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Fringe Season 5: 5 Questions About “The Bullet That Saved The World”

After three episodes, this week’s Fringe finally brought Agent Broyles back to the show – but somehow, even that return wasn’t the most important thing about “The Bullet That Saved The World.” You bet we have five questions about the episode that may have changed everything.

What is Fringe Division?
With the revelation that Broyles is a double agent – and literally “one of us” after all – coming on the heels of the earlier reveal that the Observers had found another double agent, and on top of our knowing that both Etta and Simon were also double agents, which leads me to wonder: Is Fringe Division now entirely made up of human sympathizers? Just as Etta eventually brought Broyles into the resistance, does that mean that Broyles is now essentially formalizing the resistance right under the Observers’ noses?

Who Is The Dove?
“The Dove” has come up in interrogations three times, according to Broyles’ conversation with the Observer in the episode… so what, or who, is the Dove? The obvious answer would be either Etta or Broyles himself, but that may be far too straightforward for this show. Any unexpected guesses out there?

Is Etta Actually Dead?
Based on the shot alone, I didn’t believe that Etta was actually going to die. After all, not only did we see the conversation about the bullet that they took out of Olivia’s head when she was “killed” in the season finale last year, but the episode was named after that bullet; I didn’t imagine that we could get a more obvious hint that, hey, maybe Etta can naturally heal without Cortexephan injections considering that she is Olivia’s daughter… And then, they apparently blew her up. Except, of course, we’ve also seen Etta’s dad come back from seeming non-existence, and we didn’t actually see what happened to Etta explicitly; it all happened at a distance. So is Etta really gone? Somehow, I remain entirely unconvinced, especially because we still don’t know the answer to the first question this season asked us:

What Happened to Etta When She Went Missing?
This is clearly an important question; we’ve seen flashbacks from both Peter and Olivia’s points of view, and then Etta flashed back to it herself when the Observer was trying to read her mind… and yet, we’re no closer to actually finding an answer. Somehow, I can’t quite buy that Etta is really gone from the show just yet, based on this alone. Some shoes still need to drop.

Is This What They Mean When They Say That Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures…?
So, the core characters are terrorists now. I mean, sure; they’re freedom fighters and fighting against a harsh regime, etc. etc. But, seriously; when they started using the gas to melt the Loyalists’ faces so that they couldn’t breathe, I found myself thinking that some line somewhere had been crossed, somehow. I think that’s intentional; we’ve seen Olivia be outraged by Etta torturing a Loyalist, but now just weeks later, she has no problem with murdering them. The tease for next week’s episode, in which Peter “goes too far” as a result of grief, feels like it’s a further extension of this idea of the characters doing things that they wouldn’t necessarily approve of in “better” times, because they’re without their traditional certainty and security. Quite where this’ll end up, I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting emerging theme, watching our heroes slowly adopt the methods (and weapons) of the bad guys as the season continues…


  • Vergible Woods

    I highly enjoyed The Captain muttering about Fringe Division’s “barbaric” use of the nerve toxins shortly before he mind-rapes and murders Etta in cold blood in order to set a trap for her loving parents/grandparent.  Before alls said and done the bad guys and the good guys will both have severely bloodstained hands.

  • dave

    this is leading to the series finale where they will rest the time so that etta and her parents get happy ending

  • Mark_whittington0607

    Here’s an interesting question you haven’t brought up yet, why did the Observers invade when they did?

    As a species we know they have the ability to “surf” time as easily as we would surf the Internet so they could have taken over any time period. So why invade in 2015 a technologically advancing human race who have already defended the planet against several large scale fringe events, instead of say ancient Egyptians or Christians in Middle age Europe who would have seen them as gods and had a slim to nil chance of mounting a resistance, even early 1900s pre silicon age humans would have been a better bet.

    I have a theory that it must have something to do with the alternate universe, that they needed the damage done between 1985 – 2012 to enable a full scale invasion, and that the plan will be linked to that.

    Imagine if it was the ultimate irony that after spending so long fixing the damage to the alternative universe Walter had to end up destroying it to stop the Observers (this would also fit in with the point above about the lengths the team are willing to go to). This would also mean Peter would cease to exist and Olivia would still be the same cold fish she was before meeting him.

    Imagine the ending, Walter destroys the alternative universe, which erases the entire shows history, we then cut to Walter still in the mental hospital in 2013 looking at a picture of his dead family, we then cut to 2015 where the scene of Peter and Olivia playing with Etta recreated with a random family sans Observer invasion, cementing the tragedy that the Fringe team are the ultimate heroes who gave up everything to save the planet but no one will ever know. It’s not the happy ending some will want but for me it would make for a brave and powerful piece of TV that would keep people talking for years.

  • Mairon

    Let’s remember that in the first episode of the season, we had already a “Occupational hazard” from Etta followed by a “That’s my girl” from Peter.
    It’s sad they didn’t showed some kind of moral interrogation from our heroes, because it is indeed a bit strange to see the difference of treatment between the loyalist in 5×02 and the loyalists in the last episode… I think it’s linked to the fact it’s harder not to wonder about these questions when you face one singular person, than when you know you’ve to retrieve an uber-important piece of plan from a place guarded by many loyalists. I think the question will be explored in the next episode. The scenarists here wanted above all to use again a fringe process dating from season 1.
    The “barbaric” from Windmark was so ironic. Kopsa is really a great addition to the show, and manages to make the perfect antagonist. The other Observer, in the interrogation scenes, was great too.
    The Dove : it seemed to me that the Dove was Broyles himself and I don’t think they would complexify that bit, given his reaction. Hum, I don’t see how it could be Etta : the Observers already knew she had become an ennemy.
    Fringe Division : I don’t think so, it would be impossible to manage and risky. Having 5-6 double agents or supporters is already enough and a feat.
    Etta : I think that she is dead ; what’s more, the antimatter bomb has put her out of existence, which means that she is really really “gone” as Walter said – except . But this is Fringe, of course, and there are several ways to bring her back in a form or another, without forgetting it could ruin retrospectively the impact of this episode… When reading some comments, I’ve seen that some forget easily that there *cannot be* an Etta in the other side, at least not in the Other Universe we know from last season, it’s impossible.
    There is indeed some mystery in what happened during the scene in the park, when the Observers came… Did they conceive a plot point about that ? Maybe, given the nature of the flashbacks. But what would that be ?

    I’m more concerned about the mystery concerning September and his team of scientists. Where is he, where are they, what is their link with the Invaders ? Did they prepare knowingly or unwittingly their arrival by collecting data ? Are they from a near but distinct possible future for humanity than the Invaders ? Are they more advanced than the Invaders ? It seems so in some ways : except when they arrived, the Invaders don’t seem able to navigate through time again (which is convenient, because they would be invincible if they could) ; it seems that they don’t all have the same degree of ability. For example, Windmark and the interrogator from here are clearly more able to read thoughts than the observer at the beginning of 5×04. Windmark is also able to teleport himself in a second or less, while unprepared. The first observer that teleports during the meeting with Broyles seems unable to act immediately against the Bishops, while others are faster, but not very efficient. It would be good if the show were a bit more explicit about this matter, because some reviewers get the feeling the Invaders are omnipotent in one episode or one scene, and idiotic in the other. But there are so many things we don’t know. Although the society is clearly dystopian, there is still a kind of “normal” occupation life going on for the citizens we can see in the episode, but I don’t remember if they explain if and/or why the Observers need humans…

  • Xaos

     Yup, hence us seeing Walter on the tape earlier in the episode leading off with “All phenomena are reversible”

  • jrau18

    Yes, Etta died. She was blown up by an anti-matter bomb. The very material that made her was blown up. It’s not like with Peter where he was dislodged from time.

  • Inobe

    Where was Astrid?

  • Demoncat4

    the dove could be none other then maybe nina since she has not been seen since the whole season began or maybe walter himself and he does not know it . etta doubtful she is dead she might have gone into hiding . to throw the oberservers off her trail and help peter and crew move on with the mission 

  • Mairon

    I’ve thought of something like it too. It would be the ultimate fringian ending, I suppose, the culmination of all the daring moves in the series, but it seems all too daring, I guess, and not fan-friendly (and even though I like the idea, it’s rather in a fanfiction way). Conceptually, it’s the ultimate heroic sacrifice : the characters would lose nearly everything (in what regards Walter, Peter and Olivia at least) in order to rebuild a timeline or something like it where the invaders would not be able to go back…
    In what regards the necessity to invade when they did, I suppose they needed this particular technological stage – not too advanced, but advanced nonetheless, with humans doing much of the work for them (I don’t understand the necessity to keep humans alive, else). I suppose this will be answered or alluded to, as with the fate of the team of scientists. A few mysteries to resolve !

  • KatherineMW

    I don’t see a contradiction between Olivia being horrified by Etta’s torture of a loyalist and her willingness to kill in this episode.  They are, effectively, at war with the observers.  Fighters kill their enemies in war.  Torture is something different, something deliberately sadistic; that’s why we have an international convention against it even while we accept that wars will occur.

  • KatherineMW

    If they murdered billions in the alternate universe to save their own, they wouldn’t be heroes.  Heck, that’s to a large extent what the third season was about – that they couldn’t decide to destroy the alternate universe, that the lives of the people over there weren’t any less valuable than the lives of the people in “our” universe.

  • Anna

    Olivia in the pilot was a happy , emotional woman, angry, smiling etc, warm.
    And her biggest assett is being emotional for her victims , her empathy.

    So before she met the Bishops boys again she was better off, I cannot say that Peter made her happy, not until the end of season 4.

    I predict that Olivia is the Dove , give her some of her importance back, and there are some clues to that:
    see the memory park scene, see 2033 on the posters on the wall, see her exact date of last having seen Etta, the loyalist seeing hope in Olivias eyes.
    Broyles knows that Olivia is the Dove, also explains why she calls him Philip (she must have asked him to join in 2016)(beautiful acting from Anna and Lance , the Olivia/Broyles reunion)
    I think Olivia has not spent all her time in amber, and I think that Olivia still has some ways of mindtravel to have contact with Nina (like Bell had).

    only Bell and Olivia could travel Over There by themselves, so I am back to thinking that Bell is Olivias father,

    I also think that Olivia will die at the end. 

  • Anna

    Nina works in headoffice Observerland, and cannot hide her thoughts like Etta could, she would be revealed like that.

    I am all for Olivia  being the Dove, she is being set up like that, she has been called the chosen One  by Bell,

    Walter has destroyed the Universes, is a egocentric bastard, he does not deserve such role,

    Nina is the link with Olivia, and who says Olivia was in amber all that time.She could have started the day Etta was gone

  • jrau18

    Back at Harvard.

  • KA

    Great idea. And just to keep too many people from going nuts about that, maybe something about the reset would keep September from messing up Alternate Peter’s fate in the first place, so that we could also see Peter and Walternate and maybe even Fauxlivia leading happy lives in the other universe.

  • Metatronic

    I believe September is “The Dove” hence the Peter must die to retain balance. Everything is leading up to September rising against his people and putting in to place events that will enable the reset to occur.

  • alistaircrane

    Anyone else notice Lance Reddick is no longer a series regular? He was credited with “Special Appearance by”. The same is probably true for Blair Brown. Poor Nina—she was never fully developed as a character, and I doubt they can do anything interesting with her in the remaining 9 episodes.

  • Mairon

    Hum, Olivia being the Dove is illogical and yes, she was in the amber for all that time. The Dove can only be a character like Broyles, Nina, or another member of the Resistance (less likely).