Fate 1 Walter 0!

Fringe has finally come to it's conclusion and with it the question of fate versus free will has been answered.  Fate wins free will loses.

Even with the final episode of Fringe being titled, "An Enemy of Fate" Walter finally succumbs to his destiny and with it apparently comes his absolution.  One could argue that Walter chose this path and that he accepted this future of his own volition.  He sought forgiveness and redemption and in the end it was his duty to take Michael into the future and right the wrongs that had been done over many timelines.  As far back as 2015 Walter had planned (along with September) to repair what he had wrought.  Freed from amber in the future Walter was able to kick start his effort to rid the world of the Observers and reset the timeline.

But wait, Walter made another decision of his own free will.  When September approached him with his own plan to take Michael into the future Walter acquiesced.  Of his own free will Walter allowed September to right the wrongs he had done and as his Father, accompany Michael into the future.

But then, the hand of Fate stepped in.

September was tragically (and unfairly) shot down and Walter was left with no choice but to take Michael forward.  Yes, he had no choice thus no free will.  Did the hand of God take over and propel Walter into the unknown?  Most of the religious allegory that was so prevalent in the past was absent here in these final episodes except for the White Tulip symbol.  But if God did act then once again, Walter did not act of his own volition and God had his sacrifice.


I'm a bit puzzled by all this so I am throwing this out to you all.  What happened to free will?  Doesn't it seem that Walter was fated to do this all along?  Especially if he sought redemption from a higher power and he actively changed his mind upon September's appeal?

What did I miss?  Walter's actions prevented the Observer invasion but followed the path we all thought he was doomed to tread.  What are your thoughts my friends of Fringe?  Do you have a different spin on all of this?  Am I being too cynical?  Let's hear your theory.

I'm going to tackle many topics that the Fringe finale left us with in the coming days.  That way I won't pile everything  into one Fringe mountain of laundry and we can keep the Fringe fires burning with open discussion as long as we can.


  1. Dave,

    Happy mid-week! Great thoughts and I look forward to other thoughts you have on the finale. I have to say that I am not sure I agree with you in that "fate won." Did it? As we discussed before, this an issue that will hurt our heads! Personally my take on it, is that Walter chose a long time ago to do this to give his son his life back, to give his son his family back and to give Olivia and Peter their daughter back. I mean when you look at, what Walter said in the tape was very true - he had stolen time with Peter and really the family of him, Peter, Olivia and Etta. And as Walter also said, what father would not want to give that gift back to his son? As for September stepping in, I think Walter agreed not so that September could pay for Walter's "sins," yet because Walter as a father understood what September not only wanted but needed to do.

    Now as to whether or not "fate" stepped in with the unfortunate gunning down of September, I don't know. Perhaps September's free will simply put him in harms ways. Perhaps if September hadn't been there to step in for Walter, Walter would have been gunned down and therefore the plan would have failed. Who knows? This and other theories could go on and on forever.

    Another thought quickly on fate vs. free will and the Fringe finale - it seems to me that Walter did change fate.... he changed the fate of Peter, Olivia, Etta and really the world.

    I personally like to think that Walter at the end simply acted on the choice he had made so long ago. Besides, I like to think Walter in some ways is having a blast in 2167 with the boy and all those future scientist! And perhaps Walter will see his family again some day thanks to other technology of 2167. Ya never know....

    This is one of the things I loved about how Fringe ended. It left so many open possibilities for our imaginations to play with how all these characters continue one. I still miss them though :-(

    Just my off the cuff two cents - free of charge - lol

    1. Hi Kristin, Happy Monday Night!

      I've finally found some time to answer your impassioned rebuttal to my blog post. First off, I'm not entirely sure that Fate won, it just seemed so to me. I, like you, am a believer of Free Will, it just seemed that Walter was fated to follow his track from the very beginning no matter what choices he made or had made for him. That's why I threw it out to you people to help get my mind around all of this.

      Free will is comprised of conscious choices and Walter did cede his choice to accompany Michael to the future to September thereby altering the timeline minutely. September did not choose to be shot, yet he was, and Walter was left with his fate. Walter could have been shot just standing there yet he was not. Fate again?

      Several people, like yourself, have cited that Walter changing the future and saving Peter, Olivia and Etta was of his own free will but you could just as easily say that he was fated to do so. The argument will go round and round.

      The best argument for Fates victory lies in Walter's supplication to God. Once he begged forgiveness he handed his life over to God and subsequently abrogated his free will. We could probably dance around this one forever also.

      Thanks for the feedback Kristin and I hope to hear from you soon.

  2. I think fate lost, fate was for science to take us over the edge and for the observers to be created, for everything Walter did and had to pay for he didn't cause the observers (not that we know of). Free will and hope changed the outcome. Windmark was like Agent Smith, he hated the hope that the Fringe team had and inspired and ultimately that defeated him and the observers plans.

    Free will is more tied to our emotions than logic and it was kind of poetic that Olivia's cortexiphan abilities, which are based on the emotions that the observers believe made us weak, made her stronger than they could contend with and she ultimately killed Windmark with them.

    1. Hi Omar, thanks for the feedback.

      So, another true believer of Free Will over Fate. You cited the Fate of science to create the Observers yet didn't Walter use science also? Therefore didn't science guide the fate of Walter to defeat the Observers?

      Wasn't Olivia fated to be re-dosed with Cortexiphan? She was born a normal child and against her will she was experimented on and manipulated by Bell and Walter. She was finally freed of the affects of Cortexiphan only to be subjected to their effects once again. She couldn't be her normal self with her normal human emotions. It wasn't enough. Even if she chose to be re-dosed you could argue that her emotions weren't enough to defeat Windmark and the hand of fate guided by science turned her into something she normally wouldn't be. It was probably logical to do so.

    2. I get your points, but I guess I was referring to the path of science and not science itself; I didn't clarify that properly before. I think their free will and their decisions changed the path that science was taking them and I don't think using science contradicts that. But I definitely agree that hope on its own was not enough.

      In regards to Olivia and her cortexiphan abilities, my main point was that science as the Observers understood it said that emotions were an inherent weakness and Walter and Olivia were able to turn it into a strength, another way in which the direction that science was going was changed. However I don't think she was fated to be re-dosed with cortexiphan, remember the sequence of events that led to her cortexiphan re-dosing was based on a decision by Michael. On the show they couldn't figure out why he got off of the train but I guess we got our answer.

    3. Omar, I've kind of tipped my hand with my responses and our general discussion concerning Olivia for she will be the subject of my next blog post. I hope you will be able to reply to that one also. You'll probably see quite a few similarities to our discussion.

      Thanks for clarifying your points. I'd like to add that "Evil" Walters free will also changed the path of science. So now we have the free will of a hopeful and redemptive Fringe team. The selfish and egotistical will of their earliest versions of Bell and Walter and, of course, the (supposedly)emotionless will of the Observers all seeking to change the path of science to their own ends.

      Ha,I'm not sure I made things any clearer but I thought it was worth mentioning how many perspectives there were concerning the path that was to be taken. Here's a blog I'd like you to look at,


      "Empty Arcade" and I often share theories and ideas on Fringe and this is the latest blog that touches on some of our discussion.

      Thanks Omar!

  3. "What happened to free will?"

    Good question, I was wondering about it at the end of the episode. And then I thought, as Kristin and Omar say, it was Walter's own decision to go. But... he had let September decide to take him (which, in my opinion, would have been very fine because Micheal was September's son). But then... September gets shot. Convenient, and rather anti-climactic. Not that I'm complaining, I really enjoyed the episode! Dave brought it up, it's all his fault...just kidding! (In my opinion, fate kind of won, but because fate is actually disguised as a group of writers.)

    As a fan of free will, and because Fringe is- I mean was, a great and thought-provoking show, I say Walter made all his own decisions and eventually did his best to deal with them.

    And it sure did leave a TON of possible tie-in movies or books or anything else! Can't wait to see what happens with it.

    1. Ha, yes Ingrid, Fate disguised as a group of Writers, I like it. I have been thinking the same thing. It was "convenient" that September was shot. Oh well, it was a good run. I watched your Facebook video of the Fringe "thank yous" today and it was very touching. Thanks Ingrid!

  4. Dave,

    I think the writers see it differently than you. As Omar said above, destiny was for the Observers to take over but hope led to free will decisions of September and Walter to change that outcome. That is not to say your perspective is wrong and their's is right however. Again, I would say it is paradoxically both fate and free will. Fate may have left Walter as the only one who could do so, but he always had the choice to walk away from the wormhole even after September was killed, but morally he felt obligated to walk into the future. Only way to truly resolve this paradox is to see the Divine perspective-to see all timeloops, timelines, universes, ect., but of course that isn't possible. ;-)

    Really looking forward to your future posts.

    1. Hi Chris, good to hear from you.

      You can check out my counter argument to Omar above. Hope wasn't enough especially in Olivia's case. A little dash of Cortexiphan goes a long way. But you are right when you say the solution lies "paradoxically (ith) both fate and free will. We could chase our tails around forever and not come to an agreement. That was the beauty of Fringe, no real answers but plenty of thought provoking questions.

      Thanks again Chris, see you soon!

  5. Dave - Hi. Great thoughts. With all your Cortexiphan talk, I thought I'd pop in here as I read an interesting theory on the Cortexiphan dosing. I read that Michael being an "elite Observer hybrid" could calculate the futures and outcomes to an even greater degree than the Observers. So the author went on to theorize that Michael stepped of the train/monorail or whatever because he KNEW that meant that he would go to Liberty Island, Olivia would think to crossover meaning she needed cortexiphan...... anyway, basically all of this was so that Olivia would have Cortexiphan in her system in order to defeat Windmark in the final battle so he could not destroy Michael, destroy Olivia/Peter thus thwarting their plan. The author said a lot more stuff, yet I can't remember it all and didn't want to go on here. It's interesting though, isn't it?

    I admit that I wondered with all that Cortexiphan dosing Olivia got there in the end, EVEN with the time reset, is it possible that the Cortexiphan - um, what am I trying to say - that perhaps is inhibited the total effects of the time reset on Olivia's memory/emotions? Meaning that perhaps for her... all was not erased? Just tossing it out.

  6. Hi Kristin,

    I'm not sure I got your final point but I have heard of the theory you mentioned initially. It sounds neat but it depends on a lot of extrapolation on the viewers behalf. A lot of it is conjecture or just plain wishful thinking from the original "theorist". We really didn't get a lot from Michael so it is wide open to discussion. Maybe someday Wyman will tell us of his thoughts concerning Michael and the finale.

    I heard a criticism of Wyamn today that he was a bit anti-Olivia and it was Pinkner that gave Olivia all her best story lines. When he began to fade from the scene so did Olivia's importance. Interesting, but I don't really know if it true.

  7. Hi Dave,
    Been a while, I’m still grieving the loss of Fringe. I come down on the side of free will here. I've rewritten this post in several long winded ways, but here is the simplest. For me, to look at this as Walter being merely swept along by fate and having no choice negates the personal growth that it took for him to muster the courage to not only make this decision, but follow through with it. The whole plan was a choice. He didn’t just trip into that wormhole. He said his final* goodbyes, took Michael’s hand and walked toward an uncertain future with purpose. When we met him he was afraid of the world and of himself. He leaves whole, reformed if not redeemed, full of purpose. It took a lot of work to get there, not just a series of unfortunate events.

    *I like the open ended possibility that he could pull a Doc and come back from the future….

    That's my take on it, Lynne

  8. I don't know if people figured this out already but in the middle of the season a lot of us didn't know why sending the anti-matter bomb into the worm hole didn't work; after rewatching the finale, September said they had to reverse the polarity so that the shipping lane could send rather than receive. That means that they were designed to work in one direction at a time, which is why is probably didn't work.


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