Thursday, January 24, 2013
Fringe: It's Finally Over
Fringe has its good moments. It lasted 100 episodes, just enough to survive well in syndication, ensuring its immortality like Lost and Star Trek. Now that the last episode has been shown, I'll share my memories. Be forewarned ... SPOILERS.
It started off strong with a grotesque death scene on a plane. That first episode lasted 2 hours, introducing us to the main characters. I was surprised by how far the producers went to show really horrible events. The one man's translucent skin was both intriguing and nightmarish at the same time. Then I was surprised to learn that the genius insane man in the asylum was going to be the one to save the day. I was hooked. For that first season, I watched as the team was formed, and as they secretly investigated the weird of the week. We also got a glimpse of the Observers. Who were they? Aliens? Supposedly, they appeared in every episode, like an easter egg. But I must admit I only saw one of them hidden once. It was cool when that happened.
In another strong season, we came to learn that there was a parallel universe tied to our own. Yes, there could be an infinite number of these parallel universes, but this one was close to ours for some reason (much like in Star Trek, we have all those annoying "Mirror" episodes without any explanation why it's always that universe and not one of the other infinite ones). We also learned that Walter caused the Fringe events to occur when he tried to save his "parallel" son. When Walter had crossed over to the other side, it fractured the something between our two universes, which would later cause all these Fringe events and shatter both universes -- eventually.
This season ended in the series' best cliffhanger. When Walter and Olivia went to the other universe, Walter came back, but with the wrong Olivia. Awesome! That last episode ended with our Olivia imprisoned on the other side with "Walternate" gloating over her.
This season was more about the parallel universes than it was the "strange of the week." In one way, this was good, because it gave the whole series a better sense of direction. But it was also a divergence from the old formula. The Observers served to help the right thing happen. Walter's son, Peter, had to be sacrificed. Both universes built this mysterious machine. Walternate tried to use the machine to destroy our universe so that his could survive alone. But then we learned that the true purpose of the machine was to heal both universes. The season ended in a great climax, with Peter stepping into the machine and disappearing, and then nobody remembering who Peter was.
Then, I'm not so sure what happened. It was almost as if the writers of Fringe thought that they were going to be cancelled at the end of Season 3 ... it got pretty close. I say this, because this whole season felt like, "Gee ... we're still kicking. Dang ... we gotta think up something. I know ..."
The writers went with an alternate timeline where both Peters died as a child. The "other" Peter had died in the lake after Walter tried to rescue him. But the Peter that we knew just wanted to come back from Oblivion. Olivia/Walter somehow brought back this mysterious man, and Peter first tried to convince them who he was, and then he tried to return to his own timeline. But Olivia, still tripping from cortixiphan, somehow remembered the first timeline, transmuted into her original self (who never really existed in that timeline) and everyone was mostly happy.
Though William Bell was made out to be criminally insane, as he tried to use Olivia's powers to destroy their universes and create a new one where he could be God.
Though there were some good episodes in this season, I was mostly disappointed and felt cheated, as the writers saw fit to start some new story instead of continuing the one from the first three seasons.
And the last season only existed to bring the series to syndication. It was a big disappointment. The Observers, who had been mostly benevolent guardians of our world, were made to be super time-traveling villains. And the whole Fringe team was transported 20 years into the future to fight this battle. There were a couple of good episodes, but the whole plot sucked (see the trailer above).
How can you fight superior time travelers? You can't! If you try to thwart them (assuming you really can change the timeline), they can just go back in time to erase your butt. They win. How many times did the Observers appear at the right time to stop some parts of the plan? But then at other times, they didn't even think to do the no-brainer tricks they could do? For example, when Olivia and company were on the train, why didn't the Observers do their transport thing to appear inside the train and take them away?
The way to fight the Observers was interesting, but really a big letdown. Show the boy to the 2167 clan and hope they make themselves smart while holding on to their emotions? Really? That was ... big anticlimax! Plus, it turns out at the very end that they scrapped the entire pieces of the plan when that one piece was unobtainable and realized they could instead use the Observers' time/transport system.
And that whole thing about Walter and the boy being a paradox causing Walter to disappear after 2015? IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE! It's as dumb as the reasons for why Doctor Who can no longer see Amy and Rory in the current season. And it's not a case of "I'm not smart enough to understand all the complex timey-wimey intricacies of time travel." Rather, it's a case of "there is no logical basis for that stupid idea." Really, there isn't.
And because of this silly "paradox" created only to set up some ultimate sacrifice, I found it difficult to get into the emotional ending. I found September's death to be more touching. And ... well, I guess there was that one moment when Walter stood at the gate saying goodbye to his son. And then it ended with Peter receiving a white tulip ... something that might have been an emotional closure to the whole show ... Walter's finally forgiven himself. But too bad it would only leave Peter in confusion for the rest of his life. "Where did my father go?"
But anyways, congrats to a show that kept my interest for five years. I'll remember enjoying the first three seasons and sticking with them through the last two. Thanks for the memories!