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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “Brave New World (Part One)”

We’ve reached the first half of the finale to Fringe‘s fourth season, and everything is up for grabs – Including the fate of not one, but two different Earths! For the second last time this (television) year, here are five questions about Friday’s episode, “Brave New World (Part One).”

Are We Headed For Another Reboot?
Call me a cynic, but I can’t believe that Astrid’s apparent death at the end of this episode is going to stick. Either we’ll find out next week that it was a life-threatening-but-not-fatal shot, or something will happen to ensure that Astrid will end up alive, somehow. (Perhaps the alternate Astrid will cross Earths? While I’m at it, where was the alternate Earth this week? Seriously, no scenes “over there” at all…?) She’s too important a character for such a quick death — and, more importantly, a death scene that doesn’t involve Walter actually managing to call her Astrid for once.

(Also, I really like Astrid. I’ll be bummed if she’s actually dead.)

What Will David Robert Jones’ Death Mean?
If Jones really was the most important piece on the metaphorical board, as Bell was suggesting – and, ha. I knew there was something to the absence of Bell information all year #almostahumblebrag #doesntmakeupforthinkingLincolndiedwhenhedidnt — then what vacuum does his death open up, and how will it be filled? I find myself leaning towards the reading that Jones’ ego came up with his particular take on that prophecy and that Astrid is the most important player… but then again, her possible death did seem like an accident of sorts, or at least unplanned…

What Is William Bell’s Plan?
If Bell has been behind everything all along, I find myself unsure whether or not the whole “collapsing universes to build a better one” theory is entirely correct – or, at least, the complete story. That said, I can completely buy that Bell is behind the idea of creating a post-human race, because that ties very much into the whole idea of the Cortexephan subjects that have been part of the show’s mythology for years now. He’s been trying this for years, which raises the questions: “How Long?” and “Why?” Here’s hoping next week brings some kind of answers to those two.

Have We Been Told How Olivia Will Survive Death?
“Cortexephan is regenerative,” Walter tells Astrid, which seems like an odd throwaway line until you consider the possible implications: Can Walter dose Astrid with Cortexephan now and her gunshot wound will heal? Is Cortexephan how Bell survived the car crash that he’d planned to “die” in? And, far far more importantly: Will Olivia’s Cortexephan activation allow her to die and then return to life, allowing her to both fulfill the Observer’s observation (Sorry) that she has to die in order for everything to survive, while also allowing her to survive herself? I can’t believe that the Cortexephan line was there for no reason…

How Powerful Is Olivia?
And while we’re talking about Olivia: It looks like her Cortexephan-activated powers are far greater than they used to be in the old timeline: Using people like puppets? Shutting down nanotechnology? That’s a lot more impressive than “just” crossing between alternate universes. Clearly, there’s a lot going on with Olivia’s new power set, but the one question that no-one seems to have asked yet is… just how powerful is she, anyway? Is Olivia the avatar for the next generation of humanity than Bell is looking to create? And if so, what can she do with that…?


  • Sam

    I thought that Olivia already kind of die when she chose to be replaced by old Olivia. She had no powers yet and had to be replaced (or in other word: die) by our old (previous or peter’s) Olivia who can do whatever has to be done to save “everything”.
    She’s now a totally different person (than in the start of the season) and I would count it as metaphorical death.
    What do you think?

    (on a side note, I’m much more interested on the guy that was supposed to kill her in the future in the animated episode part of Fringe in season 3, I think)

  • Ibrahim Ng

    Once again, readers looking for the stupidest FRINGE article of the week only needs to click on anything by Graeme McMillan. “Where was the alternate Earth this week?” Sorry, did you miss last week’s episode where Fringe Division CLOSED THE BRIDGE and LOST ALL CONTACT with the Other Side? Of course not, that would imply you actually watch this show you write about, which clearly isn’t the case given the extensive backlog of errors that you repeat over and over again, like claiming altered-timeline Olivia was never a guinea pig for Cortexephan or saying Lincoln died on camera.

    Of all the fans out there who actually know the show and could write about it coherently, Spinoff Online somehow picks you for this weekly exercise in unintentional comedy you call a column. Clearly the result of an exhaustive search.

  • ataribaby

    This show gripped me for a couple of seasons, then completely lost me.

  • Willy

    Who new cortexephan had the ability to heal cake?

  • Thirty

    Closing the bridge to protect both earths was the ending of last weeks episode. There was a goodbye and, Agent Lee stayed in the amberverse. Walter pointed out THAT HE WOULD MISS THEM.

    Did the author just miss the entire close of last week’s episode?

  • itaintrite

    Yeah! Because closing the bridge means alternate Earth vanished from existence! Right??

    There’s nothing to imply that the threat to both universes was/is so one-sided. The Observers do move among the universes freely, so can Olivia. It’s never out-of-sight-out-of-mind. The author isn’t wrong to question the importance of the Red universe. But it simply wasn’t relevant in THIS episode.

  • Demoncat4

    have to admit astride supposibly getting killed and then knowing bell of all people was the mastermind of the whole thing was  a big surprise not to mention learning that oliva may still have to full fill her role. should make the  next part interesting.

  • sandwich eater

    Did anyone else think the redirected sunbeam that was going to light an underground oil reservoir on fire to destroy Boston was a really stupid plot point?  It seems like something from a James Bond movie.  I think it was also in Batman Beyond.

  • theConundrumm

    the cake is a lie…

  • WhyNot

    She is the same Olivia from the start of the season. I don’t know why people keep thinking she is different. Her memories were changed just like everyone else that came in contact with Peter, who was removed from the Observers. She always had the powers, just didn’t remember how to use them due to her mind being altered. September specifically told Peter that this was HIS Olivia. Not that it was an alternate one that would become his Olivia.

  • WhyNot

    No, the alternate Earth didn’t vanish from existence. It just can’t be accessed by anyone other than Olivia. It is still there.

  • dmaltman

    I still think my previous theory is correct, in that our main “villain” has been working to create this post-human army to fight the coming Observageddon (only now, instead of Jones leading the revolution, William Bell is). All the death and destruction he’s caused were necessary sacrifices made toward an ultimately noble goal: defending our universe from a threat that only science, not conventional weaponry, could defeat.

    Bell used Jones as his chief scientist/henchman to get the bulk of the prep work started. He can then sacrifice Jones, and upgrade with a GREATER scientific mind: Walter Bishop.  I would imagine that he’d offer up a nice, healing shot of Cortexephan for Astrid in exchange for Walter’s assistance.

    I think the Alternate universe story is done for the series. Bell (and Massive Dynamic) already got the advanced technology he needed for his plans and, with no post-human army of their own, they wouldn’t be much help to our side in the coming war.  If we see them again, maybe it’ll be to see how they’re dealing with their own Observer invasion.

    As for how powerful Olivia is? Powerful enough to defeat death and somehow save the universe, I’d guess.

  • Captain_Quantum

    I think the alternate astrid is going to cross over and possibly give her life to save the others. Through organ donation…or some crazy Walter magic, that’s what I think.

  • Captain_Quantum

    Ok if Graeme McMillan doesn’t actually watch fringe and just trolls up articles, then he’s done a lot of research, knows many intricate details…your rant has exposed yourself as the troll who is possibly angry for not being picked? If the writer did make some mistake (none that I’ve seen) settle down….we all love the show it’s not a competition. I like the article and the questions it raises.

  • Ibrahim Ng

    The absence of the other side this week was to reflect the loss of contact. The Blue U. no longer gets to check in with the Red U., so being on the Blue U.’s side this week, neither do we.