Advanced TV Review: Fringe Episode 5.11 “The Boy Must Live”

Photo Credit: Liane Hentscher/FOX

As time dramatically ticks down toward the end of this acclaimed series, Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Walter (John Noble) stop at nothing to save the universe from Observer rule. Walter enters the infamous deprivation tank in an attempt to uncover a key piece of information about the mysterious figure, Donald. Meanwhile, Captain Windmark (Michael Kopsa) sets out on a revealing mission of his own as long-standing questions are answered.

Tonight’s episode of Fringe is not one you want to miss and it’s not just because it is the third to last episode in the series. Sure, there are a lot of full circle moments as a series comes to an end. They brought back the tank for this episode and that brought for some comedy gold thanks to Walter. Oh, Walter and the things that come out of his mouth. The workings of his brain. My, oh my. But aside from those special moments (every one of them is noticed and counts), tonight, we get to learn how September came to be. How the Observers came to be. And what led September making the decisions he made. It’s about time!

The discovery that acted as a catalyst to the Observers, the sacrifice of human emotion says a lot about the world building on this show. Way before the Observers were really on our radar, the themes of sacrifice and emotion vs. knowledge were already well developed. It’s amazing to see how far this show has evolved just based on those themes alone. Remember the case of the week episodes before the show really started to dig deep? These themes were there. How? Well, these themes are the foundation of Walter & Peter’s relationship and it’s crossed universes, time lines, and so much more! It’s evolved into or really all along was just a small piece of the big picture about our world and what needs to be done in order for it to truly be ours. Let’s not forget what needs to be done when lines are crossed. Losing virtues for higher knowledge never ends well. Why? Because losing virtues means losing perspective and a losing perspective means losing period. Will Walter and the gang be able to reset and do what needs to be done to keep our hearts alive?

“Walter, why did you remove your trunks?” – Olivia
“They were too restrictive.” – Walter

What September put on the line for (SPOILER ALERT) his son and what Walter has put on the line for his… it’s still not over. Can you believe it? It almost is over though and with next Friday being the final week of Fringe, I am biting my nails trying to figure out who is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice with their life in the end. Sure, someone realizes that they are “the one” who has to make that sacrifice in this episode but it wouldn’t be the first time one of the main characters thought that. It could be anybody. It could be everybody.

You could pick any of the main characters on this show and say that they are living proof that you don’t have to sacrifice emotion for intelligence or vice versa. But what about their individual life and the impact their decisions have on the world? Walter is responsible for so many groundbreaking scientific advancements but Peter and Olivia are just as significant to the movement. They are at the forefront. We don’t know what is going to happen in the series finale and tonight’s episode doesn’t help us answer that at all. Sure, we get to learn about September and the Observers more but really, this episode is here to tie together the series for us psychologically. We’ll get the physical and emotional closure next week. But this, this is here to make us think back and appreciate all that has led up to the end and why certain things had to happen in order to get there. This is big picture closure and I really love how they delivered it to us. Look at the spoiler way below for more on that.

Bottom line. There’s not a lot of action tonight and no, you don’t need your box of tissues. I think they are saving that for next week. “The Boy Must Live” is not an episode that goes down in the books as one of the most memorable episodes of Fringe. But you will remember how you feel after the episode is over when you realize that the common threads that hold a human being, a relationship, a universe together is what this show was trying to show us all along. We cannot live without these threads no matter how many scientific advancements (and mistakes) are made in the world. These threads thrive and they will survive. Will all of the questions that Fringe has posed over the years be answered by next week’s series finale? No. But that’s the beauty of it. Nothing is as it seems but that doesn’t mean it’s not “A Short Story About Love” as one of the show’s earlier episodes was titled. That’s what I’ve taken away from tonight’s episode. I’d love to hear what you’ve taken away from it after it has aired because it really is all about perspective. That, and the glyph code that always gives us a clue…

SPOILER: Unless the glyph changes from the screener to the final showing, it will be “Grace.” What a great conversation starter. Is that what this has been about all along? Walter and the rest of the world discovering the true meaning of Grace? Discovering that Grace is a gift, not a science experiment?

Watch the third to last Fringe episode, “The Boy Must Live” TONIGHT at 9/8c on Fox.

Fringe‘s 100th episode & two hour series finale airs Friday, January 18, 2013 at 8/7c on Fox.