Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fringe Finale: The Real Olivia Dunham?


Like many of the Fringe faithful I cheered when Olivia Dunham laid down the law and made a car sandwich out of Windmark in the last episode of Fringe.  It was a great call back to her old "B/A" days when Olivia took control and exercised the powers she usually kept carefully under control.

The scene itself was charged with tension as Windmark easily disposed of Peter and Olivia as if they were rag dolls.  Windmark seemed slightly amused at his dispatch of Olivia and turned his back on her as he prepared to capture Michael.  Suddenly car alarms began to blare and city blocks of Manhattan began to wink out.  As Olivia struggled to right herself she locked eyes with Windmark.  Her face may well have been the last thing that Windmark saw as Olivia sent a car hurtling in his direction as vainly sought to "apperate" himself out of danger.  He was too late and the Fringe team was allowed to proceed with their plan to change the future.

Olivia still had the vestiges of Cortexiphan surging through her system and with Michael in imminent danger, she summoned the strength of her greatest asset, her willpower, and brought it to bear on the now hapless Windmark.

For as long as we've known the character of Olivia Dunham she has struggled with the ghosts of her past.  She has been at once a strong and confident women and other times the tortured victim of the cortexiphan trials during her youth.  I think it may have been the episode, "Bad Dreams" where Olivia unburdened her tattered psyche on the unsuspecting Walter Bishop and verbally attacked him with such ferocity that Walter was visibly shaken and Peter was left perplexed at what just happened.  What happened was Olivia became aware of the breadth of Walter's experiments and the awful truth that he conducted those trials on mere children.

As the events of season four unfolded culminating with Olivia being shot by Walter she was finally free of the effects of Cortexiphan.  No more childhood terrors or secret needles from the Redverse Nina.  Free at last.

As season Five progressed we witnessed an Olivia that bore many of the character traits as her previous iterations had.  Fear of the unknown, self doubt and occasionally the loss of hope.  We even witnessed her deep seated fears of motherhood.  But she never lost her resolve and perhaps her greatest moment was when she talked Peter back from the ledge as he nearly became a full on Observer with the tech firmly imbedded in his neck.


It was Olivia's trademark confidence fortified with her overwhelming love for Peter that saved him from the abyss.  No mean feat considering he had nearly lost all human emotion.  With this done the Fringe team was able to keep their date with destiny.

All without the power of Cortexiphan.

So I ask you this, should we feel cheated or satisfied that the old Cortexiphaned Olivia Dunham came back?  

As I referenced just earlier, Olivia had talked Peter out of his misguided plan to defeat Windmark.  The episode was called, "The Human Kind".  In this episode we learned the valuable lesson that what separates us from the Observers was our humanity.  But this episode also provided us with one of Olivia's finer moments.  After she had secured the giant magnet for Walter's device she encountered some thugs along the way back to Boston and was subsequently held captive.  In her captivity, Olivia had a true "McGyver" moment.  Using her innate guile, cleverness and resourcefulness, Olivia set a complex trap and tricked her captors into releasing her with deadly effect.  No Cortexiphan was needed as the memories of Etta embodied in the bullet keepsake was enough to empower Olivia.


Fast forward to the last episode


Once again the "Bullet That Saved the World" came into play.  The bullet serves as the catalyst that launches Olivia into a state of mind that is nigh well unstoppable. It's the talisman that fires the memories of Etta and how she died so tragically and all too young.

So the larger question is, if Olivia possess such great love and willpower does she really need to be enhanced by Cortexiphan?  She defeated the thugs and rescued Peter during the "Human Kind" episode; could she not have defeated Windmark without Walter's drug surging through her veins?

I guess it felt like a bit of a stunt to me to have Olivia use her telekinesis to squash the threat of Windmark.  I realize she needed it to cross between universes to rescue Michael and I have to admit that was cleverly done by the writers but the last Cortexiphan induced trick just rang a little hollow for me.  Maybe it was too convenient.  We spent an entire last season seeing how wonderful a human being Olivia can be only to have that rug slipped out from under her and have her returned to the artificially enhanced Olivia that brought so much pain to her psyche.

So my friends, do you agree or disagree with this point of view?  Should we feel cheated by the last Cortexiphan caper?  Do you prefer the "Human Kind" Olivia that succeeded so well during this last season or are OK with the "souped up" version of Olivia that closed our tale?  It seems a bit of a shame to me to see that well rounded "human" Olivia replaced by the "Robo-Liv".

Your thoughts?