Fringe: The Last Sam Weiss

Posted by: Andrew Burns  //  May 1, 2011 @ 11:14pm

Filed under: TV Recaps/Reviews 

From bowling alley attendant to universe guardian, Sam Weiss hopes to save worlds before it's too late. In typical 21st episode fashion, Fringe spends the bulk of the episode setting up for the season finale, and holds off on any major developments.

Aside from a quick 20 second scene from the alternate universe, "The Last Sam Weiss" takes place entirely in the main universe as the fringe team tries to turn off both machines. Olivia and Sam Weiss search for artifacts from the 'first people' in hopes of finding a way to allow Peter to enter the machine; in hopes of turning it off. Meanwhile, Walter and Astrid investigate the reasons behind the freak lightning storms happening and their relation to both machines being turned on at the same time. Peter also takes a very expensive cab while everyone else is busy.

Weiss fills in some of the blanks this episode about what is going on with these mysterious machines and his connection to the books on the 'first people'. Similar to the typewriters the shape-shifters were using to communicate with the other side, both machines are mirror opposites of each other. Or, as Walter puts it, they are quantum entangled, meaning if something is changed on one side it will affect the one on the alternate side. But perhaps one of the most confusing mysteries is cleared up when Weiss tells Olivia that all of his ancestors were also named 'Sam Weiss', thus explaining how his name comes up as the author for every copy of the 'first people' books Nina had. After seeing the title of this week's episode, I jumped to the conclusion in a previous review that "The Last Sam Weiss" was going to be Kevin Corrigan's final appearance on the show, but thankfully I was wrong. Hopefully he still has some importance in the series.

This episode wasn't all answers and solutions though; it had its fair share of outlandish situations stretching even my standards of Fringe's unique reality. Ironically, the biggest stretch for me watching this Fringe episode wasn't how Olivia was able to turn off the other machine in the alternate universe because she believed some newly-revealed ancient prophecy for her. Or how Walter was able to survive two massive jolts of lightning without a scratch. No, none of these crazy things were too far out of the realm of possibly after seeing them on screen. It was the over 100 mile relocation of the mystery device from a remote location in Massachusetts to the crowded Liberty Island in New York City that was done off camera which was a bit much for me. Logistically, I understand it makes more sense to write a couple of lines for a character to say and make a small amount of time in the script pass instead of one big monumental special effect sequence to move this massive machine. It just seemed like too large of a feat to perform that quickly with practically zero warning, especially since anyone or anything that touched that machine while it was in its protective mode would have ended up like Peter in the last episode.

A few minor criticisms aside, "The Last Sam Weiss" had some fun stuff in it even before the surprising ending. In the opening few scenes, there were some spontaneous dry lightning storms as a result of both machines being on and so far apart that made for some very cool special effects. There was one wicked stunt when a lightning strike sends an SUV flying into the air while it was driving on the highway that was -- for lack of a better word -- electrifying. Also, it wouldn't be Fringe without Walter adding yet another classic nickname/mispronunciation of Astrid's name to his repertoire by calling her Ostrich. Those jokes never seem to get old.

With the countless different directions Fringe's producers could take this season finale in setting up next year's season, I don't want to even try and predict what they have in store for next week. But I do have a couple of theories on Peter, Olivia, and the machine. It was a little strange why Olivia's telekinesis typewriter trick started to happen hours after her multiple attempts. My theory is Olivia's abilities might have something to do with her proximity to Peter. Last time Olivia had to use this ability she was defusing the blinking light bomb in season one and she was only able to do it when it was just her and Peter together in the same room. This would explain why she was able to turn off the other machine, as well as the typewriter, because both Peter and Olivia were alone together at the same time she tried her abilities.

Having Peter transported over ten years into the future and across universes would have been a good enough ending for the season, so who knows what they have in store for next week? They never mentioned that these mysterious machines had DeLorean type powers allowing Peter to travel ahead in time. Maybe the reason the machine in the regular universe didn't work according to plan was because it was missing a key piece -- the piece Fuaxlivia stole when she came over to the prime universe?

Tags: Fringe, Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, Kevin Corrigan

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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.

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