There are times when shows throw in a trick shot to keep things fresh and it ends up feeling too stiff but ‘Fringe’ is one of those shows who seems to hit all the right buttons when hammering you with a WTF moment. “Brave New World”, part one of the season finale, does it from a few different angles.
Things start off so innocent where we’re in the mall, watching people go about their business when a man who just ordered a piping hot latte before he drops dead with smoke billowing from his fried lips. Seconds after he falls, more than a dozen more meet his fate. Several people watch, horrified but realize those falling victim are moving so to survive they play the world’s longest game of Simon Says Stand Still.
Laying in bed before meeting the day ahead, Olivia and Peter are looking for apartments. Peter is going over the logistics when Olivia mentions the need of a nursery. Her conviction in it brings a smile to Peter’s face but they are interrupted with the all too familiar ring of their phones and the prospects of a new case. Said new case is the mall where Walter and Astrid are already at, ready to investigate. After getting confirmation of no airborne toxins, Walter starts examining the dead victims. Broyles fills our dynamic duo in on the situation when Walter, being his usual outlandish self in talking to the dead captures the attention of Jessica, one of the survivors. He examines a sample of blood from her and finds that her blood is filled with some type of foreign entity. When he notices the smudge on her fingers, he has the escalator examined and they end up finding a nanite producing device hooked up to it. These nanites, once stimulated to a certain aspect by movement, end up overloading and causing the people to cook from inside. The longer they remain in the bloodstream, the more sensitive they become to overload. After asking a few questions about insurance, Jessica volunteers for experimentation.
Back at the lab as Walter and Peter work on a potential cure, Olivia keeps Jessica company. Despite remaining somewhat immobile, it’s not long before the nanites start doing their thing and Jessica begins towards the road of inner immolation. Not wanting to leave the woman’s side, Olivia takes Jessica’s hand and, to everyone’s surprise, ends up stopping the overload. Ever the thinker, Walter surmises the cortexiphan which has allowed Olivia to manipulate molecules enabled her to stop the kinetic motion of the nanites inside of Jessica. Not too long afterwards, a peek at the mall surveillance camera footage shows our good friend David Robert Jones (DRJ) on video implanting the nannite bug. After studying the nannite design, Walter realizes DRJ is working with someone far smarter than he.
Cut to DRJ entering an office and approaching a man who, even before showing his face, we know is William Bell. It’s quite interesting to watch DRJ in such awe of Bell, who discusses the importance of patience and strategy with the ‘junior’ scientist. When Bell highlights the bishop as the most important piece on the board to be sacrificed, RJ gets the message (kill the Bishops). Bell is the topic of discussion between Nina, Olivia and Walter. There appears to be a discrepancy in when Bell died in the car wreck and it’s here when Nina comes clean, admitting Bell was fighting lymphoma…more to the point, she doesn’t believe he’d want to destroy worlds. Determined to prove himself right, Walter goes to the mental institution that housed him, searching the visitor logs for proof of Bell’s attendance. Olivia suggests it could’ve been a hallucination but Walter will have none of it. Doing his best impersonation of a hound dog, he sniffs the log book for one of his obscure experiments before asking to use it.
Taking a break from the long day, Peter and Olivia are making dinner when Olivia cuts herself. Peter notices her preoccupied nature and she admits to thinking about Jessica and her daughter. How could she and Peter ever have a normal life? Peter provides her with the encouragement she needs but before they can get back to their night, a shining light brightens the outside before it ends up destroying a building. After a quick examination, Walter surmises DRJ is harnessing the light of the sun and focusing it. Based on a geological survey, DRJ’s diabolical plan is to use an oil reserve beneath the city to set fire to all of Boston. Astrid also notices two separate signals that give Walter what he needs to pinpoint DRJ’s position. Peter and Olivia reach the location and separate to take out the two antennas as DRJ watches them from the safety of his car.
Using a lemon cake and pig brain, Walter baked a page from the log book; it brings forth fingerprints and quite a few other things from the page that gives him the proof he needs that Bell did visit him in the institution. Walter is ready to find Bell on his own, giving Astrid a “peace out” before he realizes he needs her to drive, a prospect agrees to.
Back at the antenna position, Peter and Olivia turn off the antennas when DRJ gets the jump on Peter and attacks him. Olivia takes aim to shoot but two security guards interrupt her and she’s forced to drop her weapon as DRJ pummels her lover. Knowing she only has one weapon, Olivia uses her kinetic abilities to take over Peter and give him the upper hand on DRJ, who ends up being shocked by the relay. As his fades into dust, DRJ belatedly realizes it was he who was to be the sacrifice all along.
At A1 Imports, Walter and Astrid start searching for clues when one of the “workers” halts them in their tracks. When he leaves, Astrid tells Walter things aren’t as they seem, the guy was carrying a gun. She tries to get Walter to leave but when he hears strange animal noises, he has to investigate. They come across the containers on the ship from “Nothing as It Seems”. They get accosted by the guards and Astrid finally shows that she’s not just a pretty face, kicking ass like her fellow agents before getting shot in the back. As she lay in Walter’s arms, William Bell comes out of the shadows to say hi to his old friend.
Where to begin?! We’ve known all along Olivia had some serious power in her (from flashes into the future) but this is the first time we’ve seen just how powerful she can be. Halting nanites from burning up, controlling Peter like an XBOX Kinect, she seems to be a force to be reckoned with; add to that the potential of super healing (see the lemon cake that knitted itself back up after Walter cut into it) and we may have our own Marvel Girl in the house. Couple that with Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as William Bell and the architect behind the drive of everything we thought was DRJ’s plan was truly a jaw-dropping surprise. Where has Bell been this entire time? What’s his end game? What does Olivia and her cortexiphan fueled body have to do with it all? Will Bell save a dying Astrid or will she be a casualty of this harsh war? These are some serious questions awaiting answers and I’m not sure if I can wait the summer if they aren’t answered next week.
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Fringe: Worlds Apart’ recap to catch up.