Fringe – “The Day We Died”
“Our destiny was set the day we triggered the machine.”
Oh Bad Robot and their time paradoxes.
The grim depiction of our future in the wake of Peter activating the machine is enough to get anyone to seriously consider all possible consequences of making a decision. “If I get this kind cheese WILL THE UNIVERSE EXPLODE?” That may be a bit less dire than deciding the fate of two universes, but still. What “The Day We Died” was able to accomplish was giving us a different look at the world of Fringe. We saw where our characters would be in the future, what their lives would be like, what the world itself would be like. Most importantly: it defined the stakes. Peter had been battling with this decision for a large portion of this season. Well he made his bed and everyone in two universes had to sleep in it.
So it’s 2026. The other universe was destroyed and ours is still coming apart at the seams. Things are quite different for our Fringe team. Part of the fun of this episode was seeing how everyone has changed since the machine went live. Ella is a (super hot) Fringe agent now. Broyles is a senator with a glass eye that adds +4 to badassery. Peter and Olivia are married. Walter’s incarcerated again, only this time for being responsible for the state of the universe, not for being crazy. They did a great job of revealing bits of information about where everyone is in their lives without it seeming too spoon-fed. We learned a lot in a natural way, such as how Olivia has learned to control her telekinetic abilities now.
There’s a terrorist group known as the End of Dayers. They set off these odd light bombs in soft spots to try and increase the growth of tears in the universe to bring about the end of days. And they’re backed by Walternate, the sole survivor of the other universe. The End of Dayers story (which wasn’t really that important in the long run) was interesting because of the real life resonance it had. The world has gone to shit. While Peter and Olivia want kids, they don’t want to bring them into that world. And who could blame them? It’s a stance that people in our world take. There’s a lot that can be said about the parallels between our messed world in Fringe and the actual world we live in. Our planet is constantly being destroyed. Not by wormholes or spacial tears, but by pollution and war. There are those who believe the end of days is near. They may not be setting off light bombs to accelerate it, but the belief is there. It’s similar to the thought process of the ZFT from the first season. Groups of people taking a look around, saying “This is fucked,” and taking steps to change things. Extremists sure, but that kind of thinking exists. While I kind of buy into the ideas of the ZFT, the End of Dayers are a little nuts to me. Religious zealots from the future? No thanks.
Peter goes to meet with Walternate. He apologizes for using the machine to destroy his world and asks for him to stop what he’s doing. But Walternate is going to make Peter suffer. He’s going to take everything from him. Peter is gonna take him into custody but it’s just a hologram. The real Walternate is elsewhere. He begins his revenge by shooting Olivia in the head. My stomach dropped and my hand flew to my mouth. Seeing Olivia shot was almost too much to handle. It’s also further evidence that through all of space and time, the Powers That Be just hate Olivia Dunham.
For those who are apprehensive about getting into Fringe due to the presence of Joshua Jackson, I challenge you to watch this episode and feel the same way. He carried 90% of the emotional weight of this episode on his shoulders alone. Between his scenes with Walter and Walternate and his breakdown in his apartment after Olivia’s death, there’s no way his performance won’t tug at your very soul. And as usual, John Noble goes above and beyond. His ability to play both the wounded and aloof Walter and the cold and ruthless Walternate should earn him, at the very least, an Emmy nomination. Start the campaigning, internet.
Walter tells Peter that he can stop the destruction before it starts. He can fix everything. He is the one who sent the pieces of the machine back in time and he has to do it again because he has to. He can’t change what already happened because it has already happened, but Peter can make a different choice in the event that already happened. Following? No? So they go back in time to stop the incident from occurring but that in turn creates the very incident they were trying to prevent? Oops, wrong show. Peter’s consciousness was brought forward so he could see what would happen if he made the wrong decision. Now he can go back and change it, make the other choice, the right choice.
All this transpired in real time in 60 seconds. Peter comes back to where we left off in “The Last Sam Weiss”. He returns, claiming to have figured it out. He said they are the First People. Whoever went back in time to take the parts of the machine and to draw the pictures to set up what would happen. It could be Astrid, Ella, Walter, he’s not sure. But what he does know is that the two universes are connected and if one dies, so dies the other. So he created a bridge for both sides to work together to stop the destruction of both universes.
And then he vanished.
A serious repercussion indeed. The Observer says that Peter had served his purpose and that no one remembers him because he never existed. Now I understood the time paradox fairly well and I’m in line with Peter’s deduction that they are the First People, but the vague and confusing final thoughts by The Observer left me scratching my head. Where is Peter? How could he have never existed? How does no one remember him? What does he even mean by that? These are the frustrating questions I’ll be mulling over until next year. At least there’s going to be a next year.
Even still, were this to have been the untimely series finale, I feel as though I would have been able to convince myself that it was satisfactory. Just as the episode itself was a metaphor for the destruction of our own world, the finale offers the solution to the problem. We have to put aside our differences and work together to solve our problems. Don’t place blame, don’t seek to harm others for past transgressions. Shake hands and fix the universe. That’s pretty beautiful, Fringe.
- Apparently the future is all about super sexy haircuts cause Astrid and Olivia looked amazing.
- Cool new title sequence teases some neat potential cases to come next year.
- What did Peter and Broyles lose in Detroit? Maybe we’ll find out if the future becomes the new “over there”.
- Aww. He brought his dad some licorice.
- Don’t really know if we can trust hot future Ella. It could have just been anger towards Walter but she seemed off in certain scenes. Like evil off.
- Peter and Fauxlivia’s baby, anyone? This would have been an awkward conversation topic but since Peter apparently doesn’t exist anymore all is well! What happened to the little guy anyway?
- Walter and Walternate working together to fix the universe = the new Odd Couple.
- May 7, 2011