Fringe Episode 511
“The Boy Must Live”
Written By: Graham Roland
Directed By: Paul Holahan
Original Airdate: 11 January 2012
In This Episode...
Walter thinks he remembers more of what Michael showed him. He goes into the sensory deprivation tank and remembers being in an apartment with Donald / September. Astrid pinpoints the location based off Walter’s description of what he sees out the window, and Walter, Olivia, Peter, and Michael head to that apartment, and sure enough, they find Donald there. (As far as I’m concerned, if he has hair, he is Donald. If he doesn’t, he is September.) He is surprised - but very pleased - to see them.
So here is what we have all been waiting for: some background on the Observers. On February 20th, 2167, Swedish scientists figured that if they rewired the brain to no longer feel jealousy, they could cram some more intelligence in there. It worked, so they began removing other “negative” emotions and replacing them with more intelligence. But humanity lost perspective and soon began replacing even good emotions in the pursuit of more intelligence. What we were left with was the Observers. Michael was “born” generations after those damn Swedes began monkeying with genetics - and he came from September’s genetic material. September was apprehended by the Observers before the invasion (I guess on some alternate timeline... I try not to over think that aspect) for being a traitor and messing with the timeline too much. His tech was removed and his “punishment” was that he had to live like a “regular” person (basically, he can no longer move through time.) The plan to stop the invasion was to bring Michael to the Swedish scientists and show that both emotions and intelligence can survive in enormous amounts within a single person. That way if the Observers don’t evolve, they will not exist, and there will be no invasion. Olivia is hopeful that this will allow her and Peter to have Etta back.
While all this is going on, Windmark goes back to the future: 2609, which is where the Observers are “from.” He has a meeting with the Commander, where he asks for permission to go back in time to eradicate “the fugitives.” The Commander checks the probabilities, deems them insignificant, and denies the request. Windmark is the Observer equivalent of not being happy - and he doesn’t know what he is experiencing. Returning to 2036, Windmark continues his vendetta, and tracks September’s GPS chip. They arrive at his apartment, but everyone is gone. Evidence that the tracker had been removed lays in the sink.
Donald, Michael, Walter, Olivia, and Peter are on the move. In addition to the pieces Fringe has been recovering according to the tapes, they need some tech from September’s time in order to send Michael through time. He hid it away and they go retrieve it from a storage facility. When Donald and Walter have a moment alone, he admits that Michael showed him something he hasn’t told the others: Walter needs to sacrifice himself for this plan to work. Donald says that when they came up with this plan, Walter insisted that he be the one sacrificed, as a way of making amends for his other wrongdoings. As they are leaving, they see roadblocks and checkpoints being set up. A call to Astrid confirms that they are surrounded, but they might have a chance if they can make it to the monorail. They split up: Liv and Michael as an innocent mother and son; Walter and Peter as two unassuming men. Liv and Michael make it onto the monorail with little fuss. Peter and Walter have to wait a little longer, but eventually make it. Loyalists are combing the station, so Peter and Walter duck into the nearest car, planning to meet Liv and Michael once the train is underway. Just as the doors are closing, Michael steps out onto the platform. The loyalists collect him without incident, leaving a frantic Olivia and confused Peter and Walter. The loyalists bring Michael to Windmark.
And frustratingly, this is where we end. I think Michael has his own, better plan to defeat the Observers.
Dig It or Bury It?
I hate hate hate to get sappy, but damn, I am going to cry when this show ends. Tonight’s episode was very emotional, most notably for a very touching scene between Peter and Walter. Peter is concerned because Walter is acting way too happy AND functioning far better than normal. Michael gave him back memories and emotions long forgotten: the day Peter took him out of St. Claire’s; the time Peter accidentally called him Dad; the terror he felt when Peter stepped into the machine. They embrace so tightly and happily that it didn’t even feel like Walter and Peter; it felt like John Noble and Josh Jackson saying their goodbyes.
So here is the problem with Donald’s plan. If you send Michael forward in time and prevent the evolution that would lead to the Observers, they wouldn’t invade - which means that Etta wouldn’t be kidnapped, and Olivia and Peter can have their happy family. But correct me if I’m wrong... but wasn’t it September who saved Peter from drowning as a child? So if the Observers don’t exist, wouldn’t Peter drown? He and Olivia would never meet, have Etta, yadda yadda yadda. Unless this has something to do with alternate timelines, which is something I still can’t quite wrap my mind around (I am only now getting the hang of time travel.)
I also think this episode suggested that no matter what kind of science you use to remove human emotion, we are supposed to have it, and evolution will eventually figure out a way to put it back in. In tonight’s episode, Donald / September said that, watching fathers and sons interact caused a “stirring” in him, which led to him donating his genetic material. It could have been an anomaly at the genetic level - after all, Michael retained his emotions. But then Windmark starts to feel emotions: he cannot understand why he is so consumed with the idea of catching “the fugitives.” He obviously hasn’t moved past emotions. And even one of his goons was caught tapping his foot in time to some music discovered in Donald’s apartment. So maybe instead of just outright ceasing the creation of the Observers as we know them, and instead using Michael as a guide map to creating hybrids, we can still have Observers who save Peter, but who don’t invade, thus saving Etta.
Walter is in the deprivation tank, ready to go. Olivia opens up the hatch and discovers that Walter is free balling. She is mortified, yet at the same time she can’t be too surprised. Walter is always wandering around naked. He explains that he must be totally free. She asks if he is ready. He is - and throws his wet swim trunks at her.
Two hours left. That’s it. I am not ready. I already miss these characters.