Observing Fringe... The first instalment of two-part Fringe finale 'Brave New World' blew our minds a little bit, so the show's fourth season finale had a lot to resolve if it didn't want to disappoint. How is William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) alive? Is Astrid (Jasika Nicole) dead? And as for Olivia (Anna Torv) - what the heck is up with those funky new powers?
In the aftermath of Agent Dunham's "Jedi mind trick", she and an injured Peter are still hot on the case and run into last episode's nanite victim Jessica Holt, played by Lost actress Rebecca 'terribly posh' Mader. But Jessica's not all that she seems...
The surprise twist that Holt is working for William Bell is the first of many amazing moments. September showing off his best Matrix skills to catch bullets, the revelation that Jessica is the one who shot the Observer, Olivia repelling a stream of gunfire back at Jessica using her mind - already our jaws were pretty near floor-level.
Things only get more juicy as, with Nina (Blair Brown) on hand, we're treated to some good ol' fashioned Fringe sci-fi nonsense ("Right here, right in the thinker!"). The revival of Jessica was a nice nod back to the Fringe pilot - remember John Scott? - and is a truly creepy sequence in its own right. Damn, those are some freaky eyes.
Meanwhile, Walter (John Noble) is being held by his old frenemy William Bell, who's come up with a rather convoluted plan to create his own "magnificent" universe. "What does infecting people with nanites and using the sun's light to ignite an oil reserve have to do with collapsing two universes to create a new one?" Olivia reasonably enquires - we're sure it all makes sense to a genius like Bell.
There's more exciting revelations here, as we finally learn the reason *why* Bell removed those parts of Walter's brain so long ago - Dr. Bishop was the one who devised the plan to collapse the universes! Not only is it a neat twist, but it also makes Walter's whole 'I stumble across Bell's plan in a dream' routine seem less ludicrous.
Bell plans to use Olivia herself as an energy source to see his plan through - she's sizzling with electro-magnetic energy - and, at first, Walter doesn't seem to be doing a great deal to stop him. Noble's endearingly mad scientist seems way too passive, simply taking it all in while Bell unveils his nefarious schemes...
Of course, just to show that we don't know what we're talking about, he then goes and shoots Olivia in the head. OK, our jaws are firmly at floor-level now. It seems that's Olivia's certain death, as predicted by September, has come to pass - though whatever happened to Man X from season three's 'Lysergic Acid Diethylamide'?
Olivia's not down and out for good though, thanks to Walter's quick thinking - only Fringe could climax a season with one character knocking a bullet out of another's head with a chisel. This would all seem ludicrous, if not for some amazingly emotive performances from both John Noble and Joshua Jackson. Alright, so it's still faintly ludicrous.
Agent Dunham heads to hospital for a check-up - understandable, given that she's just had a hole blown in her head. But the doctor has some more shocking news - she's pregnant! A shame then that the Bishop clan barely have time to celebrate before September returns to ominously warn Walter... "They are coming!"
As a season finale, 'Brave New World (Part Two)' is not perfect. After her awesome gun-toting antics last week, it feels wrong to have Astrid reduced to a tearful mess in a hospital bed here. It's a relief that we check in on her in the end - her final scene with Walter is quite touching and I'm taking it as confirmation of my theory that he calls her all those wrong names on purpose...
The quick and convenient escape of William Bell is another flaw. And compared to last year's season ender, the episode is actually relatively low-key...
But that said, what we get is a healthy dose of action and humour, a string of truly shocking scenes and decent character moments for each of our leads - even the perennially under-used Broyles (Lance Reddick) gets promoted to General. You'd be hard-pressed to complain too much - for the most part, 'Brave New World (Part Two)' ticks all the right boxes.
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