Mark Watches ‘Fringe’: S05E04 – The Bullet That Saved The World

In the fourth episode of the fifth season of Fringe, I am done. I am so fucking done. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.

Well, now it’s apparent that the writers are confident they can do whatever they want. It makes for some truly thrilling storytelling, but it hurts. Oh god, it hurts.

  • There is a beautiful and haunting contrast to the world the Observers have built – one that is technical, clinical, metallic, clean, and inhuman – and the one they left for the rest of us. It’s as if the rest of the world has been left to deteriorate, and the slums we see in the cold open are what humans have come to expect in all areas designated for Natives where the Observers have not touched anything. It’s a stunning comparison of opulence and poverty.
  • You can then expand this idea to explain why the Observers are so unsettling. This show really has come a long way when you think about the history of them, especially since September was the only Observer we saw for years. Now, they’re no longer observing. They’re ruining the world with their oppressive regime. But the cold open serves to do more than just wax poetically about politics. It’s a demonstration of what life is like for the humans under the Observers. There’s that moment where the owner of Thrifty Mon turns his eyes down when the Observer enters to question Peter, and it’s a subtle indication of how he knows exactly what’s about to happen. He sadly knows his place in this society, and he can’t bear to watch Peter go through it. It’s a scary to think you live in a world where the ruling class can simply walk up to you and know your every thought. While Peter is able to momentarily trick the Observer, he doesn’t have the talent that Broyles and Etta later demonstrate.
  • The next videotape is retrieved, and thankfully, Walter is able to remember where the plans are actually located, giving the episode more time to focus on the extraction of the tube from beneath Newark-Penn Station.
  • Oh my god, IT’S BROYLES. I missed him so much, and you can tell he’s even more stoic and hardened than he ever was before. He’s living a markedly more complex life than ever, straddled between the world of the Loyalists and of the Resistance, and you can see the wear and tear on his face.
  • This episode once again shows us how well the Fringe writing team is at tension and suspense. From the moment that Captain Windmark states that there was a security failure by one of Broyles’s men, this is a relentless assault on my heart and mind.
  • It’s brilliant, then, that “The Bullet That Saved The World” acts as a way to reminisce about the past. We discover that Walter had a cold storage beneath the lab where he (poorly) indexed every Fringe event the team ever worked on. Oh my god, there are so many tiny props or bodies that reference past episodes. I’d love to see if someone in the fandom every figured out what each one was. And half the fun was trying to figure out which Fringe event the team would use to create a distraction so they could get into Newark-Penn Station.
  • Oh god, the portal window OH GOD the very site of it sent a wave of feelings rolling through me.
  • I’ve found the Observers horrifically creepy all throughout these episodes set in the future, but it didn’t turn to terror until that interrogation with Loyalist Holden. Honestly, I have never seen an interrogation scene like this in my entire life. The entire thing is one-sided most of the time! There’s no back-and-forth because the Observer can just pull thoughts and images from the mind of Holden, so all the acting of the person being interrogated has to be communicated through facial expressions. My god, it really hit me: the Fringe team are up against the worst Big Bads in the history of the show. The Observers are terrifying.
  • It’s bad enough that this was so tense, but once Holden gave up a thought about the Dove, I had to start worrying about whether Broyles’s double identity was going to be discovered. Goddamn it!
  • I love how hard Walter and Peter laugh at their air rifles.
  • I hate how underused Astrid is. Come on, y’all. She’s been on this show five years. Can she stop being left behind all the time?
  • I should have realized that the bullet Etta wore was the same bullet from “Brave New World, Part II.” SO MANY FEELINGS, Y’ALL.
  • AND THEN THE MOST SUSPENSEFUL EPISODE THIS SEASON SHIFTS TO HIGH GEAR. Oh my god, the lab has been compromised. Oh god, that shot of Broyles looking terrified as he watches the raid descend on the lab in the basement of Harvard is the worst. He has no idea if his tip got to Etta in time, and he might have to watch his old friends get captured or worse. Thankfully, re-ambering the lab totally worked. Unfortunately, there’s a curse to this blessing: it causes Captain Windmark to realize that multiple people might be able to deceive the Observers’ scans. It’s a horrible twist because Holden hadn’t tricked the Observers at all. The team really was in the lab.
  • Which got me thinking about David Robert Jones and ZFT and holy shit, this show has come so far. Wow.
  • “The Bullet That Saved The World” really is relentless. You’ve got the lab breach, then the checkpoint, then Peter and Walter getting the tube, and then an all-out war as they try to escape the Loyalists, then a brief moment where Walter is mystified by the complex plans and Broyles arrives, then back to UTTER CHAOS. These scripts are so intense! How does this show do this over and over again?
  • So I do wonder what the hell those plans are for. How is Walter supposed to understand them? Will another piece of the puzzle help him out?
  • Okay, no shame, the tears started flowing during the reunion scene with Broyles. My god, what an incredible moment. Broyles lost all hope that his friends survived, and here they are standing in front of him. But it’s his reunion with Olivia that’s the most emotional. Ugh, Broyles, this is too much.
  • Look, the worst part of the arrival of the Observers is after Broyles splits off from the party and Windmark simply points in the direction the team ran. It’s so silent and unnerving. Goddamn the Observers, stop creeping me out.
  • I don’t know that I expected the team to get off scot-free from the warehouse, especially with Windmark leading the charge. But I was truly unprepared for how this would go down, even though I suspected something was up once Etta broke off from the group. Honestly? I assumed that Windmark would kidnap her, that all his suspicions about the deception of Observers by Resistance members would lead him to find out how she did this. It just seemed… I don’t know! Impossible? Why? Why would he do this to her? When he fired that shot into her stomach, it was the moment that confirmed that all bets were off. This was the last season of this show, and the rules didn’t matter. They were going to kill off a character who’d only existed (in this state) for just five episodes. And you know it’s possible that Etta could have survived the gunshot, but she chose to take out a group of Loyalists and Observers with her. Even at the end of her life, Etta thought in terms of practicality. She was a warrior to the end.
  • My god, hearing Peter’s distressed cries while Olivia looks on, totally heartbroken and traumatized, is enough to last me a lifetime. Brilliantly acted, but I don’t know that I could ever watch this again.
  • The bullet saved the world again. By revealing to Windmark that Peter gave Etta the necklace out of love, she got the Observers and Loyalists to return to her body. She saved them.
  • My guess is that the final scene, with Peter staring furiously at where the warehouse once stood, is foreshadowing. He is going to do something in response to this, and I’m frightened to think of the implications of this. My only hope is that he doesn’t react in a way to jeopardize everyone else.

This show, y’all. This fucking show.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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