Fringe premiered this week. Its reappearance, however, was a bittersweet one for its devoted fans. That's because it represents the series last season. Worse still, it will only involve 13 episodes.
This time around the team reunites in the future with Peter and Olivia's grown daughter —Henrietta—leading the charge. Their mission is to save the world from the Observers.
As explained toward the end of last season, the Observers aren't the benevolent beings some thought they were. In fact, they are anything but. In 2036, they take over the world, eliminating those of humanity who won't bend to their rule and serve them. They are also poisoning Earth's clean air to make it more breathable for them.
The audience sees father (Peter), grandfather (Walter) and daughter (Etta) reunited right away. They also get treated to a short clip of Peter, Olivia and Etta in happier times. Sadly, none of them know where Olivia is or even if she's still alive.
Walter is also dealing with remnants of information floating around in his mind. He knows they are the basis for a plan to get rid of the Observers. The problem is, he can't put enough of the pieces together to know what he needs to make the plan work. However, he says Olivia was after a crucial part that he needed at the time of her disappearance.
The team tries to back track Olivia's footsteps based on what Walter remembers from their telephone conversation. They think they've found the right spot. But when they reach the amber where they think Olivia is, they discover all the bodies are gone. They've been taken by amber gypsies.
Etta uses her contacts to lead them to the black market where the gypsies sell the bodies. With a lot of cash and something even more valuable—walnuts—they get in to look for Olivia's body. Sadly, it isn't there. But Peter pressures the head guy into telling him who bought her body. Once they have that information, they are able to retrieve her at last.
Unfortunately, the gypsy calls the Observers as soon as they are gone. He wants to collect the reward they've put out for information leading to the capture of the Fringe team. So the Observers and their human servants are hot on the team's trail. Still, everyone escapes save one—Walter. He gets captured.
Once they have Walter, the head Observer takes a little too much pleasure in wrecking the scientist's mind. However, as he explores it, he's able to find that it has been purposely fragmented. Walter fights gallantly as the Observer tries to retrieve the various fragments. But did he succeed?
In the meantime, mother and daughter have a touching reunion. So does Olivia and Peter. Sadly, that's also when the audience learns that their marriage ended. After Etta got taken away from them by the Observers, Olivia went to New York to try to save the world. Peter, in his crippling grief, didn't go with her. As he put it, "I left you alone!"
Still, it is easy to see the duo still loves one another, igniting hope for a reunion. Just not at that moment. The team has to get Walter back and, with the help of Etta's resistance friends, they sneak into the Observer compound. They use a device that makes it seem the Peter is dead and Etta, a supposed Observer servant, takes the body right into the compound without raising suspicion.
Once inside, the team shuts down the machine that's changing the air. That gets the Observers' attention long enough for them to get in and rescue Walter. But the man they bring out of the compound bears little resemblance to the one who went in. There are holes in his mind. It could mean the Observer got the information he wanted.
Luckily, Olivia still has the piece of technology on her that she'd gone to retrieve just before the amber event. Etta's friends tell them it's a device that can unify scrambled thoughts. However, they think it's broken because they can't get it to work.
When Walter touches the device, however, it activates. He and September, the friendly Observer that helped him come up with the plan, rigged it to respond only to him. Walter puts the piece on, hoping it will help him re-organize his thoughts and give him the information the team needs. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work. Etta says his mind may have destroyed the information to keep the Observer from retrieving it. The plan is gone.
Does that mean there's no hope left? Walter seems to think so as he strolls half-naked out into the dead city. He's in search of music to calm his mind. He finds an old CD and plays it in a taxi's player. As the music washes over him, he notices something that triggers a memory.
When the Observer was tormenting him, he assured Walter that nothing grew "out of the scorched earth". However, Walter sees evidence that his statement is a lie. A single dandelion has pushed its way through a crack in the concrete to prove that hope is still alive.