Peter’s still out cold in the hospital, having been effectively knocked out by the doomsday machine. Walter, dozing in a chair nearby, wakes up and checks Peter’s pulse. Astrid comes in with the news that the doctor is going to keep Peter sedated for another twelve hours, but his vitals are stable and he should be fine. Walter is unconvinced, worried about what unknown effects the machine could have on Peter. Astrid eventually coaxes Walter down to the cafeteria with the promise of tapioca pudding.
Holyoke, MA. A family ““ mom, dad, teenage son ““ drive down a highway. The kid is wearing headphones. He notices what looks like a storm rolling in, and then the hairs on his arm start standing up. Suddenly, lightning strikes the car in front of them, causing an accident. Then lightning strikes just in front of their car. The father gets out to check (for some reason he thinks his family “will be safe in the car”) and sees, on a road below the overpass, rows of stopped cars, some of which have already been hit. Lightning continues to strike here and there.
After the credits, Sam and Olivia are looking at the machine. “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” he says. He’s concluded that the machine must have somehow been confused into thinking Peter’s already running it, which is why it wouldn’t let anyone or anything (including Peter) enter. The machine wasn’t supposed to be a doomsday device, but that’s how it’s behaving now. Sam shows Olivia what he calls the “manuscript” for the First People book. There’s a key that opens a box, and in the box is a “crowbar” that will open the force field long enough for Peter to get into the machine.
Astrid and Walter are coming back from the cafeteria with a tray loaded with snacks when they learn the hospital’s being flooded with patients injured by the freak lightning storm. Walter is aware that the machine is to blame for all this. Broyles walks up and exposits that there are similar storms going on up and down the eastern seaboard, then rushes off to speak to the governor on the phone.
Astrid wants to investigate, but Walter doesn’t want to leave Peter. Besides, he’s already tried everything he can think of to fix the problem. He confides that he even asked God for help, but got nothing. Astrid reminds him that God helps those who help themselves. Walter recognizes it as a Benjamin Franklin quote, which gives him an idea and gets him fired up to investigate further.
Sam takes Olivia to the crypt of his ancestor, the first Sam Weiss, to retrieve the box holding the crowbar. (A brief Weiss family history: the first Sam Weiss found the ancient manuscript while digging for mastodon bones. The third and fourth Sams spent their lives looking for the missing parts of the manuscript, and the fifth Sam Weiss wrote The First People. And now you know.) Olivia’s ready to open the box, but Sam would rather take a wait-and-see approach, since our machine being turned on from the Other Side was never in the plans. Olivia doesn’t think they can afford to wait and demands to be taken to the key.
Walter is flying a kite, trying to recreate Ben Franklin’s fabled experiment. After he’s hit by lightning ““ twice ““ he realizes that “repetition” is the missing variable and is ready to head back to the lab.
At the hospital, Peter wakes up, casually collects his things and gets dressed. Out in the hall, he hears an ICU nurse saying that they’ve run out of room, and then sees all the accident victims that have come in. A nurse asks him his name but he doesn’t seem able to answer. She sees his hospital bracelet and tells him to stay put, but of course he doesn’t. Instead, he goes outside and sees all the lightning continuing to strike.
Peter hails a cab (in Pittsfield, MA, mind you) and asks to go to 42nd and Lexington. The cabbie asks if he’s sure he wants to go to New York and Peter hands over a credit card in response.
Olivia and Sam head to the Whitley Museum, where the police have set up a barricade. Museum director Christine Albright hands over the museum plans. Sam is sure the key’s in the Native American wing, and even though Dr. Albright insists there are no keys there, Sam and Olivia are going in anyway.
At the lab, Walter and Astrid mark all the spots on their maps where lightning has struck more than once so they can measure the frequency pattern of the seismic events, and multiple radiation and thermal spikes. It becomes clear that there are two epicenters, one at the location of the machine and the other at Liberty Island, with a rift forming on the axis between them. Walter remembers that Liberty Island is Walternate’s base of operations.
Walter heads to Broyles’ office, where he explains their findings with a little show-and-tell. Not gonna lie, that demo was hugely helpful. (I was always better at spelling bees than science fairs.) Walter says that since the two machines are “pulling” at each other, moving their machine to the location of the one on the other side should slow down the frequency of the Events, even as it increases their intensity. Broyles isn’t thrilled with the idea but Walter convinces him it’s the best thing they can do until they figure out how to get Peter inside the machine.
At the museum, Sam pinpoints the key, hidden in a slab of rock. Before they can grab the key, lightning strikes, setting off the security alarm (that for some mysterious reason hadn’t already been activated by the prior lightning strikes). A security gate starts to come down and Sam uses his mad bowling skills to roll a huge vase into place and jam the door, so they can escape. Outside, Sam digs the key out of the rock and Olivia (accidentally) figures out how to insert the key into the lock. The box opens to reveal a rolled parchment, which they unroll find a picture of Olivia, much like the picture of Peter using the machine.
They take the drawing to Walter, who says it means both she and Peter are connected to the machine (duh), and Olivia is the “crowbar” that can turn off the force field. Walter rolls up the drawing so that it shows brain waves emanating from Olivia, which he takes to mean that Olivia is supposed to use her telekinesis to shut down the force field like she did to turn off the lights in the test back in “Ability” (Season One). Oh yeah, I’d forgotten she could do that.
Walter and Sam are confident Olivia should be able to use her telekinesis to turn off the machine Over There. Walter sits Olivia down to practice on the typewriter and mirror the shape-shifters (and Fauxlivia) were using to communicate with the other universe.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, someone finally notices Peter is gone. A nurse finds the message he scrawled on an envelope: “I am going home.”
Some time later, Olivia is having no luck. She asks for cortexiphan but Walter says it would do her more harm than good at this point. Well, that’s (in)convenient. He tells her he’s come to embrace the broken parts of his mind; they’re what makes his mind special. He encourages Olivia to embrace how “extraordinary” she is. Sometimes I think Walter is so determined for Olivia to be extraordinary because it somehow justifies the experiments he was running on kids. Anyway, after his pep talk, Olivia tries again but fails. Walter calls for a break, and Astrid comes in to let them know that Peter’s missing from the hospital. Astrid seriously spends about half of her day relaying phone messages.
In New York, the machine is being moved to Liberty Island. Peter’s questioning people on the street about a pawn shop. He finds the shop and purchases a silver half dollar; he says it’s his favorite and it always brings him luck.
At the lab, Astrid’s just received word that Peter has not, in fact, gone home. Walter is worried Peter might have forgotten where he lives. Astrid tries to calm him down and he snaps at her, but then he actually apologizes. Olivia comes in lets them know they got two hits on Peter’s credit card. They figure out that he took a cab all the way to New York. Meanwhile, Peter’s at Liberty Island asking to see his father, the Secretary of Defense. He says he has something important to show him.
Sam is worried because now he’s intervened. (I guess, like the Observers, his people aren’t supposed to do that.) Broyles has received word that Peter’s been located. He, Olivia and Walter are going to meet him, but Broyles makes Sam stay behind. Olivia reassures Sam that it’s not over. He doesn’t seem convinced but wishes her luck.
At Liberty Island, Walter and Olivia joyfully greet Peter, who looks confused. “There are two of you, aren’t there?” he asks. Walter sits Peter down to examine him (shouldn’t some real emergency personnel be hanging around?) and assess his mental state. Peter’s last memory is getting into the machine, and at this point he seems much clearer about who Walter and Olivia are. Walter determines that Peter’s confusion was temporary. He asks where Peter got the coin, but they’re distracted by a roll of thunder and the ground shaking.
While Walter’s telling Broyles he didn’t account for sudden fluctuations when he thought he’d be able to contain the rise in pressure (it’s always something), Olivia catches Peter up. He asks her what phrase she was trying to telepathically type. At the lab, Astrid hears the typewriter clicking away, banging out the message, “Be a better man than your father.” She calls to let Olivia know it worked.
Broyles orders all non-essential personnel off the island. Olivia prepares to turn the machine off as the current steadily builds. “You don’t fail,” Walter tells her. She and Peter link hands and walk up to the machine. “You can do this,” Peter says. Olivia focuses “¦ and the machine opens up. On the Other Side, Brandonate alerts Walter that something’s happened to the machine.
Olivia tells Peter she loves him and they kiss. Then they waste valuable seconds being googly-eyed. Peter says, “Wish me luck” and heads (ever so slowly) up to the machine. There’s some montage action and then Peter steps into the machine and slips one arm inside. More montage, and then the other arm goes in.
We cut to a sudden sideways view of a street in chaos. Fires, tanks, people running, pandemonium. A woman’s voice directs civilians to the “evacuation route.” Peter sits upright and gets to his feet slowly. He finds himself in front of a 9/11 memorial, dedicated on September 11, 2021. A man addresses him as Agent Bishop, and tackles him to avoid an explosion. Peter sees the man is wearing a Fringe Division jacket and wonders aloud where the hell he is. The man tells him he’s been hit, and calls for a medic as Peter struggles to remain conscious.
Next time: 15 years in the future. Season finale. Holy shit. Questions: I have them.