There is no happy ending coming for the Fringe team at the end of this season and show. They’ll likely save the world from The Observers, but the loss they have suffered in this week’s episode means no true happy ending is coming.
Because Etta is dead.
We the audience, know what this means for Peter and Olivia. But it’s tough for us to feel something since we’ve only known Etta for five episodes. We barely know what she went through when she was taken from her parents. (And now we’ll never know.)
And unless the writers “cheat” and Peter re-writes the world again, as they did last season, she’s not coming back.
Of course… you never know. Olivia has survived death before. A bullet saved the world and killed her in last year’s season finale—temporarily. Etta took to wearing it around her neck to remember her mother. And it meant so much to her, that Peter risked his life (and virtually everyone else’s) to go to a store to buy a new chain for it.
The Observers came closer than ever to catching up on what the Fringe team has been up to in this episode. At first, they’re annoyingly still melting through amber to get at Walter’s tapes in his lab. Eventually, they figure out that an important part of the plan is buried in Newark Penn Station.
In an incredibly delicious and exciting fan service call-back to earlier episodes of the show before the alternate universe came to dominate the show, the Fringe team decides to recreate a fringe event as a distraction so they can get into Newark Penn Station.
“There was a time we solved Fringe cases. Now I think it’s time we created some of our own,” says Walter.
Luckily they have additional help in the form of The Dove, a Resistance informant working with the Observers. Not surprisingly, he is Broyles and his reunion with the Fringe team is professional, yet emotional.
Broyles is trusted with the recovered plan while the rest of the Fringe team tries to escape. It’s during that escape that Windmark wounds Etta in a way that carrying her out won’t be feasible. So she detonates a bomb that Broyles gave them so that Peter, Olivia and Walter can escape.
Before she dies, Olivia tells her daughter that she loves her so much—a nice touch knowing how unsure Olivia was of having a child as we learned a few episodes ago.
Tactically, Peter, Olivia and Walter have lost an important team member. Etta was even going to show Peter how to resist The Observers’ ability to read their minds.
And of course emotionally—they’ve lost a daughter and a granddaughter. But more importantly, in an earlier episode this season, we saw how Olivia could bring out the good in a coldhearted, war-ridden Etta.
With her gone now, what will that do to Olivia and Peter? They’ve tried to maintain parts of their humanity in the apocalypse that surrounds them. They wanted to show their daughter they didn’t need to give up their own morals to fight that war.
But with her gone? All bets are probably off.