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A Fringe-Style Family Reunion: The Fifth Season Premiere Review

By on October 2, 2012
Image © 2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Image © 2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Fringe’s fifth season premiered last Friday on FOX with the episode ‘Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11,’ and it wasted no time launching viewers into the dark and complex story arc which will comprise the show’s final season.  With only thirteen episodes remaining to wrap up the series, the action moves quickly and emotions are heightened for both characters and viewers as the Fringe agents work desperately to save the world one last time.

Set in the year 2036, the premiere follows the events of episode 4.19, ‘Letters of Transit,’ in which we learned that the previously benign Observers have taken over the world, polluting and perverting it to their own needs and creating a totalitarian dystopia (horrifyingly created with impressive CGI effects). Walter, Astrid and Peter are rescued from suspended animation in Amber by a future Fringe agent and reisistance fighter played by Georgina Haig (yet another Australian … Fringe loves them!) who turns out to be Peter and Olivia’s daughter Henrietta. The fifth season picks up where ‘Letters of Transit’ left off, with our revived agents joining Etta to release Olivia from Amber and form the new Fringe Dream Team to defeat the Observer menace.

Henrietta (Georgina Haig) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) rescue an amber-encased Olivia (Anna Torv) in the Season 5 premiere of FRINGE (Photo © FOX)

As is common on Fringe, the story resounds with themes of family and separation. Etta, who was abducted at the age of three on the day the Observers invaded, has grown into a strong and capable adult, but never forgets growing up without her parents. We learn that Peter and Olivia, unable to deal with each other in their grief, separated in the wake of Etta’s disappearance; and Walter still blames Peter for what he interpreted as abandoning the team. The reunions are emotional and affecting, and the actors all do a lovely job of portraying the newly reunited, wounded family unit. It’s a tribute to their performances that it never seems weird when Etta calls Olivia and Peter “Mom” and “Dad” although they are only a few years older than herself, and Peter’s devoted attention to this beautiful young woman never comes across as anything other than that of a loving, doting father. (Kudos to Georgina Haig and Joshua Jackson for pulling that off convincingly!)

The family reunion doesn’t last long, however; as soon as Olivia is rescued from her temporary vocation as an amber coffee table (in the home of our favorite literary nerd and former bookshop owner Edward Markam), Walter is captured by the Observers, and the ensuing interrogation threatens to destroy his brilliant but fragile brain. John Noble is at his dramatic best during the harrowing interrogation scene and its aftermath, as Walter struggles to protect an all-important plan placed in his head by that friendly Observer September, before he died … But even with the help of an important piece of Observer technology recovered by Olivia (the wonderfully named Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11, which lends its title to the episode), Walter is unable to reconstruct the precariously assembled information in his brain (yet). To complicate the plot further, during Walter’s rescue Henrietta is apparently identified as a resistance fighter by the Observers, which will certainly cause trouble in upcoming episodes.

The Fringe team obviously has plenty of work to do if they are to overthrow the evil overlords and restore the earth to some semblance of normality. Executive producer JH Wyman, in a recent interview with Screen Spy, described the final season as a feature film told over thirteen episodes. To Fringe’s devoted fans, who watched anxiously as the show teetered on the brink of cancellation its last two seasons, the chance to ride along on that final journey is a wonderful and unexpected gift.

Don’t miss Fringe Season 5 on Fridays at 9 PM ET/PT on FOX.