"Liberty" and "An Enemy of Fate" certainly make for an amazing series finale. I have very minor issues with it, but honestly, I still give it 10 tumor-inducing cell phones because it moved me emotionally to such a great degree. There is so much to talk about, and this will very likely be my longest review of an episode, which makes sense not only because it is double-length but also because it is the series finale; I had expected that my review of the series finale (which, sadly, feels a lot like it came too soon) would be very long. I will start, obviously, with the first part of the finale. "Liberty' is really good and also very surprising, as I was not expecting to ever see the Redverse again. The end of "Worlds Apart" (4.20) seems to be a final goodbye to the Redverse, and it brings about a great deal of closure, with Lincoln suggesting that his home might be with Redverse Olivia and with Blueverse Olivia telling Redverse Olivia to keep looking up after Redverse Olivia says that they don't get rainbows anymore over there. I said then that we probably were not going to see them again, and once we were a couple of episodes into season 5, I was sure of it. After all, the Redverse is not mentioned in "Letters of Transit" (4.19), and that episode was foolishly aired prior to "Brave New World" airing. We do get the chance to see the Redverse once again, though, one last time, and we see Redverse Olivia and Lincoln and see that they have a son. I don't believe that the episode itself names him, but according to IMDB, his name is Trevor. Fringe tends to choose names very tactfully and with a strong purpose, so I looked up what the name Trevor means. Unfortunately, I think that I would really be stretching if I were to say this name was chosen because of its meaning. "Large settlement" is what it means, so unless it refers to him being direct evidence of Blueverse Lincoln and Redverse Olivia settling down together, I think that we can count this one out.
The name Donald, after all, means dark stranger, so other than the fact that September himself chose the name Donald O'Connor because that is an actor from the film Singin' in the Rain, the first film that he and Walter watched together, there is not a doubt in my mind that the writers chose the name for that reason, that Donald was the "dark stranger" of season 5, always making us wonder who he was. I, for one, was not banking on him being anyone that we had already seen because I couldn't imagine why anyone would have changed his name to Donald. Such disappointments have happened before on TV shows. For example, the Fringe producers hinted during their one and only episode of an official Fringe podcast that William Bell was someone whom we had already seen but that the actor didn't know that he was playing William Bell, so my thought was that Broyles was William Bell and was using Phillip Broyles as an alias. That did not end up being true, though; they had lied, and Bell ended up being a totally new character whom we had never seen before. The same happened on LOST; such a huge deal had been made of Jacob for so long, and my theory, since he was born on the Island, was that Aaron was Jacob, and that also did not turn out to be true. Jacob, like Donald, was a character frequently spoken of but who did not have a face to go with the name, a dark stranger. It happens, unfortunately, and that is totally what I had expected to have happen here with Donald, but I was pleasantly surprised that he is September, a revelation that I was very happy with. I am so happy that September came back, and his character really went out with a bang, didn't it? That's in my opinion, anyway; I've seen some say that it was cheap, with which I disagree.
Michael is another one whose name was definitely chosen intentionally. Michael, as most of us know, was God's archangel, and the name's meaning actually implies a question - "Who is like God?" Isn't it ironic that via his unfeeling arrogance, Walter told Carla Warren in 1985 that "there's only room for one god in this lab, and it's not yours," fancying himself a god, only to ultimately fulfill that role after becoming a much better man who sacrifices himself in the face of worldwide annihilation? I bring that up because Michael serves as Walter's right-hand man (or boy) in manipulating events, playing God, in a sense, only this time selflessly, not selfishly. It's ironic, and it's such a fitting end to the series because everything started with what we see in "Peter" (2.15), Walter destroying a universe by taking a boy through a wormhole, and it ends with him saving a universe by doing the same; the irony is immensely beautiful. I am willing to bet that as Peter looked at Walter as Walter took Michael through the wormhole and mouthed "I love you, dad" that he thought of what his mother had said to him, how she had told him to "be a better man than your father" and thought to himself that that would not be possible. The way that Peter looks at Walter one final time in juxtaposition to the way that he first looks at him in the pilot episode is simply beautiful; I would say that Walter was definitely redeemed and that his redemption was definitely a poignant facet of the Fringe story, and that's why I have been so sure for as long as I have that the series would end with Walter dying. He doesn't die, not physically, but he surrenders time (an ironic word to use) with Olivia and Peter and Astrid, those that he loves, so that (a) he could save the world and that (b) Peter and Olivia could be together with Etta. "How could a father not do that for his son?" he asks Peter rhetorically.
I am getting way ahead of myself, though, as I am discussing "Liberty" first. Near the beginning of the episode, we see a very snippy Broyles, talking smart with a Loyalist. The Loyalist tells Broyles that he can't tell him where the prisoner (Michael, of course) is being held because of new security protocols put into place, and Broyles says something quite funny here. "Are you suggesting that I might be the Dove? I'm more of a raven, don't you think?" This is such a good line. Broyles finds out that Michael is being held on Liberty Island (an ironic name in this world), and when we see the Statue of Liberty, she has been torn down with nothing but a small part of her at the bottom remaining, and this sort of reminds me of the foot of the destroyed statue on Lost. This is blatantly obvious symbolism, since the Statue of Liberty is symbolic of liberty, like the Statue, having been destroyed. We not only get a return to the Redverse as a reward from this episode, we get more Cortexiphan, something else that I was sure that we were done with, since Walter, at the end of the season 4 finale, says that Olivia having used Cortexiphan to bring herself back to life cleaned all of it out of her system. She uses Cortexiphan via a method that appears to be quite painful in order to cross over, and I love how the writers keep something in mind here in order to avoid a plothole. During season 3, Walternate learns via a series of experiments that adults cannot be given Cortexiphan because it kills them, yet here is Olivia, just like she was in season 4, being given Cortexiphan as an adult. Walter, however, says that it can be done because her neural pathways have already been altered since she was dosed as a child, which is also in keeping with Walternate and Redverse Brandon seeing the anomalies in her brain structure during "Amber 31422" (3.05).
The Cortexiphan dosages, as I said, seem to be very painful, and they're having quite a troubling effect on Olivia, which seems to worsen with every dosage, and Peter demands that Walter stop. Walter, however, says that she needs enough to be able to cross over four times - one to cross to the Redverse, one to cross to the Blueverse once she reaches Michael's location, one to cross back to the Redverse to avoid being tailed by Observers, and then one to cross back to the Blueverse once they're at a safe location. "I created Cortexiphan; there is no better authority." This definitely looks like Walternate and the old Walter, and I'm not sure why that is because Walter, in "The Boy Must Live" (5.11), says that when Michael touched him, he effectively purged that Walter. Perhaps, there were still some lingering effects that would fade in time? It reminds me of how Walter kept referring to Michael as a subject during "Anomaly XB-6783746" (5.10), earning cold stares from Peter, but that was before Michael gave Walter the gift that he gave him. Walter says that Belly made the shelf life of Cortexiphan 127 years and stresses that he made sure of it, and that makes me wonder what the purpose of that would be. I initially thought 2167, but the math doesn't add up; close, but no cigar. Why not 100? Why not 150? I am drawn to believe that there must be something significant about 127, but I have no idea what. The scene when Olivia crosses over after her nice moment with Peter is kind of trippy, as we spin around Olivia, and the air turns different colors. That is apparently what it looks like to Olivia when she crosses over, which is cool.
I do have a bone to pick, though, and I think that it's one that I have already picked during season 3, but I am going to pick it again because this episode further validates a need to do so. Near the end of "The Abducted" (3.07), Olivia, having learned who she really is and having received help from Henry Higgins, goes to Liberty Island and attempts to get into Walternate's tank and cross over so that she can go home, but while she is in the Blueverse, some of Walternate's agents yank her out of the water. This told us that when Olivia crosses over, she is in two places at once, with her consciousness going to a double that is created in the opposite universe, since Walternate's agents were able to physically pull her out of the water while she was in the Blueverse. In this episode, however, we see that that is not the case, that Olivia is not physically in both universes. This is definitely a plothole; there are no ifs and ands about that, but I won't spend any more time on that. When she crosses over, she sees Redverse Olivia and Blueverse Lincoln, and Redverse Olivia is very happy to see her. It's so funny to see them so close now when they were once mortal enemies and Redverse Olivia was being portrayed as a villain of the series. They even hug, and I love that scene. I think that we definitely get an answer to a question that is asked by the two Lincolns themselves during "Everything in Its Right Place" (4.17) - the two Lincolns lived such similar lives, so why were they so different? Well, Blueverse Lincoln has now spent a great many years with Redverse Olivia and is now a lot more like Redverse Lincoln, so as many had theorized, I think that it was definitely Redverse Olivia that had rubbed off on Redverse Lincoln. That's just an observation that I thought to be worth pointing out.
Did anyone else, by the way, think that Redverse Olivia was dressed a lot like we used to see Nina dresses? She is all in black and is in a long robe-like outfit, which is very similar to how Nina dresses. That's not important at all, but it's just an observation that I thought that I would throw out there. Another reason why I was so sure that we would not see the Redverse again was because Olivia and Lincoln would have to be pushing sixty, and I couldn't see the writers wanting to go down a route of having to use makeup to make us believe that. If I remember correctly, Olivia was about forty-seven in the 2026 "The Day We Died" (3.22) future, which means that she would be close to sixty in 2036. Here's the thing, though; they definitely do not look like they're in the fifties. They barely did anything to Seth Gabel at all, in fact except grey a few hairs. I am letting it go, though; it does not bother me, and here's why; at the end of season 2 and carrying into the first few episodes of season 3, Redverse Lincoln was burned to a crisp, yet the Redverse possessed medical technology to completely heal him, not even leaving any scars, so if they have that capability, they certainly have the capability to medically hide aging, possibly even slow it down. Redverse Olivia definitely does have some wrinkles, and I think that Anna did an excellent job of making her older simply via the way that she carried herself. Anna is fantastic. I love how Redverse Olivia says to Lincoln, "You can stop checking out my young ass." That is such an awesome line. I wonder, though, how Redverse Olivia knew about Etta and even seemed to know about the Observer Invasion. With the Bridge closed, they shouldn't have had any way of communicating, yet when Blueverse Olivia mentions Etta, Redverse Olivia says, "So, you found her?" I find that to be really odd.
We don't see Walternate, but Lincoln says that he retired as Secretary of Defense and is, at ninety years old, teaching at Harvard. This is accurate because we had known that Walter was born in 1946, so in 2036, he would be ninety. When Blueverse Olivia asked about him (surprising after all that he had put her through), I fully expected Lincoln to say that he had passed away. It's also funny how Lincoln, having originated in the Blueverse and probably having known what Walternate did to Blueverse Olivia, whom he had cared about, seems to greatly admire and respect the man. I really wonder why the Observers didn't invade the Redverse. I do have a possible explanation, though. We have obviously seen from episodes such as "Peter" (2.15) that the Observers have the ability to not only move through time but also hop universes. The calendared Observers, though, traveled to the Redverse because of September's emotive attachment to and dealings with Walter and Peter. These Observers see no reason to invade another universe because even if they had the knowledge that Peter was from the Redverse, which they might not, they would probably consider it irrelevant. The Commander, after all, tries to convince Windmark that despite Windmark's desire to annihilate the fugitives, the fugitives are inconsequential. Why invade the Blueverse specifically, though? I have given that some thought, too. We learned from "The Boy Must Live" that the Observers' future exists in the Blueverse, due to the spelling of Manhattan. The Blueverse is, therefore, their universe, so that is the naturally the one whose past they invaded. They may not even be aware that they can cross universes because they didn't see a need to try, up until now when one followed Olivia.
It's so nice to see BAMF Olivia back. She shoots the Loyalist in the room with the surveillance video playing, then shoots an Observer, and finally shoots the male doctor who is about to kill and study Michael, and I would imagine that this probably reminds her a lot of what almost happened to her when she was being held captive in the Redverse. After Olivia retrieves Michael and crosses to the Redverse, an Observer, as aforementioned, follows her, and he attacks her. He almost takes Michael back, too, but Redverse Olivia is there to save the day, and that Observer literally didn't know what hit him. Then, when an Observer almost gets Redverse Olivia and Lincoln and Blueverse Olivia screams at them to warn them, I thought for sure that Redverse Olivia and Lincoln were going to die, which really would have sucked, but that fortunately did not happen because they stopped him in time, and it must be that their Redverse guns are high-level enough to kill Observers because they both shoot at him, but I'm not sure which actually made the shot that killed, not that it matters. When Blueverse Olivia then takes Michael back to the Blueverse, right before she does so, she tells Redverse Olivia that she has a beautiful family, and the first time that I watched the episode, I thought that she was going to say that Redverse Olivia has a beautiful face. That would have been quite silly, though, seeing as how that is her own face. I also find it really sweet that Blueverse Olivia and Lincoln have the discussion that they do. Blueverse Olivia tells Lincoln that each of them made their own decisions and that she doesn't regret any of her own, that Lincoln deserves all of the happiness that he found. It's a really sweet scene that involves closure for the potential relationship between the two of them during season 4, especially before Peter returned.
"Liberty" is a great first-half of the finale. I like how we see the universe window again. We see it earlier in the season during "The Bullet That Saved the World" (5.04) I believe, and that was obviously intended to be a clue that we would be returning to the Redverse again or at least see it again. When the Redverse finally shows through the window, Walter says, "Isn't she beautiful?" I wonder if he's talking about the Redverse in general or the Statue of Liberty. I'm not sure and could honestly go either way, although I would say that it's probably slightly more likely that he is referring to the Statue of Liberty, really asking, "Isn't freedom beautiful? She is our chance to conquer the Observers." I love how when Olivia first mentions the Redverse, she refers to it as the Other Side, and Astrid asks, "The other side of what?" I always laugh at that. I love how Walter refers to Astrid as Asgard, instantly making me think of the alien species from Stargate. It's funny, in fact, because Stargate Atlantis also aired for five seasons and 100 episodes, and the series finale title - "Enemy at the Gate" - is very similar to the Fringe series finale title. In addition, Joe Flannigan guest-starred in "Neither Here nor There" (4.01), and Paul McGillion guest-starred in "The Recordist" (5.03), both having been series regulars on Stargate Atlantis. In addition, Peter Kelamis guest-stars in this episode as Tobin, and he was on Stargate Universe. I do believe that someone on the Fringe team is a gater. I love the scene when Walter hugs Olivia and kisses her on the forehead not too long before she crosses over, saying, "Be careful, my dear." There are so many sweet scenes during the finale. We see that Michael is, indeed, very special, as he is causing Windmark to bleed as Windmark is trying to read Michael, a fitting punishment for Windmark for the time being, a taste of his own medicine. The first half of the finale ends with Donald showing up at someone's doorstep, and we see that it is December. Donald asks for December's help and says that December owes him. The door shows us that December's room number is 513, the episode number into which we then move.
Jasika Nicole said that the cliffhanger at the end of "Liberty" would be huge and that that was why she was happy that both episodes were being aired the same night. I have to admit, however, that I find myself pretty disappointed. December was never a major character on the series, so seeing him again was not that big of a deal to me. It did kind of surprise me, however, because it slightly threw my theory out the window. I had been sure that the calendared Observers had had the same agenda as the "evil" ones whom we see during this season but that September diverged from the plan and went his own way and that that was why he always seemed to be at odds with the other Observers. I was right about one thing, that September was going his own way, but not because the others were evil and bent on world domination. We learn from "An Enemy of Fate" that the scientific team realized that they were developing emotions as a result of having spent too much time here in this era but agreed not to speak of it; September and August, however, did not fight it and instead embraced it. The calendared Observers were told to observe the past but were not told why; intentions of world domination were kept secret, which I find interesting because it implies that the ones who gave the orders imagined that emotive attachment would be possible. Otherwise, why would the calendared Observers care? They would see matters the same way. I am thinking that when Donald/September tells December that December owes him, he is referring to the fact that he had been locked out of the universe back during season 4 due to his attachment to people. We then do not see December again until later in the episode when we see that Windmark and his men got to him and killed him, which is unfortunate. That is, however, why I say that I feel pretty disappointed by Jasika Nicole having said that the cliffhanger would be big; December hardly plays a role at all in what follows. I, too, am happy that both episodes aired the same night or else that really would have been a disappointing cliffhanger, in my opinion.
It's good to see that the Observers are finally listening to cell phone conversations. It has also puzzled me that in 2036, the Observers, who have very sophisticated technology, were not listening to cell phone conversations as the Fringe team freely has conversations via cell phones, which really shouldn't work at all because you would think that Observers would have put a stop to cell phone lines, not having seen a need for it. After all, even though we never got a concrete answer to why coffee isn't available to drink, it could either be because the Observers deemed it as unnecessary or because, like the Redverse, it can't be grown because of the damage that the Observers have done to the environment. Speaking of cell phones, though, I love the scene when Walter is frustrated because Anil can't seem to hear him via talking on cell phones, and Walter says, "What I wouldn't give for a good old-fashioned tumor-inducing cell phone." That is such a funny line, and it also makes me wonder if that's our answer as to how they have avoided detection for so long. Perhaps, the Resistance has developed a new kind of cell phone that the Observers can't track or listen in on. John Noble gives a phenomenal final performance, and there are so many awesome scenes. One of my favorite scenes from this episode and from the entire series in general is when Walter shows Peter the video that he recorded in 2015 and tells him that he must take Michael to the future, resulting in he and Peter never seeing each other again. He says that he must do that so that Peter can see Etta again and, as mentioned, rhetorically asks how a father could not do that for his son. They hug and cry, and Walter says, "You are my favorite thing, Peter, my very favorite thing." This line is so beautiful, and John Noble said that Joel Wyman said that he says that to his own son. This is such a beautiful and heartbreaking scene, and I sobbed.
Another great Walter scene is when Astrid shows him Gene in the amber. This is another incredibly beautiful scene. Astrid, unaware of what Walter is planning to do, tears up and says, "Walter, this is not the end. We're gonna win this, and when we do, we'll be drinking strawberry milkshakes in the lab and not even gonna remember that this happened."Then, as Astrid is leaving, Walter tells her that Astrid is a beautiful name. There are just so many beautiful scenes throughout the series finale. I also love the scene when Walter suggests using Osmium to make Observers float, obviously a callback to the "Os" (3.16) episode. Peter says, "If we shoot them, they're dead. Why would we want them to float away?" Walter, smiling, replies, "Because it's cool." This scene is so funny, and then, near the end of the episode, Walter actually does it and says, "Peter, Peter, look! What did I say? That is cool!" I love Walter so much, and I am really going to miss him a great deal. That whole scene near the end when Headquarters is attacked is just awesome. It is dark and disturbing and horrific, especially because of the alarm blaring and the disgusting images, and it's so rewarding for fans who watched all episodes, as it paid homage to old cases. I caught callbacks to "Pilot" (1.01), "The Cure" (1.06), "The Dreamscape" (1.09), "Bound" (1.11), "Ability" (1.14), and "Snakehead" (2.09). There may have been others, as well, but those are the ones that I saw. The team basically uses old Fringe science to kill off Observers and Loyalists, and it is such an awesome montage to old episodes. Then, Olivia does something really awesome; she, after having been thrown by Windmark, uses her Cortexiphan abilities to turn all of the lights in the city off and then rams Windmark with a car, crushing him, and it seems like it gets him a millisecond before Windmark blips away. I really thought that Peter would be the one to kill him, especially since he and Windmark started to fight, and it's kind of ironic that he wasn't, but it's fitting; Olivia lost a daughter, too. This was, for me, a very satisfying death, and I have gathered that it was for many. I also want to point out that I love the hat Olivia is wearing, but she was wearing something similar near the beginning of the pilot episode when she and Broyles first meet; that's not important, but it caught my attention.
It is interesting how Windmark, after having captured Broyles but before Peter and Olivia freed Broyles, tells Broyles that he is experiencing an emotion and says, "I believe you call it… hate." Broyles says, "The feeling is mutual." I love this because it shows just how different Windmark and September are. Near the end of "A Short Story About Love" (4.15), September says the exact opposite to Peter, offering a theory as to why Peter could not be fully erased from the timeline, and he says, "I believe you call it… love." Donald decides that he wants to be the one to go with Michael because he is his father, and he is sure that when he takes Michael's hand, Michael will know that he is loved. Walter nods, understanding, and says, "That's being a father." I love this scene, too; Donald says that he could never fully understand his feelings for his son but that he had and does love him. I find it funny when Olivia, near the beginning of the episode, asks why Michael would have gotten off the car, knowing that the Observers would have wished to harm them, and Donald admiringly says, "Apparently, there was a reason." I find it funny because obviously, there was a reason; it seems like a rather obvious thing to say. It is beautiful, though, because he definitely says so admiringly, and he goes on to add that "there always is." Michael says "I love you" by playing "Greensleeves" on the music box as Donald dies after being shot, and this is another scene that makes me choke up. I don't feel that it's fully explained how Michael doesn't have the tech in his head, and it's confusing to me. He is bald and hairless, and Peter having begun to lose hair at the end of "Five-Twenty-Ten" (5.07) suggests that it's the tech that causes that, so that is confusing. In the end, time is reset, and I have very mixed feelings about this. I am so happy that Peter and Olivia have their happy ending and get to raise Etta and be with her; Etta probably won't be murdered as a young woman. However, with that being said, I think that it is safe to assume that Peter and Olivia have no memories of anything that happened in season 5, and that's disappointing to me because there was so much development. I think that because of all of the chaos and the pain that they endured, they were closer than ever, and now, for them, none of that even happened.
I have seen theories, however, that involve people saying that Walter having mailed the white tulip to Peter will eventually mean that, similar to how Olivia's memories of Peter returned to her during season 4, Peter and Olivia will eventually remember events from season 5, will remember Walter's sacrifice, because they love Walter, and I love that idea. David Wu pointed out how Peter breaks the fourth wall in the final scene and looks at the audience, suggesting that fate is in the hands of us, and I love that, too, especially since our having been so committed to Fringe is what kept it on for as long as it was on, which was very long considering the odds that were stacked against us. I really wanted seven seasons (and I know that Blair Brown once said the same), but five is honestly more than we should have gotten, and I am happy. I am confused as to how Peter wasn't erased, though. How was the timeline up until 2015 the same? If the Observers were never created due to Walter dissuading the scientist in Oslo, Norway from creating them due to Michael being proof that emotion does not need to be sacrificed, September shouldn't have existed to distract Walternate from finding Peter's cure in 1985, which means that Walter wouldn't have taken Peter from the Redverse, and Peter would have grown up there. I am, however, guessing that it has something to do with the paradox which Walter talks about; apparently, only 2015 onward was changed, which seems convenient to me, but I got a happy ending and was right about Walter making a grave sacrifice, so I'll go with it. I wonder if that means that Nina, like Etta, is now alive, too, since her death was technically caused by Observers, albeit not as directly? I also wonder if the look on Nina's face when Michael touches her during "Anomaly XB-6783746" is because he did for her what he did for Walter - gave her memories from the previous timeline. Did she know that time would be reset, and that's part of the reason why she shot herself so fearlessly, knowing that she would be back? I still don't understand why collapsing the wormhole in "An Origin Story" didn't work, and I am disappointed that we didn't see Bell, especially since an earlier episode mentioned how he had been found in the amber, but maybe, Nimoy was unavailable. I love the finale, and obviously, I love Fringe, and I am going to miss it so much. Fringe is my favorite thing, my very favorite thing.