Quick Take: Fringe, "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11"
"Nothing grows from scorched earth." - Windmark
Review: Fringe, "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11"
(S0501) Try as I might to avoid an egregious cliché, there's just no other way to describe the final season premiere of a series: the beginning of the end. At least in regards to Fringe and "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11," the adage carries more meaning than just a descriptor for the show's impending conclusion. Picking up in the not-so-distant Orwellian future of 2036 from last season's "Letters of Transit," the premiere masterfully illustrates how near the end of the world is, capturing the state of urgency in the show's newfound focus and direction.
In light of the show's shortened episode order, the cast and crew have no time to waste on the "freak of the week" buffers between overarching plot points, giving them the all-clear to fully develop the series mythology. Even though it's been more than twenty years since the events of Season Four's finale "Brave New World," a lot of questions get answered – even ones we didn't know we were looking for.
Upon the Observers' arrival or shortly thereafter, Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) lose their daughter, Henrietta, after an attack. Her disappearance is ultimately the reason why Peter opts to stay in Boston while Olivia, Walter (John Noble), and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) leave for New York. It is there that they encase themselves in amber to escape the wrath of the Observers, where they are eventually tracked down by the evasive Etta (Georgina Haig) twenty years later.
Everyone is awake except Olivia, whose temporary tomb has been removed by "amber gypsies" and sold to the highest bidder on the black market. Luckily, the buyer is an old acquaintance of Peter's – the stubby bookstore owner, Ed Markham. Unluckily, however, freeing Olivia results in Walter's capture by the Observers – leading towards what might be remembered as one of Fringe's most heart-wrenching scenes – betrayed by his fondness for Markham's Isaac Asimov collection ("I tried writing science fiction once. Once.")
I'm sure you've heard it before and you're bound to hear it again, but this season is already deserving of its praise for being "cinematic." The bookend scenes – Peter's dream and Walter's dandelion – are nothing short of beautiful. There's no trace that this show used to follow a procedural format, no evidence that the writers are being lobbied to pander to potential new-comers. Everything about the premiere was built around the potential Fringe had since its inception – high stakes, high calibre science-fiction driven by characters and mythology.
Whether through dreams or outright flashbacks, we're bound to learn the "unexpected" fate that met September as hinted at last season, as well as the plan that he was helping Walter develop. Following the psychic torture Walter endured, it's not hopeful that the titular "thought unifier" will help restore the memories that might not even exist in his mind anymore.