What a devastating episode.
"The Bullet That Saved the World" featured the tragic demise of Etta and raised the question of whether Broyles can be trusted. Below, TV Fanatic staff writers Sean McKenna, Carla Day and Carissa Pavlica are joined by Fringe super fan Nick Shere and special guest Roco of Fringe Bloggers as they attempt to shed light on the catastrophic events that unfolded...
Were you surprised that Etta only made it to the fourth episode?
Sean: Holy crap, yes. I know it's a short season, but I expected her to survive at least a little longer. It definitely took me by surprise, but i guess that being the last season means pretty much all the chips are going to be on the table.
Nick: Yes, seriously shocked. While Fringe has always built its stories around personal tragedy, casual death of central characters hasn't really been part of the show's language up to this point.
Roco: Initially it caught me a bit off guard. I thought she had more story to tell, but I guess it raises the stakes for the rest of the season.
Carla: Not surprised, but somewhat disappointed. I really grew to love Etta. For the story, I understand why she died though. Her sacrifice will propel the story forward and ultimately lead her parents to victory.
Carissa: I expected we would see some casualties, but to have her die so quickly after she was reunited with her family seemed too much for everyone involved. It makes me wonder if they will lose sight of their original vision of saving the world and lean toward vigilantism, something they've never been about before.
Olivia just gathered the courage to forge a relationship with Etta. How will she deal with her actual death?
Sean: I don't know. For sure it struck hard. It is her child after all, but maybe she'll keep it bottled up until the mission is all over.
Nick: I think it'll come with some survivor's guilt and maybe some renewed resentment toward Walter, on top of all the trauma inherent in losing a child. Olivia survived being shot at close range, but Etta didn't, and they clearly want that fact to be in our minds.
Roco: I imagine Olivia will process it in a different way to Peter, as was the case when they lost her all those years ago. She'll no doubt be torn apart inside, but I reckon she'll find a way to absorb the pain and use it to focus on the mission ahead.
Carla: Olivia is strong and I suspect she will handle it better than Peter. Olivia has always been the pragmatic one, while Peter is the more emotional one. She will use Etta's death to give her strength to do what is necessary going forward. She won't want Etta's death to be in vain.
Carissa: She spent so long suffering over Etta's death that it might not hit her as hard as I originally though it would. Now that I have had time to process it, I wonder if she will be left to hold up those who never lost hope. It's easier to accept something you lived with as fact for so long when it happens again. Etta's life was a mere blip for Olivia, for she was so certain of her loss when she was originally lost. That cynicism might benefit her now.
What will this do to Peter and Olivia's marriage?
Sean: That's an interesting question. A lot of times, I feel like the death of a child can cause a real divide in parents. And sure, Etta was an adult, but she was still Olivia and Peter's kid. I like to think that those two will get through it, but you just never know.
Nick: It's hard to say. Looking at their families, if Peter's response is anything like his father's OR his mother's, it won't be pretty.
Roco: It could strengthen or divide them further. But it seems like the story will end with them finding some resolution on that front. That's not to say there won't be bumps along the way.
Carla: If anything, it should pull them closer together. Etta's death shows how fleeting life can be. They love each other and I hope they will be there to comfort each other.
Carissa: For the first time, I think Olivia will be the one to ground Peter and show him that love doesn't have to hurt. I think she finally learned to be happy for the moments, but Peter is still an all-out guy, so he'll need to be reminded of all the things he taught her about opening her heart.
With Etta is gone, what other characters might get screen time?
Sean: Hmmmm... Well we did get to see Broyles which was great. Maybe Sam Weiss? No idea really.
Nick: Maybe Olivia's family? Have we had any word this season on her sister and niece? It seems like something she might be curious about.
Also, how about the man from the zeppelin in Lysergic Acid Diethylamide? And I'd really like it if they find an ambered Gene the Cow.
Roco: Phillip Broyles seems primed for more action. I think Nina Sharp will also step forward at some point. Surely the final word hasn't been written on September.
Carla: I suspect the focus will remain on the four leads: Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid. They will be the ones that will save the world with help as needed from others.
Carissa: I'm hoping for more Broyles, a visit from Nina and, although the alternate set has been torn down, that doesn't mean our doppelgangers can't come over here to help save the world. Something about the way the building Etta destroyed disappeared made me believe the universes are still intertwined. I'd love to see Fauxlivia and Lincoln, 22 years older, jump over to lend a hand against the Observers for their old friends.
Can Broyles be trusted with the plans?
Sean: Yes. Even when the Fringe team had to deal with Broyles on the other side, he sacrificed himself to help Olivia. When it comes down to it, the guy's definitely on our side.
Nick: Yes. He's Broyles!
Roco: Broyles looks like he's fighting the good fight.
Carla: As much as anyone can be trusted, yes. The Observers could read him and they would be lost, but I don't think Broyles would willingly give up the plans. He cared for Etta and cares for the original Fringe team too. He will work to help them as much as possible.
Carissa: He can be trusted, but I don't know what Etta's death will do to his ability to keep the Observers out of his head. It might become difficult to hide a read when you're in mourning. Generally, in every incarnation, Broyles, even when thought to be bad has always surprised us with his trustworthiness.
Now that we've had the turning point, what's next for our beleaguered Fringe team?
Sean: Another tape? Revenge? Something with September? There's so many directions the show can still go and frankly, I'm excited we get to go on this wild last ride.
Nick: A theme that's come up a couple of times in the past is weaponization of our heroes. It happened with Peter after he came into contact with the machine; it happened to Olivia because she was dosed by the bad guys. Now we've seen them casually deploy a terrifying bioweapon to achieve a relatively minor objective; they're terrorists. And that's *before* losing Etta. I think that from here on out, they become much more dangerous people.
Roco: Well, they're fueled by pain right now and I doubt that will disappear any time soon. But the best way to honor Etta is to achieve the goal they set out to do. The Destiny Tapes also provide a template from which to reassemble Walter's plan. It should be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Carla: Saving the world. Nothing has changed.
Carissa: Since the re-ambered the lab and found the plans, I think we're done with the tapes. Like Nick, I'm worried about our heroes turning down a dark path. They don't even realize what they're doing as they're so deeply affected by their current circumstances. I hope they find their honor and remember they're the good guys.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.