* This post is rife with spoilers. *
The season finale of Fringe answered a lot of questions.
For awhile I thought William Bell was dead, or that he had never existed. We never saw him.
I knew that Walter and Peter had been saved at the lake, and that Walter now owed the Observer a favor, but I could always tell that there was something more to that story and I didn’t know what.
Olivia started getting flashes of what I assumed were various other universes.
Now, after the season finale, it seems there is one main alternate universe. Liv’s flashes all came from that same universe…a universe in which 9/11 didn’t quite go the same way, and in which there was some other, more recent attack. After seeing the finale, I speculate that her flashes are due to the fact that that universe is starting to merge with ours. The “soft points”, from which radiate all manner of phenomena, are only the beginning.
It also seems likely that the kickoff point for the dimensional collision was Walter’s selfish snatching of another Peter–I’ll call him Peter’–from the alternate universe when his own son died. Indeed, the place where I imagine that theft took place–the lake where the two of them were saved–was the soft point Jones was able to use to open the doorway. I presume what actually happened was Peter drowned, Walter went to the alternate universe and retrieved Peter’, and the Observer was helpful in some way, but told Walter that at some point he would need to deal with the ramifications. The stealing of Peter’ was obviously a huge dimensional event–matter was taken from one universe to another, and has existed for some time in a place where it doesn’t belong.
William Bell has been living in the alternate universe for “months”, at least. (That’s how long Nina Sharp claims she hasn’t seen him.) It’s possible that he’s there in an attempt to stop or delay the merging. Perhaps he didn’t realize until recently that Walter stole Peter’. Once he knew the reason for the soft spots, he tried to compensate by shifting some of our universe’s matter–himself–into the other universe to replace what it’d lost.
I imagine his move will end up being too little, too late. Since Bell’s a completely different person, it’s not an equal exchange. And even though it’s not clear what role time plays in this, the fact that the exchange took two decades to happen will probably also have an effect, unless Bell has been there longer than Nina implies.
What confounds me at this point is where the show can possibly go from here. What will we discover about alternate universes? Will we end up able to cross between them with impunity after all? Or am I right, and does dimensional travel without equal exchange cause irreparable damage that will ultimately lead to a universe-collide? If we’ve answered most of the questions about why these events are happening, what kind of questions can we ask next season?
The revelation that Peter’ isn’t from this universe adds a new layer to Walter and Peter’s relationship. We know that Peter’ considers Walter to have been an abusive father. I’ve seen some speculation that it was Walter’ who was abusive, and Walter was a loving father who was too late to spare Peter’ from his father’s abuse. I think it’s more plausible, though, that Walter didn’t know how to relate to Peter’ because Peter’ wasn’t really his son. Whenever Walter is able to connect with Peter’ in a meaningful way, he is so delighted that I imagine it doesn’t happen very much. Walter was trying to bring his son back, but instead he brought home a stranger, and I imagine that fact, plus the guilt over what he’d done, plus the pain over losing his real son, drove him to abusive behavior and insanity.
It will be interesting to see what happens when Peter’ finds out about all this.