A truly excellent, nearly standalone Fringe took place in that future tonight in episode 4.19, replete with new opening credits that speak of community and self, and show freedom behind barbed wire. Etta looks a little like Olivia (and that's because, as we find out at the end, but was pretty guessable throughout the episode, she's Peter and Olivia's daughter), and she's part of renegade Fringe team who are fighting an underground battle against the Observers. Her partner is Simon, played Lost's Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), always good in these roles. They free Walter from amber, reunite his brain with his missing brain tissue (stored in Massive Dynamic), and we get a sharp as a whip Walter who is a little reminiscent of Walternate. Walter in turn leads Simon and Etta to an amber reservoir - and free Astrid and then Peter, but not Bell, who is also frozen there (Walter, with all of his faculties, wisely doesn't trust Bell). Simon takes Peter's place in the amber, and Peter and Etta have a moving father and daughter hug.
And there the episode ends - which is surprising in itself. Where is Olivia? Also frozen in some amber somewhere close at hand, or maybe she's at work on the other side? Or maybe she was killed in the fight against the Observers, which would be in accord with what September said earlier in the season (but not in accord with Peter out of the amber - he seemed not that devastated). For that matter, what happened to the other side when the Observers took over here? Broyles, who has lived through this time unsuspended in amber, and still commands the Fringe Division (but now under the Oberservers' thumb), will no doubt play some heroic role in ridding this future of the Observers.
Or maybe not. Here, with Fringe possibly ending its run, is a great new opening with all kind of options for surprise and soul for a fifth season.
Meanwhile, it will be fun to see in the next few episodes maybe a little bit more of how we got there.
... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves ... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia ... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest ... Fringe 4.15: I Knew It! ... Fringe 4.16: Walter Likes Yiddish ... Fringe 4.17: Second Chances ... Fringe 4.18: Broyled on Both Sides