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Fringe Season 5: 5 Questions About “The Boy Must Live”

It’s the penultimate episode of Fox’s Fringe, and now that we now the identity of Donald, perhaps it’s time that even more revelations started to flow about the various mysteries of this season, no? Then again, maybe it’s just time to raise more questions… Here are five from “The Boy Must Live”!

What Are The Observers Up To?
The comment from the Observers’ commander – And I found myself liking the revelation that the man in charge of the invasion is, of course, nowhere near the front lines, but instead safely back in home territory, I must admit – that the Fringe team wasn’t worth rearranging the timeline for interesting. Not because it highlights Windmark’s current state (About which, more in a second), but because it highlights the strange rules of the Observers. Aren’t they already rewriting the timeline by invading? Or is this all part of their plan… and have the actions of the resistance been part of that plan too, in that case? Is the plan “merely” to transform the Earth into a hospitable escape route from a destroyed future, or something else?

Are All Observers Destined To Have Emotions?
Windmark is, of course, going through an emotional awakening of his own, born of his obsession with the Fringe team; as if that wasn’t clear from the scene with the commander, we then had his pause while listening to jazz, and his later calling Michael “the boy” instead of “the anomaly.” Similarly, the Observer accompanying Windmark to September/Donald’s apartment recognized something in the jazz as well, tapping his foot to the music (admittedly, almost entirely out of time, but hey; he’s new at it). Should we take these hints to mean that the Observers haven’t actually rid themselves of emotion, but just hidden it deeply – And if that’s the case, will their new emotional reality be their downfall?

Why Wasn’t The Plan Carried Out Earlier?
I’m somewhat confused, now that we know the plan, as to why Michael wasn’t sent into the future earlier. If September/Donald and Walter were able to hide the boy in a pocket dimension, why couldn’t they simply have sent him ahead in time then, especially as it appears that they had the tech all along? Was it because Walter wasn’t ready to die yet? Why would that matter if, when the plan works, the timeline is rewritten to ensure that the invasion doesn’t happen and therefore Walter won’t be dead…? (Of course, then we get into the whole “If the plan undoes the invasion, then it’ll mean that no-one will come up with the plan, so the invasion will happen” loop.)

Will Walter Die?
Next week is the final episode, and this season has brought a high number of casualties… If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be placing money on Walter Bishop’s long-term survival. Especially if his sacrifice will being Etta back to Olivia and Peter.

Never Mind the Observers, What is Michael Up To?
Amusingly, just before the monorail scene at the end of the episode, I found myself thinking that no-one had actually checked with Michael about whether or not he was down with this grand scheme that would send him through time. Turns out, the writers were apparently thinking along similar lines, as he abandoned the Fringe team and turned himself in to the Observers. There’s obviously some ulterior motive going on here, but what? Allowing the Fringe team to escape? Demonstrating his value to the Observers so that they send him forward in time? Could it be as simple as Michael changing sides altogether…?

Next week: The final episode, where all will be revealed. Or, perhaps, some will be revealed, and the rest will be politely ignored, judging by how this season has gone so far.


  • Kelly

    Did anyone notice the expression Michael’s face when he met Windmark? I think the little observer had a smirk on his face.  Me think this kid has a NEW plan up his sleeve.

  • Ian

    Q3: It’s been stated by both Walter and Olivia when they were de-ambered that the Observers were too hot on their trails in 2015, they did not have time to do anything other than desperately run.

    Q5: Michael as has already been stated is WAY smarter than everyone else on the show.  He’s simply probably 50 steps ahead and knew to sacrifice himself into Observer custody would simply allow the Fringe team to have the time needed to get the plan to success.

  • Leo

    On Q1; my impression was the Chief Observer didn’t want the time line changed to get rid of the Fringe team because the Observers had a 99999.9 (with more or less 9s) chance of success in their plan succeeding.  If they changed the past again he was afraid it would worsen those odds.

  • Allan

    Is there any chance some plot points will be left unanswered thus giving the show more story to tell? 

    Is there any rumor or is there a chance of the show being picked up by a cable network and continuing?

  • Erik Galston

    the producers and actors have all said this season is the “swan song” and this is how they wanted to go out.. so i highly doubt they would be picked up.  They knew when they got picked up for the fifth season this was it, and they’d have 13 episodes to wrap up the show.  This is how the creators want the show to end.  

  • La Dodd

    I am loving this show. My wife bought me the first 4 seasons on DVD and we are having a great time picking up stuff that has been showing up in this last season.

    More people should be watching it!

  • Packy McCracken

    The interesting thing about “the plan” is that Peter will no longer exist… again. No Observers, no save at Lake Reiden. That would go for Walter too, unless Observer interference goes back further than that, which we know it does. There are a number of “undos” that will completely alter the timelines we’ve been watching. I’m very interested to see what the end result is going to be. I’m going to miss this show a lot, but I’m excited that they were given the chance to wrap things up with some forethought.

  • Packy McCracken

    As long as the show isn’t some acid trip Walter is on in 1974.

  • Tenormadness365

    Yeah, I was wanting to yell at the screen that if Walter went along with this plan, his son would die.  Nobody would have listened. :(

  • DominicanRev

    “The Plan” is supposed to stop the invasion that showing that you don’t have to sacrifice humanity/emotions for intelligence.  Since the boy is an example of both, it will show the scientists who created the observer technology that both can coexist.  Therefore showing the observers that invading the past and killing 95% of the population is not the answer.  It doesn’t nullify the existence of the observers at all.  The events of season 1-4 still would exist in the same way.

  • Packy McCracken

    That wasn’t the plan. The plan was to send Michael to a point in the future that predated the Observers, but was the “event” that ultimately lead to Observer tech. When they found a way to negate jealousy (a Norwegian scientist). He was supposed to demonstrate to them the value of emotion with super-intelligence and Walter and September believed this would prevent the emotional suppression tech from ever being developed.

    Sure, it’s still probable that they would pursue the high intelligence, but without the removal of emotional response. You end up with super-intelligent humans, not Observers.

  • Lewis Macdonald

    I think when Walter is told he has to “Sacrifice himself” it means the current mental state he’s holding on to. Without the observers, September would have never saved Walter and Peter from the lake, Peter would have drowned (Maybe Walter also but I have the feeling he would have survived much longer than peter). Without Peter, Walter would never become fragile, and would probably harden as the result of his sons death. (Much like Walternate) So I reckon that this “sacrifice” will be the end of Peter and the better half of Walter. I’m unsure about the rest of this theory though as time would still be splintered, the Other world would still wage war, but there would be no Peter to control the machine.

  • Matthew Krevat

    If the plan works as planned . . . there are no observers in the future. So, no September.  So, he never distracts Walternate from creating a cure for Peter.  So Walter never goes through the portal to try to save him and none of this ever happens.  If he’s lucky, adult Peter meets Fauxlivia and lives happily ever after (though he’ll be a completely different person with different experiences).

  • batGRRRl4ever

    One thing to remember is that if the Observer timeline gets negated then Walter would have never gone over to the other universe to save the alternate (our) Peter because Walternate wouldn’t have been distracted by September when he was making the serum for Peter’s disease and Peter would have been saved, thus negating our Walter’s need to go to the other universe to save the ‘over-there’ Peter’s life, and they would have never wound up at Reiden Lake altogether.

  • Dunham

    I doubt Anna Torv wanted to finish the series being treated like shit by Wyman.
    She is the main lead, awesome actress, she made the best part of Fringe, but in S5 Wyman decides to push her aside for his fave boys Jackson and Noble.
    Anna Torv has been without lines half of the season , she does brilliant non-verbal emotional acting, no credit for that,
    all the credit going to the overrated Noble and Jackson , they get all the material, Anna has to stand by every scene and watch.

  • Dunham

    I liked the Observerboy S1, this one is Deus ex Machina.

    Everything I loved about Fringe has been destroyed in season 5, most of all the roles of women, and mostly Olivia Dunham.
    Olivia was picked by Bell and Walter as 3- year old to be prepared , to be the leader, the savior,
    turns out that all those years of abuse was to swith her on like a machine,
    but no one cared that Olivia has been treated like shit.
    Now we have everyone in uproar as Peterboy loses 1 notch of being important, he still has everything else,
    compared to Olivia , who has been reduced to Peters wife.
    Finale will be Olivia dying after her extra dose of cortexiphan as she gets the blame for Oboy leaving, and has to save him,
    All that Cortexiphan will burn her in the end part, so that Walter can do another round of feeling sorry for himself crying and Peter his overthetop crying. 

    Fringe Season 5 is about White Men, Overemoting when they have hair, cold when they do not have hair.
    And if this season would have been called Observers with other actors, no one would watch. 

  • Dunham

    Doing something with Olivias backstory was never important,
    but rewatch Jacksonville, when Fringe was still great,

    Olivia Dunham, little 3 year old girl, got some needles in her from Walter, as Walter loved torturing  (otherpeoples) children.
    Olivia saw the Other side when she was 3, she made drwaings from the Other side, and before that Bell and Walter were already busy, all in Jacksonville.

    Bell was living on the other side, pulled Olivia over and told her about a war coming, that was what Over There was about,
    It was not about Peter saving, that was just arrogant Walter wanting to prove he was better than WalterB., but with that Walter killed millions, with is also the main reason for early bitter Walternate.

  • olivia

    hahahahha. this is soo hilarious. LOL!

  • JohnRobertLynch

    I’m looking at the evolution of the characters by breaking it into three distinct groups. Season 1-3 was one cohesive world where everything was simple. Season 4 was a new timeline that had distinct differences with Season1-3. Season 5 is an amagalm timeline with people from the previous two groupings inhabiting the same world.

    Walter and Bell made many experiments and sought to expand the limits of human knowledge. After Walter stole Peter from the other world they realised that a war between the two worlds would become inevitable. They began cortexophan experiments on children and of those subjects, Olivia was the most promising.

    Walter and Bell were, at this point, doing their best to ensure the survival of their world. However Walter could feel himself changing and became scared of that. As such he had a portion of his brain removed and was subsequently put into an insane asylum. Bell would continue the work they had done together and while he certainly made a nice home for himself, he was acting for the greater good. He would prove this by later sacrificing himself so Olivia and the others world live and continue the good fight.

    Olivia would become a Fringe agent and was instrumental in stopping many of the attacks on the world by “the other side.” She also became important as it was discovered that Walter would construct a machine that could only be activated by his son, Peter. Peter would eventually inhabit this machine and it would be up to him which world lived, and which world died. Olivia became even more important as she became an important factor in Peter chosing to save their world instead of “the other side.”

    Peter inhabited the machine and chose to save their world at the expense of “the other side.” Fastforward in time (I forget how long) and it’s discovered that their world is falling apart. By destroying “the other side” they had inadvertently doomed their world. Walter and Peter developed a plan that would call forward Peter’s consciousness to the future so he could see what had happened and it would make him choose differently in determining which world survived.

    The plan was successful and Peter chose to allow both worlds to survive by creating a bridge that connected both worlds. This had the unintended side-effect of causing Peter to disappear from the timeline (probably as a result of Observer meddling).

    Walter and Bell made many experiments and sought to expand the limits of
    human knowledge. After Walter stole Peter from the other world they
    realised that a war between the two worlds would become inevitable. They
    began cortexophan experiments on children and of those subjects, Olivia
    was the most promising.

    Walter became horrified at what he had become and could feel himself getting worse. As such he had a
    portion of his brain removed and was subsequently put into an insane
    asylum. Bell, however, had no such compunctions. He continued his experiments in pursuing an ideal world.

    Olivia would
    become a Fringe agent and was instrumental in stopping many of the
    attacks on the world by “the other side”, however she wasn’t AS instrumental as she didn’t get all of the same cases as the original Olivia had.

    Due to disturbances in the space-time continuum Peter from the WORLD OF SEASON 1-3 manifested in this world. He started working with the Fringe team and as a result of the actions of terrorists working at the behest of William Bell, Olivia was subsumed by the Olivia of the WORLD OF SEASON 1-3. Together, Olivia and Peter were successful in stopping Bell’s plot to destroy the world. They would go on to have the “fated one” and have a daughter named Henrietta.

    A direct continuation of the WORLD OF SEASON 4, Henrietta (now called Etta) has grown into an adult and she saves her parents and Walter Bishop from amber. Together they start enacting a plan that Walter had devised to rid the universe of the Observers as we know them. This plan involved a child observer from the WORLD OF SEASON 1-3 who was present in this timeline.

    Etta died, and the others have soldiered on. However Peter went off the deep end and almost committed suicide by apotheosis. Olivia was able to save him, however in truth they are no longer the saviours of the universe. Neither of them are. The true saviour appears to be in the child observer.

    In this episode we saw the child observer restore Walter so the Walter of THE WORLD OF SEASON 1-3 is now around once more. Walter must now sacrifice himself to rid the space-time continuum of the Observers as we know them, Both Olivia and Peter have taken a backseat as Walter and the child observer step forward. Of course, both Walter and the child observer can’t do this plan themselves. They need help. That’s where Olivia and Peter step in.

    So yes, Fringe has seen the focus shift away from some characters (Olivia to Peter and now Peter to Walter and the child observer) to focus on others. But I don’t think this is some nefarious plot to put women in their place. Instead it has simply been the evolution of the story as envisaged by the writers of Fringe.

  • John Lynch

     I had thought of that, and I think Peter has thought of it too. Where Olivia is excited to see the Observers undone, Peter knows full well what that means.

    HOWEVER just because the “Observers as we know them” will cease to exist. It doesn’t mean Observers will cease to exist. They’ll simply be new observers who are now capable of some emotions. Which means September still has a chance to exist. Which means that he still has a chance to save Peter and Walter, thus saving Peter and allowing Henrietta to exist once more. Why would he do this? Because Michael (the child observer) knows just how instrumental Walter, Olivia and Peter were in saving the world from the emotionless Observers and Michael decides they deserve to have a happy ending.

    I think we’ll get that happy ending one way or another.

  • John Lynch

    >Sure, it’s still probable that they would pursue the high
    > but without the removal of emotional response. You end up
    > super-intelligent humans, not Observers.

    After everything we’ve seen (breaking into parrallel worlds, sending technology into the past, almost destroying the entire universe and create a new world under the control of one man) I’m willing to bet Michael and/or September have a trick or two up their sleeve.

  • Kyle

    What I want to know and know I won’t get an answer is, did the observers invade the alternate universe too? As it has been shown they can travel between the worlds without any problems.