In 2015, the world as we know it effectively ended. The Observers, once content to only watch and record the important events taking place in our world, decided to take it over. The remaining population is simply known as Natives while those quislings pledging allegiance to the Observers are the Loyalists. The Fringe team, originally opposing the incursion are only kept around for policing the Natives. For all intent, the resistance is over…or so they thought.
At a club where Natives and Observers interact, an Observer takes a liking to one of the workers and decides to take her for himself. Rick, the club owner objects and attacks the Observer before being restrained. The big wig Observer, Widmark, comes forth regarding the disturbance and when Rick spits in his face. He starts to wipe Rick before Agent Etta intervenes. She takes Rick out back and we find the two are part of the resistance. Rick leads her to a van, showing her something he’d found before a Loyalist puts a bullet in him. She drives away with the body and when she finally stops, we find it’s Walter encased in amber.
She arrives at the old Fringe HQ where she ends up showing Walter to Simon, her commanding officer. At the same time, Observer Widmark goes to visit Broyles. He expresses his concern over Broyles lack of progress with the Native on Native deaths and overtly threatens the Fringe commander. Etta and Simon are trying to figure out how to remove Walter from the amber; they end up checking out some old fringe tech where the gatekeeper warns her about Simon and how some people don’t think he’s on the up and up. The tech is used to get Walter out of the amber and it works better than expected, blowing him out of it. As he swims toward consciousness, Simon and Etta introduce themselves.
Walter seems to be himself, savoring a bite of Twizzler with all the joy of a child. Etta has blueprints of device to remove the observers permanently. After being around him, the two agents do believe something is amiss with our favorite egghead. Simon puts him through an MRI and finds out that Walter’s neural pathways have degraded. They end up going to the one person that may be able to help them; Nina Sharp. Nina’s now in a wheelchair and during their conversation Nina suggests using the part of Walter’s brain he had removed years before. The only problem is said brain fragment is located at the old Massive Dynamic facility in the city full of Observers.
Nina sits with Walter while Etta and Simon procure passes needed to get through the city. Walter tinkers with her mechanical arm, fixing it so it now moves. Along with Etta and Simon, Walter makes his way through the station. They are accosted by a Loyalist but talk their way out of it. Walking through the Massive Dynamic parking lot, they trip a silent alarm; Broyles is alerted to the breach and he calls Widmark. Back at the facility, Simon injects Walter with his remaining brain fragment and the old guy gets dizzy and passes out. As they wait for him to wake up, Simon talks about where he was during the Observers purge with Etta confessing to not seeing her parents since she was four. Walter awakens with his faculties in place. The Observer arrives with a cadre of Loyalist police and he gives them the order to shoot first.
As they close in on the trio, Walter studies the machines schematics. He tells them about September, the one Observer who tried to help them. The Observers, our future selves finally ruined the planet in 2609. Having the technology to time travel, they came back to our time and took over. He says he can build the machine but it will take time; Etta asks him if he can remember where the rest of the team went. When they hear the police force, Walter gets them out of the room using an invisible lever to open the wall. Shades of the old, less friendly Walter surface during the escape when he ruthlessly sets an antimatter trap for the Observer and his team. He remembers where the rest of the team were ambered and leads Simon and Etta away as the building behind them vaporizes into nothingness.
Walter and the agents arrive at the location of the remaining members of the team. Simon knows something is going on, that Etta is mum on something but she brushes it aside. Back at the Fringe HQ, Broyles is alerted to Simon’s presence by Mr. Thinks He’s a Bad Ass Loyalist officer. Broyles activates Simon’s tracker and assembles a team to find him.
Walter is quite the conundrum; as mentioned there are less than positive aspects of his old persona mixed with the aloof yet agreeable man we’ve come to know and love. They’re able to free Astrid before the gun they’ve been using seems to have been busted. They start working on an alternative, using Simon’s own creation when he realizes his tracker has been activated. Not knowing what else to do, Simon has them encase him in amber while they make their escape. Broyles and his team arrive at the scene but the others are gone. He looks around the room only to find a half-eaten Twizzler and knows Walter’s back.
Astrid is surprised Walter left William Bell behind but Walter’s anger is apparent towards his former friend, reminding Astrid of what Bell did to Olivia. Etta is looking out the window when Peter comes up to her and offers his apologies for Simon’s fate. She asks if he knows who she is and he asks her how he would when the wheels start turning and he realizes that she’s Henrietta, his daughter.
Though far removed from the current ‘Fringe’ canon, ‘Letters in Transit’ ends up being one of the best standalone ‘Fringe’ episodes I’ve seen. Not only are we given a glimpse of one possible future, we’re also introduced to Etta Bishop, Olivia and Peter’s daughter. With the fate of ‘Fringe’ still to be determined, ‘Letters in Transit’ offers up a third possible avenue for the writers to take if next season is a go. Not only that but if ‘Fringe’ were to delve into other media—comics, maybe an animated series or even novels—they’ve added even greater depth to the Fringe universe.
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Fringe: The Consultant’ recap to catch up.