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November 21, 2014

'Fringe' Season 3, Episode 21 Recap

by Mike Moody, posted May 1st 2011 2:30PM
fringe s03e21['Fringe' – 'The Last Sam Weiss']

First, there was mind reading, then inter-dimensional chaos, and now we're time travelling to a post-apocalyptic future! Man, I love this show.

During season 3, 'Fringe' has truly grown from an ambitious mystery-of-the-week show to an epic and engaging sci-fi saga.

The events of this week's episode solidified what the show has been hinting at from the very beginning: These characters are special, and they were brought together for a very important purpose. We're still a little shaky on the details, but we're certain of one thing: The fates of Peter, Olivia (and maybe even Walter) are undeniably tied to the survival, and maybe even the inception, of the world(s). Why else would the ancient machine only work for Peter? And why else would Olivia be the only one who could disable the machine's force field?

This was one of the most compelling episodes of the season. It's hard to review the ep on its own, since these final installments are so tied together as the season comes to a close, but there was certainly a lot to love about 'The Last Sam Weiss.'

The ep unfolded at a steady pace, expertly moving the story along and offering plenty of suspense, humor and several wonderfully executed emotional character beats. And that ending! Shocking! Exciting! Brain-melting! I'm still struggling to describe how awesome and insane it was.

I liked the bait-and-switch aspect of this ep. If you're like me, you've been dying to learn the origin of Sam Weiss since he first appeared on the show. Is he an immortal? An alien? One of the First People? Nope. Turns out he's just a dude with a whole lotta knowledge about the doomsday machine, the First People, and the Other Universe. The truly special people in this ep turned out to be the ones we've been following all along, the show's central characters.

fringe sam weissStill, Sam is a great character, and I loved watching Kevin Corrigan eat up a big chunk of the episode's screen time with his crazy eyes and funny, muted delivery. And explaining that Sam was not some kind of mystical figure, but a human descendant of a family that found the First People's original texts, was a good call. It helps keep the show grounded in some sort of reality, even as crazy stuff is happening all around the characters.

So Sam's family has worked for generations to translate and complete the First People's knowledge about the machine and the Other Universe? Makes sense. But Sam still has a lot of gaps in his knowledge, and he doesn't seem to know the machine's whole story. He mentioned that it's not really a "doomsday" device, but a device with the power to create and destroy worlds. But where did it come from? And why is it drawing people to it now? It's possible that Sam hasn't told Olivia everything he knows.

Sam and Olivia were surprised to find that the "crowbar" that would shatter the machine's force field, allowing Peter to enter and potentially turn it off, was Olivia herself. As the machine caused a wave of freaky lightning storms to hit the eastern seaboard, Olivia was once again called to believe in herself and in her special abilities in order to save the day.

I loved the scene with Walter trying to inspire Olivia to use her telekinetic abilities on the "quantum entangled" typewriter. It was nice to learn that Walter has come to embrace the "peculiar" and "broken" parts of his mind, and he thinks they are what make him special. Olivia could certainly relate, as she's also a bit of a broken and brilliant freak (but in a good way!).

While Olivia, Walter, Sam and Ostridge (!) were trying to save the world(s), Peter awoke from his coma dazed and confused and looking for answers. It seemed like Peter's memories of Our Universe and the Other Side also became quantumly entangled, which was weird. He pretty much came out of his funk a little later, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that there's more to Peter's "confusion" than what was explained away here.

And I have a few questions about that coin Peter retrieved from the pawnshop. I'm assuming that it's the coin that brought him comfort when he was a child, and he pawned it later to solidify his break from Walter before the events of the show's pilot. But in season one, Walter tells Peter about the coin, and Peter claims to have no memory of it. If memory serves, both young Peters played with similar coins, and they both wanted Walter to keep the coins if they died. It's obvious that the coin means something special to Peter, and Walter recognized it later. Also, was that an Observer I spotted trailing Peter as he searched for the pawnshop in New York? Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your theories about the importance of the coin in the comments.

So Olivia was able to use her powers to break the force field and allow Peter to finally merge with the machine. Earlier in the ep, Sam explained that the machine was probably "frustrated" because it was turned on without Peter inside of it, and that could be the reason why all hell was breaking loose. Our crew was forced to allow Peter to connect with the machine, hoping to put an end to the chaos and destruction.

After merging with the machine, Peter was transported to what looked like a post-apocalyptic future version of Our World. It was some time after a 9/11 One World Trade Center monument was completed after 2021. He jumped ahead at least 10 years! The Fringe Division was militarized, and soldiers were trying to control rioting in the streets. Peter, or "Agent Bishop," was shot and confused, and the episode cut to black.

The ending reminded me of the series finale of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,' but, unlike that show, 'Fringe' isn't done telling its story. The perplexing cliffhanger ending will (hopefully) be explained in next week's season finale. And the show will have another season to explore what happened at the end of this ep and to answer the many questions it raised, like: Did Peter really travel through time, or did he land in some future version of a Third Universe? I know the "Third Universe" thing sounds like a long shot, but, hey, it's 'Fringe' we're talking about here. Anything can happen.

Other thoughts:

- In true mad scientist style, Walter decides that pulling a Ben Franklin, with the kite and the lightning, is the only way to discover the source of the deadly sparks. And he gets struck by lightning twice and loves it! Awesome.

- "It's important that you pay attention." Thanks for the tip, Walter.

- "I work in a bowling alley!" Nice, Sam.

- Surprisingly, The Doors' 'Riders on the Storm' was used to great effect here.

- Oh, and what about that Ford Focus rear-view camera! Neato, huh? (Hey, they gotta pay for the show somehow!)

'Fringe' airs Fridays at 9PM on Fox.

Follow @mikemoody on Twitter.


Watch the full episode here:



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DanGarion

No mention of the ring on his finger in the future?!?

May 04 2011 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
K.V.C

Since Peter isn't officially an "Agent" of anything in either universe, I assumed he was in yet another universe.

Loved Walter and his kite.

May 01 2011 at 8:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to K.V.C's comment
Brett Alan

Just because he isn't an Agent in 2011 doesn't mean he isn't on in "our" universe in 2021. Especially in a scenario where Fringe Division is greatly expanded.

May 02 2011 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noseless_wonder

I was thinking the finale of "Sarah Connor" too when I saw the end of the episode. It ticked me off when they canceled the show there! Peter's situation is different though in that he doesn't know anything about his own future - and my question is whether or not he'll meet his kid. (I'm betting a definite yes)

It wasn't clear to me what universe he was in, or if he was in a merger of the two. I'm glad this wasn't the season finale so we can at least get some more answers before the long wait for season 4 .

"Ostrich" had me rolling with laughter. It was so well-timed too.

May 01 2011 at 7:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Liz

The show is starting to feel a lot like Alias. The prophecy of Sydney in the Rimbaldi drawing is very similar to Peter and Olivia in the drawings of the machine. Now a time jump? I really hope the rest of the show is not set in the future. Did not like that at all.

May 01 2011 at 6:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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