Fringe has an absolutely amazing capacity to move me. Whether through laughter, tears or countless other emotions, there is rarely a time when I am left untouched.
Along those lines, "Transilience Thought Unifier Model 11" seemed such a technical title for so touching an episode.
Our heroes barely missed a beat after an emotional reunion. After all, there was still work to be done. Not only did they have to find Olivia, they needed to uncover what it was that September shared with Walter about stopping The Observers.
Unfortunately, their fight was cut far earlier than they ever imagined, with Olivia literally ambering herself with the key to breaking the code in her hand some 20 years previous. When they think of just how close they came to stopping the ugly future in which Etta grew up, it must be devastating.
Yet given the many hardships she suffered - and we viewers haven't even scratched the surface of what they might have entailed - Etta is the perfect blend of her family. She has all the guts, wisdom and compassion she undoubtedly would have gotten had she been raised by those for whom she had searched her entire life. One hell of a girl, our Etta.
The season opener wasn't full of revelations about what brought our world to this state, but we did get glimpses. When The Observers stepped out of the air and began destroying the planet when Etta was about three, they seemingly walked straight for her as she innocently blew the seedlings from a sprouted dandelion. In the confusion, it appeared Peter lost sight of exactly what happened, so they may have scooped her up.
Either way, she was gone and it was Olivia's need to try to save the world and Peter's to try and save his beloved lost little soul that ended the beautiful romance of Peter and Olivia.
Because of that broken marriage, we weren't treated to a loving scene of them reuniting. As has been the case during so many years of Fringe, once again our fateful lovers were at an impasse. I feel confident that will change and their family dynamic grows to one of trust once more.
The tenor belonged to Walter. It was he who was taken by The Observers in the hopes they might find from him their purpose in being there, what their plans were and who was helping them. The intricacies of Walter's brain have always been one of the most unique and resplendent aspects of Fringe. Learning how to function again at full capacity with literal pieces taken away made his character lovably idiosyncratic in methodology and trigger mechanisms.
When his brain was returned to him, there was a slight struggle for the warm, merciful man he had become to maintain his boundaries with the man he had once tried to bury. In "Transilience," Walter uses that incredibly strong, now partitioned and magnificent brain of his to protect everyone he loves by keeping The Observer from reading his thoughts. Among other things, he turns to his passion for music to gate off the symphony of information he has stored in his mind.
As always, John Noble took what would could have been as simple scene of struggle to keep his thoughts private and turned it into absolute genius. You could practically see the various harmonies as they played across his face, his effort so grinding blood vessels burst in his eyes and throughout his head, leading to a choral masterpiece of emotion.
When finally joined with the device September had created specifically to gather the partitioned pieces of his brain into a workable plan to stop the takeover of earth, his psyche was once again so damaged they feared all was lost for good.
Unless you were paying very close attention at the beginning of the hour, you may have missed the segment when Walter was lying on his little bed, watching the sun glare off of the blue bricks on the wall. By the end of the hour, he was there again; now frustrated in his failure and inability to do the one thing he had been prepared to do for over 20 years: share the plan to save the world.
When he saw that glimmer, it was as if a little beacon beckoned to him and his journey ended with hope, the sight of a dandelion and some beloved music.
Will music be enough to restore Walter's dismantled thoughts? It's always been his saving grace in the past. He couldn't have found a more appropriate song than Yaz's "Only You" to begin the healing process. Listen to the lyrics. So perfectly suited. The capacity of music, hope and family will be Walter's redemption and I'll venture a guess that his enthusiasm and vigor will be infectious, breathing new life into not only the cause but their family.
Other things of note:
- Only Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole and John Noble are in the opening credits as series regulars now.
- The words in the new opening sequence? Community, Joy, Individuality, Education, Imagination, Private Thought, Due Process, Ownership, Free Will and Freedom...all found behind barbed wire and off limits. Miserable future, indeed.
- William Bell and Agent Foster, Etta's former partner, were found in amber. Here's hoping they play at least a small role going forward!
- The Observers have built carbon monoxide factories to poison the air so they can breathe it, limiting the average life to 45, and they paved over Central Park. Scum they are!
- The small glimpse of the day The Observers took over looks so epic I hope we get more time on that day.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.