‘FRINGE’ 5×04 Photo Recap: “The Bullet That Saved the World”

Hello, fellow Fringe fans. Unfortunately, Louise is unable to share her thoughts about this week’s episode of Fringe, on account of her heart having been removed from her body and put in a blender with some strawberries and low-fat yogurt to make a delicious smoothie for Joel Wyman, since he apparently derives his life source from the broken hearts of Fringe fans. Oh well. At least she got to see Magic Mike before she died. And she always said she wanted to die from cardiac arrest caused by an episode of Fringe. I think she was hoping it would at least be during the series finale, but Fringe always hits you when you least expect it.

Luckily, I found several files with various pieces of her photo recap that she dispersed throughout the Interwebs. They appear to be out of order, and slightly damaged in parts, but I did my best to follow the instructions and compile them accordingly. I also found a recipe for Nutella cupcakes in one of the files, but I’m assuming that is unrelated to this recap, so I did not include it. Here is what I found:

*Incoherent sobbing* WHYYYYYYYYY??? Fringe. Why. WHY? Why must you build up my hopes and dreams like the most epic game of Jenga ever, only to pull out the pieces so that my feelings come crashing down on me??? Why do you make me emotionally attached to these characters only to rip them away from me? WHY, FRINGE WRITERS??? You seriously have to be sadists, and we fans must to some extent be masochists to actually sit through this kind of emotional torture for five seasons. All for the sake of good storytelling! WE ARE BUT SLAVES TO THE SWEET AGONY OF FRINGE. In times like this, I’m grateful to have an outlet for all my raging Fringe feelings in these photo recaps. Let’s begin at the beginning, before s**t got real, people got shot, and things took a turn.

Peter was strolling around like he wasn’t a Resistance fighter in hiding, but just a normal guy, going around town, siphoning gas and browsing junk shops. Because that’s just how Peter rolls. He came across a mildly creepy clapping monkey, you know the old-fashioned ones that have those vacant smiles, and brass cymbals that they bang together incessantly? I feel like we are that monkey. Here we are, enjoying the final season of Fringe, smiling and clapping along, completely oblivious to the fact that our hearts are about to be shattered into a million pieces. DO NOT MOCK ME, SYMBOLIC MONKEY. (Or should I say, cymbalic monkey?)

Curse those Observers and their invasive mind-reading! But more importantly, since when do Observers enjoy helping random strangers pick out gifts? Is that some kind of weird Observer hobby? Reading people’s thoughts and trying to find just the right present for their special someone? WHAT KIND OF MIND GAMES ARE YOU PLAYING, OBSERVERS?

I love how they had the Observer playing with the old Simon game in the thrift store, because, a) Simon = Simon Foster—foreshadowing of his return? (Preferably with his head fully attached to his body) And, b) the Simon game has four colored buttons: blue, red, yellow, and green (depending on which version of the game you’re playing), which as we all know is superbly relevant to Fringe, which hops between color-coded worlds faster than an Observer pushing Simon’s buttons. (If you’re not familiar with Simon, just watch this awesome 90s commercial.)

Peter made a break for it after the Observer figured out he was trying to hide his thoughts, and he ended up almost getting blown up in a sewer tunnel. In what other show do you get a chase scene and an explosion within the first seven minutes? Only on Fringe. When Peter regained consciousness, he was lying on the ground, and it was definitely morning.

What was with this random kid playing the harmonica? Was his sole purpose to inform Peter of how he came to be lying on the ground next to a drainage pipe? I definitely thought the kid would actually have some modicum of importance, but he didn’t really come up again ever, so I guess not…

Back at the lab, Walter was still backseat-lasering while Astrid took the slow-and-steady approach to un-ambering the next of Walter’s tapes. I would like to point out that they didn’t seem terribly worried about the fact that Peter had been gone for what must have been a pretty concerning amount of time.

A hug like that from Etta makes it totally worth almost getting blown up. And of course, we the fandom were just soaking up the joy of this scene, clapping along like a toy monkey:

…Totally unaware of the impending tragedy. Anyway, Windmark was having a downright jolly time playing with the Simon, which the Observer that read Peter had evidently given to him. (Seriously, is that Observer secretly Santa Claus or something? What is with him and gift-giving?)

Broyles was really coy about the whole Peter-buying-a-necklace thing. He seemed to be able to hide his thoughts, which were probably something along the lines of, “DAMMIT PETER, WHAT ARE YOU DOING RUNNING AROUND BUYING NECKLACES LIKE SOME KIND OF HUSBAND WHO FORGOT HIS ANNIVERSARY OR SOMETHING? YOU’RE IN HIDING, FOOL.”

The next tape of Walter’s Do-It-Yourself Observer Extermination Kit was not in very good condition, but they did manage to deduce that were are some important plans hidden somewhere that they needed to find.

After making some more headway in un-ambering the lab, they managed to open the hatch (seriously! Another hatch door!) to Walter’s secret cellar where he keeps the remnants of all the Fringe events they’ve investigated. My first thought was, “Oh my God, I would love to go down there and look at all the memories from past seasons!” But then I thought, “Wait. There are probably, like, 100 different things down there that could kill you.”

Before they ventured down into the cellar, Walter gave them all some smelling salts to inhale. Or it might have been cocaine. I’m not really sure.


YES!!! I was so hoping they’d give a shout-out to the porcupines. That was one of my favorites, mostly because it reminds me of Lincoln eating bacon.

This scene was FREAKING AWESOME, and I really wish there was an actual Fringe museum with all these props where we could all make a pilgrimage to see the pieces of Fringe history.

It was so surreal to see them literally walking down memory lane. I kept thinking about how far we’ve come. I’m not gonna lie, I teared up a little. Especially when Walter found his long-lost doughnut:

And that is why Walter is my hero. Well, that, and the fact that he’s helped save the world a bunch of times, and the fact that he’s, like, the president of the Polivia fan club. But seriously, if I were a character on this show, I would definitely be Walter. I am a firm believer in the Five Second Rule. One time, I picked up what I thought was an M&M I had dropped on the floor of a classroom, and when I ate it, I realized it was a Skittle.

Etta’s Resistance friend Holden was definitely not tasting the rainbow this week. He got caught is his own web of lies when the Bald Mafia interrogated him about crucial information, like his dead parents and the weather.

The Observers didn’t get too much information out of him, though—just something he overheard Anil say, and something about “the Dove,” which is the new mysterious entity of undetermined significance.  (Can we assume it’s Broyles?)

Meanwhile, Walter and Peter were diligently brainstorming ideas for how to get past the guards to retrieve the plans.

How adorable was that moment with Walter and Peter? Peter was giggling like a schoolgirl! I love the little father/son moments between them. Plus, I’m always in favor of more Bishop Family Fun Times, which are hard to come by in this sad, dark world.

Olivia and Etta were doing some bonding of their own, but theirs involved more talking and fewer Nerf guns.

This was such a sweet and touching moment between Olivia and Etta! CLANG CLANG CLANG! It clearly meant a lot to Olivia that Etta kept her bullet in order to feel closer to her mom. Let’s hope that Etta takes after her mother in that she isn’t very good at staying dead. I mean, okay, so Etta got shot in the chest. Big deal. Olivia has been shot in the head twice. Granted, one of those times was in a future that didn’t exactly pan out, so she didn’t technically rise from the dead on that one, but still… It’s only a flesh wound, Etta! (Side note: “WOUND” was the word spelled with the glyphs this week. Coincidence?)

This beautiful mother/daughter feels-a-thon was interrupted by the news that the Observers had discovered the lab and were on their way.


HAHAHA! Poor Astrid. She spent the last three weeks of her life slowly and painstakingly removing the amber from various portions of the lab, and now they’re going to completely undo all that work? Which Astrid will presumably have to re-un-amber in order to get the rest of the tapes? WOW. Her life sucks. Do you think the writers were like, “Okay, we need a way to include Astrid in the final season without having her on screen for most of the time so we can focus on the core four characters… I know! Let’s give her the tedious, Sisyphean task of un-ambering the entire lab as they slowly uncover all of Walter’s nonsensical tapes? Problem solved!” Well played, Fringe writers.

Meanwhile, Observer Palpatine was growing increasingly frustrated by the fact that the Bishops continued to elude them. At least, I think he was frustrated… It’s hard to tell emotions with these Observers, and Windmark doesn’t seem to have any expressions other than “menacing.”

Man, Broyles is really good at blocking Observers’ mind-reading. Do you think he took Occlumency lessons from Professor Snape?

Walter initiated phase one of their plan, which involved getting tasered by a Loyalist guard.

Walter and Peter made it onto the Subway platform and located the tube with the plans. Then they met the ladies out back with the getaway car and the grenade launchers. See, this is how every family should function: the men do the breaking and entering, and the women have the babies and shoot the noxious gas grenades.

After they’d driven a safe distance away, they opened up the tube to examine the plans which Video-Walter had said would help them build something that could save the world.  The only problem was, Walter couldn’t understand them.



Did you see Olivia’s smile of pure joy when she saw him? Also, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her call him Phillip before, but I love it. It’s easy to forget the bond between these two, because they’re both so reserved and aloof, but they’ve been together since day one, through thick and thin, and it was such a touching reunion. Not just between Olivia and Broyles, but between everyone. The gang’s all here! (Except for Astrid, who’s back at the lab, lasering through amber.) I can practically hear the writers saying, “Here you go, fans. Have this one last moment of happiness before we rip out your hearts and stomp on them with.” WELL THANK YOU VERY MUCH, WRITERS.

Broyles told them how he’d spotted Etta five years ago, and he thought she was Olivia at first. Since then, she’d brought him into the Resistance and taught him how to block his thoughts from the Observers.

I guess I can kiss my hopes of a family mentoring montage goodbye… *sniff* Now how will Peter learn to keep his fantasies about Lincoln from being read by the Observers?

Anyway, this beautiful reunion was rudely interrupted by an invasion of Observers who had tracked them there. Broyles held them off while the Bishops made a run for it. They reached a warehouse, where they tried to fight off the onslaught of Loyalists and fedora-clad villains. Peter and Olivia reminded us of how good they are together, both in love and in combat. They’ve been partners for so long, fighting together comes naturally to them.

Etta was alone, and not faring quite so well. Peter and Olivia planned to double back and grab her, but you know what they say about making plans…

I’m sorry, I have to stop for a second because this is just too hard. I am not, nor will I ever be, emotionally equipped for this kind of heartbreak.

Well, Fringe, I hope you’re happy. You’ve succeeded in making sure that the final season is the most gut-wrenching. After seeing how happy Peter and Olivia were to be reunited with their daughter, I can’t believe they went through all that just to lose her again. I still have hope that Etta’s death won’t be permanent, like many other Fringe characters. Maybe Etta was teleported away from the blast at the last minute by one of the Observers, or perhaps Peter and Olivia will find a way to go back in time and save her. Until then, we still have to deal with the aftermath of our beloved heroes losing their daughter again.

Even though it ended in epic sadness, it was an amazing episode, full of nostalgia and poignant moments between parents and their children. Even when it breaks my soul, I still can’t help but admire the incredible awesomeness of Fringe’s storytelling. And I look forward to (but also dread) seeing how the season moves beyond this tragedy. Most likely by moving backwards (in time).

What did you think of “The Bullet That Saved the World”? Have you stopped crying yet? Who had the best hug: Peter and Etta, or Broyles and Olivia? Will that harmonica boy come back and have an important role in this season? Leave your thoughts (or just unintelligible sounds of sadness) in the comments section, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus!

As always, thank you to FringeFiles.com for providing the screen caps of this episode, and thanks to TV.com’s brilliant Price Peterson, whose hilarious Vampire Diaries photo recaps were the inspiration for my own. And thank you for reading!


See the rest of my Fringe photo recaps here

*All images are property of FOX Broadcasting


Posted on October 29, 2012, in Fringe Photo Recaps, Television and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.


    Oh God. Truer words never said. <\3

  2. Excellent as usual. This ep was heartbreaking. Sidenote: On Walter’s plans there’s a bit that says ‘Bacon Factor’ (because, of course bacon is awesome enough to save the world). Until I see otherwise, I choose to believe this means they are going to find away to open a portal to the other universe, in 2012, to when Lincoln’s still all young and pretty, and bring him into the future to help.

  3. Louise…your BESTEST recap yet!!! ❤

  4. Your best photo recap yet. I laughed, I cried. God this episode was so hard to handle! Clang clang clang clang ahhhhhh indeed.

  5. “Who is Lincoln Lee and why are you picturing him naked?”- :LOLOLOL!! The enormity of this episode didn’t hit me until the next day. Then I was depressed. Only the best show on tv could do that to me.

  6. Cortexiphan Girl

    “Who is Lincoln Lee and why are you picturing naked” LOL. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one to notice Olivia’s *facepalm* in that scene. Also loved how you used Etta’s caps and, of course, Olivia’s ones….she’s just perfect for your captations. However, the winner is the symbolic monkey at the end LOL

  7. I will miss Etta. She was so BAMF; mama’s and daddy’s girl.

    Shallowly, I appreciate Walter in t-shirts without his usual awful plaids. (I’m much closer to his age than the kids’.)

  8. Ty Fringe for having this episode as a bday present. Worked Friday night. Horrible night. Transfused lotsa blood whilst dealing with a man crying for grape juice & dilaudid. Then I come home late from work. Watching at 9am & already emotional from exhaustion I get to have my heart ripped from my chest.

    Worst thing was I couldn’t go unspoilt. I sneaked looks at twitter during my night. I also suspected it was Etta who going to die bc Georgina wasn’t listed in the cast by IMDB for the next ep. But OH MY GOD I didn’t realize how sad it was going to be. Her flashes in her mind back to being a little girl. Olivia accepting the bullet back. Peter & Walter’s grieving looks </3 !!!!

    Oh Fringe how I loathe & love you so earnestly!! Sorry Louise your wonderful screen caps only brought a small smile to my face. I'm still too distraught AND I just read Mary's recap of Marionette with now the 2nd saddest Fringe scene!

    Now I have to go watch 6B to revive myself along w a healthy dose of chocolate. CAN NOT WAIT for the next ep. The previews are showing some potentially serious Polivia scenes. One good thing that will come from Etta's death is making Peter & Olivia close again. I HOPE. ❤

    • Finally able to read the recap & smile. Sorry about my birthday/work/fatigue/Etta dying rant!! I too loved the ‘clang clang clang’ as the monkey goes over the clip!! Thank u Louise for getting us to smile after this ep. Truly the saddest episode ever. Now we really do deserve a (major expletive) happy ending!

  9. Damn that symbolic/cymbalic monkey! Most painful episode ever! I’d rather watch Altlivia in bed with Peter talking about Casablanca, starring Ronald Reagan, again! I don’t know how you found the humor in the sorrow but you did and I am grateful. Thanks. On to next week…

  10. Hot damn, I did not think it was possible to make this photo recap funny after the death of Etta (yes I’m still crying) but you succeeded and you did it brilliantly.

    That last screen cap with the toy monkey falling off the cliff, man was that funny and I’m still laughing out loud!

    Great job and im really looking forward to next weeks episode and your recap!

  11. Only you and your fabulous recap could manage to make me laugh so much about THIS episode. That monkey was a winner. Thank you, I needed this ❤

  12. Liv: “We could re-amber the lab”
    Astrid: “Are u effing kidding me?”

    LOL excellent recap btw, really funny! kudos!

  13. I LOST IT AND STARTED CRYING AGAIN AT: “but you know what they say about making plans…” 😥 JASNDKASDNJJDVSJFVh

  14. Asking about hugs? I’m still waiting for a real reunion between Peter and Olivia. So sad, Josh Jackson had said this episode was a turning point and it was.

  15. (I’m another Jenny) I love how you can always put in so many references to other pop culture stuff. Lincoln lives on in my memories, too. This was boss! I have humor (emotions) all up in here!

  16. “I’ll tell Charlie and (Alt)Lincoln you guys say hi”
    Oh, God Ç_______________________Ç

  17. I missed most of these the first time around, so I went back to your first photo recap and I’ve been reading all of them (so good! holy crap!) but I just had to tell you, the pic here where Etta is dying and you said, “I’ll tell Charlie and Lincoln u guys say hi.” I literally burst out crying and I’m still all teary a good 5 minutes later. OMG. How can I miss fictional characters this much? Holy crapballs. Thank you for that.

  18. “What season R U in man?” Best line.

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