By Ken Tucker
May 13, 2009 at 07:09 AM EDT

Well, there I was, watching the Fringe season finale, merrily taking notes about how much villain David Robert Jones, wrapped in his head bandages, looked and sounded like Claude Rains in the 1933 movie The Invisible Man, and getting goosebumps when, just before a commercial break, Nina Sharp said, “William Bell is not in this world.”

But then my mind was blown not once, but twice, and if you don’t want to know why, please stop reading now:

First, when Walter Bishop visited a grave whose headstone read: “Peter Bishop 1978-1985.” What did this mean, since we know Peter to be our grown-up Josh Jackson, not a dead seven year-old?

Then there was the final scene, the long-rumored reveal of Leonard Nimoy as William Bell, Walter Bishop’s former partner in science, co-author of the ZFT manifesto, and CEO of Massive Dynamic. Agent Olivia Dunham seemed to have stepped through one of the “soft spots” in the world discussed earlier in the episode, emerged from an elevator, and entered Bell’s office.

There, the camera panned across a table; a newspaper headline read “Obamas Set To Move Into New White House.” Sorry? New White House? Then she met Bell — a grimly smiling Nimoy. She asked where she was. He said, “It’s very complicated.” She looked out the window. The camera pulled back, to take us outside the office building she was in. We saw that she was standing inside one of the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

The title of the episode was “There’s More Than One of Everything.” That, combined with the revelation of what Nina called “another version of this planet,” helps explain why there could be two Peters, one dead, one alive. And why Nina herself could have spoken to Olivia to set up the William Bell meet ‘n’ greet, and just a few hours later be “out of the country.”

But the references to world events: Are we to think that there was, in this “other reality,” a terrorist attack that destroyed the White House (thus the “new” one the Obamas were moving into) but not the Twin Towers?

This was the season climax of what has proven to be a great new series: Fringe has vaulted to the upper reaches of current television. And clearly, this is going to require more than one blog post. So I’ll start by asking you: What did last night’s Fringe mean? Where in time is Dunham? Let’s get a discussion going, and regroup, shall we?