Only in Fringe would two beacons, a silent bald kid, a toxin that hideously melts flesh, and another one that horrifically closes all orifices all have in common the future of humanity. In this, the seventh episode of the fifth and final season of the award-winning show, we continue following Walter, Olivia, Peter and Astrid as they search for the missing pieces to Walter’s plan for defeating the Observers.
Our dream team is still following Walter's clues, recorded on video cassettes, retrieving parts needed to assemble yet another machine. And while the basic plot is simple, countless layers are added in the development of two of the show’s characters: Peter and Walter. This character development has been fascinating, leaving me disheartened only because of the lack of time and attention given to Olivia.
The return of both characters and technology from the first season has not only served to propel the plot forward and tie some loose ends, but also underlines the fact that this is, indeed, the show’s final season. The nostalgic moments in the last couple of episodes were surpassed by what was, in my opinion, the strongest return to Season 1 yet.
In “The Bullet that Saved the World”, the team used the toxin from Season 1’s fourteenth episode “Ability”. In “The Looking Glass, and What Walter Found There”, the team found the silent bald kid it has saved back in the first season’s fifteenth episode, “Inner Child”; and this week, on top of the return of the famous lock combination “5-20-10” in the plot and the title of the episode, we are back to the event that started it all: the flesh eating contagion that killed all the passengers aboard Flight 627.
And so, I still believe that Fringe can still end on a high note, if and only if the writers urgently address one major point: Olivia. She has been relegated, throughout this season, to a secondary role. It is the most frustrating experience, as a fan and as a woman, to see her becoming, in my friend Allan’s words, a wallflower. Olivia from the first through the fourth season, the Olivia that crossed universes for Peter, would not have taken his change in character without doing something other than asking a few tentative questions. I
do not expect her to remain untouched by the latest in the series of unfortunate events, namely, Etta’s death. But to portray her as broken and passive implies that she was never much more than that in the first place, that her strength was an exterior veneer hiding her inner weakness.