|Enemy of Fate|
Let's be clear: I did enjoy these two episodes and there were a few scenes that definitely brought a lump to my throat. I also enjoyed the way it referenced some of the show's history, and found a way to involve the alternate-Earth characters of Fauxlivia (Ann Torv) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) for a brief period. But it was still largely a predictable run-around, with Walter (John Noble), Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Astrid (Jasiko Nicole) trying to rescue the kidnapped Observer child, while September (Michael Cerveris) put the finishing touched to the time-travel machine they've spend the season collecting the component for. There just weren't many surprises here, which was a big problem for me. The actual plan felt woolly (travel into the future to show some Norwegian scientists an alternate way to evolve the human species that won't lead to them becoming time-hopping bald fascists), and I don't think there was any doubt Walter would be leaving Peter behind in order to alter the timeline and bring his granddaughter Etta back to life in the process.
Did I expect more? Of course. I think it was obvious that Fringe should have ended last season, when the majority of its on-going concerns were resolved (William Bell, the Cortexiphan, David Robert Jones, the alternate-Earth). This final season's been enjoyable and occasionally brilliant, but could never escape the feeling it was a largely unnecessary addendum. It actually felt like a miniseries revival that should have aired several years after Fringe ended at times. It wasn't a waste of time, but it just didn't compare to what came before.
Still, it ended quite nicely—with Walter, once the world's most inhumane scientist, changing future-history to protect humanity—and Peter receiving a drawing of a white tulip, which has become the show's sign that something extraordinary has happened that nobody will ever remember. I'm a little disappointed the show ended by effectively erasing the events of this fifth season entirely, as I thought they'd find a way to at least have Peter and Olivia remember the expunged timeline because, otherwise, where's the sense of victory? This gave Fringe something of a flat ending to me; stealing the climax of "White Tulip" and hoping it'll work as effectively a second time. I don't think it did. And I'm still a little confused about where Walter's gone in the altered timeline, but I'm also fully aware that any attempt to apply faultless logic to this storyline will just expose too many paradoxes.
But there you have it: some mixed emotions, but I'm not angry with how it all resolved and I had a lot of fun watching. As a whole, Fringe certainly became one of the most notable sci-fi shows every made. It started as a clear descendant of The X Files with increased pulp sensibilities, but really came into its own the more it embraced its mythology about alternate-dimensions. Anna Torv was a concern to me for a few seasons, but the moment they introduced the "Fauxlivia" character it seemed to really inspire her to great things, and John Noble's been marvellous from start to finish. I even grew to like Joshua Jackson in his role, although it was a shame the character of Peter Bishop was so ill-defined until the show settled on pushing the Epic Love Story relationship with Olivia and giving him more father-son scenes with Walter.
As I mentioned when Merlin came to an end recently, it's always a particularly sad time when a show you've been reviewing from the start leaves the airwaves. There's a gap that won't be filled in quite the same way again, although I hope JJ Abrams' Bad Robot production company decide to make another sci-fi drama in the near-future, and that these actors find good projects to associate themselves to. If John Noble winds up clawing for guest starring roles in the likes of Criminal Minds, I'll scream.
written by Alison Shapker (5.12) & J.H Wyman (5.13) / directed by P.J Pesce (5.12) & J.H Wyman (5.13) / 18 January 2012 / Fox & Sky1