As we inch ever so closely to Fringe‘s series finale, we finally discover who Donald is, while losing one of the supporting cast in the process.
Let’s bitch it out…
Despite two significant events/revelations this week, in terms of action and emotional impact (which have been two staples throughout this season), I would have to say ‘Anomaly XB-6783746’ was a bit light in both these departments. Although Nina’s suicide was a powerful display of defiance against Windmark (Michael Kopsa) and his gang, I can’t say that was particularly surprised when Nina did it. What was more impressive was the controlled smackdown she delivered before getting the gun: telling the Observers that they are in fact examples of devolved, primitive humans as opposed to the superior specimens they’ve been claiming to be.
Sure, Nina was a significant character and I was sadden to see another member of the good guys bite it, but I can’t say that the reaction of the fringe team finding her body activated that lump in the back of my throat. It comes as no surprise that Walter’s (John Noble) reaction was the most sorrowful, but I couldn’t help wondering if Walter was mourning the loss of a good friend and ally, or if he was more concerned about being unable to get his second lobotomy now that Nina was out of the picture. The ambiguity of Walter’s reaction is effective in the sense that I find myself questioning his motivations, but the trade-off to the complexity surrounding Walter’s psyche lessens the tragedy of losing Nina.
Olivia (Anna Torv) exhibits her typical closed off, concealed pain, yet we still know that she’s hurting significantly inside. It’s a talent that Torv has mastered throughout the years, and in this sense it’s no different. But with all the circumstances of finding Nina, coupled with the urgency to find the missing Michael (Rowan Longworth) it was difficult to really feel the impact of Nina’s death. That, or the fact that I’ve found it difficult to connect to Nina over the years. Perhaps it’s because Nina has always had an authoritative role, but unlike Broyles (Lance Reddick), she’s never really shown us a moment of weakness (i.e. humanity). It’s hard to consider Nina a fully fleshed-out character. Nevertheless, it’s never pleasant to see any of the core cast go.
But with the death of Nina we do get a ray of hope – the return of September (Michael Cerveris) who is revealed to be the ominous Donald. We find this out via a quick yet wonderful montage near the end of the episode, when Michael pulls a Renesmee of Twilight fame by touching Walter’s face. We see flashes of the moments in which Walter and September have shared throughout the series – it’s quite the effective trip down memory lane. Earlier in the episode, before the Observers discovered Nina, Michael touched her cheek as well, but we weren’t privy to the information and emotion being convey to her. I believe it gave her the courage to take her own life by remember the love that she has Olivia. Going back to my earlier point about not connecting with Nina, perhaps showing us Michael’s projections would have helped in this department, but seeing the impact of Michael’s touch a few moments later with Walter is nice callback to Nina’s final moments nonetheless.
We don’t get much information aside from the revelation that Donald is September and that in fact he will return in subsequent episodes (with hair on his head AND face!) but it’s just enough of a nugget to get us excited about what’s to come. At this point, as Noel Murray notes over on the A.V Club, there isn’t much left in terms of ‘questions to be answered’ or ‘significant mysteries to be solved’ on Fringe – it’s merely the case of putting the plan together and defeating the observers.
Although I still feel some residual regret that we didn’t fully explore a lot of the issues brought up in previous seasons, focusing this final season on a simple mission is proving to be a smart way to go. The moments we get on the way to achieving the objective of defeating the observers are far more relevant that the achieving the objective itself. We pretty much know it’s going to happen, but the fates of our characters are still a mystery. However, with the constant callbacks to the emotionally resonant moments of the series and the continual development of our beloved characters, I believe Fringe can’t help but deliver a successful series finale.
- I can’t help but wonder if Michael is indeed a manifestation of September in a ‘younger form’. We’re told that Michael is an “anomaly’ by Windmark, a mistake that was meant to be erased, but seeing as September has acted so out-of-the-box in terms of his destiny/programming (an anomaly as well…), I can’t help but feel September and Michael are one in the same, just existing simultaneously at different points in time.
- I’m still curious/confused that Michael has not aged. He’s still considered a “boy” because he looks like a child, but in fact, he’s lived out at least 20 years.
- I also can’t help continually wondering why there are no women observers kicking around. Does the classification of Michael as a ‘chromosomal anomaly’ mean that the observers are reproducing in test tubes?
- Poor Astrid (Jasika Nicole) has to sit this adventure out again. I suppose it’s okay since she managed remotely open a locked door by to turning those handy Sprint phones into electronic lock picks.
- I’m losing faith that we’re going to see Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) in the finale. Le boo.
What did you think Fringers? Were you saddened by the death of Nina? Do you think Broyles is next up for sacrifice? How do you think Donald/September will return? Any theories on who will survive in the finale? Sound off in our comments section.
Fringe will return January 11th at 9pm on FOX.