And then the world changed.
Observers materialized on the horizon, striding across the grass. Peter ran as fast as he could to his daughter, with Olivia close behind.
But they were too late. Cut to quick flashes of some sort of triage tent, an atmosphere of panic. And then…
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Peter wakes up, some 20 years later, in the year 2036. We’re now picking up the storyline of Season 4, Episode 19, as Peter walks down the hall and checks in on his “little girl,” Etta, here a young woman. All that’s missing is her mother, his… wife?
Confabbing with Walter, the genius scientist recalls that before he was ambered, he sent Olivia to retrieve from New York City the gizmo that September, during their season-ending chat, said Walter would need to decode the instructions implanted in his brain — a guide to defeating the Observers. But as Olivia was on her way, that day, the call went dead.
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Peter, Etta, Astrid and Walter get themselves to Columbus Circle, Olivia’s last known whereabouts, where Etta explains how Central Park had been paved over to make room for machines that pump Observer-friendly carbon monoxide into the air. They find a mass of amber that likely held Olivia, only to find slabs cut out of it. “Amber gypsies,” Etta notes.
At a gypsy marketplace, Etta gives Peter $3,000 worth of… walnuts? … to find and buy back the slab containing Olivia. Not before sounding a private alarm, the proprietor points Peter to the guy who long ago “bought” Olivia: Wee Edward Markham, the collector of rare books and such last seen in Episode 4×16!
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A MOTHER’S DAZE
Markham, once confronted at his apartment, where Olivia is serving as a fine cocktail table, discloses that he has big plans for his prize – if he were ever to reanimate her. (“I loved her from the first time she came into my bookstore,” he shares.) But Peter et al have no time for waxing romantic. Alas, the gypsy market guy has triggered a Level 4 alarm, sending a pack of Observers to Markham’s building. A shoot-out ensues, with Peter, Etta and Astrid eventually racing away in their truck, while Walter is captured.
Once safe, Peter and Etta free a disoriented Olivia from the slab. As she lays eyes on the young(er) blonde across the room, Peter confirms: “I found her. More to the point, she found us.” Then, to Etta: “Kiddo, come meet your mom.”
Gazing up the daughter she last saw at age “3 years, 1 month and five days,” Olivia is overcome with emotion. “You’re beautiful.” “So are you, Etta returns, as mother and daughter share an firm, long embrace, Olivia looking over at Peter with incredible awe at their fortune.
“AT ALL COSTS — INCLUDING US”
Olivia has the gizmo required to unscramble Walter’s thoughts, the Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11. Problem is, now they don’t have Walter. Instead, he is being held by the Observers and getting interrogated, and then some, by the boss man, Captain Windmark. “I’m very interested in you,” Windmark says, before the men debate over the merits of music. Walter suggests music can foster hope, but Windmark says Walter shouldn’t seek any for himself: “Nothing grows from scorched earth.”
Etta leads Peter and Olivia to sort of bunker where some fellow resistant fighters keep tabs on things. While Etta updates her colleagues, her parents find a moment to reflect on the very rough patch they hit after their little girl was taken. “We didn’t save the world,” Olivia notes. “Not even by half,” Peter nods. “She’s still trying, though.” To the heart of the matter, Peter says, “I never thought Id see you again…. I know what you thought of me, when I wouldn’t leave Boston to come to New York,” leaving her to go it alone. “We lost our child,” Olivia recalls. “And in the grief, we weren’t capable of being what we needed to be for each other.” So Olivia went to New York to fight the greater fight, while Peter stayed in Beantown to keep looking for Etta “at all costs – including us.” Later, Olivia remarks on how much she wants to say to and ask her long-lost daughter. “And you will,” Peter says, acknowledging that the whole situation is like a “beautiful dream within a nightmare.”
Windmark presses Walter to reveal his thoughts, to the point that Walter’s eyes bleed. The resistance he’s facing convince Windmark that a fellow Observer placed and coded vital bits of information in his noggin. “Put them together for me,” Windmark commands, but Walter wont relent, and bleeds more. Latching onto a stray thought, Windmark asks: “Who’s the little blonde girl? She’s helping you,” as Walter collapses. Shortly thereafter, Etta, Olivia and Peter – playing “dead” thanks to some one-time-use tech — infiltrate the Observers compound, create a distraction by attacking their air filtration system. (Adorable moment: Peter saying, “That’s my girl!”) They grab Walter, leave guns a-blazing, as Windmark pieces together the identity of the girl he found in Walter’s noodle.
A NEW HOPE
Alas, Walter is much worse for the wear, and seems to have lost, among other memories, the ones embedded by September. So now they have the gizmo, and they have Walter, but it’s a dead end. And there’s no telling if his assaulted brain can heal itself. “I’ve failed the world” a frustrated Walter wails.
But later, Walter wakes from a slumber, walks outside and down the street, drawn to the glare off a “tree” of string and old-timer CDs. He clambers into an abandoned car, pops a disc in and cues up “Only You,” an early-’80s ballad by Yazoo. He closes his eyes, absorbs the music, opens them again, spies a dandelion sprouted from the grey asphalt, and ultimately smiles. He seems to have regained a small piece of his former self, reclaiming hope – via music — that maybe everything could turn out right after all.