I understand that I am slightly behind the eight ball here but the only thing I have thought about this week has been the final shot of Fringe’s Season 5 premiere. I’m not going to hold back any information here so if you’re worried about spoilers you may want to stop reading. Season 5 of Fringe picks up where the flash forward episode (Season 4 Episode 19) left off. After the Observers attack, the Fringe Team, Astrid, Walter, Peter and Olivia fight back, forming a plan to defeat the invaders. In an attempt to keep the plan from the Observers, the Fringe team freezes themselves in amber rather than allowing themselves to be caught. The story picks up in 2036, when Olivia and Peter’s daughter Henrietta, a member of Fringe and the resistance against the Observers, revives the original Fringe team from their amber prison to begin battle against the Observers.
Though we do not know the exact circumstances that forced the Fringe team to amber themselves, we do know they have a plan. An Observer willing to help the humans named September implanted a plan in Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) head, putting it out of sequence so it can’t be read by other Observers. With the ability to read the thoughts of humans, the Observers can pull information from anybody. By putting the plan in Walter’s head out of sequence, September made it more difficult for the Observers to obtain it. All Walter has to do is use a machine to re-sequence the information. Unfortunately Walter is taken by the Observers before he can use the machine and is horrifically tortured. We are not clear if the Observers managed to get the plan from Walter’s mind, we just know that after the Fringe team saves Walter, the information is gone, probably destroyed.
During his torturing, Walter attempts to think of music, something the Observers have nearly gotten rid of in the now dystopian world. Not only is Walter attempting to use music to find solace in, he also uses it to change his perspective and let his mind grow and expand. When Walter realizes he has lost the plan he becomes distraught. Walter is absolutely lost in the new world he has been thrust into. The world has lost all sense of beauty and is just a twisted heap of rundown buildings and miserable humans. The things that kept Walter sane in his previous life like his lab or music were now gone. It was odd watching this epsidoe because in most episodes we have an instance of Walter listening to music. Usually when in the lab Walter is listening to some form of music and often sings when nervous, happy or concentrating. Not giving Walter a moment of music shows that he is in a world he does nto understand. Walter had trouble functioning in the world when he understood it. He is going to have an even harder time surviving in a world run by the Observers.
The final scene in Episode 1 was one of the most perfectly put together shots of the entire series. Wearing only a robe and boxers, Walter Bishop heads out into the street to investigate something that the sun is reflecting off of. Walter, probably one of the most wanted men in the world, makes his way down the decrepit, rundown street to find a CD hanging from a pipe by a thread. Walter takes the CD, sits down in a destroyed, rusted, wheel-less car and puts the CD in. The CD contains an old, bad eighties song and Walter sits staring forward, letting the music change his perspective. As he sits and listens he sees, and therefore the camera zooms in on, a single yellow flower that has managed to push its way through the gray and barren ground. That is what beauty has become to Walter Bishop. That is the only beauty that the dying world can give. It is a beautifully depressing shot, a shot that was constructed not only to mirror the feeling of the episode but to give us an idea of the tone the rest of the Season is going to take.
Walter Bishop’s Sad Shot of Beauty