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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “Brave New World (Part 2)”

As much as I may want to, the traditional five questions from last night’s episode of Fringe, the season-finale “Brave New World (Part 2)” won’t just be “WHAT?” repeated five times. But: William Bell! Betrayals! Revelations! And so much more! Click through for the real five questions.

I’ll say it: I was doubtful that “Brave New World (Part 2)” would manage to offer up a convincing end to this season because there was too much to deal with in an hour, but that was a pretty great finale, all told. Sure, not every question was answered, and some thing just didn’t really make sense (Bell’s plan was pretty screwy, let’s face it), but by the end, I felt a great sense of closure and satisfaction. Good job, everyone involved. That said, I do have some questions…

Where Did Bell Go?
A great example of a question that the creators really wanted us to ask. When Bell rang his magic bell – Seriously, how lucky is he that his name wasn’t William Shits-On-The-Table, considering how literal he seems to be about his name at times? – and disappeared, was he slipping between worlds? Teleporting somewhere else? Or did this William Bell have the back-up plan of escaping into Olivia’s head as well, and if so, will we get to see Anna Torv’s spectacular Leonard Nimoy impression again?

Will Olivia and Peter’s Child Have Cortexephan Powers?
The news that Olivia is pregnant (Presumably, with Etta from “Letters of Transit”) was one of those things that was simultaneously a surprise and something that makes perfect sense. The question now is, given that she was conceived while Olivia was so activated that she was ridiculously superhuman (Seriously, catching bullets and then throwing them back at Jessica with such force? Holy Superman, everyone), should we assume that Baby Bishop is going to be a natural Cortexephan baby…?

(Also: With Peter being an Earth-2 human and Olivia being from Earth-1, will Etta be the first child born of two worlds? That, too, feels like it may offer some unexpected rewards.)

Will The Bridge Be Reactivated?
Maybe it’s just because I like Fauxlivia more than the real thing and want to see Lincoln again, but… Now that the danger of Bell’s plan is finished, will the two Fringe divisions try to activate the Bridge again? And if not, why not? Wasn’t it decided by both sides that the Bridge was a good thing not just in terms of co-operation but in terms of it healing Earth-2? The lack of characters from the other side was the one thing truly lacking from this episode for me; I get that there wasn’t any time to use them or see them, but after a season where the “other side” became so important (and so humanized), to see them entirely missing from the big finale genuinely felt like a failure.

What About The Next Breed of Humans?
Here’s something that I just didn’t understand entirely, if it’s not the writers changing their mind mid-stream. Bell told everyone that he wanted his new universe to be devoid of human life, but then Olivia and Peter showed up, right? But, if that’s the case, then why was he creating mutant humans in earlier episodes, and what was with all the talk about the next evolution of humanity? Were they back-up batteries in case Olivia didn’t work out, were they just cannon fodder to distract the two Fringe teams while Bell’s real plan got underway and they’d been told lies about their creation to get them on side? Or was this really, genuinely, just a case where the writers kinda sorta forgot about all of that because they had a better idea?

Are The Two Worlds Merging In Ways No-One Expected?
So, as a result of saving existence (again), the Fringe division of Earth-1 becomes more like the Fringe division of Earth-2, which was… interesting. Especially interesting, if you consider that all of the natural disasters visited on Earth-1 as part of Bell’s plan must have left their mark, which means that it’s possible that Earth-1 will now resemble Earth-2 in a lot of ways… There was mention of the two universes colliding a lot over the past few weeks, but this collision – That the two universes would begin to resemble each other in such obvious ways – was left in the background and unobserved for the most part. Nice, subtle work.

And now, they’re coming. The Observers, I presume, based upon “Letters of Transit”‘s flash-forward. With thirteen episodes left before the show finishes, Fringe has its work cut out to bring everything together. To be honest, I can’t wait to see how it tries to do that, and whether it succeeds.


  • Ian

    Funny how for the first time in tv history the “real” season finale was shown three weeks earier in ‘Letters Of Transit’.  I’m glad I’ve kept episode 19 in my DVR to rewatch until the final 5 season premiere.  Ep. 21 definitely had a rushed end of series vibe to it, which in fact was going on until the reprieve for an abbreviated season next year.

    There is no reason to bring back the alt-characters, their story is complete.  They weren’t central cast characters, the final season will be about the year 2036 and the events that led up to the start of episode 19 between 2012 and 2015.

    The next breed weren’t forgotten about, they were all in those various crates on the boat.  They are now unnecessary as Bell’s plot was stopped and they are pretty much stored much like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    I actually really liked the joke about Bell’s last name here in the review article, quite witty :)

  • BooRadley

    Those questions all have fairly obvious answers.

    “Where Did Bell Go?”

    When Bell rings the bell, he returns to his own universe (the alt universe). That concept, and specifically the bell, was introduced season’s ago.

    “Will Olivia and Peter’s Child Have Cortexephan Powers?”

    No, because the cortexephan has been eradicated from Olivia’s body, so it follows that it would be removed from the baby she’s carrying too. I like the point about Etta being a child of two worlds, though.

    “Will The Bridge Be Reactivated?”

    No, because it could kill Peter. Also, as a plot device it’s probably exhausted itself, even though it was awesome and sad to say goodbye.

    “What About The Next Breed of Humans?”

    Yeah, that was weird. I guess because he needed Olivia to unite the universes, he hastily changed his plan to include Peter and Olivia, or he assumed that it was destiny that they both showed up. 

    “Are The Two Worlds Merging In Ways No-One Expected?”

    No. The fact that the Fringe team on this side now has better funding may mean they resemble the alt-Fringe team, but that’s just a coincidence. The concept of the two worlds “colliding” is shelved because Olivia prevented it from happening.

  • Dmcintosh0717

    I disagree with the baby not having Cortexiphan powers. As seen in “Letters of Transit”, Etta is able to shield her mind from the Observers. She has a power not anticipated by the Observers although they did not consider her as a threat at that point.

  • Bedlam66

     “Will Olivia and Peter’s Child Have Cortexephan Powers?”

    No, because the cortexephan has been eradicated from Olivia’s body,
    so it follows that it would be removed from the baby she’s carrying too.
    I like the point about Etta being a child of two worlds, though.

    That’s no true. When Pregnant the child’s system is totally independent of the mothers. They receive nutrition, Vitamins and even drugs that the mother takes in but it doesn’t go both ways. If the Cortexephan made it’s way into the baby’s system it wouldn’t necessarily be purged when she healed herself.

  • Lory Gibbs

    I’ve never been so excited about this show!  

    As for the unanswered questions… there weren’t as many as there often is at the end of a complex show.  

  • jrau18

    Where Did Bell Go?
    Over There. And in the middle of the ocean. Hope he had a life preserver on. (also, he probably uses the bell BECAUSE of his name, not the other way around)

    Will Olivia and Peter’s Child Have Cortexephan Powers?
    We’ve already seen that she’s special. She can resist the Observer’s probes.

    Will The Bridge Be Reactivated?
    This was supposed to be the end to the alt-universe storyline, so I doubt it.

    What About The Next Breed of Humans?Bell was using them to make something other than human. They weren’t humans after the change.

    Are The Two Worlds Merging In Ways No-One Expected?
    It’s just natural progression for Fringe Division to develop the way it is. They just got to this point faster Over There because of the severity of the problems. Also, don’t call them Earth-1, Earth-2. They’ve clearly told us that the terms are Over Here and Over There (at best, they were Blue and Red, but now they’re all Amber).

  • Perra Dox

    If Walter somehow had managed to sabotage Doctor B’s teleporter/thingamajig he could have made the joke: Will Jam Bell…

  • Jacob Stebel

    Is anyone else dissatisfied by this “new timeline” having retconned away 3 seasons worth of plot development aside from Peter and Olivia’s memories? Why would Peter’s non-existence have radically changed William Bell’s personality so much? There’s a lot left unanswered with that and it feels like the writers wrote their way out of the paper bag of Peter’s S3 “sacrifice” by making it a carte blanche to do whatever they’d like.

  • Ian

    No that’s not true, the series has shown that people can take many turns in their lives that can make them different people.

    1. Fauxlivia from Red Earth was a murderous and duplicitous b**** due to the severe apocalyptic background of her world.  Then in Red/Amber Earth of the new timeline she becomes friendly and a trustworthy person.
    2. Our Olivia in the Blue/Amber Earth was detached from people due to not having a relationship with Peter (remember she first met him as a child), but after remembering him became a better & warmer version of herself.

    1. Walternate from Red Earth was also a muderous and duplicitous b******, as was his future self from one future timeline.  Yet Red/Amber Earth Walternate had accepted his son’s death and is still married to his wife, and is a concerned and good person.

    I could go on and on with each character but you get the idea.  The WIlliam Bell prior to the new Amber timeline may have been a better person, but in THIS reality he’s a villian.  Different realities and timelines mean different interpretations of characters.

  • Pcatt

    Re:  Will Etta be a Cortexephan baby?  If you remember, in Letters of Transit, the Observers were not able to detect Etta’s thoughts.  One of the other characters says something about them not being able to read her mind like they could the other humans. Sounds like some sort of “special power” to me. 

  • Wee

    what i don’t like is that in letters of transit Olivia was dead they were only in ambar peter, astrid, walter and Bell. Walter cut Bell´s hand. Bell did something to Olivia. I think the end of the show is gonna be really sad.

  • JoshLondon

    “We need to tell the others.”

    He’s not just talking about Peter and Olivia.

    He’s talking about our friends Over There as well.  We have never seen the Observers Over There and there must be a reason that they’ve never popped over for a visit.

  • Thirty

     There are a few things about Etta. Peter and Amber Olivia’s child had parents from the same universe(amber).

    Etta has one parent from each universe. September pointed out that Peter’s child had the wrong mother. I’d be shocked if those elements didn’t add up to something.

    There is also the time between when she last saw her parents and when we are introduced to her. There’s no telling what happened during that time.

  • Amirul

    MOST IMPORTANTLY. Sydney became pregnant towards the series finale of Alias. And now Olivia’s pregnant as Fringe is approaching the final season. Coincidental parallel, anyone? I think not! It wouldn’t be a complete J. J. Abrams production without a pregnancy plot. Hahaha. Don’t mind me, I just found that little bit of trivia interesting, is all.

  • Amirul

    I do agree with you, Jacob. As I was watching the last few episodes, especially Worlds Apart, a part of me was desperately hoping that by activating the machine, everything would somehow revert back to the previous timeline (and yes, I am aware that September already said that the “new” timeline has been the “old” timeline all along.) But still. I feel a sense of… I don’t know. Like with the retcon (of sorts), there’s a lot of questions unanswered. How many of the events in previous seasons actually occured, and if they did, to what extent were they different, who’s alive and who’s dead?

    And most importantly, I feel that there’s a loss of relationship significance between Peter and the other characters, as in, three seasons worth of emotional development between the characters are all gone. And all that shared experiences and interactions that Peter had with the other characters, only Peter remembers all of that. Also, I get that Olivia has regained memories of her version in the old timeline but I feel like she’s not really the old timeline Olivia, rather the new timeline Olivia with old timeline Olivia’s memories and personality. I love the show, but I can’t help but feel that the sense of family which developed among the central characters over the first three seasons being wiped out entirely, with only Olivia and Peter’s love remaining.

    That’s my main itch with the show. Love it, but I’ll always be hoping for the pre-retcon timeline to return. I just find the retcon a bit unsettling.

  • Thirty

    There is also no whether. When it comes to Fringe, the very idea is pretty foolish. They have yet to fail at anything.

  • Gar_fun_cal

    If bell returned to the alternitive universe would he not be shark food considering they were so far out at sea

  • comicfan

    did anyone ever think that the observers we have been seeing throughout the show exist in a timeline AFTER the other observers arrive and are repelled? being that observers can exist outside of time and do things out of order. Its possible that the events that lead to the small team of observers trying to understand existence came about because of the events of this invasion, which in turn lead to september saving Peter, which in turn lead to the whole show! creating a stable time loop.

  • guest

    let us not forget that Olivia has the medical issue resulting in her death during cchildbirth that no one know about yet…

  • 0bsessions

    “No, because the cortexephan has been eradicated from Olivia’s body”
    Untrue. Walter himself said that it’s been mostly eradicated from Olivia and while the odds are slim, it COULD eventually resurface in her system due to the nature of the drug.

    Considering Etta’s confirmed capabilities in the future timeline, it’s pretty much a given that some of it remains.

  • 0bsessions

    We don’t know that Olivia is dead. It’s heavily implied, but in no way confirmed. I’m banking on red herring.

  • Cforshaw67220

    “Where Did Bell Go?”

    Red Universe WTC, probably.

    “Will Olivia and Peter’s Child Have Cortexephan Powers?”

    She does have powers. The cause is unexplained, but Walter did say her DNA had been altered, so it is likely Etta will be altered, too.

    “Will The Bridge Be Reactivated?”

    Um… to give The Observers another universe to conquer? More than likely Walter may recruit some Cortexephan kids, or use Bell’s hand as a means of crossing over.

    “What About The Next Breed of Humans?”

    Filed next to the Arc of the Covenant. Also, they aren’t the next breed of humans – likely the Cortexephan kids are, and they eventually lead to the Observers… if the Observers haven’t screwed that up in some way by travelling into their own past and creating a massive paradox (otherwise, September should surely have always known this was going to happen, unless they lied).

    “Are The Two Worlds Merging In Ways No-One Expected?”

    No. However, what are the odds that Olivia didn’t die, and crossed over to the other side, where they could freeze her in amber until a later date… perhaps it was even her that Bell was reaching for in ‘Letters of Transit’ – she jumps between realities, as they all were meant to, but Walter stopped Bell following her.

    Plus, imagine how kick ass it would be if Walter’s plan is to jump to the other side, and bring back Olivia, frozen in amber… and maybe a team hand picked to save the world: Lincoln, Fauxlivia, and Walternate! It is very, very likely we’ll be seeing Walternate again.

    Now, I have a question for all of you: “Who shot Rick in ‘Letters of Transit’, and could it be Mr. X?”

  • Rmansperger

    My big question from the episode was “so they can bring characters back from the dead in many different ways yet nobody knows how to heal Peter’s arm?”

  • YOLA

    Sydney was only pregnant in the final season of Alias because Jennifer Garner was pregnant in real life.


    @BooRadley If I’m not mistaken, didn’t William Bell die in a car crash years before in the alt universe? I believe that was revealed in Season Four. Or, are we supposed to believe that never happened in the new timeline? But Peter’s existence shouldn’t have affected that Bell’s living or dying, right? 

    And I think @Ian was raising the point that the Cortexiphan was still highly evident in Olivia’s body when she conceived. That means that the child should have some of it in its DNA — despite it having been removed from Olivia now.

  • Camper_joe

     or that simply being a child of 2 universes has granted this ability. Which makes sense as she would perhaps resonate at an entirely different “note” from both peter and olivia

  • jrau18

    You assume the ark would be inside of Spacetime. That’s not necessarily true.

  • Ian

    NICE theory!  :) Now THAT theory is how a good story teller does time travel, just like the Dr. Who episode where the Doctor quick-jumps back and forth between ancient Stonehenge and an alternate reality present.

  • Yanks5179

     Same way Barbara Gordon was in a wheelchair for years even though Batman healed from a broken back and every third hero and villain killed pops up alive in like a month..?  :-)

  • 0bsessions

    Olivia was pretty much the hero and the focus of the first two and a half seasons and her story’s been told pretty extensively. It’s not at all out of the ordinary for a show with an ensemble cast to explore other characters after a while. She was never billed as the star or headlining character, so I fail to see a problem with her potentially taking a back seat to other characters. Frankly, I always found Olivia to be the least interesting character on the show until it stopped focusiing so much on her.

  • Andrew Solomon

    There was a great part right near the end that kind of reminded me of a closing moment from Star Wars … Full of pride and happiness, Peter and Olivia smiled and gazed at each other while a gentle classical tune played. The camera shifted to the proud onlookers, Astrid and Walter. Walter then put his arm around Astrid. I loved it. Perhaps it was unconciously inspired by Star Wars or perhaps I am unconsiously interpretting it as such. Either way, I’ll take it.

  • Nahuel Arrua

    The bell was a device to bring the conscience of someone dead to a “recipient” (soul magnets, from season 3), it’s not a device to cross universes. Furthermore, the William Bell seen in the episode is not from the alt universe, since he died when he was young. The William Bell you see in this episode is the one who died helping cross over Olivia (Bolivia), Peter and Walter in the finale of season 2. Since the timeline was rewritten when Peter disappeared, I think is pretty safe to assume he didn’t die, and that’s the reason why I’m having problems understanding why he disappeared when he struck the bell.