In 2002, Mulder and Scully investigated a murder that involved a man obsessed with “The Brady Bunch,” a case that had them visit a manifestation of that show’s set. It wasn’t the series’ oddest episode, or its most whimsical. And it wasn’t the worst of the series, but what always struck me about it was its timing: one week before “The X-Files'” series finale, with time vanishing to wrap up loose ends and bring the mythology to a close. It was puzzling to me, and prevented me from fully enjoying or evaluating the episode.
Which brings me to “Letters of Transit,” an entertaining episode of “Fringe” that sends us twenty-four years into the future, a well-done look at a not-so-far-off time ruled by The Observers, who poisoned the planet in 2009, and then returned to 2015 and enslaved humanity. I guess we’ll need a little more time to know whether the episode was a digression, or the foundation of any possible seasons beyond Season 4, or something in the middle.
At any rate, we meet a young future Fringe agent (Broyles is still around, and has been aged to look like an old boot), and her long, straight blonde hair, her ability to shield her resistance leanings from the mind-reading Observers and the suspicion-arousing fact that we don’t learn her name until the end of the show make it easy to figure out she’s got some sort of connection to Olivia. She’s working with Simon (or Desmond, if you’re a “Lost” fan, nice to see him again), also a member of the Resistance, and has located an amber-encased Walter, one of the legendary Fringe heroes of yore. Walter amberized himself and the others and they manage to free him, and then — after retrieving his brain pieces from what was once Massive Dynamic, he locates the rest of the team, which includes William Bell, but not Olivia. Walter doesn’t free Bell — he tells an unfrozen Astrid, “You remember what he did to Olivia. Even you can’t be that compassionate” — but Simon does, sacrificing himself in the amber in the process.
Along the way we meet a white-haired Nina Sharp and get a new opening credits that is the grim color of enslavement (and the far-out concepts espoused include “free will” and “private thought,” which was kind of awesome. I love, love, love new versions of the opening credits, because they’re always so well done).
And we wrap up with Peter talking to Agent Goldenhair, unable to shake the feeling that he knows her, and then his eyes widen. “Henrietta?” he says. “Hi, Dad,” she says. And we’re done. With many questions left unanswered, I’m not sure how to feel about it. I’m leaning toward the possibility that we’ll never return to this future, and the upbeat ending provides home that the resistance will overcome the occupation. But I want to go back, and if we don’t, I can’t help but feel a little cheated.