Well, Fringe is over. Yeah, I know, it ended a while ago. But this is my first chance to sit down and write about it.
I was undecided about how best to approach this review. Traditionally, one is supposed to recap the story, then analyze its impact. Frankly, Fringe has been such an unorthodox and difficult to describe narrative, that I really don’t think it can be summarized in a couple of paragraphs. So instead this article is for those of you who, like me, watched the show religiously. You know what happened. Now let’s talk about it.
When the abbreviated final season began, it was clear that something was different, and perhaps a little wrong. We’re suddenly set in the future. The Observers, who had heretofore been curious anomalies, were now the Big Bads. Their motivations were never fleshed out., and their nature never fully explored. And that key question never answered: why are there no female Observers?
But that’s not what was most shocking for me. Fringe, for me, was always a character show and a character study. Its frightfully atrocious science was excused by its top notch acting and its array of well balanced characters who interacted with each other in endlessly interesting and realistic ways. Clearly, John Noble (Walter Bishop) was the grandest of these characters portrayed by the greatest of actors. But the show was built around Anna Torv’s Olivia Dunham. Reviewers are torn on her performance, but I’ve always found her staid, introspective portrayal to be endlessly intriguing. She was something I’d not seen before in American TV science fiction.
But in Fringe’s final season, the pantheon of characters was missing. All we had were the core Fringe team, magically transported to the near future, via amber encasement, to continue their adventure in a new environment and with a new, rather boring and singular aim: to find the clues to Walter’s plan to defeating the Observers.
Moreover, the focus had shifted from Olivia to Walter and Peter. And this I found to be most problematic. That duo are certainly interesting. But how much more intriguing it would have been to see Olivia’s reactions. In fact, everyone’s needs were secondary to those of Peter and Walter. Astrid had left everyone and everything in the past, yet was never shown to emote. Olivia had left her beloved niece and sister. They are never mentioned. A particularly endearing character forever missed by fans is Charlie Francis, who is never mentioned again.
In the end, the plan to defeat the Observers is forgettably ridiculous. The show ends up being about something it should never have been about: the relationship between Peter and Walter.
And this is what leaves me dry and empty. It’s yet another example of JJ Abrams seemingly pursuing public therapy for whatever Daddy issues he might have. All of his creations — Lost and Star Trek, for example– end up being about time travel, parallel universes, and father-son issues.
Frankly, I’m bored of him and his creations.
As for Fringe… well, I will always have good memories of the show. And I’ll pretend that its true ending was when Olivia took a bullet to the brain to save the universe.