‘Fringe’ Season 5 Death: What Did You Think? (Spoiler Alert!)

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fringe season 5 episode 4 2 Fringe Season 5 Death: What Did You Think? (Spoiler Alert!)




As Fringe season 5 begins to reach its halfway mark, the first twist in the final season was revealed in episode 4, “The Bullet that Saved the World.” After being fatally wounded, Peter and Olivia’s daughter, Etta, used her final moments to bait the Observers to her location and set off an explosive, putting a dent in the Observers’ forces while also bringing an end to herself. But what do you think of Etta’s death? Did it happen too soon?

Etta’s death was as emotionally impactful, no doubt. But was it everything that it could have been if we were given just a bit more time with her? Etta’s character has always been shrouded in mystery, good and bad. From the brief moments we saw her in season 4, to the few episodes she had in season 5, Etta’s character was always balancing a line of acceptability and annoyance.

For the characters we’ve been watching for years, Etta was extremely important – going as far as being the linchpin in Peter and Olivia’s future. But for audiences, she’s essentially nothing more than a new character that’s been paired up with our familiar Fringe team; we’ve been told how important she is, and sometimes we’ve even been shown it – but there are more than a few things that prevented audiences from becoming as emotionally attached to her as they could have.

The fact that so much time has passed in front of viewers’ eyes doesn’t help, and Fringe season 5 doesn’t do much to try to make that transition easy. Not only does this season span 15 years of time that the Fringe team (and the audience) wasn’t a part of, it also includes 3 additional years that just the audience wasn’t a part of. One would expect that some major events happened within those years, which they did – we just didn’t get to see it (yet).

fringe season 5 episode 4 3 Fringe Season 5 Death: What Did You Think? (Spoiler Alert!)

Whatever happened to Etta after being kidnapped had to be pretty intense, judging by what all we’ve seen (er, saw) from her. But because we weren’t around to see any of the events unfold naturally, everyone is basically trying to piece together some type of emotional attachment from filtered flashbacks. It’s just not enough.

To her credit, Etta did have quite a few wonderful scenes, many as of recent. While we were patiently awaiting Walter’s completed device, Etta stepped up more than once to help drive the emotional arcs of these stories. These scenes did more for Etta than any of her flashbacks – but now she’s gone, so what was the point?

“We’ll just have to wait and see” is the simplest answer, and the most correct. However, there can really only be so many uses for this type of event. Etta’s death could help fuel the anger and fight in the rest of the Fringe team – it could finally give viewers a reason to hate the Observers, or it could do both – or neither. The question is: Did Etta die too soon?

If she had to die, should we have had more (or better) moments with her? After years of waiting for Peter and Olivia to get together, a child is born from that union. She’s dead now. Maybe should she have received more than a 5-episode arc?

[poll id="428"]


Fringe airs Friday @9pm on Fox

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  1. I thought it was premature at first. But after seeing Peter enraged during the previews for next week’s episode, it had to happen. There needed to be something significant to convince the team, especially Olivia, that the rules of the “game” had changed during the team’s amberfication, and that demonstrations of mercy and patience with the Observers were losing strategies. Unrelated, I loved the revelation that Broyles is a double agent. Great episode!

  2. Did Etta die too soon?

    Yes. But I would like to know what made the shot that killed her different from the shot at the beginning of the season when she went back into the apartment to rescue Walter. I also understand the anti-matter bomb, making it impossible for any life to survive in the vicinity; logical–unless we’re dealing with Fringe, right?

    Part of me feels her role was too important to the series as much as the plan to end the Observer reign to end the way it did. I guess, similar to Peter and Olivia I was not ready to let her go.

    And as for needing to convince the team that the rules of engagement had changed. I feel they already came to that understanding in the way they took out the Observer Check Point, even the observers felt it was “barbaric”. Peter’s need for revenge is going to take them off plan, the need to stay on plan and together because it is the best way to guarantee a long term solution the big picture versus a short term solution to emotional pain. What is clear, is that Etta’s death affected more than just the original Fringe team; from the promos it seems as if the rest of the rebellion was spurred into fighting back.

    Great Episode. “Shot that Saved World”. Per haps Etta’s death will save the world. Next Friday can not come soon enough.

  3. Lots of clues in this episode…the cracked alternate universe window is clearly a hint of things to come…come to think of it, the entire cold case storage room under the lab is a big clue too. The show runners of Fringe have maintained that this final season is a love letter to the fans…in so far as they will be referencing prior episodes in this final season it seems safe to assume that the ALTERNATE UNIVERSE is going to play a pivotal role in the series wrap-up. THEORY: We will see the story come full circle with Peter being confronted by the death of his own child much the same way that Walter was confronted by the death of Peter all those years ago. In fact the death of Peter as a child was the inciting incident for the entire series known to us as Fringe. So…it would seem that this series/final season is headed towards a desperate Peter traveling to the alternate Universe and being forced to make a choice when he comes face to face with the Alternate version of Etta…CAN Y’ALL SEE THIS HAPPENING? Where it goes beyond this is still quite murky, but hey it’s a start!

    • I would very much enjoy an episode or two showing the alternate universe again (did the observers take over there as well….and if not why not…since they could travel to that universe as well) but there sadly can’t be an alternate universe Etta since in both Universes there is only one Peter (the father). I would also like to see if Olivia’s niece (and sister) are still around as well. They did an alternate future episode in season 4 where it was the adult niece of Olivia’s that was a Fringe agent in the future.

      • I don’t think Olivia has a niece anymore. I can’t remember exactly and I’d have to watch the season again but when the timeline changed last season and Olivia was having her memory replaced, I think they mentioned her sister living in Chicago with her husband and no daughter.

    • I don’t think that can happen – there wouldn’t be an Etta in the Alt-Verse. She can’t exist, because there’s only ONE Peter, there isn’t one over there. But I agree that we may be seeing a parallel between Walter’s original “crime” and Peter’s need for revenge, and to have his child back.

  4. They made Etta far too important, and we know more about her than Olivia .

    But they could have left Etta to be there for Olivia, to give her a bond, and to give us Olivias childhood, we never got that story.

    Etta dying for Peter angry is stupid, and Olkivia did not need that dead to kick into action, even this Olivia was already working on a plan.

    I say even this Olivia, as Olivia has been made so passive since midseason 3, and her only storyline since then is needing Peter, and I am afraid it will be her only storyline for this season as well.

    So I want Olivia Dunham to get her importance back, and let her be The Dove.
    Dove is peace Olivebranch is peace, and doves with olivebranches are one.

    Olivia being able to have contact with Nina, via her mind, as you do not rest in amber,
    or Olivia not being in amber all those years, but leaving every now and then, like Bell did with his universe hopping.

    Note; Olivia saw things differently in 2016, green blanket, brwon shirt, 2033 pictures behind Peter, and she corrected Walter to the mine.
    So Olivia knows more, but cannot say it, as it would blow her cover.

    Every great resistence leader is absent (jail, hiding) most of the time and mysterious.

    • Olivia does seem more somber, even passive. At first, I figured she needed time to adjust being release from amber after 20 years, but you’re right there is a passivity to her character now. Did motherhood soften her?

      Don’t get me wrong, we did see some gun-yielding, Observer shooting action scenes but as for the strength of character seen in her stubbornness and assertiveness is lacking early on in this season.

      Whatever plan they develop when depend heavily on Olivia getting her edge back. Her role is that pivotal, particularly with Etta gone– I pray not for good, this family needs a break; the fans need a break! LOL.

  5. “Maybe should she have received more than a 5-episode arc?”

    Let’s think about that: a movie, in most cases, has under two hours to develop characters, and yet can create unforgettable personalities in that short span. Yet many TV series characters remain cardboard after having had – what? 20 hours at the least to play with in a season?

    The Etta character spent most of her time with a fixed half-smile and glazed-looking eyes. The actress never seemed ‘present’ in her role, despite all the sycophantic slobber on some fan sites.

    They had five *hours* to get it right, but she felt like what she ultimately will – I suspect – prove to be: a poorly developed plot device to create fake expositional angst.

    But then this show has had more than its fair share of frustratingly pointless macguffins recently. Like David Robert Jones, perhaps? Or Lincoln Lee?

    Although I actually thought this episode had some good moments, ironically Etta’s death did more for her character than her sketched-in life, the damage done by the steaming pile that was season four has, for me, destroyed the chemistry the characters painstakingly built over the previous three seasons.

    This isn’t our Olivia, but another Olivia overwritten with the memories of a person that no longer exists. Our Olivia ceased to exist, along with everyone but Peter, in the season three finale. These are all people from what is essentially not the same universe we came to know seasons 1-3. Why do the writers think we should care about them? Or do they think we’re all too dumb to remember?

    Season four could have been awesome. But it jumped the shark. I really loved this series and it’s sad to see how far it’s fallen. The ridiculously obvious plot holes in this season are more worthy of ‘Sy-Fy’ channel crap.

    • Hi @Underseer,

      “This isn’t our Olivia, but another Olivia overwritten with the memories of a person that no longer exists.”

      I think it is still to some extent in need of further explanation, this rewriting business. Something doesn’t add up.

      I mean, if you look at it from outside of time, as the Observers are meant to be able to, the old universes SHOULD still logically exist.

      Basically if you are able to say (as the show has tried to) that the two universe ‘branches’ (from Seasons 1-3) have ceased to exist, then this places you at a point in time relative to their existence. Outside of time however, the universe branches should all still exist simultaneously, though simply conclude/close off, or else loop back/loop on to new ones at varying points within the branching system.

      For example, an Observer from Season 5 SHOULD still be able to travel back to the original universe from Season 1 without any problem, and I say SHOULD, as it is the single biggest paradox presented so far in the show.

      The Observer’s refer to ‘re-writing the timeline’, but in a branched universe system logic would dictate that the very act of ‘re-writing’ would simply lead to the creation of a new branched reality. But we may yet get further explanations hopefull, especially regarding The Machine and what Peter did with it.

      One possibility is that ‘The Machine’ (and Peter) used a ‘Big Crunch’ on the entire branched universe system, collapsing it back past its original root, and then used a Big Bang to re-establish a new system, identical to the last, but with just two of it’s many branches altered. This scenario would indeed potentially leave the original universes beyond the Observers’ grasp, depending upon whether they are able to move between ‘branched universe systems’ or only within them.

      Or perhaps Peter (for all we know), created a ‘Big Bang’ that contains only a single branching, with only the two universe branches in it, every other branch that ever existed is now gone, including the one that led to the future where the Observer’s came from. Perhaps this was their plan all along – to get Peter to invent this new simple branched universe system for them to invade and occupy. Could be another possibility.

      More Observer explanations needed please!

      • On an emotional level though, the rewriting essentially allowed for Olivia to have a childhood where she didn’t grow up abused, and Walter didn’t have parts of his brain cut out. As far as character arcs go (at least ones involving time travel), that’s actually a nice little resolution.

        And let’s be honest, a show concerning parallel realities and time travel was always going to shake up it’s own foundations.

    • i am totally agree. season 5 is something else ( not something well developed)! i mean i totally couldn’t watch it but on fast play, because it is not the characters i felt in love with. i mean Etta? couldn’t they find someone more attractive? i mean Olivia and Peter are both attractive people but Etta ended up so ugly and her legs not even streight! plus Olivia is too passive and Peter is not the Peter i like. It is like fringe was over with season 4 for me.

  6. I think it’s pretty clear that they will succeed with the war against the observers, and after this episode, I suspect that they will do that by working with another branch of reality, either as a way or a consequence, and, for the happiness of all Etta’s fans, she will be there, alive.

    C’mon guys, I don’t think the end of Fringe with Etta dead can work, it would be too dark. She’s family.

  7. So The Observer winked out just before Etta’s death…I think he winked her out, too.he is flummoxed by love, and will want to study her to further understand it. I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Ettta! The Alt universe set has been struck, so any alternate universe will have to be a “new” alternate. One where they can all live happily ever after??

  8. Etta’s death didn’t do much for me as it would have with one of the main characters we’ve spent years watching. Her death was too soon and we didn’t get to see much Bishop family time. For the most part I felt she was just an added character like Lincoln Lee instead of being a part of Peter and Olivia. The main difference between Etta and Lincoln Lee was that I felt more attached to Lee than I did to Etta. She should have had more time to allow us to care for her.

  9. Guys, awesome show, awesome episode.

    I too like some of you, after reading username Sherlock’s comment, thought that there cannot be an alternate Etta since in BOTH universes, there existed only one adult Peter.

    That is until I remembered that back a few seasons there was a point when the alternate Olivia Dunham actually seduced Peter and made love with him, while disguised as the original Olivia Dunham. I believe she got pregnant but can’t recall if they did reveal the baby as being boy or girl.

    It would be wonderful if that baby turned out to be an alternate Etta. She would have to be a few years or so older than the Etta we know, since the conception times were slightly apart, but I believe it would work. It would be very nice if the creators of the show did NOT miss that!

    • They revealed that the baby Peter had with Alternate Olivia was a boy, (S4E14). It was also confirmed that when the existence of Peter was ripped from both universes the existence of Peter’s son went as well. The Observer September said that this was done so history could correct itself and Peter could be with the original Olivia (who is actually the Olivia from S4 that acquired her memories of the original timeline midway through the season. As someone mentioned before Olivia is the only person, besides Peter, who has memories of the original timeline; Walter, Astrid and even Broyles’ memories are the ones without Peter (this fact may or may not be important).

      If the writer’s were to introduce the Alternate Universe it would be from the timeline without Peter’s son. Bridging the connection between the alternate universe would be difficult enough, but for Walter to somehow create access to a timeline that he himself has no knowledge of would be impossible. However, this is Fringe as we shall see.

  10. There’s no way back for Etta. She’s gone. That’s it. She’s not coming back. When matter and anti-matter collide they annihilate each other, and due to E=mc^2, the mass becomes pure energy (photons) . Plus I don’t believe a human can become an ‘energy being’ in this Universe.

    I couldn’t believe she’d been shot. For a mad moment, I thought it was going to reveal that she had Observer level powers, being able to catch bullets and all, but as soon I saw the blood and the anti-matter bomb, I knew that was it for Etta. It was sad to see her gone, but Olivia’s, Peter’s and probably even Walter’s restrictions must be wiped, for humanity to win.

    • Peter was technically an ‘energy being’ start of last season. Plus she could have Olivia’s ‘Dove’ universe travel ability when emotional – might be why she exposed images to the observer to enable it. She may well be alive in 3 forms – a] an ‘energy being’, b]travelled to another universe (as said), or c] Captain Windmark grabbed her before teleporting out of blast range.

      • I would prefer Etta to stay dead really, you know, bringing across the fact that in War there are sacrifices, and it would force Peter to have to self regulate himself. Plus I don’t want the whole Death is Cheap trope in Fringe.

        • Your point of view…though a bit of an oxymoron one for what Fringe stands for with Walter saving alternate Peter and people saving others in this world and the alternate throughout the show.

  11. i have finally caught up with fringe. i hope they bring back the alt universe. I also hope they bring back evil william bell. they had it all set up last season. does anyone know if leanard nemoy is returing this season?

    • Didn’t know he was going to be on it end of last season when it aired. No chance knowing really if they keep up the cover this season (if a return is on the table).

      • Hope they bring him back, maybe a part of the plan calls for his assistance and they go fish him out of the amber. They should really find a way to incorporate Nina Sharp back into proceedings, seems a tad unfair to her character this season so far. Or has the actor left the show perhaps?

        Speaking of Bell, you know how they cut off his hand, well, I found it curious that back in one of the first episodes Walter has that jar of fluid with a hand preserved inside (stashed away in his station wagon for sixteen years, lol). “A friend of yours”, Peter asked. “I certainly hope not”, Walter replied.

        I doubt it holds any significance, considering it was in the old timeline, but thought i’d thought it worth mentioning.

  12. I gotta say that Fringe finally jumped the shark for me at the end of Season 3. I kept watching halfway through Season 4 but then I simply stopped following the show afer episode 14. I lost all interest in the characters, because the show had reinvented itself and completely changed so often that I just didn’t care about anything that was going on anymore. Why should I get invested in something just to have it turned on its head, making every previous development almost no-consequential? Now, reading the synopsis for this episode, I’m glad that I stopped, because obviously Fringe keeps making the same mistakes that drove me away last season. It’s too bad, because I really liked the first two seasons, before they completely changed the reality (and the character) of the show.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I really miss old/original Walter. Etta death I don’t care for as I never really liked or disliked her – boring filler character for development. I have a feeling you will be like me in that season 5 is a copout jumping to the future and forgetting most of what season 1-4 built up (especially the S4 finally).

      • yeah i wish they would do something different with season 5, either do like one episode in the future, then one episode in the present, alternating like that, or have “flash forwards” to the future. Season 5 is good so far, but i dont like it being setting totally in the future.

  13. I think saying she “died” is an understatement. She was pretty much destroyed at the particle level.

  14. I may be seeing this wrong or am confusing myself, but I find a hole in the storyline with Etta. The show is saying that Peter, Olivia, and Etta were in the park when The Observers showed up and kidnapped Etta. We know that they killed people in that park, but kidnapped Etta which means there was intent and purpose behind doing that. But in current day, The Observers have no idea who she is and she appears to have no importance to them.

    I find it weird that they purposefully kidnapped Etta just for The Observers to now have no idea who she is or that she is important. Am I wrong?

    • It has not been explicitly stated that the Observers kidnapped Etta. I think as the season goes on we will learn more about what happened to her. Maybe the Observers did take her, then again, maybe not.

      • Ok. I thought so. Like Anthony said “We’ll just have to wait and see” :)

  15. One more thing, where did all of Olivia’s powers go? Seems like they would come in handy at this point.

    • Walter said last season that her abilities were most likely gone, because her brain had to regenerate to heal after Walter shot her. You know, “the bullet that saved the world”…lol.

      • Oh that’s right. Thank you for reminding me. There is a lot to keep track of.

  16. I used to love Fringe, wached every episode and now it is turned to crap! I am so upset about the new season, the story line is boring, no more investigations just them running around for more tapes. Boring!!! They ruined the season!

  17. Did Etta die too soon?

    Well emotional attachment wise, no doubt we all have our opinions, but I see Fringe as a show that is willing to sacrifice on emotional attachment in order to spin a crazy, almost impossible to follow, but ultimately logically sound plot (hopefully).

    Case in point alternate Olivia’s pregnancy. We could have debated whether it was good character driven narrative, or not, but in the end we got our explanation, which was proof that it was all part of the planned arc of the show, and that explanation satisfied me beyond belief in regards to everything up to that point, bar the Observers themselves.

    The conversation between September and Peter in September’s mind explained that everything I thought was inconsequential (which nearly had me giving up on the show) was in fact ‘Important’. That’s when I realized what Fringe is, and how to appreciate it.

    Imho, this show is just one more grand explanation away from being a masterpiece, but if they don’t fully explain the Observers, i may end up with a very different opinion come the final curtain.

    But what I will say, for a show that I don’t even watch for the emotional investment, the Broyles re-union nearly had me tearing up (sorry Etta).

  18. Also have been wondering something. Which glyphs have not actually been featured/referenced yet, in the actual plot.

    These are the ones I can think of that have been featured in a significant way – Leaf, Apple, Flower, Hand, Seahorse

    Not yet featured –
    The Smoke
    The Butterfly (not counting the razor winged hallucinations)
    The Fibonacci Horn (unless intended symbolically, yet to see an actual horn?)
    The Frog (discounting Walter using a frog to recreate Olivia’s car crash in the lab)

    Sound about right?

  19. Best episode of the season so far, I think.

    The thing about Etta’s death is it FEELS too early but given the fact that this is a 13-episode season, and we are so many years in the future, it’s actually appropriate.

    Think about it, the writers haven’t managed to give Olivia anything to do and now that their daughter is dead, they finally feel the effects of this Observer world like everyone else. Now the main characters have a big push.

  20. MAYBE…..maybe….. this last season of Fringe is like the LOST tv series, where, it turned out everybody had actually died in the plane crash on the island, and the entire series was about their ghosts not accepting that they were dead, but then finally realizing it in the very last episode and embracing death with glee.

    I really would not like that.

    Well, whatever this last season of Fringe turns out to be,

    so far at least, it really really sucks canal water, and I suspect the rest of it and the end will too.

  21. this is going to be a stupid quwstion,but here it is. i just thought about this…where are the observer women??? i have watched and i also record to disc all the eps so i can go back if instructed to do so…but i can’t remember it ever comming up or being discussed on any fringe format i visit…etc… anyone,am i alone or did i miss something along the way?

    • @tommyk, it’s not a stupid question. I’ve wondered the same thing. It’s one of the multitude of dangling plot threads that sadly may never be answered.

      There’s not many episodes left, so I have a horrible feeling that the writers, who are now down to just four people for budgetary reasons, aren’t going to answer these many questions because there simply isn’t time to do so.

      But I’ll venture a guess – you could say that since the Observers seem to come from a transhumanist future gone horribly wrong, perhaps where traditional biological reproduction has been eliminated, and people are now grown in a vat.

      That being the case, then human reproductive organs – and thus two separate genders – would be obsolete. Since they seem to not know what love is, that also implies that women no longer exist.

      The ultimate sexist society? Or are they androgynous, both male and female fused into one? Just my speculation anyway.

      • i bet you are right. they have an androgynous feel to them. all but the big leader anyway. september and some of the backround guys do for sure. they had greys that were androgynous on stargate sg1,but they evolved to peace and thier clonning had become dangerous for them. of course sg1 was on for 10 yrs and had time to tell thier story…but they were just one of many aliens on that series. fringe could be doing a better job giving us info…maybe theyy stopped caring?

  22. I would like to know where is the rest of season #5> I’m on the end of my seat now I have been a fan since it begin and very sad it’s ending now,

  23. I really don’t want Fringe to end. :( My college life would be a lot lonelier. :( Please.. let it last until forever! *puppydogeyes*

  24. Episode by episode not bad, but this season feels completely unnecessary. Also, why can’t these season five observers just check out the future to figure out what the resistance will accomplish, then prevent it?

    • good point,but would make for a very short season(i guess it already is)…

  25. This is Fringe. Probably they will just bring her back in a few episodes, from the past, or from an alternative universe, or as a clone, or something else. Anything is possible in Fringe!

  26. This is scifi, you can always bring a person back. For example, they can go back in time and stop the baldys from taking over. And they can go back to there work. As if nothing ever happened.

  27. I think Etta will be back. I’m sure I heard Walter babbling something about how any physical process can be reversed. Not sure where exactly, probably on one of the tapes, playing in the background while others spoke in the foreground of the scene.

    • Etta will absolutely be back for a happily ever after in the last episode. No question.

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