FRINGE Recap: ‘The Day We Died’
May 6, 2011 by Marisa Roffman
Given the events that happened in “The Day We Died,” I had no idea how to even begin this recap. But then I recalled what FRINGE executive producer Jeff Pinkner told me when I mentioned jumping into the future for the finale was game-changing: “If you could allow us to tease for a second, it’s both game-changing watching it and it’s more game-changing when it’s over.”
Understatement of the century.
Holy moly. (I’d like to say other words, but I’m going to try and keep my language clean on the off-chance there are children lurking around these parts.)
In the interest of spoilers, if you haven’t seen “The Day We Died,” turn away now. We’re about to dissect the heck out of what just went down on our television screens.
Before we get into the events of the episode, let’s jump to the end for a second (appropriate for this episode, no?). Peter doesn’t exist. Peter. No. Longer. Exists. I mean…okay. (Not okay.)
Now that it’s out of my system (for now), let’s talk about what we learned about the future.
In the future, Peter and Olivia are married, they’re Fringe agents — along with Olivia’s niece, Ella — and the world is pretty much falling apart. Broyles is a senator (with a freaky eye), Walter has been locked up — thanks to his role in the universe falling apart — and working apart from Walter has led Astrid to become a full-fledged Fringe agent.
Oh and there’s this pesky little matter of a group called the End of Day-ers, who are pretty much doing everything in their power to destroy our universe. Unluckily for them, one of their destruction devices was a dud, which prompts Peter to seek out Walter with the hopes they can save what was left of the universe. Our first look at the new Walter — regressed so far from his 2011 persona — is daunting. He is defeated in many ways, right back to square one as far as our experience with him is concerned. He tells Peter he can help, but he needs his tools — AKA get him out of there. His plea works because Peter goes to Broyles to pull some strings, and he gets Walter sprung.
Walter returns to his lab where he is quickly reunited with Olivia. When she stops a box from crashing to the floor, she reveals she got her abilities under control a few years ago. As Walter works on understanding the device, he is frustrated that even as he studies it, “the world is still ending. You may stop this group, but you cannot stop the inevitable. Our destiny was set the day we triggered the machine. I didn’t understand it until it was too late, that our two worlds were inextricably linked — without one, the other simply cannot exist. Their world was destroyed. That was the day we sealed our fates. For all intents and purposes, that was the day we died.”
Walter asks Peter about Walternate. During the 15 year leap through time, he crossed over here to our universe to ask for help, but ended up trapped here when his universe was destroyed. Walter and Peter talk about their roles in destroying the other universe, something Peter was exonerated of during a trial.
In the midst of the insanity, Peter and Olivia shared a rather domestic moment as he cooks a meal for them as they drink boxed wine. Peter spots a drawing on their fridge and Olivia tells him their neighbor drew a picture of them and the child they’re going to have. Olivia isn’t pregnant — and she is hesitant to bring a child into the world when it’s falling apart around them — but Peter jokes with her that she can change her mind and they can have a whole tribe of Bishops.
Walter figures out the device is splitting atoms and Peter and Olivia go searching for where the “breadcrumbs” lead them. An agent discovers a mysterious key and gives it to Peter, who clearly recognizes it and pockets it quietly.
Walter and Olivia are back examining the device and he notes the technology is easily 10 years ahead of its time. “I don’t mind saying, it’s something I would have liked to have invented,” Walter admits.
Meanwhile, Peter arrives at a cabin on Reiden Lake and finds Walternate. Walternate is pissed and he loses his temper when Peter calls the two versions of Walter “yin and yang.”
Walternate: That’s interesting. Interesting that you should say that — yin and yang.
Peter: Why are you doing this?
Walternate: Yin and yang. One man broke the universe, the other did nothing but have his son stolen, his life stolen. Ruined. I came over here at the end on a mission of mercy to ask for help for my side. The race was lost. A race I didn’t initiate. But still I came. And you destroyed us, Peter. My son.
Peter: You destroyed your own — you activated the machine on your side. You were going to use it to destroy this universe. I only acted in self-defense.
Walternate: Do you know what it’s like? To wake up and just for a moment think that everything is as it was and then to realize it’s not? That the nightmare you had was real? Soon everyone here will experience loss the way that all those over there did. Air. Water. Light, even. But you…you will experience loss the way that I did.
Peter: What does that mean?
Walternate: You destroyed my universe, son. And I’m going to destroy yours. And not all at once.
We quickly flash to Olivia and her Fringe team, where they are knocked unconscious as a new wormhole has opened up.
Peter, meanwhile, is unwilling to completely give up on getting through to Walternate.
Peter: I came here alone, Walter, to make a personal plea to you. I’m sorry for the suffering I’ve caused you. I’m sorry for destroying your people. Our people. I’m sorry for destroying our world. And if I could take back that choice I would. But it’s no excuse for what you’re doing now. It has to stop.
Peter then shows him handcuffs and basically asks for Walternate to turn himself in. Walternate? Not so thrilled about that and informs his son that if he was there, he might not be able to resist killing him — completely Father of the Year material, right there — and Walternate tells him this is the better way so he “can learn about loss. Let’s start by killing someone [Peter] loves.” Peter lunges towards Walternate and his hand swipes straight through him. Apparently they have some spiffy new technology in the future, which is kind of cool, except it means that Walternate has done exactly what he needed to do — separated Peter from everyone, got his message across and has free reign to shoot Olivia in the forehead. Which he does. Walternate might officially be the worst father on TV.
Perhaps we should be grateful we didn’t see Peter’s reaction when he found out Olivia was dead, because his heartbreak at the funeral was painful. “Olivia Dunham, my wife, was everything to me,” Peter says at her funeral. That’s all we really do hear, as a score plays over his words and the camera pans to the people in attendance at her funeral. The only new familiar face in the crowd is Nina.
On the way back from the funeral, Ella and Walter are delayed by wormhole-related traffic (yep, pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve written that sentence) and Walter suddenly has an epiphany and asks to be taken back to the lab. While he works, Walter tries to bond with Ella at the lab by reminding her she used to call him Uncle Walter, but she’s hesitant to go down memory lane. She does finally admit she remembers Gene and the two reminisce about the beloved cow.
Walter goes to Peter’s place and tells him it’s not too late to save both universes. The person who put the machine in the ground in the past? Walter. He sent them back in time. Peter suggests Walter just not send them so they can prevent what has happened from happening, but apparently it doesn’t work that way. “I have already done it, so I have no choice but to do it again,” Walter says. It’s apparently a paradox where the only solution is Peter making a different choice in what happens. Walter says they can cheat the rules of time. Peter points out that they don’t know what the potential repercussions could be. Walter notes it can’t be worse than what they’re living with now. For the world? No, he’s right. But for Walter? I don’t know if he would have gone through with it if he knew what was to come.
We go back to our present and Peter has been in the machine for a minute. He’s reacting badly, but they’re afraid to take him out, for fear of causing more harm. We flash over to Over There, where a frustrated Walternate summons Fauxlivia, who seems to be amused that his plan backfired, even if it means her potential death. Peter wakes up in our machine, clearly thrilled to see Olivia still alive, which then immediately begs the question of where our Peter’s mind is.
Before we have the time to ponder that too closely, the machine starts up again and suddenly the two universes are together in one room. Peter tells them what he knows: Walter was one of the First People. He tells Walter and Walternate that “if one side dies, we all die.” Peter somehow tore holes in both universes that lead there to that room. Peter went and built himself a bridge between the universes…but in the middle of his explanation, he disappears. Peter disappeared. Gone. Walter and Walternate started squabbling about who destroyed which universe, neither apparently noticing that Peter vanished in front of their eyes.
It doesn’t make sense until we see the Observers outside.
Observer 1: You were right. They don’t remember Peter.
Observer 2: How could they? He never existed. He served his purpose.
I know I’m not the only one who let out a yell at their television screen at that. Game-changing, indeed.
Hey Fox? I sincerely thank you for renewing the show for season four. If THAT had been it? Um…no. It’s unthinkable. So thank you for not letting Peter ceasing to exist be the last thing this FRINGE fan sees.
A few other notable things…
- The moment when Walter and Olivia were reunited? Amazing. It’s always easy to forget their bond, given the focus on Walter and Peter, but Walter and Olivia have had some lovely moments this season.
- If we go back between our time and the future next season, I’d love to see Walter’s trial.
- Who knew eating a Red Vine could be so emotional?
- Peter and Olivia married? Adorable. You know, before the bullet in the brain for one and ceasing to exist for the other.
- It seems a lot of the food is canned or boxed. I assume that is because of dwindling resources versus that being their brand of choice.
- John Noble has now played six versions of Walter Bishop. Six different characters. I don’t know if any other show has done that before.
- “No matter who’s at fault, you’re my dad.” Peter Bishop, for the win. Too bad Walter won’t remember what his son said since he no longer has a son. But it was a sweet moment for us.
Lingering confusion (What you think you could go through an hour like that and NOT have some questions?)…
- When was our Peter in the future? According to Ella, Peter was mumbling about being from the past when he first got there. So was he there for a brief moment? And where was he before he ceased to exist in the present?
- We got a brief glimpse of Nina, but how has her life changed in the past 15 years? I feel like out of all the characters on our canvas right now, we have the most unresolved questions about Nina.
- What happened in Detroit? And what the heck happened to Broyles’ eye?
- The baby Henry news never made its way over here, but if Peter never existed then Henry never existed. Right?
- If Peter never existed, how does that impact the characters we know? Does that, for instance, change Charlie’s fate on our side? Did Walter have another kid? Is Elizabeth Bishop alive on our side?
- If Peter never existed, was this the first time our originals and their alt-personas met?
- How will Peter not existing change the future?
- Why did Peter exist at all if this was his sole purpose? Wouldn’t him not being there have prevented this from happening, too?
Really, I could go on and on. I may add more questions in the comments sections.
Now it’s your turn. I know several of you already started, but what did you think of the finale?
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