I took a bit longer than anticipated to watch last week’s episode of Fringe, “The Bullet that Saved the World”. An avid Twitter user, I understood from the tweets of fellow Fringe fans that something bad would happen, and I wanted to delay the inevitable.
Etta’s death, while adding a layer of emotional complexity to the story, seems unnecessary to many a Fringe fan, including myself. I usually let go of my own preconceptions and expectations when I watch a show, and let the writers take me on a ride the rules of which they decide. But I find is more and more difficult to let go with Fringe. I understand that the hero’s quest is filled with pain, and I know that life often seems unfair, but Etta’s death felt like an over the top attempt at twisting the emotional knife in our collective stomachs.
It is unfortunate that her death coincides with the return of Philip Broyles, marring the pleasure of seeing him again, and discovering the nature of his relationship with her. Of course he would have her transferred into his unit once he figured out who she was! We would expect nothing less from him. Hopefully we will find out more about Etta through him, as there are a lot of unanswered questions remaining, namely, how Etta found out about her heritage.
While Broyles’ continued involvement in the Bishops’ lives did not come as much of a surprise, his sentimental moment in his office involving the well worn picture of Olivia and Peter was in my opinion another over the top moment. After all, if he took a year to learn how to hide his thoughts from the Observers to help Etta and the resistance, one would think he would be more careful in hiding his relationship with the infamous Fringe team, now more than ever. I cannot however begrudge him wanting to see Peter, Olivia and Walter again, and the reunion scene was beautiful. It is interesting to note that Olivia calls him Philip, denoting that the two became closer than when we last saw them. And of course Broyles would help by giving the team state of the art weapons. How unfortunate they were not able to keep them all.
Another thing that greatly bothers me in this season of Fringe is the mind-reading torture scenes. Rationally I know they are part of an Observer-full life, but I really dread them. Torture scenes are the reason why I stopped watching 24, and I hope that they are not going to be a reason to stop watching Fringe.
What a grim opening for the review to Season 5’s fourth episode, especially in light of my usually raving reviews of this show! But I really do not like the dark turn Fringe has taken, and it does take some resolve to continue watching, in the hopes that these moments of utter discomfort, completely nonexistent before (despite the gore), will dissipate in the next nine episodes.
Because, quite unfortunately, nine episodes are all that are left.
I must admit that I am being very hard on Fringe writers, and that happily enough, I can easily contrast the above-mentioned negative points with some of the better aspects of this episodes as thankfully, there are quite a few. The visuals were amazing, especially in the scene under the bridge and during the scene when Windmark shot Etta. I loved the gruesome albeit poetic justice of the team creating Fringe events of their own, and the moment, so brief yet so supremely ironic, when Windmark commented that the team’s tactic was “barbaric”. It is quite unfortunate however that Windmark now has a suspicion that humans might be able to shield themselves from being read, and one can’t help but wonder what measures the Observers will take to counter this. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the mind reading torture scenes are about to get much, much worse.
The glyphs spell W-O-U-N-D, which could refer to the deadly wound sustained by Etta, but of course most probably refer to the emotional wounds sustained mainly by Peter and Olivia but also by Walter, due to this second loss of Etta. Her death has probably reopened perhaps even wider the wounds sustained after the first time they lost her. While the circumstances are vastly different, Walter and Peter now have something very powerful in common, and one can’t help but wonder if and how it will bond (or break) the two. One also can’t help but wonder the effect that losing Etta a second time will do to Olivia and Peter, both as individuals and as a couple. By the look on Peter’s face in the last seconds of this episode, I would not be surprised if he went back to adopting the same, somewhat brash attitude prevalent in the first half of Season 1 of Fringe.
Amidst all that happened, we have to remember that the team is hunting down, yet again, clues to a bigger puzzle spread in and around Boston by Walter. I find it slightly ironic that Walter’s mind is both what caused all of this in the first place, and the reason why it can’t be solved. Even more ironic is the fact that Walter’s brain is both the source of the solution and the last obstacle to potential victory.
It comes as no surprise that there were very few lighthearted moments in this episode. However, the most lighthearted one more than made up for it. Who could not laugh at Walter firing from a small, hand held cannon, scaring poor Astrid. He and Peter giggling (yes, giggling) like little boys (with Peter playing the role of the innocent by-stander) was wonderful.
While the show has taken a definite turn to the dark side, and we still don’t know why that was the bullet that saved the world, I and many fans are hanging on for the next nine episodes. After all, over four years of loyalty and an epic fandom should not dissipate that easily.
First Published here.