For the season finale, Fringe unveiled a new color for the opening credits. The show's title was dark instead of the usual silver, and for good reasons. This episode begins in the future (of This Side) where Peter ended up after getting into The Machine last week. The year is 2026 and Peter is in his forties. He is injured in an explosion right away and is taken to the hospital while having only the memories of our Peter. When he leaves the place not too long after, he is back to being his 2026 self. The episode is mostly spent getting us up to speed with what has happened in 15 years and trying to deal with the impending end of the world.
Just like it did for the alternate universe (The Other Side) or for the past in "Peter" and "Subject 13," Fringe creates a very compelling future by focusing on a few details. I liked how those details were only gradually unraveled, some not fully until the very end. Right at the beginning, we are introduced to a young agent Dunham who ends up assisting Walter in lieu of Astrid who has moved to bigger things. The young agent is not really presented as Olivia's niece Ella until the end when she is given the flag at the burial. After the fresh revelation, the following scene with Walter down memory lane is more effective.
I liked Broyles's and Astrid's career moves. Whatever happened to Broyles's right eye remained a mystery but it was nice to show on him a mark of the struggle they have been involved in for 15 years. Future Astrid has something about her, something very peculiar, a clearly defined personality instead of the subdued presence of the character we know in present-day This Side. I believe she is the character with the most striking differences between the two universes and now the future. On the subject of character development, what I liked the most though was what they did with Olivia and the Bishops, and I am not referring to the déjà-vu scene of getting Walter out of incarceration. No, I am referring to how comfortable Peter and Olivia were together, the sort of comfort that comes after years of a relationship. I am referring to the "tribe of Bishops" comment when discussing a baby. I am referring to Olivia looking and sounding much more mature and much like a "Boss." And finally, I am referring to Olivia using telekinesis. What I liked less was the fact that Walter seemed to have been abandoned in prison by the couple. Whatever the reason behind his incarceration, their conversations showed there were no personal issues between them, so why imply they didn't visit? To me, government restrictions seemed a bit weak considering Peter's and Olivia's positions.
The destruction of the other universe and the presence of Walternate on This Side was an interesting twist. I liked the name of the terrorist group helping Walternate be his usual wicked self, the end-of-dayers. Although it sounded preposterous at first, I found Walter's paradox fascinating and somewhat understandable. It boils down to the fact that Peter can go back on the choices he makes while using The Machine, but he can't erase the very existence of The Machine itself. That holds only if Walter is connected to The Machine's existence, but I still fail to see how it would allow Peter to erase himself from history.
Besides what passed between Olivia and Peter, I also liked every scene with Astrid or Walter. Nicole ventured into new territories and Noble was at his best. The scene with him taking a bite of liquorice was flawless. He also delivered some of the best lines with the following one defining the story and standing out to me. Referring to the day Peter got into The Machine he says, "For all intents and purposes, it's the day we died." It was smart to include close-ups of Nina Sharp and Astrid during the burial. The two have very expressive faces and the show has been wisely using them to channel specific emotions.
The episode kept me interested, but it became really gripping only during the last sequence with Peter returning to the present — if there is such a thing for him now — and the apparent merger of the two universes or the locations holding the two machines. I liked Fauxlivia's involvement and her comments to Walternate about This Side outsmarting him. But what really took me by surprise were the implications of what the observers said. With this ending, Fringe is certain to have fans back in the fall to find out where the universes go from here and especially find out whatever happened to Peter...