For a moment there, as the Fringe series finale barreled toward a close, you thought it might play out another way.
But it didn’t.
With Michael back in the team’s custody, Walter, Peter, Olivia et al resumed their plan to assemble a contraption that would transport the “child” Observer to 2167, where he would convince a scientist in Oslo, Norway to reconsider his plan to create what would become the evil invaders. To that end, they needed an “ignition” device, but Windmark’s team beat them to that crucial part, grabbing it from September’s sympathetic (and doomed) cohort December. Cue Astrid’s “shining moment”: the suggestion that they hijack one of the Observers shipping lane, using one of those cool cubes to reverse its flow, allowing Michael to enter, and exit in the future.
But who would lead the boy?
Walter knew it was his fate, in part because “nature abhors a paradox” — and the solution to this one was “deleting” him and Michael.
“You will never see me again,” he informed his son Peter, “to assure the future of humanity. Your future with Olivia. Your future with Etta.
“I cheated fate to be with you,” he continued, describing their time together as father and son as “stolen.” Even so, and given all they’ve been through, and in light of how it must end, “I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Walter professed. “I don’t want to say goodbye, but I will say, ‘I love you, son.'”
Peter, crestfallen, confirmed: So, a world without Observers means you and Michael have to finish your lives in the future? “I know in my soul this is what I’m supposed to do,” Walter insisted, and they pulled one another into a strong, warm hug, tears welling in all four eyes. “You are my favorite thing, Peter…. My very favorite thing.”
But as noted above, we were teased with an alternate ending, when Walter discovered that September had used the last time travel-enabling inoculation on himself, so that he could lead Michael to his world-saving destiny. September spoke of the emotions he felt upon being reunited with the boy, and how observing Walter’s interaction with Peter gave clarity to his confusion. “When I saw what Peter meant to you, then I understood why [my feelings] were important,” he said. “When I take his hand and I lead him [to 2167], he’ll know that I love him.” Walter explained, “That’s being a father.”
Reiterating his resolve, September assured Walter, “It’s not about fate, yours or mine. It’s about changing fate. It’s about hope and protecting our children.”
September’s highly noble gesture, however, was met with a change-of-fate of its own. As the Fringe team labored to hold off Windmark’s men as the shipping lane opened — and after the cruel Captain himself was blindsided and crushed (hurrah!) by a telekinetically shoved truck — September was felled by a bullet just shy of the leaping-off point. Michael briefly mourned his father figure with a playing of the “Greensleeves” music box, then was offered a new leading hand. Walter’s. Peter mouthed, “I love you, Dad” as his father escorted Michael to the future. And….
We’re back in the park, from the opening scene of Season 5. Only this time when Peter calls for young Etta, saying it’s time to go home, she makes it into his arms, running. And he twirls her, while mom Olivia beams. Back home, Peter finds in the mail the odd letter that VHS Walter said he’d one day receive — a white tulip card.
It is about hope and protecting our children. It is about changing fate.
UPDATE: Some additional thoughts on the final two hours….
* How awesome was it to see Michael beat Windmark bloody without so much as blinking an eye?
* Great quote, Hour 1: “You can stop checking out my young ass.”
* Great quote, Hour 2: “It’s a beautiful name.” “What?” “Astrid.”
* Many spotted the TV news crawl about Chelsea Clinton running for president in Alt 2036, but did you also see that Warner Bros. (aka the company that produces Fringe) had announced a Harry Potter remake? That Detroit had been ranked the safest U.S. city? And that the valuation of American currency had hit an all-time high?
* Who else winced on their sofa as Olivia howled with the final two Cortexiphan shots?
* Nice touch, intimating that Lincoln felt some guilt being Over There while our side was being run roughshod by the chrome domes.
* Anyone else get a Callum Keith Rennie vibe from Michael Cerveris aka Haired September?
* As for the paradox issue, I’ll seek clarity from Joel Wyman first chance I get. I was on board with the theory that Walter’s plan merely prevented the Evil Observer invasion, until December warned September that with the reset an unqualified “we would cease to exist.”
What did you think of Fringe‘s series finale. Was it, as Joshua Jackson assessed for us, “Correct”?