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Fringe, “The Last Sam Weiss”/”The Day We Died” (3.21/3.22)

Fringe wraps up the season by changing everything. And then changing everything again. Read the review of the last two episodes of season 3 after the jump…

In my last review, I commented on how “6:02 AM” was turning out to be the first part of a three part finale. While that fact certainly stands, I expected to be able to batch the reviews of “The Last Sam Weiss” and “The Day we Died” neatly into one article to undo the fact I did not feel like reviewing “Sam Weiss” before “Died” premiered. Turns out the “The Day We Died,” while certainly a conclusion to this three episode arc, stands a lot more on its own. Because of this, I will keep the two reviews together in one article but will have most of my commentary on the characters and episodes separate. Not entirely separate, mind you, so don’t come crying to me if you haven’t watched both episodes and you get spoiled.

How’s (this) Sam Weiss?

“The Last Sam Weiss”

He bowls! He knows secrets! His family has about as much creativity as a bowl of rocks! It’s Sam Weiss!

It’s almost a shame that they even brought him back. How come they barely used Sam previously only to dump all his history in one go? While I did like him in this episode, I felt as if they should have kept more secrets unknown and introduced them much more gradually throughout the previous seasons rather than drop everything on us in one go. Plus, with an episode title like that, you would at least expect Sam to get the chance to go out in some kind of explosion of awesomeness rather than getting told to say back while everyone else has their fun.

“The Day We Died”

Now if we factor in the revelations of the finale, you might start wondering if Sam will ever be back at all. His true importance seems to have been to introduce the team to the First People, who in the end didn’t really exist. Were the Sams’ life works just the result of Walter sending the Machine back in time or could there have been more to it? I’m not sure. The show seems to portray the Sams as being only slightly more important than simple archeologists.

How’s Olivia?

“The Last Sam Weiss”

We discover that Peter isn’t the only one related to the Machine. Olivia is suppose to act as the failsafe. Unfortunately, Olivia has to use her Cortexiphan powers to break the Machine’s force field. And having a chronic lack of confidence makes doing so pretty hard. Fortunately, Walter has a chat with her to boost her self-esteem, talking about how special she is and how he used his own mental handicap to better himself.

“The Day We Died”

It seems in the future, Fringing’s become a family business as Olivia’s niece becomes an agent of a much more beefed-up Fringe Division. Despite the nature of this future vision, I would love to see her niece intergrated more into the show in the future. I really enjoyed the interactions she and Walter had. Also, it seems as if Olivia finally gains that confidence as she appears to have gone up in the ranks at Fringe Division and even makes better use of her Cortexiphan powers. It’s a shame that smart brain goes to waste by getting splattered everywhere.

How’s Walter?

“The Last Sam Weiss”

Other than that chat with Olivia, the big thing that Walter does it get the Machine moved to Liberty Island to put it where Walternate’s Machine is in the Red Universe. Likely, this also helped create the conditions that made what happens in the finale possible, namely, combining the universes at the same point.

“The Day We Died”

In the future, Walter finally atones for his sins by facing trial and going to jail. It’s only when shit goes down and Peter puts in a favour with Senator Mad Eye Broyles (yes, senator and yes, he has a weird eye) that Walter gets a bit of freedom and gets to help with the doomsday cult.

But in the end, does this really matter?  I don’t like it when I discover that what I watched, for all intents and purposes, didn’t really happen. But this time, it was almost brilliant. That moment, the moment when you realize that what you’re watching is actually a possible future, but not just that: a possible future that had an effect on the past and that Peter was experiencing as a kind of warning sent through time to himself. That moment was awesome. It also makes the Machine, the mythology of the First People and the prophesies of Peter and Olivia saving the world a kind of chicken-or-the-egg paradox, bringing up questions like “If the Machine was sent through time from a future that won’t exist, how can the Machine exist at all?” The possible answer to all of this is that whatever happened, past, present or future, did happen and Peter was the price for bringing everything back to a stable medium.

How’s Walternate?

“The Day We Died”

In this possible future, Walternate, in a last ditch effort to save his world would have crossed over to beg for mercy. And do so in vain. Being all bitter that this world and his son have destroyed his universe he’d become the head of a doomsday cult hellbent on accelerating the death of “our” universe. As if that wasn’t dickish enough, he’s also the recipient of the Dick Move of the Season Award for distracting Peter with a hologram of himself while he went and shot Olivia in the head.

How’s Pet… uh… Who?

“The Last Sam Weiss”

He’s pretty shook up. For some reason or another, when he wakes up his brain is a bit messed up and he thinks he’s in the Red Universe. He also grabs a silver half-dollar, the meaning of which I don’t know. In any case, the big news about him in this episode is the fact that as he finally gets into the machine, he gets jolted into the future, a future that, as previously noted, didn’t entirely happen… -ish.

“The Day We Died”

And now we come to Peter and the final moments of season 3. The ultimate shocker of this episode was that not only has Peter decided, as a way to avoid the future he saw, to fuse both Blue and Red Universes together at Liberty Island but that by doing so, he wiped himself out of history. This fusion, with Walter and Walternate, Olivia and Fauxlivia being able to interact with each other, is such a fertile breading ground for ideas for next season. Peter’s “death?” Well, this isn’t the first time a show I reviewed wiped a character out of space and time just to have him miraculously come back. We even saw this season a memory of Peter help Olivia remember who she was when Walternate had her thinking she was Fauxlivia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua Jackson comes back in some form or another in season 4. Then again, he might have been the victim of a cost cutting measure.

In Conclusion

One thing that would be hard to deny is the fact that Fringe tries to keep things fresh. The last two finales both offered up twists that fundamentally changed how the show works. Even the season 1 finale acted as a starting point for the development of the two-universe dynamic the show now constantly works in. That said, these two episodes also highlight some of the issues the show has. “The Last Sam Weiss” focused a lot on a fascinating character that could have been so much more fascinating with better pacing and who I have my doubts we’ll see again. Contrast Sam Weiss with Nina Sharp, who’s also been around for a while but who we know little about (I know there’s something between her and Walter, I know.). The twists at the end of both episodes (the jump in time, the fusion of universes and Peter’s disappearance) also show the series’ over-reliance on the shock value of cliff-hangers. “The Day We Died” consists mostly of a world and story that won’t happen and, except for wrapping up the whole Machine vs. Machine business, doesn’t have much of a lasting impact on the series. In defense of the people behind Fringe, they are certainly masters at shock endings, with the end of “Bloodlines” changing the meaning of the whole episode. But you need to make the whole episode special to not let stuff get boring and to keep the shock of cliff-hangers from getting stale.

Well, until the show makes it otherwise, Peter is more than dead and so I, once again, extend this stirring message of remembrance:

In Memoriam

In Loving Forgetfulness of Name Unknown

PICTURE NOT FOUND

Born Never – Died Who The Hell Knows

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