FRINGE Recap: ‘The Last Sam Weiss’ (GMMR)
So, that just happened.
Much like the Bad Robot-produced shows that came before it (hat tip to ALIAS and LOST), FRINGE has a way of giving us 58 minutes of mind-blowing storytelling and then completely turning everything you thought you knew on its head in the last minute and a half. “The Last Sam Weiss” was no exception to that rule. In fact, this FRINGE episode was probably the most LOST-like hour the series has done so far.
Let’s talk about what went down…
Walter got to play with a kite: Sure, it’s not the most important thing he did this hour, but Walter indulging his inner child is always fun to watch, especially in an hour so ripe with dramatic tension. With the doomsday device causing Fringe events everywhere, Walter was content to ignore them so he could stay by Peter’s bedside at the hospital. However, when Astrid made a comment that reminded him of Benjamin Franklin, he realized he might have an idea, so he took a kite to experiment with the lightning. While flying his kite, Walter had a brainstorm, went back to the lab and realized that the machine on our side and the machine Over There were acting like magnets for the Fringe events. He went to Broyles and requested that he be allowed to move our machine over to Liberty Island — the same location where Walternate has his machine Over There — to minimize the damage done to our world.
Sam Weiss wasn’t entirely unhelpful: It was a bit unnerving to see Sam out of his element and not providing all of the answers, wasn’t it? Despite his confusion over the machine turning on early, he did realize it had a force field protecting itself because it thought Peter was in there already. Sam also had unpublished pages from the “First People” book, which he believed would help save them — all they had to do is find a “crowbar” to open the force field so Peter could go into the machine safely. To find that, they needed to find a key to open the container which held the crowbar.
On their journey, we learned a little bit more about the enigma that is Sam Weiss as he and Olivia looked through his relative’s tomb…
Sam: I’m not the first Sam Weiss.
Olivia: So which Sam Weiss is this?
Sam: That’s my great-great-great-great grandfather. He was digging for mastodon bones when he discovered an ancient manuscript instead.
Olivia: So he was the one who wrote the “First People” book?
Sam: No, that was the fifth Sam Weiss. The third and fourth Sams spent their lives searching for the manuscript’s missing sections.
Olivia: You’re a dedicated bunch.
Sam: A machine with the power to create and destroy worlds shouldn’t be taken lightly.
But as soon as they successfully completed their first stop, Sam began to panic. He didn’t know if he should be interfering with what was going on because this wasn’t how things were supposed to happen. He hoped things might fix themselves because “generations of knowledge have been bestowed upon me, but no one said anything about the other side turning on the machine first.” Olivia refused to be passive and just wait and see, so she threatened him to keep him going.
Olivia and Sam went to a museum to get the key and apparently the spontaneous lightening that had been appearing outdoors also happens indoors, too. They got the key and when the lightening threatened to trap them inside, Sam used his bowling skills (!) to prop open a door so they could get out.
When they open up the box and found the crowbar, it was a scroll of paper which featured a drawing of Olivia — much like the one we saw of Peter last season. The good news? Now they have a match set of creepy, prophetic drawings to put up in their future home. How, um, romantic?
Thanks, David Robert Jones: Olivia and Sam went back to Walter’s lab to show him the drawing and Walter realized that it meant Olivia had the power to bend things with her mind. “You’ve done it before!” Walter reminded Olivia. “Two years ago, David Robert Jones. She diffused a bomb by turning off some lights with her mind!” Good to know that all the torture DRJ put her through wasn’t for nothing.
Walter told Olivia that in order to disable the force field that was protecting our machine, she’d have to turn off the machine Over There. He suggested she should practice using her telekinesis Over There by using the typewriter Fauxlivia used to communicate to the other side.
As strong and kickass as Olivia was after surviving “LSD,” she seemed to revert back to her self-doubting ways in “The Last Sam Weiss.”
Olivia: Walter, maybe if you gave me some Cortexiphan…
Walter: I’m afraid at this point it would do you more harm than good. These abilities are inside you, Olivia. You simply need to harness them.
Olivia: Walter, I don’t know how. I never have.
Walter: I know what it’s like to feel unequal to the task required of you. To feel incapable. I’ll never be the man I was, but I’ve come to embrace those parts of my mind that are…peculiar and broken. I understand now that’s what makes my mind special. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. You have no idea how extraordinary you are. If you would embrace that, there’s no end to what you can do.
Olivia: I know that you want to believe in me and I want to believe in me…but believing doesn’t make it true.
Walter: Just try.
And she did. But it didn’t work. (Un)luckily for them, they were interrupted by the news that Peter was MIA.
What did the machine’s rejection do to Peter?: Peter woke up and since Walter, Olivia and Astrid otherwise occupied, no one was there to stop him when he immediately bolted from the hospital. The only problem? He didn’t have all of his memories. Peter thought his father was the Secretary of Defense — something that is technically true, since Walternate is Over There, but an odd detail to remember — and was drawn to a pawn shop where he purchased a half dollar coin (similar to the one he played with as a kid). He eventually was reunited with Walter and Olivia at Liberty Island and he told them, “I think I’ve been confused.”
When Peter first woke up and started wandering around, I suspected he was either Over There or already forward in time somehow. It was a pleasant surprise to be wrong about that, but it made it even more unnerving that he was so out of touch in his own reality.
Peter and Olivia…destined or doomed?: After they were reunited, Olivia filled Peter in on what had been going on. She told him that despite her efforts, she was unable to make the typewriter do anything. However, back in Walter’s lab, that typewriter was alive and working and Astrid called up Olivia to tell her that a message kept repeating itself: “Be a better man than your father.” Longtime FRINGE fans may remember that was the English translation of the phrase Bell told Olivia to tell Peter in the second season premiere. (And Peter informed Olivia that his mother used to tell him that when he was a kid.) Olivia had finally been able to get that typewriter working.
With that done, Peter and Olivia now had a job to do with the machine. “You can do this,” Peter told her. And she did. Olivia managed to turn the force field off — freaking out the people Over There.
The goodbye Peter and Olivia shared as he prepared to go into the machine was incredibly bittersweet. Olivia told Peter she loved him and they kissed. He channeled his inner Han Solo and simply told her, “Wish me luck.” (I suppose that’s better than saying “I know”?) As he climbed the stairs and put himself into the machine, moments from his life — a good portion of them featuring Olivia — flashed before his eyes. (Which completely took me back to the LOST series finale when the couples reunited/awoke in the sideways world.)
And his entry into the machine worked. Peter woke up on a street in New York, wounded, essentially on a battlefield. Peter saw a plaque that was put up the honor the 9/11 victims on the 20th anniversary of the attack and “Agent Bishop” was greeted by a member of Fringe Division…yep, we’re in the future.
Walter: A long time since I’ve seen a classic fruit cocktail. Why do you suppose that is?
Astrid: I suppose loading fruit with sugar, artificial flavors and dyes has fallen out of favor.
Walter: Oh, that’s a shame.
Peter (to Walter): I know you’re not the Secretary of Defense. The sweater’s a dead giveaway.
Peter (to Olivia as they’re about to activate the machine): Don’t say I never took you anywhere.
Where we go from here: Where don’t we go from here? We’re in the future! The possibilities are endless. Let’s ignore for a minute that the title of the season finale is “The Day We Died” and concentrate on the notion of spending 15 years in the future for the season finale. The promo seemed to hint at an awesome showdown between Walternate and Peter, a bearded and imprisoned Walter, and much more to come.
What I’m curious about is which alt-characters won’t be there and why. 15 years is a long time, so it seems safe to assume that some of the characters we know now might have perished already. Oh, and the Observers are there. About time those dudes showed up again, because you’d think they’d be all up in Walter’s business right about now…