We had a lot of theories when it came to Etta’s place in the “Fringe” universe. In tonight’s episode, “The Bullet That Saved The World,” we finally got answers. In a chilling turn of events, Etta (Georgina Haig) was confronted by an Observer and used as bait to lure Walter, Peter, and Olivia into a massive explosion. Ultimately, though, she died alone — save for a few Observers who went down with her.
The trouble started when the team needed access to a heavily guarded railway station. In order to provide a diversion, Walter decided to take a trip down memory lane. “There was a time when we solved Fringe cases,” he said, revealing a basement full of documentation and specimens from all the events they’ve investigated over the years. “Now I think it’s time we created a few of our own.”
As the men and Astrid explored, the origin of Etta’s necklace was explained in a poignant scene with Olivia. Etta revealed that she’d found the bullet — which is what Walter used to kill Olivia in Season 4 — in their old house, after it had been looted. She’d worn it on her necklace since she was thirteen years old. Olivia was touched. (These people have macabre family heirlooms, man.)
Ultimately, Walter decided to use the old close-up-all-your-orifices-with-scar-tissue trick to get the Observers and loyalists off his trail long enough to procure the blueprints he’d hidden away in the train station. Of course, the blueprints were unintelligible (this couldn’t be easy, right?) but we’re one step closer to an answer.
In the process, we were finally reunited with Broyles (who has aged quite well). In a welcome twist, we learn that Broyles has been maintaining a facade of loyalty to the Observers while working with the resistance — specifically, with Etta. We can’t deny that we shed a tear when he and Olivia were finally reunited. As Broyles tells it, it took a year for Etta to teach Broyles to block out the Observers’ reading. The relief was short-lived, though. While Broyles was arming the team with technology of the future, the Observers interrupted the Fringe family reunion, and the team was forced to scatter… but not before Etta was recognized.
As Peter and Olivia split up from Walter and Etta, Etta covered her grandfather — and got caught alone by a pair of Observers who, in typical fashion, showed no mercy. The Observer was chilled by the realization that, early in the episode, Peter had risked exposure simply to replace his daughter’s necklace. In her weakened state, Etta couldn’t block the Observer; perhaps she didn’t want to. He got a peek at her last great memory with her parents, blowing dandelions in that park before the Observers came in 2015.
“Love,” said the Observer. “You never know when to give up.” Then he shot Etta in the torso.
Peter and Olivia got to her too late. She demanded that they leave her behind, because she was too far gone — and one of the bombs Broyles had shown them was beside her, set to go off in just a minute. There was no disarming it.
Olivia managed to handle herself surprisingly well. Immediately recognizing the gravity of the situation, she told Etta she loved her. Peter, on the other hand, began to crumble, as Olivia looked at the bullet and remembered the events leading up to her own “death” in Season 4. The Observers had been counting on the Fringe team returning to Etta, out of love, and dying with her in the blast — but they miscalculated. Instead, the explosion took out several of them, instead… not to mention most of the foundry where they were hiding.
The episode ended with Olivia, Peter, and Walter watching the building crumble. Walter watched his son endure the pain of losing a child, the pain that he had found so unbearable so many years earlier. Things have come full circle in the worst way.
Here’s the thing, though. We’re not really buying the idea that Etta’s story is truly over. Sure, she was gutted and, presumably, exploded — which is never a good combination, so she’s surely dead.
As far as we can tell, though, there is no happy ending for Peter and Olivia in a world where their only daughter has become a casualty of the Fringe events they devoted their lives to preventing. We’ve got to believe that whatever plan is revealed on those tapes somehow involves going back in time to that park and giving their daughter a new path. Otherwise, this is really just too sad to bear.
What are your theories? Is she gone for good?