A new season of Fringe is right around the corner. In fact it seems to be heading our direction like a runaway train. Gone is the interminable summer that separated us from the end of season four and the onset of this truncated season. Many great themes will be explored this coming year but because there is precious little time for stand alone episodes or thematic diversions we should get right down to the nitty gritty.
There has been much discussion in the blogosphere and the internet in general as to whether Walter Bishop will finally get his redemption. Even if the season four version of Walter isn't aware of the transgressions of the previous iterations of Walter the sins of the past and his inter-dimensional machinations remain largely the same.
There was a time when Walter used to openly beseech God for his forgiveness but the season four version of Walter while guilty of the same sins in general is more likely to drift into a state of depression and resignation. So how is this Walter going to receive redemption if he isn't the same man he used to be? Literally!
Thanks to the future Fringe Division, Walter Bishop isn't even the same man he was in season four. He is now the cantankerous, impatient bully that many of us found repugnant. With his faculties fully intact Walter now seems even further from redemption that he ever was.
So how will Bell have a hand in saving the future and enabling the redemption of Walter Bishop?
When the nicer version of Walter was freed from the amber in the year 2036 he left Bell behind to be permanently encased in amber and explained to Astrid that he deserved to stay there because of what he did to Olivia. Walter, however, removed Bell's hand and I believe he did it knowing that one day he would need Bell's brilliant mind once again. (Sharp eyed reader, Lynne, [duckyislost] points out in her comment the hands usefulness is primarily to gain access to a biometrically protected safe room or lab.) I'm thinking Walter will clone a new version of William Bell and this new version will receive and accelerated growth engineering. Walter will probably stop the accelerated growth in Bell's twenties so he will have a long and useful life ahead of him. This way Leonard Nimoy will be freed of having to play Bell and younger actor will take over the role.
The new younger Bell will be able to work with the old brilliant but miserable Walter and help defeat the Observers perhaps by completeing the device that will rid the world of the Observers together.
But at what cost?
I envision a scenario where Walters puts himself in harms way either because the device is near completion or he has to manually operate it as the Observers draw close. Even the cold and bitter Walter of the future know what's at stake. He willingly sacrifices himself so the mission will succeed and the world will be free of the totalitarian bondage of the Observers. As the Fringe Division rushes to his side the dying Walter regards them all. The family is whole again and the future is safe. As Walter passes away he finally finds the redemption he deserves.
Walter's passing is mourned deeply. The world may be safe but a shadow is cast over what is ahead. There is much work to be done to undo what the Observers have wrought. In a quiet darkened space that used to be a laboratory at Harvard University a young William Bell hangs his head at the enormity of the challenge before him. As the tears well in his eyes a silent figure appears before him. He doffs his fedora and extend his hand. A vial is placed in the care of Bell and with it the future is remade. "Thank you" offers Bell, "My old friend and I have much to do."
And so in a world where darkness once prevailed two brilliant minds forge the beginning of a new era. The echoes of their greatness reverberate across time and space. So as it once was so it is to be again. Such is the life and death and life of Walter Bishop.