“There aren’t any happy endings nowadays, are there?”
– Ella

That quote is a callback to season 2’s “Brown Betty,” when Ella replaced the sad ending of Walter’s story with a happy one. It’s heartbreaking to see that the young, optimistic niece of Olivia has taken such a depressing point of view fifteen years in the future.

The Machine has transported Peter to the year 2026, where the promise of a better tomorrow is all but a fantasy. The universe is falling apart. Tears in its fabric abound, and a group of terrorists called the End-of-Dayers has popped up to take advantage of the situation. There is a climate of despair and danger, as if the whole world is a war zone. To emphasize that fact, the opening credits play on a grey background, with the words “water” and “hope” interspersed among the various 2026 fringe sciences.

Even in this environment of hopelessness, people find solace in small comforts. Little pleasures, like Walter’s favourite candy, Red Vines, still exist. People still have happy, relatively well-adjusted children. Life still continues, as normally as possible. For their part, Olivia and Peter have found comfort in each other, and despite the fact that the world is crumbling around them, their marriage has stayed strong. They continue trying to fix the universe in the hope that one day they’ll have the world they want for the family they want.

Walternate has no such hope. He came Over Here to plead with Us to save his world, but to no avail. All he could do was watch helplessly as his universe disintegrated. If he was previously driven by a singular desire to preserve his universe, his motivation is now revenge. Peter is the one who stepped inside the Machine, causing the destruction of the Other Side. Walternate aims to even the score by erasing Peter’s only source of hope: Olivia. Hence, he ends her life with a single bullet to the head.

Now, Peter’s sole reason for continuing to fight for his universe’s well-being has been extinguished. Why continue trying to fix his world if he has no one left to fix it for? Like his biological father before him, Peter tries turning to the bottle for comfort. Luckily, he’s interrupted by Walter, who may have a solution – the third way that the Peter of today used to talk about so much. It’s possible to bring Peter forward to the future, tell him not to destroy the Other Side but instead to build a bridge between the two worlds when he steps inside the Machine, and then send him back to the present. Neither universe needs to be destroyed, and more importantly for Peter, Olivia need not die at Walternate’s hands.

The depth of his love for Olivia is so strong that Peter doesn’t even hesitate to accept Walter’s plan. If there’s a possibility that he can create a timeline where Olivia gets to lead a long and happy life, then he’ll do anything he can to make it happen, even if it means messing around with time, something that most would consider God’s domain. The parallel with Walter’s situation is notable. Walter cheated the fabric of the universe to save Peter, and now Peter will cheat time to save Olivia.

However, attempting to fiddle with God’s domain has a price. Walter paid it first by losing his professional respect, his sanity, and his wife, and then by spending fifteen years in jail for crimes against the universe. Peter will pay the price in a different way: according to the Observers, in going back to make a different choice in the Machine, Peter fulfills his purpose. He is no longer needed in this timeline. Thus, in his love for Olivia, Peter makes the ultimate sacrifice: he writes himself out of existence.

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here. For my review of “The Day We Died,” please click here.

That concludes my Fringe Summer Rewatch Project (which admittedly spilled into quite a bit of fall, but oh well). I hope you enjoyed reading these commentaries as much as I enjoyed writing them.

 

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