Fringe Review: Bishops, Blondes and Bullets

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Must every time the phrase "The Bullet That Saved the World" is uttered be in reference to a blonde Bishop? It seems a bit unfair that the entire fate of the world weighs upon the shoulders of the Dunham line, and perhaps solely because of what was done to it at the hands of Walter Bishop, but it would be difficult at this point to make a case against it.

The Team Doubts Broyles

It was the proverbial game-changer episode, as was hinted in the set interview with Joshua Jackson in September. The season was fairly lackluster up to this point, and it was an aggressive move. Sadly, the Bishop clan is rarely torn asunder by catastrophe, but instead their resolve is recharged and it's a signal to viewers that anyone in their way better hold tight because there will be hell to pay. The first time they were faced with this situation, when we weren't looking, they had hope. This time, there is only vengeance.

To ensure the most pain was received by the death blow, there were some meaningful moments between parents and child. We learned how Etta found the bullet necklace and why she wore it. She didn't fully understand its meaning, but knew enough that if it was retained it was for a purpose far greater than she could comprehend.

Seeing Broyles was great. Considering how difficult his life must have been over the past 21 years, they aged him subtly. Was anybody else confused by the original conversation between Broyles and Windmark? Twenty one years of studying the resistance and the Observers had no idea about the original Fringe team and the members that created it? That made no sense.

Were they so certain of their success that they erased the images of their foes from two decades earlier? If so, then that arrogance might hold the key to their defeat. It turned out Broyles didn't know that Windmark knew all along he had been friends with the original Fringe team.

Wasn't it wonderful to see Broyles and the group back together again? If only Astrid could have been there. Etta also got to see, so briefly, their two worlds touch. For mere minutes the team Etta had heard of for years was together again as they spoke about the plan. What a shame that it was the last reunion she would encounter. 

Not only was it an obvious sensational ploy for Peter to buy her the necklace on the very day she died, but also for the Observer in the pawn shop to read his reasons for buying it and for Windmark to want to understand why they would out themselves for something so inconsequential.

Naturally, Etta chose the most dramatic way possible for Windmark to interpret the meaning of love; by reading her. The one thing she had spent a lifetime hiding she allowed just moments before her death. Clutching her mother’s bullet in one hand and covering her wound in the other, Etta found herself destroyed by love. 

Olivia died inside. Her eyes went cold. You could see it happen. If there is a God, the Observers had better start praying, because Olivia will do nothing to stop now. She had her daughter ripped from her hands once, and didn’t know if she was alive or dead. This time she’s certain. There will be hell to pay.

The bitch of it is it will be hard to outsmart someone who can be at death’s door one second and out of harms way the next. Olivia, and her past with cortexiphan, has to be the ticket, together with Walter’s plan.  It will be interesting to see whether Peter blames himself for Etta's death since the Observer grabbed the image of Etta from his head.

If so, it could play out the opposite of the first time Etta "died." Olivia determinedly searching for a way to bring down her daughter's killers, while Peter second-guesses his choices in fear of what he might let on since the Observers can so easily read his mind. 

The Bishop family story is tragic from beginning to end. Even if they find some peace by saving the world, the tragedy will remain.

Other Thoughts:

  • I've been wondering where Lance Reddick and Blair Brown stood the season. if the special appearance designation is any indication they won't be on many episodes.  The only positive to Etta dying is that it might free up salary and space within the scripts.
  • Etta left the plan in Broyles hands. Will it be safe with him with Windmark onto his meeting, and knowing he can probably hide his feelings?
  • If this is really a three chapter final season, I can't even stand to think what the third chapter will bring.
  • Do you think they will take a chance and go back to the re-ambered lab, or was that the last we've seen of the former Harvard University? 


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (810 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


FANTASTIC episode! We're coming full circle and it's heartbreaking to watch the cycle of young Bishops dying, leaving agonized parents in their wake. That discussion between Walter & Peter is coming, and I can't wait to see it. Loved seeing Broyles! Now we know how he has survived working with the enemy all these years. Don't understand the reviewers comment about Windmark knowing about Broyles & the original Fringe team. I thought he knew about them because of the Observers travels through time. I'm sure they took notes & sent them back to the home office. And, I LOVED the basement! "Oh, it's my old Porcupine Man!" I think it's brilliant that the Fringe team could now use some of the old cases that caused a lot of pain & misery back in the day against the Observers. I appreciate that there was no exposition about what they took, and hope they do the same in future episodes. Just surprise us and let us remember.


@Watson - I completely agree with you! What did people expect? That Olivia & Peter would skip into the sunset together and we'd be watching them house hunt in Boston? Yuck! It's been established to the audience that the Observers are doing no less than raping the Earth. They will continue to plunder it until it's drained of all sustainable elements for human life, at which time they'll probably move on to another planet. They're like the Borg, minus the sexy mucous Queen. @Briar - The Fringe team is on a desperate mission to save humanity, well past the "justice" stage and in the midst of "saving everyone on Earth" stage. It calls for desperate measures. Yes, even the biowarfare gas. If the existence of the human race hangs in the balance, I would be on board with gassing aliens that invaded my planet from outer space. I would say "Hell yes!" to sending a nuclear bomb up into their ship like in the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY. Absolutely! Why wouldn't you?


I don't understand people upset about how dark and gloomy the season is, and the fact that they are resorting to such tactics. The damn earth has been conquered, what do you expect? Sit down and smoke a peace pipe! I am waiting for another "September" observer to side with them to give them the ability to actually implement their plan... How do observers reproduce? Where are the female observers? Where is baby September...


@Wayne. Totally agree. That's how I see it going down. Please, let it go down like that. They all deserve so much better. I think Peter and Oliver should get to see their daughter grow from toddler to adult. The crappy world Etta grew up in wiped from existence. The End.


My theory is that the plan will somehow bring them back in time - keeping one of them with the knowledge of how to defeat the Observers - as they are all the same age because of the ambering, they won't have lost any years. Then the death of Ella wont be a tragedy as they will get to do what should have happened, which is live out their lives as they were going to before the Observers took over. Thoughts? :)


Totally bummed, I guess I should have seen it coming but I didn't. I liked Etta a lot, I liked how she made Peter and Olivia come back together and had hopes that Olivia would steer her away from all the darkness that she had in her life. Hmmm, maybe time travel will save the day after all, last episode we see the fringe team all travel back to the say the Observers landed to take over but between Peter, Walter and Olivia they have figure out how to get rid of them, so they show up for a brief second and then whatever the plan is works and it's just like a "what as that" second between Olivia and Peter as they watch Etta playing in the park, end scene, end series....


It concerns me that Fringe has now turned itself inside out. It was once about establishing law, civilisation and humane values and dealing with criminals and psychopaths (and sinister corporations). Now our heroes are criminals and psychopaths, using the same weapons that their old adversaries did. The choice of the biological warfare gas was particularly chilling. And so they are to be motivated by revenge, now, not justice? If Fringe lost its way in Season 4, it has taken the a very dark road indeed in Season 5.


Nope. Bad move.


★★★★★TV Etta!!! Gamechanger, indeed @CP.


This season is in a dark place, I agree with all the ones saying it's depressing. Now with Etta's death, it's gonna get worse. Peter and Olivia went through so much already, you would think they deserve a break...

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Fringe Season 5 Episode 4 Quotes

Peter: You had to give up your necklace so we could work on the laser. I wanted to make sure you got a new one.
Etta: Thank you.
Peter: Worth every bump and bruise kiddo.
Etta: Well, you know the expression. No good deed goes unpunished.

Olivia: How is it coming?
Walter: Fast as a snail! At this rate, we'll save the world in another 21 years!