‘Fringe’: ‘The Boy Must Live’ review

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It’s really starting to feel like the end. With ‘The Boy Must Live’, Fringe takes a moment to fill the audience in on the details of the plan and Donald’s backstory, while Windmark takes a trip to the future. This is an episode that has minimal action and is full of information and exposition. How much it is enjoyed will depend entirely on how much viewers like the answers and revelations provided. Like many episodes of Season 5, this is an instalment that doesn’t lose sight of emotion and it sets up for what’s sure to be an exciting series finale.

Unlike certain other sci-fi dramas – such as Lost and Battlestar Galactica – this is not a show that has left itself with many mysteries to answer at this stage. Some may feel that this episode is full of expository material, but it must be noted that there really isn’t much left to be puzzling over as we approach the last two episodes ever. This will allow for greater focus on resolving the remaining plot points and appropriately emphasising the characters and themes of Fringe.

In ‘The Boy Must Live’, we learn that the child Michael is Donald/September’s son, something that feels fitting considering Walter’s past. We also get to discover a little more about the creation of the Observers and that the plan will require Walter to take Michael forward in the future to prevent the Observers’ existence altogether. There are obvious flaws with this plan that are sure to be explored in the final two episodes, as removing the Observers from time may have devastating consequences (for instance, Peter would’ve surely died in Reiden Lake without September’s assistance).

While the team are gathering this information from September, Windmark travels to the future to discuss the possibility of meddling with time to eliminate the fugitives. His idea is immediately discarded by his superior, who sees that Windmark is developing an uncharacteristic obsession with this matter. That doesn’t prevent him from continuing his persistent hunt, and complications at the end of the episode see him finally face-to-face with Michael.

Full of callbacks to previous episodes and moments, ‘The Boy Must Live’ is interested in slowing the pace down before Fringe wraps up for good. Walter has regained his memories of the other timeline and he shares a heartwarming hug with Peter after reminiscing about all that they’ve done to protect each other and the world. Michael Cerveris returns and gives a hugely impressive performance as he subtly changes September’s mannerisms and tone now that he’s basically become a human. He makes the audience really feel for the character as we get to see the man within the Observer.

How Fringe will really end remains something that we can only speculate about. Previous finales have shown an inclination towards the emotional, and there have certainly been warnings that this will be something of a tearjerker. However, this is such an intelligent and complex series that it must take time to examine the technical and logical issues inherent in the plan. As the finale will air in two parts, this effectively becomes the penultimate episode. While not the most exciting of this excellent season, it provides much to mull over and establishes the conflicts that will end the series magnificently.

Aired at 10pm on Wednesday 16 January 2013 on Sky1.

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