For me the show lost steam and interesting things to say with the end of Season 3. The end of a great show. The rest is watchable, but average TV that wouldn’t really deserve attention if it wasn’t for what came before (and Season 1 only is good because how it fits on the bigger picture revealed in Season 2/3).

So I kept watching until the end knowing it would disappoint. The finale did really nothing for me. The plot moved EXACTLY as it was described, with zero surprises or interesting development. The “emotional” moments seem well received from the internet, but they also were repetitions of everything the show already said before, and better.

Now SPOILERS.

Pretty much everyone who saw the finale thought it didn’t really make sense. A twit summarizes what I think was the common reaction. The problem everyone noticed is the following:

– How it is possible that Observers only get erased with the invasion, and not instead through the whole timeline, so preventing September to distract Walternate from the cure, causing Walter to cross universes, kidnap Peter, September again saving Walter & Peter from the lake, and then all the cascading of effects? Everything that happens in seasons 1/2/3 happens as direct consequence of the Observers’ intervention. If you erase the Observers then you remove the WHOLE story. So why is it only from the scene in the park onward that the timeline is affected? Why that arbitrary point? It is a good excuse to give the show the Happy End scene everyone wanted, but it is otherwise a huge plot hole that makes zero sense.

That’s the big problem. I saw the finale and I thought the writers just went with a something the public would enjoy, without giving much thought to the fact it made no sense. It may work for TV, but it’s actually even less consistent than what we got with LOST.

But after a while I realized that my memories of the show aren’t accurate about what ACTUALLY happened, and that with a little bit of hammerin’ one could manage to square this round peg into the square hole, maybe:

– Remember season 3 finale? Peter steps in the machine, ends up being erased. With the beginning of season 4 we got a rebooted universe. Peter only exists in phantom form, Walter lives in the lab and so on. The universe in seasons 1/2/3 was ALREADY erased. What happens then is that Peter is brought back by the Power of Love. It’s a horrible plot point, but it’s what we’ve got. The old universe is NOT restored, and only continues to exist for three people:

1) Peter. Because after he’s back he still has his memories of all that happened.
2) Olivia. Due to drugs and Peter she starts to have mixed memories and finally becomes the Olivia Peter remembered (this was a big plot in season 4, if you remember).
3) Walter. He’s touched by the Observer kid who gives him back all the memories he lost due to the reboot.

Those three, and all of us who watched the show, “witnessed” and remember those events. No one else. It’s a way the show has to tell us we got something somewhat private and exclusive to share with those characters.

When we deal with the erasure of the Observers from the timeline then we only deal with this rebooted universe in seasons 4/5, NOT the universe we got used to in previous seasons, which now continues to exist in memories only. So whatever effect the erasure of Observers will have, it will have in THIS new context.

I don’t have a good memory of how this reboot worked, but as far as I remember the Observers didn’t play a big role in season 4, and only seemed to actually affect the timeline with the invasion itself. So it *may* be possible that the total erasure of the Observers in this timeline doesn’t have other consequences, beside the invasion itself. Filling that plot hole that everyone noticed.

(Late edit: it seems I was wrong and there’s some deep involvement of Observers even in season 4. See episode 14. What I explain below could also give an excuse to why everything went as it should, but I have to admit it’s quite a LEAP. So thee finale may not make sense, after all.)

There are a few things left to explain, though. How was Walter able to send the white tulip to Peter? Well, do you really think that Walter would live happily and quietly in the future? It’s actually a powerful device, if you think about it. It’s an omnipotent Deus Ex Machina that’s entirely plausible in the logic of the show:

I’m being told that there’s a part of my explanation that does not work. They tell me in the reboot universe September STILL distracts Walternate from the cure. The only divergence is that Peter dies in the lake. I actually am not so sure about this, because I remember there was lots of speculation during season 4, so I’m thinking that this may be more a byproduct of speculative deduction than something the show has *shown* explicitly. In any case, the “logical” Deus Ex Machina I was talking about would fix both the problem of the White Tulip AND the problem of the necessity of Walternate being distracted so that things would work the way they worked. How? Do you really think that Walter goes in the future to start a luddite movement and abhor science? The “plan” was NOT to go in the future to obliterate current Observers, but to create BETTER observers. The kid Observer was needed to demonstrate how to achieve that betterment, not simply stop Observers as a destructive evolutionary trend and be done with it. Which means that what we got this: far future technology + Walter at their disposal = UTTER OMNIPOTENCE. Including time travel.

Hence, it would be in the realm of possibilities that Walter and the future at large have plenty of handy tools to make sure that everything that needed to happen would happen, minus the Observers invasion. Handcrafting the past so that Peter & Olivia would have the best life possible.

The White Tulip: the sign that God/Father (Walter) sends his child (Peter). To tell him he’s being taken care of:

When I take his hand
and I lead him…

he’ll know that I love him.

13 Comments

  1. Omg.. Thank you so much. I have spent the last couple of months watching fringe from season 1-5 and finally reached the finale tonight. And my reaction to it was very similar to that of lost, leaving me with quite a sour taste in my mouth for jj abrams. And now i have read this i understand finally. Its amazing how your mind cab make you forget about and join up one of the very important storylines.

  2. If the observers were the ones who removed Peter from the timeline when the bridge closed, then your explanation does not work. If the final reset did eliminate the observers, then they couldn’t have been there to take him out of the timeline. What would have made sense for the writers was to change the recommendations and findings of the 12 observer-scientists so that they did not go back in time at all, or to reset time to the beginning, not just 2015.

    • If I remember correctly, peter wasn’t removed from the timeline by the observers. He ceased to exist because after opening the bridge (not closing it) he changed the course, going against his fate, and created himself a paradox. So he got erased by time itself.

  3. The only way it could make sense (and I thought of it while reading this post), is if Walter, who is now in the year 2167, finds a way to either travel back in time himself, or leave a message somewhere for someone in the future to travel back, to the exact time when Walternate was disctracted (originally by September), and distract him again. That way, Walternate still misses his discovery, and good Walter still goes to save his other son. But walter would also have to tell that person in the future or himself, to save Walter and Peter from the frozen lake. Oh and also the white TUlip thing, 15 years later…

  4. Walter’s memory of the white tulip was erased when the timeline was changed after Peter used the machine to heal the universes. His memory (and his memory of the tulip) was not restored until AFTER Michael touched him in the series finale. So, the contents of the “letter” he referred to in the video tape could not have been the tulip because, at the time he made the video, he was not aware of the tulip’s existence, its meaning, nor of where he put it. The only answer I can come up with is that after Walter takes Michael into the future and prevents the Observer invasion, the folks in the future sent Walter back in time and, now armed with the knowledge/memory restored to him by Michael, he mails Peter the tulip. Would have been better had Walter knocked on the door. “Peter, I was wrong about the paradox. It didn’t occur to me that if they could send September back in time, they could send me back as well.”

  5. Apparently…the use of one properly set beacon moves the future end of the transit corridor away from 2600 to the date in 2167 where the 12 scout Observers had been sent but the geneticists had not yet conducted their modifications which created the inhuman Observer caste. Walter gets to shepherd the creation of Homo Superior along with Michael, thus erasing the Invasion and merging all associated “original” timeline changes out of existence, .

    The “parallel” universe continues on its own branching timeline.

    The use of the Machine was primarily to prevent the uncontrolled causal intersection of the two timelines and their associated universes. I like to think Peter was forced into a pocket universe until he returned to his “home” timeline.

    The ending really confused me until I worked out when to re-anchor the temporal corridor.

  6. The more I think about this, the more confused I get. If in the timeline reset September still distracts Walter, then after the plan was executed, that never would have happened, Peter would be cured and Walter would not cross over, he would have stayed in the alternate universe, and therefore he and Olivia would not have Etta. But the last scene is of them with Etta. If you take away the Observers she wouldn’t exist. Would she?

  7. So many years later and the confusion persists. I just finished the series on Netflix. Besides all the above comments on the tulip and September (I very much like the theory of a Walter who develops BETTER observers) here’s what’s gonna keep me up all night.

    If Walter and Michael travel to the future to find the Oslo scientists, isn’t that a future that is already occupied by Observers? And if so, how will anything in 2167 be as it should be? And logically, wouldn’t the Observers have a good 100 years to figure out why Walter went into the future and be waiting for him the moment he got there? I mean, you’ve got like half a dozen people to read that have been left behind in a hail of bullets. Freaking hell, now that I think of it, just hook up dead September to that Massive Dynamic device for reading and communicating with dead people. That tech should be still floating around, right?

    Because what I’m saying is this. Walter merely stepping into the wormhole isn’t the catalyst that changes the timeline. It’s meeting with the scientists that changes the coarse of history/future.

    The only thing I can assume is that I am correct but somehow Walter and Michael still succeed in contacting the Oslo scientists even within an Observer occupied future. (Sure.)

  8. After finishing the series and reading the comments, I would like to clarify some points from what I recall:

    1. Walter knows what the White Tulips are in the first reset timeline because September saved it from the old timeline and gave it to Walter to motivate him while they were working on the plan in 2015. This was explicitly explained. Walter mailed the tulip to Peter after deciding the plan to sacrifice himself. But us seeing Peter open the mail in 2015 was not him opening the mail sent by Walter in 2015 of the original reset timeline. Because in the final reset timeline Walter never sends the Tulip (Unless he time travelled back) and he probably doesn’t even exist in this timeline. Then who is Peter’s dad? No idea.

    2. There weren’t any emotionless observers in 2167. That’s just the point where they were deciding to create them. Also, there probably are timelines where Walter and Michael didn’t deliver their message. We just saw one of the instances where they were able to.

    3. Resetting to the day of the invasion makes no sense unless Walter makes sure someone goes back in time to distract Walternate so he misses the cure while Walter is watching like in the original timeline. Which means the reset timeline becomes the real timeline with twi exceptions… 1. Older Peter would never exist! Because the alternate boy Peter would die in the lake just like the original reset timeline. But because Peter was never in the machine in this new timeline, he would never have mysteriously appeared after the bridge appeared. Not to mention no one ever explained how the bridge was created in the original reset timeline to begin with. But my guess is that the two sides found a way to work together to fix the collapsing universes causes by Walter opening the portal to retrieve the sick boy Peter. 2. It is hinted that Walter ceases to exist with the final reset. If this is the case, then I really don’t know how Peter exists.

  9. There is one way Walter could have created the timeline we saw at the end. But we know it’s not what he did, or least not what he original planned on doing… Or told us he was doing.

    Walter could have got to 2167 and realized the flaw in his plan. He could then have went back to 2015 before talking to the scientists. He could then find the 2015 version of himself some time before the invasion. He could then tell his pre-invasion self the plan. Now these two Walter’s can safely execute the plan to make sure the emotionless observers are never created. Walter can send his stupid tulip before he leaves too.

    Now when the plan is executed the 2015 timeline could be brancheed off from the point the two Walter’s travelled to 2167. This timeline would continue forward for Peter, Olivia, and Etta. But this time the invasion would never happen. Because the emotionless observers become an anomaly. If they became an anomaly after the invasion like the show suggests, then there never would be a timeline like the one we saw.

    This also suggested that there is a timeline where the observers never interfered at all. The show just didn’t show this to us.

  10. So funny to read all the speculations and theories.
    There are basically X questions. The first 2 questions rather simple.

    1. Why did Walter need to be erased?

    Answer:
    Walter and Michael went forward in time to 2167 to stop the invasion. If the invasion never occurred, the events of season 5 would never happen and they wouldn’t go forward in time to stop the invasion. If they didn’t stop the invasion, everything in season 5 happens and they go forward in time (again) to stop it. It’s a never ending loop, and they both become a paradox.

    According to Walter, nature doesn’t like paradoxes so in order to “heal itself”, as he put it, Walter can choose a) exist in 2015, invasion occurs and then NOT go forward in time to stop it or b) go forward in time and exist in 2167 to stop the invasion but cease to exist in 2015 and forward. Nature doesn’t allow for him to choose both. As you all know, he choose b.

    2. Why did Walter need to be erased from the invasion event and forward and not from the beginning?

    Answer:
    The answer to this is actually mostly explained in the answer for question #1. It was the invasion that was the paradox event that made Walter himself a paradox, therefore it’s not until the invasion event that he ceases to exist, not before it.

    3. If observers are erased, wouldn’t Peter have been saved by Walternate since September wouldn’t exist to distract him, rendering the entire show “erased”?

    Answer:
    Observers weren’t erased. They were just created without removing emotions by studying Michael which was an example of this. This in turn led to that they would still go back and observe humanities great moments and all important events in history but they would never invade.

    This means that all events presented in season 4 and forward (up until the invasion) happens. September exists (except with emotions or at least a more kind and human version of him) and he still accidentally distracts Walternate, Walter goes through to save Peter but Peter dies at the bottom of Reiden Lake. Peter then resurfaces because of his and Olivia’s love for each other by Olivia “pulling” him from the timeline presented in season 1-3. He essentially pulls his Olivia from season 1-3 into the Olivia in season 4 so they both remember everything from season 1-4 and Etta would still exist.

    4. What about that tulip and the tape?

    Answer:
    This is the tricky one. I’m not sure exactly how Walter knew about him being erased since he and September would never create the plan to defeat the observers in the first place (there are no evil observers to defeat). My only guess is that either a) “emotional September” told him about that he would cease to exist so that he could record the video and send the letter, or b) somehow that letter and tape was not erased from the timeline by nature and that’s the only part that survived the erasing of Walter. I’m leaning towards option a though as it’s most logical.

  11. There is an answer to a paradox and that’s why the final will never make sense.

    If you change the observers by altering the future you will alters the past and that will alters the present and that will alters the future and that causes the alteration that was made in the future to alters the past to not exist going back to square one.

    to the final make sense you must change the entire plot of S5 to one that not need a paradox to solve it.

  12. “With the beginning of season 4 we got a rebooted universe”
    I don’t agree: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/2016-election/384828/
    Mariana


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