Fringe Review: The Father and The Son

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Wow. "The Boy Must Live" answered a lot of questions and left us with what might be the beginning of the end of the "the plan" for our faithful fringe team. We finally found out what the plan was, only to have Michael throw a wrench into it in the final minutes of the hour. Let's check out what went down.

Walter and Peter Image

As John Noble hinted in a recent conference call, Walter had agreed to pay a great price for the plan to succeed; his life. Michael showed to Walter what he did Nina, a frenzied amalgamation of his many lives all wound into one burst of memories that he didn't know he had.

It was so profound that Walter told Peter he no longer feared his repaired brain because of what Michael showed him. Everything he thought he knew as a so called “great man” could fit into a thimble. That didn't mean that Walter wasn't afraid about the choice he made before being ambered over 20 years ago.

When they found Donald and he was revealed as September, things started to fall into place. (As an aside, how perfect was it that Broadway star Michael Cerveris played September, who chose the name Donald O’Connor from Singing In The Rain as his alias?) We finally learned exactly what an Observer is and how they came to be; genetically programmed mutations to remove all unnecessary brain function outside of intelligence. Or so they thought. As Donald pointed out, Michael is the perfect example of how emotions and intelligence can be combined in a superior way to both humans and Observers. 

There were a few questions along the way, such as which Observers were from which era. Which were device driven and which were laboratory born? It would appear to make a difference. The continued experimentation and culling of all extraneous brain function was done as a way to replace the device. So, when the device was removed from September, he was able to become Donald, a mere human. Other Observers from future times would either need to be stopped via the plan or in some other manner.

Walter called Donald Michael’s father, but Donald didn't say he was from his DNA, merely that he saved him. Windmark, meanwhile, asked about what genetics were used at the same time Donald was talking about being Michael his son, but later Windmark remarked didn't know why September cared so much for the boy. So my question is this: were September's genetics used to create Michael or did Donald merely rescue him and adopt him in the same manner Walter rescued Peter from the other universe? I wonder if we’ll find out for sure.

Regardless, it was a great honor to Walter that September saw in him the undying love he had for Peter and his willingness to go to such great lengths for his son - so much so that he made the conscious decision to become a father himself. And, interesting that when they first met at Reiden Lake, and September said the boy must live, he was talking a son; but his own, not Walter's. Fringe truly is a love story between a father and a son, no matter which way you look at it.

The plan was to send the boy forward into time because by the time September realized his importance, he had lost the ability to move forward himself. An elaborate plan was concocted to change the course of history and for the people in the future, on February 20, 2167, the turning point in human evolution, to see that they didn't need to take the drastic measures they were about to take. It was possible to achieve all they wished without sacrificing love and the natural progression of life.

It was a great plan, but there was a lot riding on one mutation from a race hell bent on destroying itself. Did September/Donald know even then the great power of persuasion Michael had on others with only his presence?

With all the talk of resetting time, Olivia determined she and Peter would get their daughter back. She, nor anyone else, bothered to think what a time reset would do to their past. While they had retained memories through many universes and timelines, there would be no guarantee that another shift, certainly one of that magnitude, would allow them to do the same again. She was also unaware the plan required Walter's sacrifice.

The white tulip, which has been discussed so many times, most recently in the "Anomaly XB-6783746" Round Table discussion, was used by September when Walter had doubts about his ability to go through with the plan and his part in it. September went back in time and took the letter containing the white tulip and delivered it to Walter to give him hope that they could win. Walter wondered where it was, and given it's value, I can only guess it will turn up in the finale. 

All of which brings me back to Michael throwing a wrench into the plan. 

Recently I watched a field of sheep and wondered what they must think all day. I thought the same thing as I viewed the look on Windmark’s face, listening to the music in Donald’s apartment. Could he comprehend what he was hearing or was he struggling to find anything in the sound he heard? Clearly, his cohort heard something, as his foot was tapping. Could Michael’s sheer presence have some sort of viral infecting capabilities on fellow Observers? Why would an Observer be tapping his foot to music and Windmark be experiencing consuming feelings to end the lives of the fugitives? 

I don’t think the plan will come to fruition, not because it can’t but because Michael knows more than they do and will somehow keep it from happening. He seemed to be listening to everyone with an understanding of what they wanted to do, knowing all along he had a plan of his own. Even Donald admitted nobody can communicate on the same level as Michael, and yet they carried on conversations around him as if he was merely a boy. 

Stunted growth with the intellectual and emotional capacity not known elsewhere in time doesn't mean Michael is incapable of understanding what is happening around him. It doesn't preclude him formulating his own plan to change the way things are now or the way they started, and despite what he showed Walter, I don't think Walter will die. Wanting to make the sacrifice and remembering the other lives he lived was somehow deemed important by Michael, and he made it happen.

If what happens next week is not wholly driven by Michael and his extraordinary capabilities, I will be shocked. For all the knowledge and perseverance our heroes have, Walter has always looked to God, exemplified through the power of the white tulip, to get him through. Michael will be the incarnation of that white tulip and change the course of history. That's my prediction for the finale. As far as anything else goes? I have absolutely no idea.


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


It's interesting that both Etta and Michael are anomalies.


In addition to my comments below, I'd like to urge other fans to not put too much importance on what "Olivia Dunham" posts. First, as you can plainly see, there is just ONE person here who has that slanted, strident opinion. Second, I've attended FRINGE panels at Comic-Con for several years and can strongly attest that the majority of fans who waited in line for hours to see a panel on this show do indeed consider ALL the characters to be a family. They cheer as loudly for Joshua Jackson as they do for Anna Torv. But, the one who receives the loudest cheers, and always has from Season 1, has been John Noble. Pay no attention to the naysayers who spread hate & criticism. Let's focus on the series' excellence and impeccable storytelling, which - to be blunt - has nothing to do with the actors and everything to do with the writers, producers, directors, & creators. What you see on screen is not ad-libbed in any way. It's all on the page first. THANK YOU for giving us the treasure! I've enjoyed it immensely.


"The future is the past. The past is the future. It all gives me a headache." - Capt. Janeway, ST:VOYAGER If you think too hard about time paradoxes, they will indeed give you a headache. I, for one, prefer to sit back and not overthink all the details. After all, scientists know only a small fraction of how our universe operates along with its possibilities. EXCELLENT EPISODE! I love how Walter has finally reached that mental state where he is neither an eccentric, not a megalomaniac. He is what he always wanted to be - a loving father saving the universe for his beloved boy. As far as father-son relationships, I'm puzzled about why Donald is supposed to be Michael's "father." If the boy developed from his DNA alone, wouldn't that mean he was September's clone? Nothing is ever mentioned about female observers. So, I assume their contribution to humanity is insignificant in the future. Looking forward to next week's finale! All good things...


What i find interesting is how are they going to solve the whole paradox type thing taking place? What CPC said about the observers never being created so peter would never have been saved is true but then again considering Peter is in the newly created amber universe where peter wasn't saved could be an indication that the plan has already worked once before (still with me ? :P). However wouldn't not allowing the observers to be created prevent the boy form ever existing thus not able to change history? either this is just the writing ignoring to follow the laws of time or there is some way time can be heavily manipulated which would explain Peters existence in the amber timeline.


I just watched the show again. Windmark was told in the lab that Michael was created from September's DNA. So Michael is Donald's son. I like the parallel between Walter/Peter and Donald/Michael. I wonder what happens when Donald and Michael touch hands. Are they communicating or just feeling a loving bond? And now that Windmark has Michael, will he try and do experiments on him? Or will Michael just touch Windmark's face and knock him for a loop? Windmark was told not to do anything about the fugitives and he is doing just the opposite. Windmark will be the one to destroy the Observers because he let his emotions get the best of him.


Good grief! EVERYBODY has been given importance in this story, but it is all about Walter and Peter. Olivia has had her great scenes with Fauxlivia, whole episodes of that even. And given that this is Anna Torv's first show ever, she's been given a lot, much more than other beginning actors. Noble and Jackson are the veteran actors in this. What, nobody was happy with all of the S4 Eps without Peter? This is a family story, I don't see any one actor of character as being more or less important. But the story is basically Fathers and Sons through several permutations of reality or unreality. My only gripe is that this is ending too soon, this should have had 7 full seasons to tell this story.


Damn you olivia fans need to take a pill. I get it already you like her and to you shes the show but shes not the show. It all revolves around Peter and Walter and nobody seems to understand the obvious. If the boy goes into the future and stops the evolution into the what man became those bald emotionless minds then hold onto your hats idoits. Peter and Walter wouldnt have been saved by September so guess what everthing resets and none of this ever happened. Olivia goes back to being the lonely FBI agent no Walter, no Peter and no Etta. So the story is Walter and Peter assholes deal with it. I said it awhile back that the only team member that should survive is Astrid and I still think it would be better that way.


"Jackson and Noble love doing their uberkitsch Walter and Peter scenes, and say that what is what fans want,
well I am sick and tired of them." Yes well, I and apparently many many other readers on this site are sick and tired of seeing your bitter diatribes spewed out episode after episode. It hasn't been a great season, on the whole, but jesus christ, give it a rest.


Wyman has rewritten Fringe to suit Jackson and Noble, it is just writing so that it fits the story of Walter and Peter, September had a bond with Olivia (2.08) Olivia was to be the leader for the coming war etc, all gone. Olivia has no storyline, hardly any decent scenes, and this episode the running gag on twitter was:
When will Olivia get a line. Anna Torv had to be on set all those hours, beautiful non-verbal acting, ungrateful, Imagine if they would do this to Jackson or Noble, they would be outraged and all over the media.
They should watch and learn from Anna how to be a great actor and co-worker. BTW. David Fury has admitted on twitter that they sidelined Olivia this season.


Noble and Jackosn in S1 and S2 have always said that Fringe was about them, sidelining Anna Torv, in the media,
they did it again this season, and both disliked season 3 the part where Anna finally got some credit and Jackson went as low to complain in the media, and the role of Olivia changed. Olivia is the main lead, she was center , hero, savior, until Firefly. Jackson and Noble love doing their uberkitsch Walter and Peter scenes, and say that what is what fans want,
well I am sick and tired of them.

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Fringe Season 5 Episode 11 Quotes

Peter: What is this boy? How could he do this for you, enable you to see a life you didn't live?
Walter: I'm not sure, but I feel it.

Olivia: Walter, why did you remove your trunks?
Walter: I was feeling too restrictive. My body needs to be as free and open as my mind is so I can find September.
Olivia: Are you feeling sufficiently free and open now?
Walter: I am. Let's get started.