Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “Worlds Apart”

As this week’s episode of Fringe demonstrated, it just might be the end of the world(s) as we know it – but who, exactly, is feeling fine? Here’re five questions about the earth-shaking “Worlds Apart.”

Who’s The Crisis On Infinite Earths Fan?
This one may only make sense to the DC Comics fans in the audience, but… This episode was Crisis on Infinite Earths, wasn’t it? The multiverse where worlds exist at specific frequencies, Nick Lane as the Psycho Pirate, the idea of destroying universes to create a new big bang and even the visual of multiple earths literally crossing over… It’s all from 1985′s Crisis. A sign of writers taking a little bit too much inspiration from a favored source, or a hint of things to come before the end of the season? You be the judge.

Where Are The Observers?
David Robert Jones is trying to literally destroy the reality that the Observers are using as their Terra Nova-esque escape route. Isn’t it odd that they haven’t shown up to stop him? That no-one in the episode wondered where these characters, who – even before Peter was told their origin story – would be expected to show up at a major event like this, were seems like an oversight, but again, perhaps a telling one. Are they absent because they’re working with Jones – or because they already know that he’s going to fail? (Don’t forget, we’ve seen 2036 already, so clearly some world survives…)

How Did They Turn The Machine On In The First Place?
Watching Walter talk about how, if they turn The Machine off, they may not be able to turn it back on again, made me wonder just how it was turned on in this timeline in the first place – A question that was underscored when Peter was used to turn it off. I guess we’re just supposed to assume that Peter and Walter (?) have discussed the differences in the origin of The Machine in their respective timelines off camera…? If so, that’s particularly frustrating, because… Well, I just really want to know what could’ve led to the construction and activation of that machine without Peter, really.

(That said, maybe Walter doesn’t know about the original origin of the machine, if he thinks that it brought Peter back into existence, considering – from Peter’s point of view, at least – it seemed more likely to have been the thing that wiped him out in the first place. Also, if Walter still suspects that, does that mean that Peter didn’t tell him everything that happened when he confronted September?)

What Happened To History Rewriting Itself?
Chalk this one up to “Of course, it might just be forgetful writers,” as well, but… Wasn’t one of the differences of the rewritten timeline that Olivia didn’t go through with (all of) the Cortexephan trials in this timeline? If so, then how could Nick remember her? And even if she had – The Olivia that’s in this rewritten timeline has the memories of the Olivia from the original timeline, so shouldn’t her connection with Nick be somewhat skewed or not there at all? He’s literally a different Nick, with different experiences, after all… This one just confused me, but it’s possibly because I was thinking about it a little too much.

What About The Earthquakes?
This one may just be me nit-picking, but… We don’t get to see whether switching the machine off actually stopped the earthquakes? We’re just left with a ticking clock and that’s it? That felt particularly un-earned as an end to the episode – I wanted to find out whether the plan had worked, instead of just getting a “It probably worked, let’s stay with the emotional beat instead” climax.

Overall, this was an episode that had nice moments – Yay Lincoln! for one – but felt surprisingly sloppy and incomplete. Was that just me, and if so, what did I miss that made it work for everyone else?

(Also: Be here same time tomorrow for more Fringe-ness.)

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Comments

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XNSG46XGRGJCS6V3ZLCZ7YXWEY Ian

    I’ve noticed on boards most didn’t want to agree with my theory that DRJ is in fact WB, but the last few seconds of the preview for next week lends additional credence, IMO.  ;)

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    The implication was in fact that 2036 was an apocryphal one-off – a treat for the fans – set in some distinct reality that doesn’t fit into the continuity of the main timeline(s). Indeed, logically the Observers’ behaviours did not mesh between the continuities that we’ve seen.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    I agree with your interpretation of the timeline mess, though. The continued existence of the machine definitely requires an on-screen answer (and even if we get one now, that we didn’t get one originally kind of makes me think “hmm, too late, guys”). The issues with Nick Lane recognising Olivia I hadn’t noticed, but are also a good point. I think the timeline shenanigans might have been a step too far, as it at least appears to have caused a whole slew of logical issues.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XNSG46XGRGJCS6V3ZLCZ7YXWEY Ian

    Both the primary leads for the series have stated that if season 5 got greenlighted (which it has) that episode 19 taking place in 2036 would be what the next season revolved around.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XNSG46XGRGJCS6V3ZLCZ7YXWEY Ian

    In ep 19 I think that that hologram hints that it is in fact 2036 de-ambered Walter that is to build the machine that he blueprinted in 2015 that will get flung back in time which will link with Peter in our present last year (who else but Walter himself would program such a thing and have access to both Peter’s DNA and know about Peter’s unique dimensional resonance?).

  • jrau18

    Who’s The Crisis On Infinite Earths Fan?
    Having never read the story, no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the universe frequency thing can be tracked to the same source for both stories.

    Where Are The Observers?
    Just because our heroes didn’t interact with them, doesn’t mean they were absent. There was an Observer in Syndey during the first attack.

    How Did They Turn The Machine On In The First Place?
    This, I think, is one of those thing you just have to let go. Clearly this machine is different. But not too different. The interface Peter used to shut the machine down was designed after Peter’s return. He and Walter built that thinking the machine could send him home. Can we please get a name for this thing?

    What Happened To History Rewriting Itself?
    You were definitely “thinking about it a
    little too much.” Just because Olive didn’t do everything with the cortexiphan, doesn’t mean that she didn’t have those experiences with Nick. Even though she wouldn’t know whether or not he had the same memories, the lack of contradiction from him seems to suggest those events happened the same.

    What About The Earthquakes?
    They’ve described these last three episodes as a “three-part” finale. Clearly, this is an ongoing thread.

    (Also: Be here same time tomorrow for more Fringe-ness.)
    Donchu tell me what to do.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    There is no such thing as “thinking about it a little too much” when it comes to real shows like Fringe. Perhaps you’re confusing it with American Idol..?

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    Then the entire season three finale (different future timeline) suddenly makes no sense. There’s no way you can spin it that follows logically with all episodes we’ve seen, alas.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    Perhaps, then, they can explain how Etta’s age means she would already have had to be born in the show’s “present”, despite the fact that she’s… not. Along with the other inconsistencies. Season five may revolve around the concept of the Observers running from a dying future Earth, but there’s no way it can be set literally in or around that exact timeline that we saw.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    Also, the actors do not write the show.

  • jrau18

    There is definitely a thing like “thinking about it a little too much” in shows like Fringe. The phrase means that you’re over-complicating it. He was.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    No, thinking about something and attributing over-complicated rationale/logic to the thing you’re thinking about are two very different things.

  • jrau18

    Doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the direction it’s taking.

  • jrau18

    She’s 25 in 2036. That means she’s born in 2011. This season could easily take place entirely in 2011, with her being born in like November/December.

  • Erik Mathews

    I feel like the show is going to feel a little rushed and sloppy now. First off, they had no idea if they were going to be renewed, so they had to pump out information as fast as they could. And next season only has 13 episodes to tell their story. So I wouldn’t blame the writers for the show getting a bit sloppy, I’d blame the writers’ time frame.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

     And Those We’ve Left Behind (Season 4 Episode 6) strongly implied that the time bubble in the Green house was more or less precisely four years behind, and the paper said October 29 2007 (http://tom.kera.name/andthoseweveleftbehind.png). This also meshes with the air date of 11th November 2011. IMO this is enough to believe that the default case is that the episodes air roughly at “real time”.

  • Erik Mathews

    Not a series finale. Fringe was officially picked up for a 13 episode final season on Thursday.

  • dusk

    Let me try guessing. They were in the room with the bridge. That area functions as sort of an overlap between both universe.

    Possibility A – It’s easiest to picture two circles placed side by side, but with the right side of the first overlapping the left side of the second so that there is a common area in the center. In this middle area, both circle 1 and circle 2 exists. Since people can walk around in that area, it’s not impossible for cellular networks to extend into that area too.

    Possibility B – Imagine 2 islands that are side by side but separated by the sea, and there’s a bridge connecting both. They were on the bridge, and so it’s possible that the cellular network extends slightly beyond the island’s range, onto the bridge, but falls short of the other island.

    Possibility C – What do I know? It’s probably because the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver and zapped their cellphones into universal phones. They can probably call each other across time and space normally, and with the bridge, even across universes.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    Etta has said that her parents disappeared when she was four years old.
    That disappearance was twenty-one years before the year 2036, meaning
    Etta is 25 years old.

    The rest is not so much impossible as implausible; the Observers are essentially omnipotent as far as time travelling goes, so it doesn’t make much sense for them to have all that impact on 2007-2012 only to then go and mess everything up twenty years later. The characterisation of the Observers changes so.

    http://www.buddytv.com/articles/fringe/fringe-review-the-many-ways-le-45155.aspx covers Etta’s age problem in some detail, and http://www.avclub.com/articles/letters-of-transit,72572/ is a good article on the wider subject.

    We’ve seen assumptions all over the place across the web that the
    episode is to be taken literally (aside from one brilliant review that I
    can’t find any more >.<) but I think viewers ought to have more
    of an open mind than that after all these years!

    And Jackson said that LOT opens a "door" for a S5 storyline, but nobody's stated that it's all set in 2036, that LOT is a "new direction" for the show, or that the events we saw in LOT are to be taken literally. Indeed, per the tradition of the Nineteeth, I'm more inclined to lean towards quite the opposite: an apocryphal message of … well, of all the themes the episode explored.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XNSG46XGRGJCS6V3ZLCZ7YXWEY Ian

    The show doesn’t connect THAT literally between the various timelines and dimensions.  Haven’t you paid attention that with different choices etc. different outcomes occur, but some things are simply fated?  There is no doubt ANOTHER version of future reality that we needn’t be concerned about where ANOTHER Walter sent a machine back, etc.

    That, and it’s just a tv show,  ;)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XNSG46XGRGJCS6V3ZLCZ7YXWEY Ian

    As opposed to sloppy I think we are to get very tight writing.  It’s been obvious across the seasons that Fringe has a number of “filler” eps that are separate mostly from the overarching storylines.  This last season will simply be free of “filler” clutter.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I5IZHHTFQGKBTPZTBN3Y5SGYJM Bud M

    I watched this episode when it actually aired for a change instead of picking it up on HULU. As a HUGE  fan of DC Comics, yeah, not that it’s mentioned, there are definitely parallels between the two stories! Looking forward to next week’s show which is part 1 of 2 in the season ending cliffhanger. 
     

  • Jack R

    In answer to your Olivia question, Shapeshifter/Jones henchwoman Faux Nina, has been dosing Olivia all season with cortexaphan, hence Olivia regaining her old timeline memories.  But your right, It’s never been explained how Walter turned the machine on in the first place if Peter hadn’t been there to activate it.

  • jrau18

    Lincoln was in the room that’s in both universes, on a land line. Problem solved.

  • Juan

    But 2036 could be just a possible future. Just like when Peter went to the future in season 3.

  • Juan

    The whole machine thing is a huge paradox anyway, you couldn’t really explain its existence properly.

  • Juan

    Or maybe Nick was from the original timeline/remembered the original timeline as well. And so did Jones. Or not.

  • Jake

    Olivia past is pretty much the same. The only difference is Olivia was adopted by Nina after Walter’s experiments.

  • wookie warm pocket

    Never mind the liquorice, I knew it was Walter last week because he quoted Star Wars, “These are not the droids you’re looking for”. In the other universe they don’t have Batman so it stands to reason that they don’t have the Holy Trinity either (Star Wars, The Empire and the Jedi Ghosts). Or do you think … just maybe … that George Lucas’ epic transcends universes … binds us … holds the universes together. I wonder when William Bell will make another appearance given his ‘handy’ spot last week. Spo…ck.

  • nailsin

    Who’s The Crisis On Infinite Earths Fan?
    It’s a little late to complain about this since the core plot of the show has been about a parallel earth.Where Are The Observers?
    Lying low while David Jones does exactly what they want him to do.The only reason Jones is alive is because Peter didn’t exist in order to cut him in half. I’m beginning to think that one of the reasons the Observers didn’t want Peter around was so Jones could live. So I think Jones will inadvertently create The Observers reality.
    How Did They Turn The Machine On In The First Place?
    That’s a very good question.

    What Happened To History Rewriting Itself?
    This is a very bad question. She did go through the trials she just never discovered her powers. In the original timeline she did recall the other children eventually. Remember they reunited in order to cross over to the other side in order to retrieve Peter.
    What About The Earthquakes?
    It’s an ongoing series so one should assume this’ll be dealt with later. I mean David Jones is still on the loose and so the threat is not over.

     

  • http://twitter.com/ValeKementari Valeria Kementari ♥

    I wonder why they didn’t get Nina involved? I’m pretty sure Massive Dynamics has a way to track the Cortexephan kids

  • aicdziu

    She definitely went through the trials in this timeline.   If you remember in the flashback episode where she was having some sort of something with her stepfather and talking to Peter made her decide to tell Walter what was happening and he stood up to the stepfather.  That didn’t happen in this timeline so without Peter to talk her off the ledge, she killed her stepfather, was raised by Nina, etc.  But everything before that happened to Olivia.  But everything that happened to Olivia before that still happened.  The “lazy writers” are keeping up with things just fine.  ;)

  • Evan

    So glad I wasn’t the only going watching the show going “Where’s the script credit to Marv Wolfman?”

    They really did just take the major plot points of the first five issues of Crisis and use them for this episode.

  • JustObserving

    If you look at the first few moments of the episode, when the woman in Australia is getting in place, you can see a suited man in a Fedora with a briefcase on the right side of the screen in the wide shot. He is walking towards the viewer with a strange gait. I had to watch this segment a few times, but I would swear it was an Observer.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/K4FUKIAORZYG4NVGFA6KYIQ7XU Art

    If you refer to Fringe as a “real” show, you’re really not thinking at all, are you? An “awesome” show… a “complicated” show… an “entertaining” show… an “intelligent” show… those all work. But “real” is not part of the equation at all.

    I’m just teasing. I know what you meant.I trust the writers have had an endgame in mind and that it will all make sense relative to itself. It’s a fun game to try to make sense of all of it. What I love is sometimes people have really great ideas about what’s going on. Sometimes, they might even be better than what’s actually happen(ed/ing). But we have not been given all of the pieces of the puzzle yet so we try to fill in the gaps.

    For instance, do we KNOW that Season 4 has been set in 2011 0r 2012, or is that an assumption being made based on our real calendar year?

    How much time has actually passed since the first episode of Season 1?

    In the 2036 timeline, Etta was 4 when her parents disappeared/died in 2015. She could have been born in 2010 and still be 4 in 2015. Or maybe her parents survived the purge for a few years before disappearing, which would make her birth year unknown.

    By design, only Peter could turn the machine on. The Activating it presumably erased the future we saw last season from possibility for the original timeline – however, Walter sent the machine from that future to our past. So that future must exist, but from a now alternate universe where the machine was never turned on.

    But the very fact that the machine was turned on in a universe where Peter died as a child is the kind of paradox that leads me to believe that Nick and Olivia’s cortexiphan-laced bodies have made them “immune” to the mass hypnosis created by the Observers. In the simplest of analogies, I think of it as a coat of paint applied over the original coat. The new paint has an origin of its own (another alternate where Peter actually died), but has been applied over an original coat of paint (in which September saved Peter and Peter turns on the machine). It has obscured the truth, but not erased it. The cortexiphan helps Olivia and Nick (and the other Jacksonville kids) see through it.

    Nick’s motivation is probably survival. He’s already dead in the original and this new coat of paint has given him a second chance, which is probably what RDJ explained to him. And RDJ himself was dead in the original, so he’s definitely about survival.

    It also explains how Peter survived. He was always there, just obscured by this “new paint”. Walter and Olivia’s subconsciously sensed him there and they would see him from time to time until their subconscious convinced their conscious mind that Peter is standing right there. Peter was walking around the whole time wondering why the hell nobody would acknowledge him.

    Good lord, I’m thinking about it too much!

  • Shanij

    Really? I so wish this wasn’t true. It always feels like “jump shark” time when they throw in the allegedly ‘younger better characters,’ in this case Olivia and Peter’s future daughter. If Season 5 takes place in 2036, where would that leave Olivia? I’m pretty sure Anna Torv is coming back so are we to only see her in the proverbially cheesy flashback sequence? Say it ain’t so. 

  • http://twitter.com/AfterThoth Arthur Shinigami

    2015 is the year the Observers began taking over, not necessarily the year they were ambered.

  • 0bsessions

    They didn’t give up, they failed. They had less than an hour at that point and even if they’d come up with something, there would be no time to implement it (As even their last resort option took about half an hour to implement).

  • 0bsessions

    Probably. If you look around the web, you’ll notice that they’ve slipped an Observer somewhere into every episode of the show.

  • 0bsessions

    Presumably it’s a matter of divergent reality ala Marvel Comics. In Fantastic Four, Reed Richards observed the theory that you could not literally change the past due to the paradox it would create. Hence, if one were to travel to the past, any changes made would simply cause an alternate reality to form. In this sense, it’s conceivable that the machine was sent back and exists independent of its own future (Kind of like some of the characters in X-Men who came from alternate futures like Bishop or Phoenix II).

  • 0bsessions

    Presumably lack of time to do so. By the time they figured out Cortexephan subjects were involved, they had something like eight to ten hours before Jones’ next attempt. Considering they knew the subjects were on the move based on Lane’s actions, they probably assumed that attempting to track them via MD’s resources would’ve been too time consuming.

  • 0bsessions

    This episode? Why are we acting like this is the first time it’s come up? Fringe has been using concepts from CoIE as far back as season 1 or 2.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

     That’s a good point.

  • Smrial94

    What do do you do mean by “outside the observor’s altered universes?” The the other universe was also affected.

  • http://kera.name/articles Tomalak Geret’kal

    Yes, that one is one of the one that the Observers altered. “Universes” is a plural.