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Days of Future Past: Thoughts as the Season Finale of Fringe Approaches

First off, I haven't seen the third season finale of Fringe ("The Day We Died"), airing this Friday, so anything I say here is based purely on conjecture rather than inside information, spoilers, or pre-knowledge of the episode.

Personally, I'm feverish with anticipation for this episode. (And, no, it's not just the flu-like symptoms I've come down with at the moment.) After pulling the rug out from underneath the viewer in the last episode--the doomsday machine seemingly sends Peter 15 years into the future (more on that in a bit)--this season finale arrives with a huge amount of momentum from this season's strong forward movement. The fates of two universes hang in the balance as Peter entered the machine--with Olivia's cortexiphan-derived help--at the end of last week's sensational episode, and seemingly chose "our" world to survive rather than the one "Over There."

The promo shown at the end of last week's episode (as well as in the longer, feature trailer-style one, which can be found below) would seem to indicate that Peter was successful in saving our world and destroying the parallel world that he originated from, dooming his father and his (unknown) child to a certain death. So what is Walternate doing walking around in the future then? Just what happened when Peter entered the machine? Just what did the quantum entanglement between the two devices mean for our world and theirs?

I'm sure we'll get some answers to all of these questions and more with this week's finale, which seems to offer a new direction for Fringe and the members of the Fringe Division itself, jumping to dystopic future 15 years down the line. But while it appears as though Fringe has made a huge time jump, I'm also skeptical that it will hold into Season Four, though it would be a daring and inventive twist for an ongoing serialized drama. (Though I can't imagine the actors--or hair and makeup--would be too happy with the thought of getting aged for each episode.)

My immediate first thought, upon seeing Peter wake up in the future, was to remember the now classic X-Men storyline, "The Days of Future Past," in which young Kitty Pryde's consciousness was projected into a grim future timeline that was even more terrifying than that glimpsed in the final seconds of last week's episode. In the X-Men plot, Kitty's consciousness is housed in the body of her older self, allowing her to glimpse a possible future and then return to her own timeline in order to alter it.

Which brings us to now and this week's finale ("The Day We Died"), as the outcome of Peter's action comes back to face him head on. He seemingly destroyed the world Over There, dooming a universe to destruction in order to save his own. And he's forced to face down Walter--back in a mental hospital, if you believe the scenes shown in the promo--and his true father, Walternate, who seemingly crossed over in time to avoid all-out negation.

So why is the focus on a timeline 15 years in the future? Curious, that. We know that time is a fluid construct that is always in flux (thanks to Doctor Who and the presence of the Observers in the Fringe mythology), which means that the future can be changed. It's not a constant that is written in stone but can be altered. If the plot of the season finale does echo that of "Days of Future Past," then Peter will be given knowledge of the outcome of his choice... and witness that the future of their world isn't safe, not by a longshot as members of a cult attempt to dissolve the barriers of the universe. Is it the End of Days? Is it the day that we die? Or is it an opportunity to course-correct?

If it is indeed Peter's consciousness that is inhabiting the older Peter Bishop, then perhaps he will have the opportunity to change his decision, or make a decision that's based in fact and foresight. Is there a way to permanently seal off the two universes, to untangle them on a quantum level? Is there a way for both to survive? And will the finale come down to Peter deciding once more the fate of two worlds? How does one go on with the destruction of a universe weighing on their shoulders?

Of course, I could be completely wrong and the comparison to "Days of Future Past" might not be particularly apt at all. But, regardless of my conjecture and theorizing, I know that Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman--and the entire Fringe writing staff--have more than a few aces up their sleeves. I can't wait to see how this game plays out and just what the universe(s) have in store for Olivia Dunham and the Bishops.

What are your thoughts on what the endgame of the season truly is? Buy into the "Days of Future Past" comparisons or no? And just what is that voice whispering at the very end of the promo (below)? Head to the comments section to discuss.

The season finale of Fringe airs this Friday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on FOX.


Henry said…
Can't wait! This season has been fantastic!
I have no idea what this all means, but I can't wait to find out!
reelrootsryan said…
I just watched last Friday's episode last night. It was easily one of the best episodes yet. You're right; they've taken such risks this season. Great tv. Thanks for following this fantastic show.
Richard W. said…
I love this show, but I'm so worried that J.J. is going to go all "Rambaldi" on us and ruin this series with his faux-ancient machines just like he eventually ruined Alias.
Anonymous said…
I am even more excited than I was for having read the above! Thanks Jace!

It is sounding like it might be a little like the short lived series Odyssey 5, which I really loved - trying to fix the present based on knowledge of a potential catastrophic future.


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