Back in the 80s there was a crappy TV series based on the 50s War of the Worlds movie. Much weird stuff regarding the forgotten Martian invasion setin the present day. This was followed up with a second season where everything from the first was pretty much thrown out and the show was now set in a near future dystopia. I bring this up because this is basically the premise that we get in Letter of Transit. Most notably there is no Anna Torv in this ep. And it takes place twenty four years in the future (although not exatly, it seems, the future that Peter was sent to previously.) While some have praised this potential future turn for Fringe, I found the future rather half-baked in the kind of way that the writers have been playing with the show this season. There are some great moments, still, and plenty of nonsensical ones. But, seriously, this is the cliche’d direction the writers want to take the show? I almost want the series to be cancelled this year. Why?
Why? Well, for a show that has created a rather unique world (worlds) it goes straight into a kind of future controlled by bald Nazi’s from the future. Yep, that’s what they’ve turned the Observers into. In this future, the Observers are from the 27th century and have destroyed the world. So what do they do? The decided to come back to 2016 and take over Fringe’s world. or one of them. They seem to have completely thrown out the whole two worlds thing and created a completely new millieu with some of the shows characters and some of it’s gadgets.
Underbelly’s Georgina Haig plays Dunham-Bishop progeny Henrietta, while Lost ulumni Henry Ian Cusick joins her to serve as our 2036 agents who are ostensibly working for the Observer overlords but are secretly members of a resistance against the occupation. the ep starts with Walter being discovered encased in amber and the show is on. on the plus side we get John Noble playing two more versions of Walter (that of a goofy brain damaged savant and a full on ascerbic action hero version.) It kind of makes me wonder whether or not the previous seasons have much relevance, or we have in fact yet another alternate reality here. But John is great as always, whether he is goofily talking about raspberry licorice, absently fixing white haired Nina’s arm, dressing down his team or even using anti-matter to vaporize the entire building their pursuers are stuck in. Oh, and not to mention his severing of Leonard Nimoy’s hand so he can work on the machine that will send the Observers packing.
Sadly Haig offers little more than the typical blonde cookie cutter model that we should be familiar from JJ Abrams shows (See Alcatraz’ lead young blonde police detective hotshot), and we lose Henry later on, which was too bad, as his was rather the more interesting character. The future itself offered nothing remotely unique. You’d think the writers could have done something unique with their creation. Sure the observers have always felt like a rather weak riff on The Strangers from Dark City, but this makes them magnitude less interesting than in former Fringe realities. Seriously, these guys have apparent access to all time and space. Why would they want to show up in 21st century earth to serve as telepathic Nazi overlords.
On the other hand, maybe the twist would be that this is just their form of entertainment, you know, like their version of questing on Warcraft. But really, who cares at this point. The ep seems to be closer to bad fanfiction than anything else with Henrietta as the writer’s totally Mary Sue stylecharacter. This is not the Fringe season 5 that I am looking for, sorry.
It’s almost as if FOX told the show runners that if they wanted a 5th season, they should provide a totally cliched and stock sci-fi reboot. Me, I’m torn. I, of course, want to get to experience more of John Noble’s Walter, or at least an entertaining version of him (which this seems it would promise). But seriously, the show they’ve build around him continues to crumble creatively. Yeah, my heart says yes, but my head says no.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (-1 for the stock scifi situation, +0.5 for the two new version of Walter.)