(Contains plot spoilers)
Episode 19 “Letters of Transit” is set in the future, 2036 to be specific, where the Observers have taken control of the world. We find out that in 2015, the Observers decided to take the fate of humanity into their own hands by taking control, killing many people in the process, which is referred to “The Purge”. The Fringe team tried to fight against the Observers, but their power was far too overwhelming. The Observers allowed the Fringe team to remain, but only to police the human population, now referred to as the “Natives”. The advantage on the Observers part is that they have the ability to read minds and could easily identify if the “Natives” were up to something!!
In 2036, a FBI agent called Etta discovers Walter Bishop’s body encased in amber after trying to find out what happened to the Fringe team after they vanished 20 years ago after the Observers started to take over, many believing that the Fringe team were just a myth. She takes him to her FBI partner Simon Foster (played by Henry Ian Cusick from Lost – “You alright brother!!”), and they believe that Walter must have purposely encased himself in amber as the device to trigger the amber was inside with him. They manage to release Walter from the amber using some sort of blasting device as they free the amber, but Walter’s brain has degenerated too much to get any sense out of him! You have to see it to appreciate it but Walter licking his lips as he eats a bit of liquorice and telling Simon and Etta that he loves LSD was just priceless!
As they need his brain power to build some sort of device, they take a trip to see a very white haired Nina Sharp. Nina tells them that Walter had asked William Bell to remove part of his brain in the past and that if they replace these parts, it may help to heal his brain! At this point I was thinking, hang on, wasn’t there an episode in a previous series where Walter wanted to replace these brain parts, but the bits of brain has wasted away before he could put them back. But then I thought, because of the shift in timeline that would never have happened. Fringe certainly makes it tough to keep up sometimes!
Etta, Simon and Walter take a trip to the very tired looking Massive Dynamic building to extract the pieces of Walter’s brains from the storage facility, encountering an Observer policeman on the way and Walter very humorously mocks him, almost getting them into trouble but Etta and Simon pass Walter off as a deranged grandfather that they’ve taken out of a home for the day!!!! What also is apparent is that the Observers are unable to read Etta’s mind, as we also saw at the beginning of the episode, which made me start to wonder about her identity and the way that Walter looked at her at one point……..
As they arrive at Massive Dynamic, the unknowingly set of a trigger, alerting the Fringe team, still headed up by a very old looking Broyles (I must say I thought the make up on Broyles was really convincing!!!), and thus the Observers to their presence in the building. Broyles, under strict orders, has no option other than to send a team to the building, who are ordered to shoot on sight! Etta, Simon and Walter get to the storage facility, extract Walter’s brains and Simon replaces them in time before the team arrives.
Walter, whose brain is now functioning relatively normally, tells Simon and Etta that not all the Observer’s were bad and that the Observer September had told him that the Observers would make the world totally unlivable by 2609, and had been travelling in time to take it over themselves. Walter creates an anti-matter device in Massive Dynamic, sets it off, and manages to lead Simon and Etta out of the building using escape routes that he and William Bell had devised. As they leave the building, the team including an Observer enter the room with the anti-matter device and it explodes, erasing the building totally from its location.
Walter takes Simon and Etta to where Peter, Astrid and, strangely, William Bell had been encased in amber. They manage to free Astrid by using the blasting device as they free the amber, but the device breaks before they can get Peter or William out. Simon decides to sacrifice himself to get Peter out but swopping places in the amber. Walter severs Williams hand, saying that this is all he needs from him!!!!! What for, I’m really not sure!!!!
They manage to flee before Broyles and the Fringe team arrive, although Broyles finds a piece of liquorice that Walter was chewing on, giving Broyles an indication that he had returned!!
Finally, as Etta, Simon, Walter, Astrid and now Peter escape from the area by train, Astrid questions Walter’s reaction to William Bell, and he reminds her of what William did to Olivia!!!! Something we obviously haven’t seen yet!! And also no sigh of Olivia yet!!! What does this mean?? Peter also approaches Etta and says that they will try to get Simon out of the Amber. Etta looks into Peter’s eyes and asks if he remembers her, and as the penny drops, Peter realises that it is his daughter Henrietta, who is wearing a fired bullet on a chain around her neck!!!!!
Well, definitely different. And I’m still not sure if I liked what the Fringe writers have done with the Observers, as I never would have had them as the evil oppressive types!!! It certainly was a strange episode and obviously giving the viewers a snap shot of where they want to take Fringe, which I would expect that the remaining episodes and the next series will now move in that direction. I did like the opening credits for this episode, which had been changed to reflect the jump in time with words such as “community”, “joy” “imagination” and “free will” and the obvious use of the Observers. Also as a huge fan of Cusick in Lost, I was over the moon to see him in this episode and really hope to see a bit more of him in the next series.
But I did feel a bit underwhelmed at the end of this episode, although I loved the bringing together of Peter and his daughter, but then I am the sentimental type. I just felt the Observers were a bit farfetched, even for Fringe. It was just so drastically different to how we know Fringe, but then it is 20 years ahead so it can be forgiven a little for that. It would have been good to have had a little more context though, just to make it a little less bizarre. And no mention of the parallel universe? Poses more questions, but in a way, I wouldn’t expect any less from Fringe!!!!
By Kirsty Wavish