It's that time of year again, finale season. For some TV series it just means closing up shop for the summer, some ending their series run, and then there is the third scenario: a show ending their season without knowing if they will be back the next year. A couple of weeks ago I would have said Fringe falls in the ladder category, but thankfully there was some renewal news for the sci-fi series and season four won't be their last.
The reason I bring up the topic of Fringe's recent uncertain future is because it reflects on this last episode; the second last of the season. In "Brave New World: Part 1" you can see signs of the series being fast tracked encase their fifth and final season renewal never came. Fringe's show-runners had always stated that they planned for the show to go beyond a fourth season, but I think they are too smart not to also have a backup plan, hence the speedy story telling in this episode.
Anyways, on to the episode (spoilers to follow so tread carefully). In the beginning of the episode it just seems to be a typical fringe event of the week style format. Like almost all of the recent fringe events the team discovers David Robert Jones is behind the attack. Walter not only discovers it is nanotechnology that is Jones' latest weapon of choice, but Jones isn't working alone. Just Walter finds a cure for the nanites Jones uses a couple of satellites, at nighttime no less, to turn the Sun into a magnifying glass and start burning Boston like ants. Peter and Olivia race to stop Jones while Walter and Astrid surprisingly and successfully track down Jones' accomplice.
I guess I should talk about the elephant in the room first, seeing as how not much else matters in comparison. Remember I warned about spoilers: Jones' accomplice is William Bell. That's right folks Nimoy is back in the acting game, but for how long? Seeing how producers may have thought these were the last two Fringe episodes ever Nimoy's return isn't too shocking yet so how still equally unexpected. In "Letters of Transit", the future episode a couple of weeks ago, we see Nimoy as Bell frozen in amber so there is hope he might return next year. The bigger question is now why is he back? Bell has always been a mysterious character in the Fringe universe so trying to predict what his motives are is almost impossible. If "Letters of Transit" was any indication of things to come it means two big things for this episode: 1) more Nimoy/Bell in season five; and 2) Astrid won't die, as she looks to be at the end of this episode.
The next big series of moments from "Brave New World: Part 1" belong to Olivia. In the beginning of the episode Olivia probably unintentionally uses her cortexiphan induced gifts to slow down the nanites in one of Jones' victims long enough for Walter to cure the infected women. Then later in the episode Olivia uses the same ability Nick Lane has by making another person mirror her actions. First she gets a couple of security guards to surrender their weapons and then makes Peter go all Lethal Weapon by making him pop his own shoulder back in while fighting Jones. I have to say I did like the fact that Olivia is starting to embrace her cortexiphan abilities. So far they don't seem to be hurting her when she uses them, which could mean her using them more often. The negative trade-off is a small one, but I thought seeing Olivia shadow boxing on one rooftop while a puppeteered Peter actually boxed on the other looked a little campy. I'm sure there will be some fine tuning if Fringe continues with Olivia using her powers so it should look better next time.
Since this obviously the first half of a two part finale it's hard to say what to expect next episode for the season four closer. Just having Nimoy back will be a big enough draw for most viewers to tune in, but will he be a permanent replacement for Jones as the series main villain. It was never addressed in this episode but there is also the other universe to consider as well. I'm not expecting very many answers next week but I am hoping for it to be a double universe affair.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.