Could wormholes and paradoxes be Fringe's new bread and butter? Maybe, as the season finale picks up after last week's episode left off, with Peter now somewhere in the future. The episode is designed to fast-forward 15 years into the future and see what the prime universe would be like after Peter used the machine to destroy the other universe. The whole episode acts as a 'what if' scenario if the prime universe was the only remaining universe, but turns out to be far more than a prediction as this futuristic view sheds some light on the events that connect the mysterious machine to both worlds.
After the ending of last week's episode it seemed that the machine acted as some sort of time machine but it now doesn't seem the case. Peter wasn't just transported to 2026; he lived the 15 years in between. From what that future looked like Peter and Olivia are married and both working for a Fringe Division branch of the government (in replacement for the FBI) like the alternate universe had. Olivia is acting director of the Fringe Division and even little Ella is all grown up and working alongside of her aunt as an agent. A lot had happened in 15 years, obliviously, as the public seemed to be fully aware of what's been happening to their world. Because of this public knowledge Walter has been imprisoned for years after setting in motion the decay of the prime universe. Walter is also charged with destroying the alternate one as well, even though during a trial for these charges Peter supposedly confessed he was the one to use the machine to destroy the other universe.
This future version, of life after the other universe, takes up the first three quarters of the episode. For how small of a time frame that is, for an hour's worth of television, Fringe somehow manages to jam pack a huge history lesson to get the audience up to speed. Because of the huge time difference between this episode and the last it would probably take about the whole episode just to fill in the blanks, yet Fringe's master storytellers subtly provide the audience with everything they need to know. Most of the time big events were just explained or brought up in just a few lines. Other times it was just as simple as something happening in the background to quickly explain certain situations. Jumping this far forward in the series' story could have been a disaster if not done right but the way "The Day We Died" was staged and drawn out it played perfectly without any confusion.
There are so many great little moments and scenes in "The Day We Died" I don't know where to start. One was when Fringe had some fun with aging the different characters; mostly just giving them a different hair style with a little grey in their hairdos. Since Broyles didn't anything on top to turn grey they decided to give him a wicked glass eye so he stood out. The setup of the future prime universe's Fringe Division wasn't too different from what they have been doing all season long over in the alternate universe but bringing in a grown up Ella was a brilliant touch. Next, and my favourite, was how this episode's score had a very similar tone to it during Olivia's funeral to that of old episodes of Lost; when someone passed away. The music for that scene was just perfect in helping capture all the right emotions as the camera slowly pans to each person with a connection to Olivia at the funeral. Lastly was a subtle but still big moment when Peter uses the D-word (Dad) for only the second time in the series. Peter has always called Walter by his first name and never father or dad. He broke this trend back near the end of last season just before Peter found out that he wasn't from the prime universe. He has continued to refer to him as Walter since, till this episode, making it a big deal.
"The Day We Died" does answer some lingering questions about the machine and the 'first people' but, unless I missed something, sending the pieces of the machine back through time only half explains the 'first people' being Walter from this future style episode. It explains how they appear to be buried for millions of years because the wormhole in central park led to the Palaeozoic Era, but it still doesn't explain who created the machine. The machine is covered in glyphs and ancient symbols that no one could understand when they first started to find all of its pieces. My money is still on the observers since they seem to be able to travel though time and their notebook scribbles look to be the same language that's on the device.
Now let's get to that crazy ending. After Walter and Peter start to discuss how to go back in time to fix things they both bring up a very good point: "imagine the repercussions it could have". If crossing between universes already caused this much damage there is no telling how much could be effected by altering time. Sounds like some possible ground work for next season. Then there is the matter of this new Liberty Island 'bridge' Peter created for both universes to converge in. This will be interesting to watch play out especially since there is two Walters, Olivias, Brandons, one Broyles, and no Peter. The stuff between both Olivias and both Walters will be the juicy scenes but now that they supposedly don't remember Peter I'm wondering what any of their reasoning will be for the conflict between each other?
So while you Fringe fans are waiting till next September what questions should you be asking? How will this Liberty Island 'bridge' work? Are they able to walk between universes if they go through Liberty Island? Or are those there at the end of the episode trapped there until they fix things? And what exactly happened to Peter? Why is it that no one can remember him after he disappears? Lastly, why were these events so important so that there were about dozen observers were present? Share your theories, we've got all summer to speculate.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.