"Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" (5.01) - season premiere

I have to admit that initially, when I discovered that our final season would take place in the year 2036, the future that we see in the "Letters of Transit" (4.19) episode, I had very mixed feelings. My feelings were positive because that episode leaves too much in the open and then jumps back to 2012 the following episode, but my feelings were also negative because it seemed like jumping twenty-four years into the future in between seasons would be a classic case of jumping the shark, and I didn't like moving to the future before when "The Day We Died" (3.22) did so. However, now that I have seen the season 5 premiere, my feelings are mostly positive, not only because this is a fantastic season premiere but also because it has alleviated some of my previous fears. "Letters of Transit" (4.19), unlike "The Day We Died" (3.22) is not a mere glimpse of a possible future; this is the future. In fact, the Fringe Division team members didn't time-travel to 2036; all of those years passed by them as they were ambered, which means that this is now our present, not our future, even though considering Walter's comment that this is a "miserable future" due to eggsticks, it would seem as if the Fringe Division team members haven't fully come to terms with that yet, which makes sense. Walter also tells Etta that it seemed like only a couple of months ago that he watched her as she played on a carousel. It stands to reason that it may take our team a little bit of time to come to terms with this, not only because they have moved twenty-one years forward into the future but also because they now live in a world of which Observers have complete control.

We learned something new about the Observers (referred to as Baldies by some resistant Natives), which is that apparently, they cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment for a long period of time. Currently, they have devices on each continent that are pumping the environment with carbon monoxide which is allowing them to survive, and according to Etta, the effects of this will soon be irreversible, eventually decreasing the average human lifespan to about forty-five years, and I have a theory as to why they need an environment that is highly concentrated in carbon monoxide. The Observers are from far into our future, and they have come here because they ultimately destroyed their Earth, to which I am attributing technology. I think that they very likely relied so heavily on advanced technology that that technology ruined their atmosphere, depleted it of oxygen, and that either that is what accounts for their hairlessness and inability to taste, or their bodies adapted to their low-oxygen environment to the extent at which their repeated entry into oxygen-rich time periods caused their biological changes. I am hoping that as this season progresses, these questions (as well as many others) will be answered because even though the Observers are not the enigma that they used to be, there is still much about them to be revealed. We see no September, and even though Walter says in the "Letters of Transit" episode that he was killed, Joel Wyman said that they love September (as do I) and that we haven't seen the last of him, and I am hoping that we do soon. At this point, he feels so safe and so comfortable compared to the treacherous Windmark, whom I hate.

Something that this episode really makes me wonder is whether or not the timeline has been fully restored since 2012. I say that because in the episode titled "A Short Story About Love" (4.15), September tells Peter that he believes that the reason that Peter was not fully erased from the timeline is because the people who love him were unable to let him go, and notice how he says people, not person, which means that he refers to everyone, not just Olivia. Therefore, since Olivia's memories returned to her, it would stand to reason that Walter's and Astrid's would, too, and there are three years missing that we aren't going to have the privilege of seeing. The second reason that I say that is one name - Markham. He bought Olivia in amber and says that it's because he has loved her ever since she first (notice the word first) walked into his bookstore. He, additionally, immediately recognizes Peter, astonished that he is alive, and asks him why he hasn't aged, and after the timeline is changed to one in which Peter never grew to be a man, we only see Peter and Olivia visit Markham once, and even though Markham still hits on Olivia, he doesn't know either of them, whereas he had had a long-lasting friendship with Peter during the previous timeline; I doubt that he would recognize a man whom he had only seen once, unless, of course, Peter was on the news, which is, I admit, entirely possible considering the fact that he was probably a wanted fugitive, as was the rest of the team. It was kind of funny (although creepy) that he had been using Olivia as a coffee table, and initially, my reaction to Etta's conclusion regarding where Olivia was was the same as Walter's. What on Earth are amber gypsies?

I love how the one Observer whom Etta ultimately kills says that resistance is futile, an obvious Star Trek reference which Etta then affirms by saying that she feels like she has heard that before. This event, unfortunately, results in Walter's abduction and torture, and the method that the Observers use to extract information looks to be incredibly painful. We see more of their lack of emotion as Windmark says to Walter that music is tolerated but that it is seen as nothing more than tones, rhythms, and harmonic vibrations, that he doesn't understand the attraction of it. This sort of reminds me of the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode titled "Sarek" (3.23), in which Spock's father Sarek's ability as a Vulcan to suppress emotion dwindles, and he cries during the performance of a Brahms sextet. Walter responds by saying that "music helps you shift perspective, to see things [very much like hope] differently, if you need to." I feel so sorry for Walter throughout this episode; he is a wreck, especially after being tortured by Windmark and then realizes that the plan that September stores inside of his mind (much like Princess Leia stores a plan inside of R2-D2). "I've failed myself," he says as he cries. "I've failed the world. I can't do it; I can't even recognize myself." I love the last scene as Walter sits inside of the abandoned taxi cab and listens to a mix CD with "Only You" by Yazoo playing; a sunflower is growing nearby, and both the flower and the music brings a slight smile to Walter's face as realizes that, despite Windmark's warning that there is none, there is, indeed, hope.

I also really love the scene during which Olivia first sees Etta; the look on her face as she realizes that her now fully-grown daughter is standing behind Peter is so emotion-stirring, and I especially love it when Etta says "Hi, mama" to her. Etta doesn't could be that she doesn't remember her parents because she was so young, but I wonder if it's because when the Observers took her, they wiped her memory. Why did they take Etta? Is it because they expected her to have abilities due to who her mother is? I get the impression that Etta has slept with that one Loyalist whom she meets up with, the man who tells her that Simon was a double-agent and was found ambered. Apparently, the Observers do not have the ability to remove someone from amber, since that was Walter's idea as a way of escaping the Observers. I find the scene when Etta shoots the Loyalist and then awakens Peter, proceeding to tell him that he had experienced an "occupational hazard" to be quite funny, especially since Peter then says, "That's my girl." This eerily reminds me of Jones saying the same near the end of "Ability" (1.14), speaking of Olivia, and how that is the main reason that I had believed him to be Olivia's biological father. I also love the scene during which Olivia looks out at an ugly world and says, "We didn't save the world." Peter says, "Not even by half; she [referring, of course, to Etta]'s still trying, though." The conversation that follows is very touching and features some of Josh Jackson's best acting on Fringe yet. The trauma of having lost Etta apparently caused them to split, but Joel has said before that all good love stories have bumps in the road, and I am sure that they will be reunited by the series finale. I can't wait for "In Absentia" (5.02), an episode that, based on the promo, looks to be awesome. We are at the beginning of the end, cortexifans - a bittersweet truth.

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