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.

The Boy Must Live Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (182 Votes)

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.

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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.