"Fringe" may be ending, but the series still delivered with the Friday, Jan. 11 episode, 511, "The Boy Must Live," as the team found September/Donald (Michael Cerveris) and learned the specifics of the plan, among other things.
The bond between father and son was very much felt in this "Fringe" episode, both for Walter (John Noble) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) and for September and Michael (Rowan Longworth), both with and without words. Sometimes words aren't needed, and that was the case for the Observer whose device had been removed as punishment and the child Observer seen as a defect, an anomaly, as they reunited and as they parted ways again. That Michael had been created using September's genetic material was only one of several answers revealed in the penultimate week of the series. We also learned that September's words—"The boy is important. He must live."—were not about Peter, but about his own son, back when the Observer saved Walter and Peter. But while sometimes words aren't necessary, they can also be very touching, and that was very true as Walter told Peter that Michael gave him the memories of the other timeline, citing several instances he shouldn't remember. "Peter, before I met him, I didn't think it was possible to love you more. But now, knowing what we've been through and everything we've had, I do," Walter told him before the father and son hugged. But as sweet as that moment was, information that Walter told September he had learned later on gave it a bittersweet edge. If for the plan to work Walter does have to sacrifice himself, that may have been one of the last such moments between the two. It could almost be a goodbye.
"The Boy Must Live" didn't just focus on the father/son relationship. It also laid out the specific details of the plan they'd been working on all season, how the Observers came to be, and Michael's role in saving the world. As September explained once they found him (with hair!) thanks to time Walter spent in the deprivation tank, on February 20, 2167, a scientist discovered that by rewiring the portion of the brain that induced jealousy, he could increase cognitive functions. By sacrificing emotion, he increased intelligence, and it only grew from there. However, Michael's brain developed differently, and to save him, September hid him in the past. "I had observed in your time how fathers care for their sons and protect them. It stirred something in me that I could not ignore," he told them. Michael was key to everything. The plan was to send him forward to that specific day and show the scientists this different kind of intelligence, keep them from sacrificing emotion for intelligence. If they succeeded, the Observers would never invade because they would never exist. They could get Etta back.
If the plan sounded almost too good to be true, that's because there was a very dark cloud hanging over it: a sacrifice that would have to be made. What Walter kept from Peter when he told him what Michael showed him was that he learned that he would have to sacrifice himself for the plan to work, a decision he made himself as a way to make amends. "Do you think that the boy showed me all these other experiences because he wanted me to know that I have loved, that I have had incredible moments and connections, because, because it will make it easier for me to come to terms with what I have to do?" Walter wondered, producing an answer to a question posed in the episode that gave answers to questions that have been around for seasons. As one of the best scenes of the episode continued, September reminded Walter of the white tulip he received, a "symbol of hope and absolution" that gave him the strength he needed to push on. "I could use that tulip right now," Walter admitted, but September didn't have it. Only Walter could find it, and the conversation set up its potential return in the series finale.
We also traveled further into the future, to 2609 as Windmark (Michael Kopsa) met with the Commander regarding September, Michael, and the fugitives and admitted "The idea of ending their existence consumes me," requesting a protocol suspension so he could travel back to a time when he could eliminate them. The Commander refused, reminding him why they chose the time they did and offering another answer: There was a 99.9999 percent probability they would succeed. While Windmark didn't get permission to do what he wanted to, he did get Michael in his custody at the very end of the episode as the child Observer stepped away from Olivia (Anna Torv) off the train as the team evaded Loyalists at the monorail station.
With "The Boy Must Live," "Fringe" was still going strong, heading into the series finale event on a high note. In this episode, we learned some important answers, we got just a hint of humor in a life-or-death situation (upon Walter and September returning to the others with the tech for the plan, Peter asked, "Is that it?" to which September replied, "You say that as though we're not carrying technology that could bend space and time into a Möbius strip."). It was another five-star episode, with notable performances from Michael Cerveris and John Noble, several key and outstanding scenes, just enough answers for one of the last episodes of the show, and an ending that made us both eager for and wary of what the series finale holds.
"Fringe" season 5 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX. What did you think of "The Boy Must Live"?