‘FRINGE’ 5×11 Photo Recap: “The Boy Must Live”

Fringe 5x11 The Boy Must Live

For five seasons, Fringe has been weaving all these different stories, each one spinning off into its own tassel (or, fringe, if you will), and now, finally all these threads are coming together and being woven into a beautiful, multi-colored tapestry, which we, the fandom, can use to dry our tears, keep us warm, and to cocoon ourselves in while we try to find a way to go on with our lives after Fringe ends. Although it sometimes may feel as though this tapestry (which I guess is really more like a blanket or a shawl if we’re using it to cover ourselves with) is wrapped so tightly around us that we can’t breathe—either from excitement or emotional distress—that’s just part of being a Fringe fan, and I think most of us are used to it by now. As we near the end of the series, these various threads are finally being tied together, as we saw in this week’s penultimate chapter. “The Boy Must Live” brought together several pieces of Fringe history, including the origin of the Observers, September (AKA Donald), his message to Walter when he saved Peter from the lake, Michael, the Master Plan, and the ever-important theme of snow globes. This episode also paid tribute to past seasons by harkening back on some Fringe classics, like the theme of fathers protecting their sons at all costs, the white tulip, the sensory deprivation tank, and, of course, Walter in the nude. In short, it was one of the best episodes of the season, and it set the stage perfectly for next week’s finale. [Pause for sobbing.] Before I think about the finale too much and become further incapacitated by my weeping, let’s get started on reviewing this fabulous episode.

It started off—you guessed it…un-ambering the lab! Seriously, guys? We’re one week away from the series finale; we don’t have time for this crap! You all are like the squirrel in Ice Age that’s obsessed with getting his acorn out of the ice block, even though the movie is over. Actually, now that I think about it, the story of Scrat the squirrel and his acorn is basically the story of Fringe. Scrat tries to keep his acorn safe by hiding it in a glacier, but he accidentally causes the earth to crack into continents, literally breaking the world—just like Walter broke the universes when he saved Peter. At one point, Scrat even loses his acorn to a chipmunk (Walternate, anyone?). Later, when Scrat is finally reunited with his acorn, the iceberg they’re floating on splits in two and they’re separated yet again, like Peter and Walter were separated by the rebooted timeline. After four seasons movies, the fate of Scrat and his beloved acorn is still uncertain. If you’re not convinced by my comparison, just watch one of Scrat’s adventures and tell me it doesn’t seem like a children’s version of Fringe.

Aaaaand we’re back. (Reading over the previous paragraph does make me question my sanity a little bit.) That being said, the whole archaeological aspect of the amber project is a nice symbol for the final season—the uncovering of pieces of the past, since that’s what these last episodes seem to be all about. Peter was in the midst of some late-night lasering when he noticed someone (Walter) lurking behind him, prompting Peter to draw his gun on his father.




As soon as Walter said he was going to try to delve into his subconscious in order to remember where he last met up with Donald, I knew we were going to have to bring back the old sensory deprivation tank. WOOHOO! Season 1 HOLLA!!! (I’m sorry; I’ll never do that again. I promise.)




It’s a good thing Olivia has so much other stuff going on trauma-wise, or she might actually start to think about how many times she’s seen her father-in-law naked. This was probably my favorite scene of the episode because it brought back some of the levity of the early seasons. Sure, Etta is dead, and the world is going to hell, but they can still crack a smile once in a while! (Along the same lines, I loved that Donald actually cracked a joke in this episode. I almost died. It was awesome.

Walter accessed his memory of being in a room with Donald with a view of New York City and a bridge…



Apparently there’s more than one bridge around New York City (who knew?) so they narrowed it down to the one that was most likely the one Walter saw in his memory, and off they went to go find Donald, whom Walter was confident was still alive. On their search for Donald’s apartment, Peter confronted Walter about why he’s been acting so…you know, sane. (At least by Walter standards.)








HOLY EMOTIONAL RESOLUTION, BATMAN! I’m so glad they wrapped up the Walter-is-turning-evil-again plotline, AND they restored Walter’s memories of the original timeline!!! In the immortal words of Mr. Edwin McCain, (or Sara Evans, if you prefer the Country version) “I could not ask for more.” Of course, once I was done jumping for joy, it occurred to me that this probably does not bode well for Walter, given that his newfound state of self-actualization makes him a prime candidate for a grand finale death. But more on that later…

While they were hugging out an entire season of emotional estrangement (not to mention thirty years’ worth of baggage), Windmark was busy going to see “the Commander” (ominous much?) in the year 2609. Can you imagine how many Real Housewives shows they must have by then? No wonder it looks so depressing…







Am I the only one who thinks the Commander looks like a dodo bird? I think it’s the nose. See for yourself:

It’s pretty ironic that the guy who is supposedly at the highest level of human evolution resembles a bird that’s been extinct for hundreds of years. Just sayin’.

Upon arriving at the apartment believed to be Donald’s (two decades ago), they held their breath in suspense until someone opened the door…



IT’S SEPTEMBER! (I mean Donald.) And he’s all scruffy and adorable and having of facial expressions! IT’S FREAKING AWESOME. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop marveling at the fact that not only does Donald have hair, but he has stubble! Seriously, I don’t think I’ve had such an emotional reaction to facial hair since Brad Pitt’s Crazy Beard period. (We all know Brad Pitt is the Picasso of facial hair—sometimes it’s art, and sometimes it’s just weird.) Also, I still think Donald looks like Ewan McGregor. Maybe it’s the vest…

Donald filled them in on how he had been punished for sympathizing with humans, and forced to become one of them. He also explained the origin of the Observers, which were the result of genetic testing to increase intelligence at the expense of emotion. Oh, also, DONALD IS MICHAEL’S FATHER. Way to fit perfectly with the overarching theme of the show, guys. That’s got to be at least four threads tied together right there. This tapestry/shawl is coming along nicely!


According to Donald, Michael was considered by the Observers to be an anomaly and therefore defective, but really he’s a hybrid possessing Observer-level intelligence as well as heightened empathy, which allows him to feel emotions. Basically, he’s the perfect balance of brainpower and humanity. I just want to point out that this means the pinnacle of human evolution involves communicating through high-fives basically. (I knew it!)

Just in case you didn’t pick up on the whole Michael-as-a-Christ-figure thing in “Black Blotter,” they reiterated it when Donald gave Michael a little hand-cranked music box that played “What Child Is This?” which some of you may know is a Christmas song about baby Jesus. (I see what you did there, show.) Biblical parallels FTW!

After dropping the whole “this kid is my son” bombshell and giving a lesson in History of Observers 101, Donald finally got to talking about the Master Plan, which he was probably really disappointed that they hadn’t figured out on their own yet.




Basically Donald’s plan was to go back in time to the day the scientists created the first ancestral Observer and send Michael there as proof that it is possible to have super-high cognitive function without giving up the capacity for emotion. Then the Observers would never be created, and they couldn’t take over the world.

My first thought here was, if the Observers are never created, then September would never exist, and he wouldn’t save Peter from Reiden Lake, and Peter wouldn’t survive, and we wouldn’t really have a show. And if September never existed, neither would Michael, and this whole thing wouldn’t be possible. Also, time travel has not worked out terribly well for them in the past. Remember that time Peter didn’t exist? That was really inconvenient. But what do I know? My knowledge of time travel comes from Lost and Harry Potter.

Olivia jumped to a different, more optimistic conclusion: she figured that since they were eliminating the Observers, they would get Etta back. I have to agree that this is a much more appealing outcome, especially since, “And then none of them lived happily ever after because they didn’t exist anymore, even though they saved the world. The end.” is a terrible way to end a series. Let’s hope Olivia is right on this one.

Back at Fedora HQ, Windmark and his ugliest cronies followed Donald’s tracking chip to his apartment. But by the time they got there, Donald and the gang were long gone, leaving behind the bloody piece of tech that Donald had removed from his body with a scalpel. Because, you know, everyone else was doing it, and Donald was feeling left out.



When Windmark walked through one of the doors, there was a light above it flashing green and red…so it was either a Christmas decoration Donald forgot to take down, or another example of Fringe’s color symbolism. Then Windmark picked up a New York City snow globe, just like the one that broke in the gift shop that Olivia appeared in when she briefly crossed universes in season 3’s “Amber 31422.” And back in season 2, Nina used snow globes to demonstrate the inevitable collision of the two universes by smashing them together in “Momentum Deferred.” I wonder what kind of hidden symbolism is behind this latest snow globe appearance… Or maybe Windmark just really likes snow globes.










It was a nice idea, Donald. I guess it’s not that easy to blow up a couple of Observers, what with their ability to see the future and whatnot. Whatever, at least Windmark can’t have his precious snow globe now.

In a garage somewhere, Walter and Donald tried to scrounge up some time travel parts, ‘cause that’s totally where I would keep my time machine if I had one. In a box in the garage.


(I probably don’t need to say this, but if you still haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, SPOILER ALERT… Also, what’s wrong with you?)








WAAAAAAALT[er]!!!! I knew this would happen. Not in the sense of actually knowing, but in the sense of feeling it in my gut, like how cows know when it’s going to rain. (That’s real—look it up.) (Actually don’t, I think it’s a myth.) I guess this is how it should be: a father sacrificing himself to save his son (and the world). At least Walter got to remember all the joy and love and strawberry milkshakes of his life in the original timeline.

Donald wasn’t going to go with them, so he gave his son a goodbye high-five and wished them luck and went off to watch Gilmore Girls while they build a time machine and save the world.

FRINGE Donald five

They hopped into their new minivan (how quaint) and went on their way. At some point I guess someone realized that they hadn’t called Astrid to fill her in yet. That poor woman…





Lucky for them, Astrid is very forgiving. She even helped them find a way to get themselves and Michael on the monorail while avoiding tricky Loyalist checkpoints, which totally almost worked despite some serious flaws in the planning stages.


I’m pretty sure splitting up is never ever a good plan. Unless you’re dating Mel Gibson. But other than that, just don’t do it. Although in this instance, it actually worked out, for the most part. They all made it successfully onto the train, until…



















So yeah. That happened. Ummm I’m not sure why Michael decided to sabotage the plan and turn himself over to Windmark, but I am really interested to find out. I wish we could hear what Michael is thinking. His inner dialogue must be hilarious: “Look at these idiots, thinking I’m gonna get on this train. Oh I’ll get on your train, lady. Watch me… LOL JK I’m gone.”

Okay but seriously, that was a lot to process. September/Donald has a son?! And he’s the key to everything? Or something. Have I mentioned lately how much I love how this show always comes back to fathers and sons? That scene between Peter and Walter when Walter tells him about all the things he remembers from the original timeline—Peter calling him “Dad,” saying goodbye to Peter before he went into the Doomsday Machine—was one of the greatest moments between a father and son in the history of Fringe. I had learned to accept this Walter as a suitable substitute for our Walter (as had Peter), but it still wasn’t the same. I’m so happy that Walter now officially has all the memories of his life from the original timeline. Especially if Walter is going to sacrifice himself to save the world, I want him to do it as the Walter that we’ve known and loved for five seasons.

WARNING: I’m about to freak out talk about the preview for the finale, so SPOILER ALERT (sort of)…

My unbridled joy and confusion and panic at the end of this episode didn’t even have time to sink in, because as soon as I saw the promo for the finale, every single thought I’ve ever had was instantly gone from my mind except for one thing: Lincoln Lee. I literally shouted, “WAS THAT LINCOLN LEE? THAT WAS LINCOLN LEE. OH MY GOD LINCOLN IS BACK,” and then fainted. Okay, so I didn’t actually faint, but I did start shaking, and there were some tears of joy. Which is good, because I’m guessing when the finale rolls around, my tears will be approximately 70% crippling despair, 10% joy, 15% confusion/questioning my reason for existence, and 5% unresolved psychological trauma uncovered by Fringe’s emotional tornado…I can’t wait!

What are your thoughts on this episode? Pick a topic, any topic: Snow globes! Naked Walter! Jesus! Singing in the Rain! The white tulip! Mobius strips! Dodo birds! LINCOLN F@#%ING LEE!!! Can you believe the finale is Friday?! I can’t. Literally. I do not believe it to be true. I am in Denial City, baby, and I’m running for mayor!

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 January 14, 2013, in Fringe Photo Recaps, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Great recap as always 🙂 Poor Astrid 😦

  2. Awesome recap Louise! Incredibly funny! The best moments:
    “Don’t tell Olivia about the ballet thing.
    Don’t worry, I will. :)”
    Well that was rude-after the Donald’s apartment kaboom. 🙂
    Two words for you: Tic Tac-Michael’s words to Windmark. 🙂
    I love the fact that Lincoln Lee is back, at least for a short while… Him and Altlivia seem to have aged in the promo, so they maybe have kids and all. 😉
    Olivia is shot with Cortexiphan! So she probably crosses to the other side.
    I don’t like it how blurry Peter becomes in the promo. Let’s hope they don’t follow this line:
    No Observers-No September
    No September-No person to distract Walternate from making a cure.
    Peter stays safe in Red verse.
    He never meets Olivia. 😦
    I wish they don’t make the Observers disappear, but they actually make them empathic like Michael, without desires to do harm or to invade… Thus there would be no Observer invasion and Polivia and Etta would safely be ably to play in the park. 🙂
    I don’t want Walter to dieeee! 😦 😦 😦

    • Oh I hope things don’t go according to plan cuz of what you said about Olivia never meeting Peter. That would suck.

  3. GAH. This one had me rolling from laughter…anyways. Since August I have become rather obsessed with Michael Cerveris so my favorite scenes were any with him on screen…BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY FREAKEN FATHER/SON SCENE MADE ME CRY FOR JOY.
    Oh and I giggled like a loon when Liv saw Walter’s junk…all I could say was “It’s not like it’s the first time.”

  4. Wait, there was a Mobius strips reference? Damn, how could I miss that

  5. Ah, that’s it exactly! I kept staring at the commander wondering why he looked so funny and then realized Dodo’s is it exactly! (P.S. I just watched Ice Age so that might have something to do with it. Also I don’t think you’re crazy. You’re like Walter, more brilliant than insane).

    As for that garage, I think it might have been Walter’s back from 102. They brought back all these other things this ep, so why not that?

  6. Astrid at least is doing something and is needed every now and then.

    Olivia seems to be the female Observer, and babysitting the boy.

    Beautiful silent/non-verbal acting of Anna Torv, but I truly wish Olivia central and with Olivia and Astrid and Nina scenes.

    Season 5 has been too too much about men with hair overthetop emoting and men sans hair, bald , having no emotions.

  7. BTW. Olivia (A.Torv) doing all those beautiful emoting scenes, non-verbally has been the most powerful emoting of Fringe.

    Wyman does not like women, does he? If the treatment of Olivia, Astrid and Nina is anything to go by.

  8. “I’m pretty sure splitting up is never ever a good plan. Unless you’re dating Mel Gibson. ”

    My favorite part was by far the promo. F****ING FAUXLIVIA
    What about the hair? My heart stopped more fast than the cancellation of Ringer.

  9. My response to seeing the finale promo: “OOMMMFFGGG IT’S LINCOLN!!! LINCOLN’S BBBBAAACCCCKKKK for one last time!!!

    I had been hoping that he was going to be back to somewhat wrap up his story a bit better, and that hope became a bit more realistic when he was at the 100th episode party.

    My wish came true.

  10. Oh my gosh… you don’t remember the episode from Season 2 with the red and green blinking lights and how time would pass and the person looking at the lights wouldn’t notice how much time had past…. I only remember because I’m re-watching season 2 now. I feel that was the effect Donald was going for.

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