FRINGE 4.14 ‘The End of All Things’

Within the mind of an Observer, Peter doesn't like the answers he discovers while David Robert Jones pursues his endgame with Olivia.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "The End of All Things"

Writer: David Fury

Director: Jeff Hunt

Previously on "Fringe":

Episode 4.13: "A Better Human Being"

Story:

After the apparent abduction of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) frantically search her apartment for any clues. As Lincoln chides Peter for treating Olivia like she was the Olivia from his timeline, Peter discovers a camera hidden inside of a smoke alarm. Unfortunately, the memory chip of the camera is set to tape over itself at regular intervals, but Peter wants to see if he can pull anything off of it. Elsewhere, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) explains to Olivia that she was kidnapped weeks ago and that she saw her own doppelganger when she was taken.

David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) enters the room alongside his minion, Leland Spivey (Monte Markham). To Jones' surprise, Olivia is familiar with both the test that he wants her to perform and his death in the other timeline. Jones admits that his men have have been administering the Cortexiphan to her and that her enhanced abilities are tied to her emotional reactions. So, Jones has Leland begin torturing Nina to provoke a response. In Boston, the elder Observer known as December (Eugene Lipinski) meets with three of his fellow Observers as they try to locate the renegade Observer, September (Michael Cerveris) and figure out why he disobeyed their orders to erase all traces of Peter.

At the FBI headquarters,  Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) is joined by Lincoln Lee as they interrogate the fake Nina Sharp, but she asks for her lawyer when she sees that they refuse to believe that she is not involved with Olivia's disappearance. Back at the lab, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) keeps up the pressure on Peter by reminding him that it was wrong to believe that Walter's Olivia was Peter's Olivia from the original timeline. Meanwhile, Jones steps up the intensity of Nina's torture, but no matter how hard Olivia tries to comply with the test, she simply can't activate the lights with her mind. Fortunately, Jones gives Olivia an hour to rest.

Back at Walter's lab, Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole), Peter and Walter are able to see Leland's face on the footage from Olivia's apartment; which soon leads them to Leland's connections to both Jones and Nina. September suddenly appears in their midst, dying of a gunshot wound. Before he passes out, September tells Peter that Olivia needs him. Elsewhere, Olivia admits to Nina that the renewed Cortexiphan treatments have diminished the memories of her life with Nina. In response, Nina shares a story about how she first brought Olivia and her sister into her home before Olivia admits that her powers only seem to work around Peter.

Nina then suffers an apparent reaction to her shock treatment and she is wheeled away by Jones' men. But once out of view, this Nina reveals herself to the Faux-Nina who is league with Jones and she passes on Olivia's admission about Peter. In Walter's lab, September is clearly on the verge of death. Peter proposes that Walter put Peter into the Observer's mind; which would threaten Peter's life as well. Heedless of the risk, Peter enters September's consciousness and learns first hand that the Observers are evolved humans from a possible future who have been traveling throughout time to watch the past in person.

More pointedly, September reveals that the damage to both parallel universes stems from his mistakes; which he attempted to rectify by saving Peter's life at Reiden Lake years ago. But each attempt only made the problems worse, until Peter finally had a son named Henry with the Olivia of the alternate universe. September tells Peter that he was meant to have a child with his Olivia and that Henry was erased from the timeline when he was. Sensing his immanent demise and the presence of his people, September casts Peter out of his mind after repeatedly telling him to "go home."

Peter awakens back in the lab moments before September seems to blink out of existence. After initially assuming that September was telling Peter to get back to his original timeline, he soon surmises that September may have meant that Peter should return to the house that he's been living in. And when Peter does so, he is jumped by Leland and another of Jones' men. When Olivia is alerted to her next test by Jones, she sees both the Faux-Nina and Peter as Jones' captives. This time, Olivia has no problem turning on the lights in the box… or all of the lights in the facility, including one that electrocutes Leland. Olivia also states that she realized that this Nina wasn't her Nina.

Olivia frees herself as Faux-Nina and Jones attempt to escape. After reuniting with Peter and dealing with the remaining henchman, Olivia catches up with Jones before he steps through a portal to the alternate universe. Olivia shoots Jones through the throat, but he seemingly heals in front of Peter and Olivia before making his escape. Olivia begins having more seizure-like symptoms after using her powers, causing Peter to summon an ambulance for her. As they wait for it to arrive, Peter tells Olivia that he was wrong to believe that she was his Olivia. He believes that his Olivia is still out there and he can't betray her again no matter how heartbroken this makes Olivia feel.

As Olivia pleads with Peter and asks where he is going, Peter tells her that he has to go home as the ambulance arrives.

Breakdown:

"The End of All Things" did something that most episodes of serialized sci-fi dramas don't tend to do: it gave us satisfying answers to long-standing mysteries while setting up more questions to be answered later.

One notion that "Fringe" has been stubbornly clinging to all season is that the original timeline still exists somewhere else or that Peter can somehow return there and resume his life as it was. I still believe that's a false assertion, and there's some thematic proof of that within the episode itself. At one point, Peter and Walter explained the concept of a palimpsest; which is a medium that is reused or altered while retaining traces of its earlier iterations. That's the perfect metaphor for the fourth season of "Fringe." The original timeline has basically been recorded over by Peter's removal from history, but traces of Olivia's memories are bleeding through. Peter himself is the most prominent reminder of the previous timeline, since by all accounts he shouldn't even exist anymore.

Last week, the question posed was whether the Olivia of this new timeline was a separate and equal counterpart to the Olivia of the original timeline that didn't deserve to lose her own existence to memories that don't belong to her. I propose that both things are true. The Olivia of our timeline is also the Olivia of this new timeline, but the new Olivia is also a distinct individual created by her revised choices who is just as legitimate as the original Olivia. But there can only be one Olivia in this universe, and for now it's a woman with two sets of memories.

From the point of view of Walter and Lincoln, it's perfectly understandable why they're freaking out over Olivia's returning persona. They see it as Peter's influence destroying someone that they love and care about. I think Lincoln also has some romantic feelings towards Olivia (much like his alternate universe counterpart); which is why he was particularly upset at Peter in the opening scene. But when it comes to Olivia, Lincoln Lee seems to be destined for heartbreak no matter what world that he's in.

It's long been rumored that the Observers were from the future, but the reveal still strongly resonated onscreen thanks to the visuals of September's mindscape. That was an easy highlight of the episode, but it also raises an interesting point that no one is questioning. September claims that if he hadn't interfered with Walternate's attempt to cure Peter in the other universe, then none of this would have happened. That means that the Peter we know would never have left the alternate universe with our Walter. If that's the case, then shouldn't our Peter have eventually hooked up with the Olivia of his world? If he never left, then Peter would never have even met our Olivia.

The only way to reconcile that is if September's view of Peter's future with our Olivia could only happen if he saved Peter's life at Reiden Lake. The fate of Henry, Peter's son with Fauxlivia was largely glossed over this season. But it didn't lesson the impact when Peter finally learned that he wasn't the only one erased from existence… and Peter will never meet the son he never should have had.

As far as twists go, I did guess early on that the Nina with Olivia was the Nina that was working with David Robert Jones. It was still an entertaining reveal, but "Fringe" was flirting with predictability there. Anna Torv and Blair Brown shared some strong scenes together and there was even a subtle expression on Torv's face when she realized that the alternate Nina wasn't her Nina. If you re-watch the scene where fake Nina tells Olivia about their first night as a family, you'll be able to catch that moment now that you know what to look for.

Olivia never seemed more like a superheroine than when she manifested her full Cortexiphan powers; which was another great moment that was a long time coming. I don't think that "Fringe" is going to focus on Olivia using those abilities on a week-to-week basis, but that would be an interesting way to shake things up.

I do have to say that Peter pulled a bit of a dick move by leaving Olivia at the end of the episode. Sure, he believes that this isn't his Olivia and that it's best if he stays away… but couldn't he have stayed until the medics made sure that Olivia was recovered from her ordeal? Plus, I think that Peter was wrong again about this not being his Olivia and it could also be viewed as an artificial way to extend this arc through the end of the season. Walter and Lincoln were quick to put the blame for Olivia's condition on Peter, but if they start remembering the original timeline as well, then they had better eat a big plate of crow alongside an apology.

Crave Online Rating: 9.3 out of 10.