future I can totally buy that the Fringe team have a serum to fake death. It's not far fetched or unbelievable because it's Fringe and it spent four years saying "look at all the crazy shit fringe science can achieve."
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I really hoped for Peter and Olivia to come in with a helicopter and a machine guns. Walter's interrogation was so "Matrix" that I thought that Keanu Reeves would pop up.
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I REALLY should have re-watched season 4 before watching this season's premiere because as I started watching, I realized I didn't remember which version these characters were and what exactly caused them to be in the current setting.



Despite that confusion, I quite enjoyed this episode. Nobody can make me cry as well as John Noble / Walter, but Anna Torv / Olivia came pretty close when she first saw Henrietta. I wasn't fond of the "rescue Walter" attempt, just because it seemed too easy, but it was still fun nonetheless. I agree with you, Tim, about the difference between what Fringe first was compared to what it's now become -- it's not about Fringe science anymore, really... it's about the characters we've come to love all these past years.
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Fringe rocks .. can't believe it's coming to an end. Can't wait for ep. 2.
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I hate this season plot the Observers are suppose to be good guys

I have seen this show from the start and I dont quite see how it all fold in to on story

What happen to the big machine ??? Why does william bell still live ???

Are we suppose to forget the red universe and let it die ???



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why would the red universe die? the moment the machine united the 2 universes the red one started to heal. I agree they separated too soon before the universe had the chance to heal completely but after separation it stayed as it were, it didn't start degrading again...

as far as i noticed there was one set of observers for both universes...September messed up in the red with Walternate then, to make it up, he saved Peter in the blue one (from drowning). Actually i'm curious whether they took over the red universe too...

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The Observers have never really been good except for September. Neutral, if anything.



The Machine was shut off because the portal between both universes caused rifts in both worlds. William Bell is alive because of the altered timeline.



This was literally last season.
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No they had to shut down the machine cause

If they didnt both world whould die

William Bell is alive because they erased Peter not because of the machine
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I absolutely loved that "Resistance is futile" / "Feel like I've heard that before" part, an homage to Star Trek (The Next Generation) and just pure geekery that Mr. Wyman put right there in the middle of a situation. 10/10
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What if Errietta its the worlds first observer.What if she is travelling through time and realities herself,that would be something intresting.We already know that the observers cannot read her.





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I don't know if that's it, but I do feel that there is something synthetic about Henrietta.
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I'm not a big fringe fan but the premiere was awesome and i wish the season will be much like that . I don't want a stupid weekly case to drive the show , i want these awesome characters to drive it !

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Does it need to be repeated? This is one amazing show. And one of the reasons for this is how it manages to combine the emotional dimension with sci-fi in a way no other similar show has managed to do. The final scene was really touching in its minimalistic simplicity. I hope they use these final 13 episodes well.
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Yep, to me, this is sci-fi at its best. It creates tools and settings that do not exist or are yet possible in order to tell human stories, to question, to ask questions. And fringe does all this in a magnificent and superb way.
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Great to see Fringe back. But I'm not sure it's really Fringe..................

It was a brilliant episode at times, as we have come to expect. But a bit disney / scooby doo at times also. Peter played dead then let Olivia through a door? Why did Peter other........ surely he could have used the same door. And I would have expected a bit more resistance from the Observers............ Kind of thinking this is where Olivia should be using her powers..... rather than defeating an Observer stronghold with 3 people and a few guns.

I'm hoping the Olivia's powers thing gets some more airing. When she stopped the bullets in Season 4 Ep 22, I kind of thought this was going to be play a huge part in the development. But in this ep there was no jedi, just 'blasters'.

I don't particularly like the Olivia and Peter not together again storyline based on lots of stuff we've not seen. Still 13 episodes is not so much.

Still love the show, but personally the apparent huge change of direction / focus is going to be a hard story to tell in such a short time. I guess we have to assume that all the previous storylines are done with and no to be revisited.

But...... Fringe is all about surprises, so maybe I'll just get to love all this just the same
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I liked episode but after I've read your review Tim I'm starting to think about not Fringe -iness of this premiere. and i agree that things are a bit blur for now. in what direction they gonna take us i don't see now. but future storyline is good. and exciting. and I never thought that was "If scenario" in 3d to end episode in 4 season. It was obvious that this story wasn't just filler. it was too serious for filler. and I guess now we gonna jump between that story and after4 season finale. or may be after finale story won't be at all. too much stuff going on in future why we need procedural thing'y? of cos it's not fringe we used to know but it is final short season so they might risk and go another direction at all. I don't need all this procedural stuff and after DRJ and Bell removal who's gonna be doing cases for Fringe team?

And I don't know about - we see this mostly for characters thing - dry minimal reactions from Olivia are starting to annoy me. in LOST some people were saying that they liked it coz of characters but characters were not so interesting after background flashbacks dried out and people watched it for mystery and weird stuff so LOST finale was a huge hoax and cop out.

so IMHO characters in a longrun became irritating imitations of themselves. there are always stand outs like Walter for example. but in all their (Fringe) relationships are not so exciting at times. it is like test for characters ( and actors) if writers give them more space (out of tight procedural plotting) would they deliver or have lack of depth.
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Agree about the "What if?" scenario. To me it never seemed like it was only a scenario. It was quite clearly a look how the future unfolds. And since they made that without a conclusion it was about that the fight and Fringe saga will end there.
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First of all: OMG! FRINGE IS BACK! YAY!

Very nice review Tim. But I don't agree about the "reset" thing. I don't this or last season's premieres as reboots. Last season the world was still there and Peter was the key to restoring it to the way it was. It only enriched the world of Fringe by showing how these characters would be like if Peter was not around.

This time we have the same characters just different time. The time jump is not 24 years, it's 3. The characters are from 2015.

The last scene was pure gold, was sad, happy and angry at the same time. Anger because it reminded that John Noble still didn't win an Emmy.

I'm literally shaking with excitement! These next several months of Fringe are going to be the best of the decade!
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Let's also have some appreciation for the heartfelt scene where Olivia tells Peter they " weren't capable of being what they needed to be for each other". That was really sad. Joshua Jackson was crying, you could hear it in his voice! Also, I think the whole 'was it 3 or 4 years' was just to show that Olivia was a great mother and knew it was exactly 3 years, 5 months, 2 days, 9 hours, 36 minutes, 21 seconds - you get what I mean.
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Fringe is unique. You can't compare anything to Fringe - maybe throughout seas 1 with X-Files? - and I'm so happy it's back!
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Oh, and on that hot/awesome mother and daughter combination: River Song and Amy Pond from Doctor Who has to be in there. Haha. And, weirdly, they have a similar thing going on as Olivia and Etta.
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I don't think the bullet that Etta keeps around her neck is Olivia's, it makes no sense to carry a bullet from someone who lived! And why would peter or Walter take the bullet with them when they left the ship? Olivia was dead for about 20 minutes.....and that bullet was from an old gun not a modern gun, the bullet Etta has is new. I think that's september's bullet!! I think he kidnapped Etta on the day of the invasion to save her and taught her how to block her thoughts from other observers! What if Etta spent those missing months with September and now carries the bullet that killed him? It makes more sense to hold onto a bullet of someone who is dead than someone who isn't.
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A fantastic season premiere! It felt almost like a movie, I EVEN got out the chips and salsa for this one. lol
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I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but... We've always had goofy Walter (with brain parts missing), the kind of guy who would forget to put his pants on, a great contrast to Walternate, who had his wits intact, and was for a long time a sort of villain.

This season we've had Walter with his mind pieced back together, but a rude man who would say something like "Of course i'll put on my pants, I'm not an idiot."

But now he's damaged Walter again, after the Observer's attack. And if I'm not mistaken, in the final scene when Walter is listening to music, he doesn't have his pants on.

The thing is, does that mean we only had sharp-minded Walter for one and a half episodes? (Letters of Transit, and part of this season's first episode.) Even if I didn't like that rude Walter very much, I wanted to see where that character was going to lead, and that character's development has been cut abruptly. I hope we don't have a crazy Walter again, just a different crazy. I want to see what that sharp-minded Walter would do, and how he would interact with the other characters.
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ITA. When asked if the damage was permanent and Etta said yes, I said WTF? Why even start down the brilliant, but arrogant Walter path only to do a full reversal back to brain-damaged Walter.

I get making getting rid of the big bag harder, but this seems like a cheap shot.
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FRINGE IS BACK!

The last time we saw Fringe it was 4 seasons old (yes 4, not 3). Before yesterdays 5th and final season premier it had been exactly 140 days since its last new episode. And there was not one moment that I didn't think about my favourite show ...

Seem like a little much? Well, yes, I suppose it is. But that's who I am. I'm the guy that owns every available season of Fringe on Bluray. I'm the guy that writes his own Fringe fan fiction (I'm currently working on Olivia and Peter's experiences and unknown shared *connections* in the years leading up to the formation of the Fringe Team). I'm the guy that gets drunk at a party and stuporously badgers all his idiotically stubborn friends for the umpteenth time to f***ing WATCH Fringe! I'm the guy that puts "Fringe" in my username and wears my love for this phenomenal show on my sleeve (my cufflinks have the Fringe Division insignia on them).

That's who I am. I'm the "Fanatic", but you can call me FF. So what I'm about to write should not come by any surprise:

THE PREMIER WAS AWESOME!

You're shocked, aren't you? I know I'm biased, and perhaps after such an extended and passionate love affair with a TV show, I can't help but see Fringe through rosy, LSD-induced goggles. I honestly have no idea if I'm even capable of being objective when it comes to Fringe. Who needs objectivity, anyway? I'm more a fan of subjectivity. And I subjectively loved everything about this premier.

Dandelions. The beautiful symbolism and symmetry of Henrietta scattering the seeds of one in the opening scene, to Walter finding a bright yellow beacon of hope amidst the desolation of this desperate future in the closing scene. Simply stunning.

The future is now. It's 2036 and our beloved Fringe Team has one hell of a fight on their hands. How exactly DO you defeat a technologically advanced, telepathically evolved, super-intelligent and global occupying futuristic human species?

Why, you get one of them to help you, of course. September had a plan. One he shared and perfected with Walter. But September doesn't seem to be in the picture anymore. I actually watched "Letters of Transit" a few days ago to see if there was anything of particular significance as it would relate to the premier. One conversation that piqued my interest was what Walter had to say about September's fate. It was very vague, and all he said was what happened to September was "unexpected". I know, I know. Basically no information at all, but I'm sure we will learn about September's "unexpected" outcome in the 12 episodes we have left (EEK!).

Anyway, September's awesome Observer-defeating plan may have been lost for good. And we have that bastard Winmark to thank. Was anybody else super uncomfortable when Winmark was interrogating Walter? I was squirming and shifting in my seat like I had a horrible case of haemorrhoids. Seeing Walter in such agonizing pain was hard for me to watch. And in the end, he just couldn't hold on long enough.

So, where do they go from here? I don't know if any of you recall, but there was a trailer released over a month ago previewing Fringe's final season. And in that trailer, there is one scene where Peter is talking to Olivia and says, "I think it's time we create a few fringe events of our own". (GOOSEBUMPS!) It's the complete opposite of what they used to do. Their job was to STOP fringe events, now they're going to CAUSE them. I can only imagine what havoc Walter, Peter and Olivia can create for the pompous Observers.

Ah, but I'm forgetting someone, aren't I? Someone, I think, of paramount importance. Henrietta. She just might be the key to ending all of this. Don't ask me why I think that. It's only a hunch. In season 3, Peter was the main player of the plot. He's the one that had to get into the machine to stop the destabilization and destruction of the two worlds. A sacrifice on his part of temporary non-existence. But in season 4, Olivia and the nature of her cortexiphan supplied abilities were front and centre to William Bell's fever dream of a new world. So, wouldn't it be plausible that their child would be integral to whatever epic finale the writers have concocted?

We already know she's special. The Observers can't "read" her like everybody else. In "Letters of Transit", Winmark remarked that she is "always what she seems". How is she able to do this when apparently no one else can? Maybe it's the result of being the first cortexiphan baby. She was conceived at the height of Olivia's power and there is no telling what she is capable of. But let's forget all of that for the moment. Let's focus on the character.

Besides the fact that she is absolutely gorgeous and I think I'm already in love with her, from what we've seen of her thus far, she's pretty great. She's a determined woman who bravely joined the resistance at a very young age. She never gave up on the world, or finding her parents, and possesses admirable attributes from both Peter and Olivia. She never lost hope in a future so bleak. If I wanted to get really poetically mushy and wax philosophically, I could say she is the Dandelion in the rough. The blonde beacon of hope for the world. I teared up when Peter recognized his grown up daughter for the first time and she very emotionally said, "Hi Dad". I teared up again in this episode when she was reunited with Olivia and said, "Hi Mama". Those scenes really hit home for me. Sci-Fi isn't supposed to be this heartwarming, dammit!

The premier perfectly setup the final shortened season of Fringe. We're no longer watching a procedural here, people! This is serialized all the way. But Fringe is a pro at shifting perspective. The first 2 seasons we lived solely in one universe. Season 3 opened us up to all the wondrous possibilities of a second universe. Season 4 shifted the paradigm once again with a whole new timeline. And season 5 has jumped straight into a dystopian future. I've heard some complain about Fringe's lack of continuity. When things got tough, the writers just hit the reset button. I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. How many shows of any genre can claim to be as courageous as Fringe? They have elevated the genre with their dauntless drive to create something truly original. Cliche is not in their vocabulary. It amazes me that some people wish it would be more like other, more predictable shows. I love Fringe because it's not afraid to go where others wouldn't dare.

These last 12 episodes are going to be a wild ride. And I sincerely look forward to sharing it with you all.
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If you hadn't earned your name before, you sure did with that great post.
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^This.^

I wish I could say that you took the words out of my mouth. But that would be a massive lie. Not even if I used a transilience thought unifier could my mind be unscrambled enough to produce a comment like yours.

I have to say though that I do worry a little what will happen to you after the ill-fated day in the near future when Fringe cease to exist. Of course the show will live on in our hearts and Bluerays, but how will you go on without new material?
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You truly are a remarkable subject and a fanatic for sure.



We are watching you and maybe an extraction is required soon ...

(sipping some hotsauce)
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Awesome comment! I salute you fellow Fringe fan :-)
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FRINGEFANATIC IS BACK!



The last time we saw FringeFanatic, the show was 4 seasons old (yes 4, not 3). Before the recent 5th and final season premier it had been exactly 140 days since his last new review. And there was not one moment that I didn't think about one of my favourite commenters...



(Okay, I'm not exactly sure he has been away but it's been about that long since I've frequented the site enough to see him about. And maybe there has been many days and moments without those aforementioned thoughts. But it's awesome to see those great, analytical and eloquent thoughts back. Almost exciting as Fringe itself returning...Hurrah!)
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Yeah man. Loved this episode!
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I respect your love for Fringe. It's one of my all time favorite shows and own all the seasons. I felt a bit of sadness upon starting this final season. Would love to have at least one more season after this one. Shows like this just don't come along very often, and when they do they are usually cut short.
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I have all the box-sets as well, and somewhere even an Observer hat, amongst other things and memorabilia. And I have to share all those sentiments, and feel very bittersweet regarding this season. It's a shame it's the last one and it is ending, but I am so glad that it is being allowed to end and had so many great seasons. All rather than just being axed.



I am going to savour and enjoy every minute of this final season and after that amazing premiere, I am looking forward to each and every episode even more.
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I know right, I too respect his love for Fringe.
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What was the point of using the "play dead" technology and giving the observes knowledge of it, If etta had an easy in, and she could just let olivia and peter in the way peter had let olivia in - breaking a lock on the door- ? peter didn't do anything special there you didn't need two people for that. and how did olivia end up so close to an entrance to the HQ?
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Ok I have to disagree with the idea that this season is soooo much different from season 1. First we have Walter reverting because his memory/brain has been damaged(again). Then we have the question of exactly who (or what) is Henrietta (substitute Peter for that sentance and you have one of the main questions of season 1)!



I love Fringe and cannot wait until we find out more about the Observers (where did September go.) and I really want to see Olivia with her powers some more.



I have a question, how is the other universe doing? I mean in the first season we saw them in both universes even before Walter put a dent in it, the whole missing the chemical reaction in the lab by Walternate because September wanted to see that moment proves that.

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Love the little sea horse in the photo with Walter. Wasn't that Walter's dad's signature? Best part of Fringe is the attention to detail. You can watch the episodes over and over again and still find something new every time.
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You guys are all forgetting, the title goes to Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland because all awards automatically go to Modern Family.
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Funny. you're absolutely right. Modern Family is an award hogger.
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Good point. I totally forgot. (They are actually a good choice for this title. At the very least, they should be nominated).
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Hottest mom/daughter on TV? It's hard to decide. Even though I'm already in love with Georgina Haig, I'll go with

1. Rachel and Charlie - Revolution

2. Olivia and Etta - Fringe

3. Gilmore Girls
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Well all I can say is they are pulling out all the stops for sure! Just saw episode 2 promo and its as riveting as the premiere. Nothing like going out with a blast! Am lovin it
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One word... well ok two: John Noble!
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I loved the episode. Yes, it was far too easy to save Walter from the evil empire's facility, but for some reason I don't care. I loved the final scene. It was beautifully directed, and I even think the choice of music was brilliant. John Noble was fantastic as always.

Hottest mom/daughter:

1. Homeland...because one of them is Morena Baccarin! (The other one is OK too).

2. Fringe. (Damn that Etta is fine. Georgina Haig...I'm sure we'll hear that name a lot in the next few years).

3. Once upon a time. (They're both pretty, but kind of dull).

4. The Vampire diaries (Isobel/Elena...not sure if this one even counts, since Isobel only appeared in a few episodes and has been dead for a long time).

5. The Vampire diaries (Pearl/Anna...they're even more dead, and I'm not even sure that they were supposed to be biologically related, but damn they looked good).

#. I don't know where to put V on this list. I mean, definitely the hottest pair ever, but they're freakin' space-lizards.
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I personally feel like the show peaked probably just prior to a recurring whats-his-half-face. a couple of reasons are i didn't continually find the story as compelling as i found the individual characters and ironically i don't feel like the show has always successfully made the individual's supposedly emotionally charges acting that compelling. i love everyone involved but with etta for example i feel like she was a stranger again this episode even though we knew her from the one episode last season (where she already had the bullet necklace did she not?)



i think maybe one emotionally distant female (two if you count astrid, so we'll go with blonde) is enough? i did like her last season but last season we didn't have olivia. we also had desmond. and it was an exploratory episode rather than a fight the all controlling oppressive power one. i might prefer now that they had ended up in the terminator future that was an episode wasn't it?



i like the show but i was one of the ones who complained about a missing peter and feel like his trip to the other side storyline was more compelling than his re-emerging one. gonna miss the cast and the show but won't forget the episodes that were pretty major let downs.



i don't remember why exactly but my favorite episode was the one in the skyrise building where everyone was getting infected by some something.
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Liked your review, pointed out some things I didn't get at first. Good comments, too. - The one thing I don't like is the archetypical dystopian future, the fascist dictator(s) with jack-booted lackeys, the razor wire, and the creepy faux-polite interrogator torturing our hero. Seen that a million times before.

What really freaks me out, though, are the carbon monoxide emitting machines! That's nasty on so many levels.
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Great episode. I am really sad that Fringe will end soon. I need my scifi fix and cant see any other series out there with the same quality. Wish they kept it running
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Hey-o, we fixed the red wire vs. white wire mix-up. Carry on!
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Great start to a final season. I'm on Walter's side more than ever after his treatment at the hands, or mind, of that bastard Windmark. The reunion between Etta and Olivia was so touching. I loved it!!
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I've been a big fan of Fringe from the very beginning. I even thought last year's "reboot" was great. But now... I'm not sure if I like Fringe's new style. It seems to me like it's becoming another generic scifi show, telling the typical story of "evil dictator(s) and a rebellion shooting at each other with fancy futuristic gadgets". No more investigating fringe events, no more alternate universes (for now), no more stories set in the present... it just feels like everything that made Fringe what it was, is gone. Except for the characters, the only reason I need to keep watching until the very last episode. I just hope Fringe surprises me and finds a way to bring back the essence it had from the very beginning!
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The characters are what made Fringe what it was. Yes, I miss the other universe too (the characters we know from there), but I can't believe you miss the procedural stuff.
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And the characters are what keep me hooked on the show. I am not a fan of procedural shows, but Fringe did it in a special way. Remember the White Tulip episode? The story of the scientist that really didn't have much to do with the overarching story? The invisible man who just wanted to be seen? The town nobody could escape from last season? All those stories were great! Mysteries set in the present that these great characters got to investigate and solve. And when the case went hand to hand with the season's story it was even better! But now... now all we have is a scifi story of a group of people fighting evil supernatural invaders. It might be great, it probably will be great! But it won't be the same. But I trust Fringe's writers. They know what they're doing.
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I miss (and got to miss for a long time, obviously) the procedural stuff trying to explain the pattern. That was interesting and sadly not related to this season at all.



So now that Fringe is firmly no longer procedural, what is it? A GvE set in a dystopian future? If so, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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the procedural stuff was potentially more thought provoking both in what occurred and the explanation than what is just re-hashed one single story line spread over an entire season. fringe when procedural was never CSI because it didn't deal with ordinary things...
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Best episode of Fringe in a long time (not to take anything away from season 4, cuz I did enjoy it).



I don't even know where to start.



Peter/Etta

Walter/Etta

Olivia/Peter

Olivia/Etta

Walter/Astrid



All the relationships were fantastic tonight, not to mention the rest of it was pheonominal as well.



As for Fringe being way out there now. It has always been way out there, ever since multiple universes came into the fray...but I do get what your saying. What 2036 actually allows for is seeing fringe science come to fruition, as all of those sciences 'out of our reach' are now fully within reach as the observers are way more technologically adavanced and have more than likely figured out all that fringe science.
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II loved this episode. The thing with Fringe is to really enjoy it you always have to just "go with it".

Over analyzing where it is headed is futile. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.
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