Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
The Observer! Olivia and memories she shouldn’t have! Answers to questions – Well, kind of. This week’s episode of Fox’s Fringe had it all, but despite the title, “The End of All Things” was just the beginning of our five questions for the week…
What Is Happening To Olivia?
Am I the only person who thought that this week’s episode was an unexpected about-face on everything we “learned” about Olivia last week? Are we now supposed to accept that Peter was, somehow, behind Olivia remembering the other Olivia’s memories, despite Peter apparently disproving that last week – and if so, should we ever expect an answer as to how Peter could have done this? The idea that we have somehow learned that it was Cortexephan that was behind the memory crossover, only to then be told that it was actually Peter, feels like a plot line being abandoned mis-story, and I’m left more than a little confused as to what is supposed to “actually” be the case – Of course, that may be the point. Right now, I don’t actually believe that it was really Peter or Cortexephan behind whatever happened… but I hope that we’re given a definitive answer at some point before the end of the season.
What Is So Important About Peter and Olivia (and Henry)?
September certainly seemed to consider Peter to be some particularly pivotal point of his society’s history, and there was at the very least a heavy implication that Henry, his son – apparently one born to the “wrong” Olivia in the timelines we left at the end of season three – was a large part of that. So what, exactly, does Henry go on to do – or is it Peter that does something because of Henry? My suspicions right now are centering around the discovery of time travel, especially considering that The Machine that undid Peter seems to (at least, judging by the tie-in comic Beyond the Fringe, which is apparently canon) be a time machine of sorts. Is Henry responsible for creating the technology that allows the Observers to exist outside of time?
Who Shot The Observer?
Sure, September thinks that that wasn’t a pertinent question, but I don’t believe him; this is the second time that we’ve seen him having been shot, and it’s not a massive jump to think that the “they” who came after him inside his mind – Very Inception, of course – are the ones responsible. But who are “they”? The other Observers, as per the opening of the episode? Or someone else…?
(A couple of other things: The scene with the Observers in the opening of the episode suggested, at least to me, that “removing all traces of Peter from the timeline” means that this isn’t a parallel Earth, but the Earth that Peter left, but with its past rewritten. Does that automatically make it an alternate Earth, or are rewritten histories the same Earth? I wish someone could make a suggestion as to how that works in this show. And secondly, I’m not the only person who thought that September sounded like a title or position, as opposed to a name, right? Are there other teams of Observers throughout the timeline? Are there other Septembers?)
What Has Happened To David Jones?
Does knowing that he’s been reconstructed on an atomic level mean that Jones knows about what happened to him in Peter’s original timeline… and if it does, does that mean that this isn’t an alternate Earth? If it doesn’t, then there’s the question as to what has happened to make him reconstructed, and how he knows about it. Is that connected to whatever his plan is – and will we find out what that plan is before the end of the season…?
Is There A “Real” Nina?
So the Nina that was with Olivia clearly wasn’t the Nina that she grew up with, but does her escape mean that she was the Nina from Earth-2, or just a shapeshifter? And either way, what does the reaction of the Nina that was being interrogated by Broyles and Lincoln suggest about that Nina’s trustworthiness? All throughout this episode, I kept wondering to myself, “What if there’s no real Nina anymore? What if they’re all shapeshifters?” After all, keeping a shapeshifter hidden in plain sight like that isn’t unknown – Think Charlie Shapeshifter last season – and it would allow Jones to keep an eye on Olivia when she’s least expecting it, wouldn’t it…?
For all the promises of the big answers, this episode really was more about teasing out the bigger questions; I enjoyed it – well, apart from the seeming backtrack on what was happening to Olivia, that is – and thought that it set up the remaining season pretty well. But having to wait four weeks until that begins…? That just seems cruel, really. See you in four weeks, Fringe fans.