Fringe recap – 4×21: ‘Brave New World Pt. 1’

Courtesy of FOX

It’s finale time on Fringe as we get our first of the two-part installment this week. The episode wastes no time getting to what is sure to be a stellar endgame giving us a death, a potential death, and a jaw-dropping reveal.

Let’s take a closer look after the jump.

First off, I’d like to point out that the Fringe finale is a proper two-part finale, not a fake-out of two clearly separate episodes (Alcatraz – I’m looking at you). Although, the way Fringe‘s episodes have been going so far, you’d think the entire latter half of this season was one long, extended episode. Of course, every good two-parter gives us a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it was. Let’s waste no time and get right to it: After taking Walter (John Noble) on what seems to be a wild goose chase, Astrid (Jasika Nicole) ends up getting shot (!) in an abandoned warehouse, before a very undead William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) reveals himself.

I’ll admit I was momentarily worried about Astrid, but then I remembered that she pretty much has to live. I go back to my point last week about how the flash-forward episode “Letters of Transit” served as a big “don’t worry”/spoiler as Astrid, Walter and Peter (Joshua Jackson) were all encased in amber – meaning they have to live in order to get in that stuff.  The only character that we have to worry about is Olivia (Anna Torv). But jumping back to this episode, it was extremely satisfying to finally see Astrid kick some bad guy ass before getting caught in the crossfire. Of course, I don’t know 100% if she’ll make it, but the security blanket that the flash-forward provided certainly helps to quell any fears.

But I’ve glazed over a pretty significant point – Leonard frickin’ Nimoy is back as William Bell. Again, we did see him encased in amber in the flash-forward episode, but I had no idea they’d play the Nimoy card again so quickly. And it looks like Belly is the mastermind behind everything! David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) we learn, is surprisingly just a pawn or at best, a co-conspirator. Although screen time is limited with Belly, he doesn’t disappoint. Check out this gem of a monologue when he explains strategy to Jones:

Don’t confuse a winning move with a winning game…In this game, a skill one must have above all else, is patience. The board changes, but slowly. The art of chess – the art – is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, be willing to sacrifice it. For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious: opportunity abounds, influence is maximized and desire becomes destiny.

He then goes on to explain that the “bishop” is the most valuable piece and needs to be sacrificed post-haste. Clearly “bishop” can have many connotations – the first and most obvious is Walter, and then Peter, but what about Olivia? We know that she’s likely the most high risk, what with her not being in the flash-forward episode, and September’s prediction that she dies in any time line, but what about her subtle wish to Peter at the beginning of the episode? While lovingly perusing the classifieds in bed, the two are looking for a new home to call their own, and Olivia wants room for a nursery. Is this her way of telling Peter that she definitely wants a baby soon, or that she’s already pregnant? Perhaps the ‘bishop’ to be sacrificed is the unborn baby (and Olivia to boot)?

Regardless, Jones doesn’t seem to think any of those options are correct, as it is HIM that needs to be sacrificed. He comes to the realization right before his death, which I must say, was one of the most disappointing moments of the season. Let’s jump back a bit: turns out the Belly and Jones are redirecting the sun’s rays to act as some sort of super laser. Walter traces this back to two satellites broadcasting at certain frequencies, and sends Olivia and Peter to go shut ‘em down. Jones pursues them both, and while they are successful in shutting down the satellites, Jones starts to beat Peter to a bloody pulp right after they do so. Olivia runs over to try and help, only to be stopped by building security (really? this is when they start to take their job seriously?). She starts to activate her mutant powers to take over Peter’s body as her personal avatar, and in turn, beats Jones to a pulp. Jones hits one of the satellites, which apparently short-circuits something, killing him and turning half of his face (and presumably body) to dust. This very much mirrors the way Jones got killed the first time around as the dimensional portal closed on half his body. Are we to assume that this is an indication of our original timeline rebuilding itself? And why does Jones think he’s the ‘bishop”? Simply because he died after all the work he’s done? It’s very unclear and I’m hoping some light will be shed on this in the finale.

I think Jones was one of the best villains on the show and bringing him back was sheer genius. Jared Harris couldn’t have done a better job with his sporadic appearances throughout the past few episodes, but I thought his swift and confusing death did a disservice to the character and the actor. Sure, it was interesting to see that Jones wasn’t the true mastermind, but he gets pushed back to henchman all too quickly in this episode. It’s also hard to believe that a good punch from Olivia via Peter was ultimately what did him in. I guess I hoped for a more spectacular death/showdown for Jones.

Nevertheless, the reveal that Olivia’s abilities are much more powerful than originally thought was almost worth it (almost…), which again, leads me to believe that she’s got to be the “most valuable piece” that Belly was referring to. There’s no huge “loss” with Jones’ death, however if Olivia were to kick it, the ramifications would be much more serious.

But back to Bell. After Astrid lies (hopefully not fatally) wounded in Walter’s arms, Belly finally reveals himself to Walter. Turns out the creatures on the freighter have been moved to this warehouse and we fade to black before getting any additional information. A pretty intriguing cliffhanger going into the finale episode of the season, if I do say so myself.

Courtesy of FOX

Other Observations:

  • We opened the episode with a case of the week (that’s subsequently thrown away) : victims spontaneously combusting after being infected with dangerous little nanotech-organisms transmitted through an escalator railing. Once Walter views this tech under a microscope, he knows that Belly is behind it. More significantly, we’re introduced to Jessica Holt (played by another LOST alumnus, Rebecca Mader). She volunteers to be Walter’s guinea pig in order to help those victims who haven’t yet combusted, and have to stand still before a cure can be found.  Olivia forms a bond with Jessica, by somehow using her special abilities, to slow down the nanites and avoid combustion. Perhaps what triggers Olivia is that she empathizes with Jessica because she’s a mother? More evidence to believe she’s already got a little Bishop growing inside her.
  • We get a nice guest performance from John Noble’s real-life daughter, Samantha, as the new head of the mental institution Walter came from.
  • It was great to see Walter and Astrid as team this episode, sharing some significant screen time. Astrid is essential in helping us accept Walter’s unorthodox methods (i.e. the whole baking a lemon/pig brain cake to get finger prints) because she brings the right dose of optimistic skepticism that helps us viewers ‘just go with it’.
  • Best lines of the night: Walter telling Astrid: “No one is asking you to join me, Alex. It’s my hunch and I’m quite capable of pursuing it on my own. So peace out.”

So what did you think Fringe-ers? Do you think Astrid will make it through? What the heck happened to Belly to turn him to the dark side? Do you think he might be a shapeshifter? Alt-Belly? Were the amber credits a hint? Sound off in our comments section below!

Fringe airs at 9pm EST, Fridays on FOX.

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

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