Last night’s series finale of Fringe leaves me at a loss on how to approach covering it. I want to not only look at the finale (which is basically two episodes aired together), but also the season and series it capped off. It is daunting just sitting here with that task in front of me, but I’m going to do my best to cover what I can, but try to focus on what aired this past Friday. And the most important thing I want to get across is just how incredibly satisfied I am with this finale. It’s not easy to wrap up a series and given where we were when we entered this week, I don’t think I could have asked for much better than we got last night.
The first hour focuses on getting Michael (the Observer child) back after he gave himself up at the end of last week’s episode. And the plan they come up with is a pretty awesome one. With the boy trapped on Liberty Island, Olivia will cross over to the alternate universe, go onto Liberty Island on that side, cross over again and grab Michael before heading back over there and bringing him back to a place which they could safely cross back to our universe at. This plan is great for a couple of reasons. One we get to see Olivia use some of her powers again. It was a part of the early seasons I really enjoyed and unfortunately last year’s finale left Olivia powerless for most of this season. Here we get to see her cross between universes and take some power out of the lights after an Observer attacks her during the mission. It is fun to get to see Olivia take charge and be a badass like she has been known to be and the sequence here is an exciting one with observers even chasing her to the other side. The whole ordeal is giving her some strange side effects which adds a pretty cool effect during these scenes. Of course, the other good thing about crossing over is we get to see what is going on over there one last time. Blue Lincoln is predictably with Fauxlivia now. I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with killing off Red Lincoln (a.k.a. the best Lincoln) and Blue Lincoln heading over there to be with Faux is still weird, but it was fun to see what was happening over there. We got to spot some fun new developments from a TV in the background (Chelsea Clinton leads the polls in the Presidential race, Detroit was voted the safest city in America and the WB plans to remake Harry Potter) and say one last goodbye to that side which was such a huge part of the show especially when it was at its best.
Other than rescuing the boy, we also get to see September doing science. I mean we have known for some time now that he was part of a science team sent back to our era and it was neat to see him mixing some stuff and using some of the items the team picked up during the season to build the device. This leads to him seeking some help from December as the second hour begins when one of the parts failed. This meeting and the info gleaned from it were not expected from me and were a welcome addition to the finale. I was pretty content with the mythology answers given last week and was just hoping for mostly character stuff this week along with some references for fans and of course seeing how this all ends. But I loved hearing that all 12 Observer science team members, not just September and August, were developing feelings from being around humans in this time period and that they were all unaware that they were scouting for the invasion. It is just a couple more things to add to the Observer storyline that fit in so well.
The second hour of the finale really focuses on putting the plan into action and even more so just giving us all the great character moments we wanted. The exact plan is finally revealed. Michael will be sent to the 2167 where he will show the scientist in Norway that the Observers are not the route for humanity to take. And someone will guide him while he is there. And that is where Walter’s sacrifice comes in. This isn’t revealed to Peter though until he finds a tape that Walter left for him to find after the reset. And this brings on one of those emotional beats that Fringe nails as Peter comes to terms with having to let Walter go into the future and that it will cause him not to be there back in 2015 after the reset. Walter has two amazing lines in this sequence that I want to highlight, “The time we had together we stole” and as he hugged Peter this doozy, “You are my favorite thing Peter, my very favorite thing.” This scene is soon followed by a fantastic one between Walter and Astrid. She brings him to see Gene who is still ambered and the scene ends with this tear-jerking back and forth. “It’s a beautiful name,” Walter remarks. Astrid asks, “What is?” And Walter responds, “Astrid.” Really a perfect final conversation for those two. And soon after that, we see another scene this time between Walter and September. This is more than just an emotional conversation. It plays into how the end will be handled. September has decided he will go into the future with Michael. This initially makes Walter upset. He has prepared himself for the sacrifice and thinks it is what he needs to do, to make up for his past transgressions. But as September explains that it was Walter and Peter’s relationship that taught him about what father/son bonds should be like, Walter and the viewer realize that this just makes sense. It ties in so well with the themes of the show and it makes what happens at the end work even better I think, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.
Meanwhile, the plan has hit a hitch. As I mentioned earlier, one of the parts isn’t working for the machine they’ve created to make the wormhole to the future, so Astrid suggests they use one of the shipping lanes we saw earlier in the season. So they need a cube device and this results in a fantastic sequence with Peter and Olivia attacking an Observer building to acquire it. It feels like one last gigantic nod to fans as they pump gas into this building and we see the Observers and Loyalists attacked by all kinds of classic Fringe events (that creature from “Snakehead”, the slug from “Bound”, the orifice sealing substance from “Ability” and the imaginary butterflies from “The Dreamscape” to name a few… and that last one was a real nice surprise).
This sends us into the wild exciting final sequence where our team tries to put the plan into action. It’s definitely frantic as the team fights off Observers while trying to get everything needed in place to make the reset happen. We get our team’s final battle with Windmark which ends with Olivia drawing power from the whole city around her to squash him between some cars. Windmark was a good villain this season and I loved seeing Olivia’s final use of her cortexiphan powers here. It also seems her getting her powers back to do this was all part of Michael’s plan when he stepped off the train last week. He knew she’d need these for everything to go right and it makes that whole sequence make even more sense. So finally we find September and Michael racing towards the wormhole and that’s when the final wrench is thrown in the plan: September is shot. We all probably knew something like this was coming, but it still felt like a gut punch. I mean this would have allowed September to live on with Michael and Walter to be alive in 2015, but this was not the way it was meant to be. So while Michael sits down and plays his music box for September, Walter walks up and grabs the boy’s hand to lead him into the wormhole. One final look back to Peter and the gang before going is punctuated with a beautiful moment where we see Peter mouth, “I love you dad”, and Walter heads off into the future.
And then we are brought back to the beautiful park scene that has popped up so often throughout the season. This time no Observers invade and we just get to see Peter, Olivia and Etta being a family for a few moments before heading home. It is there that Peter finds the letter his father sent him. The one Walter mentioned when he showed Peter the tape earlier in the episode. Peter opens it as we hear Olivia and Etta playing in the background. Inside, the white tulip drawing. One final look at the camera by Peter and it’s all over.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I think given where we were entering these final two episodes, this was the right ending to go with. It may have been very predictable, but predictable in this case doesn’t mean bad. I’m not sure I’d ever say any kind of reset is ideal but really for this not to be the right way to go, it involves going back and changing many things in the past two seasons and that isn’t something I’m interested in doing here. I’m glad we got a happy ending for Olivia, Peter and Etta and the sacrifice Walter makes still gives weight to what happened throughout the season and Etta’s original death in 2036. And it just makes sense that after he started all of this when he crossed over to save Peter years ago, that he would be the one to give his life so Peter and his family could be happy. I’m still not sure all the time travel makes sense, but I can at least make it work in my head like I could back when the issue came up in “The Day We Died”. It’s messy, but I can make sense of it. I would change one thing about the ending. I kind of wish Olivia would have been a bigger part of the final park sequence and in the final shot. I know they were kind of focusing on the Peter as a father because of Walter, but I’m an Olivia guy, so having her in the final shot with Peter would have made me happier and I think made more sense for the series final image. Otherwise, I am good with the ending.
As for the episodes, they weren’t perfect. Both were paced kind of strangely with the setup taking up large parts of the episode with the “missions” in each kind of jammed into the end. I think pacing issues probably plagued the final season too. I am curious how stuff like the Peter as an Observer arc (Weaponization 2.0!!!) will feel on a rewatch or some of the tape quests for that matter. For what was billed as sort of a 13 episode movie going in, I think at times it felt like there was some unnecessary tangents and I still think the ideal structure for this show is that classic mix of Monster of the Week and mythology that the earlier seasons excelled at. But I really loved this final season. It did right by the characters I loved so much and it did right by the mythology and I’m glad the show could go out on a excellent season and finale like this one.
Even more stuff I didn’t get to:
- I didn’t get to tackle Broyles’ storyline in here, but he got to do a lot of good work in this episode. He was always a bit underutilized in this series, but he had some choice moments here like him saying the feeling was mutual to Windmark when talking about hatred. Or his funny line, “I’m more of a raven don’t you think?” when a loyalist suspected he might be The Dove. And I just love Broyles and Olivia calling each other by their first names too.
- Astrid had a few great suggestions during these final hours like using the window to scout the alternate universe out a bit before sending Olivia over. Awesome seeing the window used again.
- No new or classic style intro was kind of a bummer. Oh well.
- After twenty years, I think Fauxlivia’s bangs have improved.
- I still want one of those earring phone things from the other side.
- Walternate is now lecturing at Harvard at 90 years old.
- No dual-wielding Peter this ep, but at one point Linc and Faux dual-wield as a couple which was great.
- Wish we could have seen alt-Charlie over there this ep, but that seemed a bit farfetched. Would have been so cool though.
- They used Os bullets on Observers at the end. When Peter questioned why they needed to use them, Walter said, “Because it’s cool.” Walter is awesome.
- The final act break where Peter, Windmark and Michael disappear apparently sent them across the parking lot. But when I first saw it, I thought they were headed somewhere a bit more wild for some reason.
- Seeing the necklace kind of inspiring Olivia’s final powerup was pretty great.
- Enough good things can’t be said about the acting in this show. Obviously John Noble was the standout, but Anna Torv really did amazing work as did the rest of the cast. And Michael Cerveris was great over these last few episodes as he got to show a bit more of his skills. Really happy with how much he played into the finish of the series.
- The last time that classic Fringe music kicked up was so good.
- I enjoyed writing about this show a lot this past year. I look forward to creating new excuses to write about it on here in the future.
So I am well over the 2,000 word mark and I feel like I could keep going for a while. I guess what I want to finish with is that I was just so satisfied with this finale and just how much I will miss this show. The finale captured all of the great character moments and themes from the show and just felt very Fringe throughout. And anyone that knows me or has read this blog over the last year knows how much I love this show. Unlike a lot of my favorite shows, I have been watching this one each week since it first aired. Somewhere in the middle of its run during that insane stretch of episodes that started with “Jacksonville” and ran into Season 3, this became my all-time favorite show. It’s sad to see it end, but much like Walter said he did with Peter, it feels like I, and fans everywhere, stole time together with Fringe. It’s been on the edge of cancellation for a couple of years now, so to get 100 episodes and a planned out ending really makes us viewers lucky. The fact that the final season and episodes were so great just makes it even better. And to steal one last Walter quote, when it comes to television, Fringe is my favorite thing. My very favorite thing. And I’m going to miss the hell out of it, but what a blast it was to spend all this time with these characters in these fantastic worlds.