[WARNING!!! MAJOR FRINGE SEASON 5 SPOILER!!!]
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).
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?
Fringe airs Friday @9pm on Fox