Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fringe - "The Day We Died"

Ella (Emily Meade), Astrid (Jasika Nicole), Peter (Joshua Jackson), and Olivia (Anna Torv), fifteen years into the future.
Photo Credit: FOX
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 3 - Episode 22
"The Day We Died"

One of the problems with some science fiction stories that take the narrative into a possible future, is whether or not such a side trip is even necessary. Does the story impact the bigger picture in anyway, or is this just a tale told just for the sake of it? Luckily, the little fifteen year jaunt that we see in "The Day We Died" does have some significance for the greater narrative of 'Fringe'.
The most noteworthy is the revelation of exactly who the First People were and where the Machine came from. Now, I can see how this may have been too quick and simple of an answer for some, but I think that the idea that Walter from the future (with the possible help of Astrid and Ella) puts a nice little button on this thread. Drawn out any further than this and the writers run the risk of going down some of the exposition roads taken in the last season of 'Lost'.
Honestly, 'Fringe' still has enough going on with parallel worlds and the unexplained Observers (that last shot of the a whole mess of them standing outside the Statue of Liberty was awesomely chilling), that a protracted development of a mythology around the First People and the origin of the Machine, would have been way too much. This is a world (or worlds) that are rich enough and the writers really don't need to complicate matters any further.
For the most part, the future version of Fringe Prime was interesting. Some of the aging on the characters was hit and miss. Astrid looked decidedly older with a new hairdo and makeup routine. Peter was done well with the higher hair line and graying. Olivia really didn't seem that much different, and the talk about having children with Peter seemed odd given that she was supposed to be in her late 40s. I found Broyles' digitally altered right eye to indicate some kind of blindness or trauma a little distracting. Nina didn't look any older, but it was cool to see a twenty-something Ella on the Fringe team.
Then there's John Noble. My God, the man is amazing. The two Walters came off as being old for separate but well-realized reasons. Our Walter apparently suffered from a stroke or injury at some point since Noble was only speaking out the side of his mouth and using his left hand. Walternate had very silvery hair and was bitter beyond repair. Too bad the Emmys ignore sci-fi, or Noble would be a lock for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama.
Brad Dourif really didn't have much to do in this episode. I wonder if there are plans for the character Moreau next season. It just seemed odd that a well-known genre actor would show up on a show and have two scenes and maybe even fewer lines.
I really enjoyed how the ending of "The Day We Died" played out. As soon as Future Walter came up with the plan and the idea that he created the Machine and sent it back in time through one of the wormholes, and how he needed Peter to somehow get a message back to himself in the past, the episode went right to the present. We didn't need to see the Machine being built or sent back. Nope, as soon as the idea left Walter's lips... bam! We were back in 2011.
The creation of the Meeting Room was pretty neat. Now we have a location that parties from both universes can meet and work towards some sort of peace. Also, this will might allow for easier transportation between the Red and Blue universes without needing some crazy cortexiphan induced explanation or disappearing bridges. If FOX had not decided to renew 'Fringe' this could have worked as a season finale in a pinch, though not a totally satisfying one.
Then there's the mystery of Peter Bishop. He never existed? Was this to be his role the entire time? Was preventing the destruction of two universes and creation of the Meeting Room his true purpose? The statement from the Observer makes it seem like there was only one Peter Bishop, but we know that there was at least two. Have all the Peter Bishops in the multiverse been erased? It'll be interesting to see what becomes of Peter when the fourth season begins in the fall.  

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