I know a lot of people are still scratching their heads about just what happened in those final 10 or so minutes of Friday’s mind-bending Fringe finale. SO, I thought I’d post up my take on what took place.
What follows is my own personal guide to what transpired, posted in fun Q&A form. These things are always open to interpretation, and if I haven’t already (in some timey-wimey fashion), I may change my mind about a few details.
Q. Explain to me in plain English what the heck just happened in that finale?
Well basically, Walter tells Peter that they can change things. They can save both worlds if Peter uses the Boom-Boom-Machine (BBM) to make a different choice.
Walter believes he was the one who sent the BBM back millions of years in the past through the wormhole in Central Park. Although Walter hasn’t done it yet from his conscious viewpoint, he knows that he will because it’s already happened.
Q. How has it already happened?
The BBM has already been sent back because it’s since been discovered and used by Peter to bring about the future we see in this episode. It seems to be stuck in a time-loop. LOST fans may remember a similar example of this with John Locke’s compass.
Q. That seems to defy logic.
Well it’s a paradox – Walter is unable to prevent this sequence of events that we see in this future because the BBM has already been sent back at some point in the continuous loop.
In short: Whatever happened, happened.
Q. When did all of this take place, I must have missed an episode?
Walter has no recollection of ‘when’ he did it, because it happened in a different iteration of the loop. Remember “White Tulip“? Check out my comments on the cyclical nature of the story and speculation on the thematic/memory marker that is the red balloon?
Q. “White Tulip”? That’s the one with that time-travel dude who put metal in his body?
Yes. Alistair Peck kept going back in time until he got it right. The Fringe Team had no recollection that they were stuck inside Peck’s time loop. This is similar. Except here, the BBM and Peter play a the role of Peck.
Q. How does Future Walter know that he was the one who sent the BBM back?
He’s had a lot of time to think about the BBM while locked up. After doing some research on the Central Park wormhole, he realizes that he must have been the one to send it back through time.
Q. Isn’t there a name for this kinda thing?
I guess it is a kind of fated outcome. Walter has already sent the BBM back in time because it’s resulted in the series of events which has led to this future. And since he’s already done it, he will be compelled to send it back again – circumstances will make it so.
Therefore another iteration will be born, one that brings about the same course of events – it’s kinda like when you get deja vu. You know about deja vu, don’t you?
Q. Of course. Peter said he never gets it or something like that.
That’s right. And isn’t that interesting, given that he’s riding the wave of the loops?
Q. I guess
And because he’s connected to the BBM, he’s is not bound by the same rules as most other people inside the loop.
Q. But what about Fate?
Within the stepping stones of fate there is freewill.
Q. I don’t see how this relates to Walter’s plan
Walter figures that Peter is able to make a different choice if he’s able to see what destroying the alternate universe will lead to. To do this, Walter needs to find a way to give Peter a glimpse of this future from the past.
Q. But isn’t Peter already seeing the future – as per the ending of 3.21?
Well there’s possibly some bleed through into his future consciousness, though his future memory soon sets back into place. The initial confusion was probably the consequence of having his past consciousness drawn forward. After all, Walter even mentions that his plan may already be in motion:
“For all I know it may be happening already”
Q. But how can it already be in motion if Walter hasn’t done it yet?
Remember what I’ve said before about time happening simultaneously? At some point Walter develops a way to draw Peter’s consciousness forward – the results of which we see in this episode.
Q. How exactly did Walter draw his consciousness forward?
We don’t know for sure.
Q. I thought this was Fringe Bloggers? Give me something!
Maybe the Observers are involved?
Q. Of course they’re involved! What else?
As I was saying..
- Did they do something to Peter?
- We know that he can operate their technology (the pulse gun in “August” for example).
- We know they have been observing/influence events in both universes.
- Was Peter’s earlier interaction with the BBM part of the plan to unlock his consciousness?
- Was there a consciousness-drawing method involved (perhaps not too far removed from the “soul magnets” employed by Bellie)?
Q. ‘Future Magnets’? Are you kidding me!?
Your words, not mine. All you need to worry about for now is that Walter found a way to create a bridge in Peter’s consciousness.
Q. Did I hear you say that Walter invented the Observers?
You heard no such thing! But it’s certainly a possibility. He’d need someone to keep an eye on the iterations.
Q. Will Walter’s plan fix everything?
Walter says “there’s no telling what the cost might be,” but he believes that “it can’t be worse than this”.
As we see, Walter and Peter both make the ‘ultimate’ sacrifice.
Q. How so?
Knowing what the future will hold if he makes the choice he was going to make, 2011 Peter fixes his mind on a different outcome. He saves both universes, bridging them together so they can try to fix everything. However, there’s a sting in the tail.
Q. What happens to the future?
The future we saw play out in this episode doesn’t exist. It no longer happens in the way we saw it.
Because Peter didn’t continue down the path he would have gone down had he not seen the future consequences of his actions.
Q. But you said whatever happened, happened
Yes, but by making a change in the ‘past’, they essentially started-over.
Remember – time is happening all at once. ‘Future’ Walter found a way to make 2011 Peter create a different outcome with the BBM.
Q. But the future already happened – I SAW IT!
You saw what WOULD have happened if Peter didn’t see what WOULD happen.
I’m confused, man
All you need to know is that the future that you saw was a POSSIBLE future based on what Peter was about to do in the BBM.
Q. Which was?
Destroy the alternate universe.
Q. How do you know this?
He admitted so in the future.
Q. A future that doesn’t exist, according to YOU! Where’s your proof?
He confessed to WALTERNATE! Lolz!
Q. Please don’t shout, I have a headache
I’m not shouting, I’m just expressing my lol-ment.
Q. OK, one more time – how do we know Peter was going to destroy Over There?
Remember the flashes he had prior to going BBM? They were essentially positive ‘memories’ of his time with Olivia – this is what he was thinking about.
Q. Please sir, can I have some more?
Remember what Sam Weiss told Nina in 3.12: whichever Olivia Peter chooses, that’s the world that will survive.
Q. I still need more than that
Not sure why you’re so hung up on this, but remember the scene over there? We saw how the soft-spots in the alternate universe were getting worse as a result of Peter entering the BBM. This proves that until Peter digested the future, his actions were bringing about the destruction of the other side.
Q. So if the future didn’t happen and neither Olivia nor the alternate universe died, why the HECK should I care?
Because there are still repercussions for ‘cheating the rules of time’, and stuff.
Q. Hmph! Looks like it all worked out fine to me!!
You sure? Peter just vanished into THIN AIR!
Q. But Olivia lives?
Q. Woooohoooooo baby!
But things are different now. Peter vanished. There’s all sorts of consequences.
Q. Hold on. Peter vanished? Didn’t the First People apparently ‘vanish’?
Good catch. I underestimated you.
Q. Thanks! What does it mean though?
Not sure, but it’s a connection, right?
I’m asking the questions here.
It’s possible that Future Walter knew that they would all disappear if Peter was successful in changing things in 2011. Or, perhaps he came to realize that Peter would disappear and cease to exist?
Q. Cool, but….HOLD ON! WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?
Peter never existed.
Q. WHAT THE FRINGE?
He served his purpose. Didn’t you hear September?
Q. Yes but September’s not to be trusted.
So basically the others don’t remember Peter because to them he never existed from their linear view of time. By bringing the two universes together he made a change, so he vanished from their time-loop.
Q. But Peter’s Walter and Walternate’s son! He’s Olivia’s BF!
Memory’s a funny thing
Q. Do you see me laughing!?
I thought you didn’t care about Peter?
Q. I care that this doesn’t make ANY sense whatsoever!
It makes sense, you just have to work with it.
I’ll work you in a minute
Yikes. I’m just trying to help.
Q. Then tell me how it’s possible that they can’t remember the person who just this minute joined the two universes.
Take the BBM, for instance. Even though Walter’s already sent it back through time, he doesn’t remember sending it back through time, right? Nor do they remember that they’re the First People.
Because they’re experiencing time on a different loop.
It’s somewhat similar to Walter not remembering Alistair Peck from “White Tulip”, except that for all intents and purposes Peter never existed in this loop.
Q. So he’s kinda like The Silence from Doctor Who??
HA. If you want, only prettier.
Remember my theory on creating a problem to solve a problem? It’s similar to that. Peter has played his role in helping them fix the problem.
Q. So what do they think just happened?
That a major ‘Fringe event’ occurred? Or that some other event has caused the two universes to join. Something like that.
Q. Ridiculous! None of this could possibly have happened without Boy Wonder!
It didn’t. Peter played his part, as you saw.
Q. Would that be Peter who never existed..
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Put it this way, Peter both exists and doesn’t . From their perspective he never existed because Peter changed the course of their history. But as I’ve said, there are many iterations – perhaps as many as there are Observers.
Q. So how did the universe war thing start if Peter wasn’t born to be stolen by Walter?
Walter and Bellie were always pioneers by nature. It’s quite possible that they found another reason to cross over to the alternate universe.
Q. I could buy that, but how would Olivia and everyone else end up involved?
Let’s remember that the two universes are entangled – this brings with it a natural ebb and flow, a connectivity. It’s called a loop for a reason – there’s REPETITION involved. Even if you remove Peter from the equation, it’s acceptable to think that the two worlds would still travel in a similar directions. Be it through entanglement, course-correction, or both.
Q. Do you expect me to buy that?
Well, think about alternate William Bell. He apparently died in his early 20s – yet the two universes are still remarkably similar.
Q. Your point being..
There’s a certain design to all of this. There are outcomes that are bound to happen, pathways that are fixed no matter what. So even if you remove Peter from the equation, the cosmic force will guide events down similar tracks.
I think so.
Q. So where IS Peter?
Q. Don’t you have any ideas?
Perhaps he’s in another loop? Perhaps he’s been kept as someone’s pet hologram? Maybe he’s in the future/past? Perhaps ‘this’ version of Peter is gone, leaving us with a new Peter who we haven’t yet me? Or, maybe his only purpose in life was to bring about the joining of the two universes? There are a few possibilities, but put it this way – I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
Q. Wait a minute. It sounds like you’re saying there’s an even grander purpose to all this?
You read me well – are you me?
Q. What? Just explain!
We’ve had hints about subconscious insertions and things of that nature. And I’ve speculated throughout this season that perhaps this entire story is a very literal and imaginative problem-solving exercise for our characters – even though they don’t realize it.
Q. So Walter’s Jack Shephard from LOST?
I see where you’re going there, but Peter is clearly more significant than ‘Deus Ex David’. But I appreciate you making that leap.
Q. OK, so Walter was the one who invented the First People Machine?
We don’t know for sure. It’s a possibility. It’s worth mentioning that Walternate’s version was based on William Bell’s design.
Q. But he sent it back, he MUST have invented it!
Not necessarily. He sent it back in an iteration of the time-loop, but we don’t know where it ‘originally’ came from – kinda like Nielsen boxes.
Q. Gosh, you’re right! Do they even exist in our loop?
If they do, no-one remembers.
Q. But what about the prophesy thingy?
The BBM and the manuscript are essentially in a time-loop. It’s possible that Walter also sent the manuscript through the wormhole as a kind of ‘easter egg’ for themselves.
Probably so they would know what to do next time round. As we’ve seen, the manuscript contains clues on what had already happened in the previous loop(s).
Q. Ah! So it would guide them to certain points and give them hints on what to do – without explicitly telling them – like Olivia being the Crowbar and stuff?
It’s so cyclical
It certainly is. It certainly is.
Q. So, who are the First People exactly?
Walter, Peter, Ella, Astrid, perhaps Broyles.. Heck, maybe even Walternate.
Q. And Sam?
Part of a long line of people who discovered the manuscript while digging for Mastodon bones. He’s kinda the keeper of First People knowledge.
A demon’s twist rusts. You’ll be amazed at what he gets up to on his days off.
Q. I’m confused about something else – why did Walternate ask Fauxlivia to stop the Over There BBM when he knows she doesn’t have abilities?
I mean Bolivia.
I haven’t been, but I hear it’s lovely.
Thank you. It’s a bit of a story contrivance to reveal that he also has a copy of THAT page of the manuscript and to get Altlivia in position for the final scene. Plus, he was desperate. He thought it was worth a try since his universe crumbling around his ears!
Q. But, if Walternate knew that Olivia had a special connection with the BBM, why on earth did he send her back Over Here in the first place?
Walternate does a lot of things that don’t make sense.
Q. Isn’t there an actual reason?
We could say that he didn’t think it would come to this. He got what he wanted from her, so perhaps he thought he was covered?
Q. Seems a little slack for someone so clever.
Like I said, Walternate does a lot of weird things.
Q. Wait a minute. Why are there two manuscripts? Why are there two BBMs!?
Perhaps the two universes used to be one universe, resulting in more than one of everything when they separated? Just a possibility!
Q. Who would have separated them?
I’m merely speculating here, but perhaps Peter in a different time-loop. Who knows.
Q. One last question. Does this mean that Peter really is a ‘projection’ after all?
Hehe. ‘Projection Peter’. That’s a good one, we must use that!