You may not know this about me, but Fringe is one of my favorite shows on network television. Aside from Star Trek or Lost, it could quite possibly be my favorite show of all time. What started out as something that seemed to be an X-Files ripoff has quickly turned into an intense, smartly written sci-fi action drama with great character development.
From here on out, there will be spoilers!
This past Friday marked the end of Fringe’s third season. This whole season has seemingly been about stopping the destruction of one universe, perhaps at the expense of destroying he one parallel to it. To do so, Oliva and the rest of her posse worked feverishly to assemble the pieces of an ancient machine said to have the power to destroy and create universes. Convienently enough, Peter is the only one who can operate the machine.
Walternate in the “red universe” turned on his version of the machine, which triggered the machine in the “green universe” — which I think of as “our side”, but who really knows which universe we viewers live in? Everyone determined the best course of action was to stick Peter in the machine in hopes that he could turn it off and end the imminent destruction of our universe.
Peter hops into the machine with the aid of Olivia’s newfound telekensis, and ZAP! Peter is taken 15 years into the future so he can see the effect of his decision if he decides to destroy the red universe.
Preliminary designs for the Doomsday Machine.
If Lost taught me anything about time travel and the temporal rules of the sci-fi universe, it’s that those rules were made to be broken and BOY HOWDY do we get slammed with some new ideas with how the time-space continuum works. What follows is a list of questions I have, and any speculation I may have regarding the answer.
1. Why can’t they just not send the machine back in time?
Peter asks Walter this very question when Walter is explaining that he built the machine and sent it into the past via the temporal wormhole in Central Park. He tells Peter something to the effect of “I have already made the machine and sent it back,” but clearly he hasn’t. Unless Walter is referencing the not-often-used idea of the future occuring simultaneously with the present, this idea simply boggles my mind. Is he saying that since the machine has already been sent back in time, that NOT making it won’t make it disappear?
2. This is a biggie: WHERE DID PETER GO?!
Once Peter links the two universes’ Liberty Islands, he simply winks out of existence and no one seems to notice or care. We get a scene with oodles of Observers outsde the Statue of Liberty, and one of them says something like “They don’t remember him,” and another Observer says, “He served his purpose.”
What are these creepy buggers up to?!
So since we know that temporal constraints don’t really apply to Observers, I had an idea that maybe they traveled back in time and eliminated Peter. If that’s the case, however that conflicts with question number one. I also briefly wondered if he joined his future self in 2026, but that didn’t make any sense either. And if changing the past doesn’t always affect the future, then what was the whole point of any time travelling to begin with?
I loved this episode, and will probably be thinking about it for the four months between now and when season four is set to air. If anything, I need to watch season four just to get some resolution! If you can offer any theories or clarification on these two big question marks the season finale of Fringe left hanging over my head, let’s talk about them in the comments!