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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13 Season 5 An Enemy of Fate

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 21, 2013

A Dreary Blue Episode

There won’t be a plot synopsis of this episode over at Polite Dissent this week.

Discredited Fringe Science

Walter:

“Blast this thing.  What I wouldn’t give for a good, old fashioned, tumor inducing cell phone.”

Science is often subtle nuanced, and it’s always difficult to completely rule anything out, but the best scientific research shows that there are no detectable health risks from low energy, non-ionizing radiation emitted from cell phones, especially not cancer.

Even Broyles is Smarter Than That, Right?

The minute Broyles got the information on the location of the high value prisoner, he should have considered himself compromised, as it should have been obvious to him that it would be easily traced back to him once they took action based on that information.  After that meeting with Windmark, he should have been doubly concerned that he had been found out.  Boyles was relying too much on his ability to block being read.

It’s Always About Getting Your Superiors to Understand the Importance of Your Project

Maybe it really was a lack of allocation of resources due to not considering the threat to be all that serious.  Windmark now seems to have plenty of resources for observation and tracking of targets.

Use the Best Quality For the One Tape Not Vital to the Plan

The video tape that Walter left for Peter was in better condition than any of the other ambered tapes.  There were no skips, unreadable segments, tracking problems, or garbled audio like all the other tapes had.

Questioning Observer Observation Again

They mentioned monitoring all the remaining members of the 12 Observer scientific expedition team, but they didn’t bother to keep September under observation?

Windmark Explained!

Windmark’s emotional behavior is now explained by the influence of being in the past.

Some Nit-Picking About Lock Picking

What kind of electronic lock is vulnerable to hot wiring like the one Peter cracked in this episode?

Oh, We Got Weapons…

It was nice to see the Fringe team use four years of Fringe experience in their attack against The Observers and Loyalists.

Be Internally Consistent*

How was Walter able to escort the boy into the future if September took the inoculation that he needed to make the trip?

* See the comments section where I am corrected on this.

Continuity Questions

If The Observers have taken over 2136, presumably 2167 in that time line’s future will be a time already taken over by Observers with few, if any, remaining humans, and there will be no breakthrough leading to the creation of the Observers as a new continuity had already been established.  In order to prevent The Observers from being created, wouldn’t you have to go back to a point before The Observers’ takeover to send the boy forward into 2167?

How will the reset affect the alterverse?  Will Fauxlivia and NerdLee remember Olivia’s last visit?

It would seem that no doors have been completely closed to some day returning to the Fringe universe(s).  I doubt it will happen to a show that had a level of popularity appropriate to its title, but John Noble is only 64; he could still be around in 5 or 10 years.

My Alternate Ending

In my alternate ending, when September is shot, Windmark goes to grab the boy to capture him, and when he does, the boy touches Windmark’s face.  The boy reveals the full depth of what he is to Windmark, and allows Windmark to experience and understand the full range of the human experience beyond just the hate he has been feeling.  (This would be perhaps visualized with various video and audio clips: a white tulip, Niagara Falls, Peter and Olivia kissing while Etta plays, MLK’s I have a dream speech, the Ode to Joe, etc.)  Upon experiencing this revelation, (maybe a small tear forming at the corner of one of Windmark’s eyes would be too corny here…) Windmark picks up the boy and runs through the portal/ wormhole.  The show then proceeds as it did, except Walter is seen playing with Etta as Peter and Olivia tell them it’s time to go home.

Closing Comments

I’m not prepared to make a comprehensive, qualitative assessment of the show’s ending at this time.  I think it usually takes time to think about and reflect on the ending of a show you’ve been watching for five years.  I am prepared to say that this last season was a bit of a disappointment for several reasons.

Season five was really a different show; a spin off from Fringe with the same characters if you will.  The show used to be about Fringe events, dealing with them individually, and figuring out The Pattern underlying all of them.  Season five was a post apocalyptic resistance show with the Fringe characters, and at times it was clear the writers weren’t used to writing such a show.  They frequently had highly wanted criminals walking around in public with impunity, with those in power not using technology and techniques widely available in the 20th century to combat the resistance.

Furthermore, it seems fairly obvious that the nature and purpose of The Observers in season five was a retroactive continuity different from whatever they were originally intended to be.   * 2/1/13 See the the comments section where this is at least partially refuted.  The retcon of Anomaly XB-6783646 being the boy that was important rather than Peter is an even more very disappointing retcon that is easily contradicted from numerous other episodes of the show.

I’m glad we got a fifth season, but while I enjoyed pointing out the plot flaws, I much preferred separating the wheat from the chaff in regards to the science presented in the show, and there just wasn’t as much of that in season five due to the different format.

I’m not sure what will become of this blog going forward.  I hope I don’t loose interest in or devotion to continuing with it as many even longtime bloggers before me eventually have.  I don’t want to make any promises, and I’m going to be pretty busy with other things until at least mid March (2013), but I have a few ideas.  The show Revolution seems to provide enough material to fill out a blog post each week, and I may just start covering that show going forward.  I hope you will occasionally check in to see if I have anything new to say that you might find interesting.  Thanks for coming and thanks to all those who have commented.  Until next time…

17 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13 Season 5 An Enemy of Fate”

  1. In response to “Be Internally Consistent How was Walter able to escort the boy into the future if September took the inoculation that he needed to make the trip?”:

    I thought Walter said he innoculated himself years ago and that was extra. I could be wrong though. I was half asleep when I watched it ;-)

  2. Karl Withakay said

    I believe you may be correct there, Justin, but they still basically implied that the (final/booster) inoculation was probably needed to be sure it worked.

    The writers created a bit of a Catch 22 for themselves; they had to have a reason for the inoculation to be there so September could use it, but if the plan was for Walter to make the trip he either needed the inoculation (and therefore would have a problem with the way things ended) or he wouldn’t need it (and there would be no reason for the inoculation to be around).

  3. Josh said

    I’m glad it wasn’t “Blast this thing. What I wouldn’t give for a good, old fashioned, Sprint cell phone.”

  4. shrodes said

    Also, thanks for your reviews, I always enjoyed reading through yours (and Scott’s) inconsistencies and observations (ha!).

  5. Francisco Colmenares said

    Regarding going back to a point in time in the past before the invasion and then send him forward, that doesn’t make sense either if you think of time linearly. as you move forward in time you still have the invasion happening so you’ve gained nothing by going back two steps to leap three steps forward.

    My interpretation is that as the observers are known to access multiple futures and timelines this wormhole is special because it has access to the original timeline when the observers were created.

  6. Denys Corel said

    Sorry but it was clearly stated that Walter didn’t need the injection since he already got it, and the extra one was precaution in case of his death (he told that to Peter after watching the tape)…

  7. Karl Withakay said

    OK, then it was just a red herring. I’m OK with that then. I blame the distraction of the kidney stone pain for me missing that, thanks.

  8. Murad said

    Karl, thanks for going till the end, unlike Scott. I am sure he had his reasons for stopping his reviews, I just wished he would wait till the end. In any case you guys did a great job!

    Regarding the whole season, I feel disapointed myself with the whole future fugitive storyline. I wish the writers would have come up with something more elaborate. I was somewhat intrigued during Peter-Observer episodes, but they decided to cut it short. And the ending just killed it. Sending brain-damaged Walter (who in his own time was considered a proper lunatic) and a weird looking kid with no communications ability whatsoever into the future to EXPLAIN that they come from the past/future to change the future/past is probably the stupidest thing they could have ever planned.

    PS: I think Walter said he took the injection in 2015, just before Peter visited the lab.

  9. Codisc said

    Thank you, Karl, for your interesting views on the real science behind the science of Fringe. You were one of the few followers until the end.

    And I also did think that Michael would touch Windmark and change him. Oh well.

  10. HomiSite said

    First of all “thank you (and Scott)” for your Fringe coverage! You guys always had spot on and also funny observations.

    I guess the two last episodes was the best we could hope for, when thinking of season 4 and especially 5. Yes, even in the final episodes were some sidetracking, but we got action and furthermore some closure (could have been more), beautiful/emotional scenes and some reminiscene of important things from better Fringe times (the alternate universe!). Fringe was one of the best contemporay genre TV shows at the end of season 2 and in season 3 until its awful season final. A pity that this quality level could not be reached again. But Fringe was also, maybe primarly, a show about family, relationships, loss and love. Thanks to the fantastic characters – and actors – which helped the show even through bad times.

    Three things:

    - Michael turned himself in to the Observers, but did that helped in any cause? I first thought that he somehow will manipulate Windmark, but there was nothing of it. And funny that Olivia asks why Michael did it, but there is no real answer (the real answer: to fill one episode with Cortexiphan-driven inter-universal bald-boy rescue!).

    - I have no overview about all timelines, but I think that deleting the Observers from the (okay, our) universe would had far more impact on the whole past beyond 2015…

    - The show’s last image was Peter (Olivia was not that important anymore…) and it seems his last facial expression when looking at thee tulip was some sort of realisation – of what?

    PS: Revolution is a horrible show! But I will keep your blog in my feed reader.

  11. Codisc said

    I believe Michael did it to get Olivia to kill Windmark. By going over there, he inspired her to jack herself up to the top with Cortexiphan so she could do that. To save him.

  12. rokgomiscek said

    I think Michael stepped off the train in order to save the others, otherwise everyone would’ve been captured.

    Back when they discovered what the plan actually was and Olivia told Peter they would get Etta back and Peter didn’t seem enthusiastic, it was because he realised that without the observers, Walternate would’ve cured him and he never would’ve met Olivia.

  13. gonzalo carreto said

    I can’t believe that no one mentioned what it is besides “noise” that we sees in the monitor in the lab that the “boy” see right after Olivia bring him back, personally I do not know what is there to watch both for the smile on his face I believe is just a hidden message from the production to the fans.

  14. Rea said

    In my opinion, almost none of the last episode makes sens. assuming that walter travels to the future with the boy and thus the observers never come to exist, september would never exist either. thus, walternate would cure peter and peter would grow up undisturbed in his universe, never meeting olivia and thus never creating etta… correct me if i’m wrong?

  15. Mark said

    “Furthermore, it seems fairly obvious that the nature and purpose of The Observers in season five was a retroactive continuity different from whatever they were originally intended to be. ”

    I disagree with this. Whatever you may think of the 5th season, I think this was always the plan for the Observers. This scene from Season 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UDE357JX7pE#t=116s) is the strongest evidence of this. The war that ZFT was preparing for was not a war with the Other Side – it was a War with this Observers.

  16. Karl Withakay said

    Given the support of the video you linked to, I have to concede your point on the purpose and goals of The Observers. Given that, I am now unsure whether the nature of The Observers (humans from the future with embedded tech, etc) was retconed or not. I still stand by my position regarding Peter and the Anomaly and “the boy is important”, but I’m also willing to be proven wrong.

  17. Austin Gray said

    “In my opinion, almost none of the last episode makes sens. assuming that walter travels to the future with the boy and thus the observers never come to exist, september would never exist either. thus, walternate would cure peter and peter would grow up undisturbed in his universe, never meeting olivia and thus never creating etta… correct me if i’m wrong?”

    THIS right here is what I was thinking all along

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