While the fate of two universes was in the balance in the final fourth season episode of Fringe, until very recently so was the show itself. Many Fringe fans breathed a relieved sigh when the show was given a final reprieve by Fox for a fifth and final season because now the show can properly finish its complex storyline. Yet by looking at the final episode “Brave New World, Part 2” one could tell that the show’s producers meant for this episode to also serve as a series finale if needed. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, but TPTB have to be careful not to fall into the trap that Babylon 5 did. In that show, the proper storyline came to a conclusion at the end of its fourth season only to be given a new season but felt tacked on and aimless.
As for the episode itself, it was one of the best of the series. Tightly plotted, suspenseful, and it featured all the elements of a classic Fringe episode. Meaning time-traveling Observers, reanimated corpses, weird and gross pseudo science, end-of-the-world theatrics and FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) doing a turn as one of the X-Men by emulating Jean Grey and Wolverine’s mutant tricks. This episode explained many of Fringe’s mysteries such as why was Olivia dosed with the fictional drug cortexiphan (which gave her psionic powers); what did the wounded Observer called September mean in previous episodes when he cryptically stated that Olivia Dunham had to die and most importantly what was the goal of the ultimate baddie.
The head villain was revealed in the penultimate episode of the fourth season to be Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) old partner William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) and he wanted to recreate the universe to his own design. William Bell had created a modern-day Noah’s Ark with new creatures and meant to use Olivia Dunham’s powers to fuel the collision between our universe and the parallel one that had been seen many times on Fringe. Naturally, it’s up to Olivia and her lover/partner Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) to stop this mad scheme.
What was surprising and oddly reasonable was his motive. Bell was dying of cancer and came to hate the unfairness of life. He reasoned that if we were created in God’s image then it was only natural that we try to be like God-hence all the scientific experiments and aberrations throughout the series. But what was surprising was that Walter Bishop came up with the scheme to destroy and remake the universe. Actually, Bishop concocted this back before the show when he was an evil mad scientist. This revelation also explains why the current Bishop is more benign and doesn’t have his full mental capacities.
There is a feeling of conclusion in the final minutes of the episode (Walter even finally calls his assistant by her proper name!), the Fringe Division of the U.S. government receives full funding and resources and Olivia and Peter are ready to live happily ever after. But luckily for us fans, a final nugget and indication of what is to come arrives in the form of the Observer, who delivers a warning. This is probably alluding to the future timeline seen in the recent episode “Letters Of Transit” where the Observers take over the world.
Thankfully, there are now a few more episodes left to answer this mystery and the other remaining ones. Thirteen episodes to be exact.