We're heading towards the endgame for the fourth season of Fringe, so it's no surprise that Friday's episode brought a few revelations, a little bit of confusion, and, of course, nowhere near enough of David Robert Jones. Here're five questions about "The Consultant."
What Price A Man's Soul?
With so much of Fringe's uber-mythology built on what a man can do to save his son - and whether the price is worth it - it was both surprising and well-done to see those questions play out again in miniature as Colonel's Broyles' betrayal was explained and then taken to its conclusion in "The Consultant," not least of all because it gave Broyles a believable reason for working with David Robert Jones outside of his being a shapechanger. I liked seeing the return of Chris, and the self-loathing that Broyles felt in selling out his beliefs in order to keep his son alive… but I'll admit that the climax of the episode, with Broyles turning himself in for the greater good, brought more satisfaction because… well, ever since last year, I've liked to have thought of Alt. Broyles as a man who understands the big stakes better than most.
What Does Broyles Know?
It was interesting to see Nina call Broyles just another pawn, because it underscored the fact that Jones seems to be holding all of the cards in whatever game he's playing… which then made me wonder whether that's really the case, or whether Jones himself is a pawn of sorts. Sure, he clearly has some idea about what's going on, but is he enough of a genius to be inventing all of this technology himself, or is someone else helping him? If that's not the case, then how did Jones become such a genius about the crossover between the universes in the first place…? (This again reminds me: Do we have any idea what's happened to William Bell since the timeline was re-written…?)
Why Collapse The Universes?
More grist for the "Someone is working with/telling Jones what to do" mill: What's the point in collapsing the universes? Unless Jones has somewhere else to go - or somewhen, perhaps - then won't he be destroyed with everyone else in both universes? There doesn't seem to be an endgame beyond destruction in collapsing the universes from what we know - So, as Walter pointed out, maybe it's time to start considering the lack of evidence we have. Who benefits, as all of the famous detectives would ask, from collapsing the universes? Another universe? A universe that would grow to replace the collapsed universes? Something altogether different that we haven't thought of yet?
(I can't shake the idea that time travel is involved in here, somehow, if only because the Observers and the tease for next week's episode have placed time travel right in the center of the core Fringe mythology this season. So is someone from the future helping Jones? And if so, why would they want to collapse the universe?)
(While I'm at it, what does it mean to collapse the universes? Will both be destroyed, or would they collapse into one universe…?)
What Built The Device In The New Timeline?
A small question, perhaps, but one that still niggles. In the timeline we're in now, there was no Peter - So how, exactly, did the device that is now powering the bridge come about? That device can collapse the universes, apparently, which kind of makes me wonder: Is it the universes that need to be collapsed, or the device itself? Is the device the thing that saved Peter from being entirely erased from history? We know that it has reality-warping powers and "shouldn't" exist - what's to say that it's not something that the Observers need out of the way in order to make sure that Peter doesn't come back a second time, and collapsed universes are just collateral damage in the process…?
What Does The Other Universe Have Against Detectives?
And this really is a small one, but it's a weird coincidence that I wonder whether or not it's an easter egg thrown in by writers knowing people pay too much attention to things on the show: Last week, we found out that Batman doesn't exist in the alternate universe, and this week, Sherlock Holmes also turns out to be absent from the cultural lexicon. So should we read something into the lack of famous fictional detectives in that universe? A meta-commentary on the act-first, think-later responses of the Fringe Division on that side, perhaps… or just something that no-one really noticed and I'm thinking too much about? It's probably the latter, right…?