Yesterday I caught the latest episode of Fringe, “The Bullet That Saved the Earth,” the fourth episode of the show’s fifth, and last, season.
It occurred to me a while back that while I generally enjoy the show, one of its biggest problems is that the writers behind the series tend to make things up on the fly. At least this is my suspicion given the way the show started, progressed, and is now winding down.
The show has shifted abruptly since the last season to a bleak future where the mysterious Observers, a race of aliens originally presented as beings who could be in any time of their choosing and are extremely difficult if not impossible to kill but who are now much easier to pick off, have taken over Earth and are grinding humanity down.
But not if our intrepid Fringe division heroes can thwart them.
In this episode, what should have been a gargantuan story point was told in the waning minutes of the episode and, yes, to discuss it I should warn you…
You’ve been warned!
In this episode, the now grown daughter of Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham, Henrietta Bishop (Georgina Haig) dies at the hands of the “chief” Observer. The sequence should have been emotionally engaging and, at the very least, shocking. However, and this is one of the big problems I’ve been having with the show this season, things are happening at such a breakneck pace that, as a viewer, I haven’t been able to attach myself emotionally with any of these characters. Even the ones who have been around since the series started.
Not to sound too anaI, but did anyone notice how many minutes passed before our protagonist, Olivia Dunham, uttered a meaningful line of dialogue in this episode? I mean, she was around, but it seemed like we were in the show’s second segment before she had anything worth saying at all…and it feels like this is the way the season has so far gone.
The show’s producers are so busy trying to show us this new world/reality but have short shifted us on the characters. When Henrietta dies, we should have been floored by such an audacious and stunning plot development.
Instead, I felt…almost nothing.
You see, I barely knew the character. She hadn’t been given enough screen time on the show for me to develop any feelings for her. And her death, something that should have been shocking and emotional, instead felt like a cold, calculated plot device to make me feel something I simply didn’t. Her character hadn’t earned those type of feelings…at least not yet.
Worse, I suspect her death will only be temporary and lead to the show’s ultimate conclusion/happy ending: Somehow, Walter Bishop will undo the damage wrought by the Observers and “reset” time. Thus, that day in the park that Peter, Olivia, and the infant Henrietta will play out once again in the closing minutes of the show’s final episode, only without the Observers’ invasion.
And we’ll see Henrietta grown once again, thinking back to that childhood, perhaps along with the older Peter and Olivia as they bury Walter and think back to the beautiful life they had together.
Just a thought.
Anyway, despite these complaints, I’m one to complain.
I’ll be there to the end, despite it all.