Fringe Series Lookback: Beyond the Edge of the Universe and Back Again

When Fringe was announced in 2008, comparisons to The X-Files weren't just appropriate, they nailed it. At that point, all we really knew about the show was that a few weirdos (including one handsome dark-haired dude and one sexy redhead) would team up to solve unexplained cases that normal FBI spooks weren't smart enough to handle. But throughout its five-season run, Fringe distinguished itself from its main influence to be something much, much more than poking gross things with a stick.

And the show ditched comparisons to The X-Files by using its greatest trait: Its ability to adapt. Like co-creator J.J. Abrams' previous series Lost, each season of Fringe was its own creature with its own unique traits, for better and worse. But it would be some time before we knew exactly what we had on our hands. In order to be as audience-friendly as it could be at the start, Season 1 was an anthology of standalone cases designed to bring in eyeballs and not upset easily upset viewers who like their television neat and tidy. Hardly novel. Serial aspects crept in the longer the season ran, but nothing much bigger than what other procedurals on network television were doing. This was Fringe at its safest and most boring; hardly indicative of what the show was capable of.

It wasn't until the end of Season 1 that Fringe began to show its hand, taking the procedural-happy hitchhikers it'd picked up on an entirely different ride and perking the ears of sci-fi nerds. I remember when the show introduced the idea of parallel universes, and I'm pretty sure I peed my pants in excitement and prayed the show would go where I hoped it would go. And it did. But seeing a potential long life to the series, Season 2 teased the alternate universe (fore me, Olivia flying out of the taxi in the Season 2 premiere was a turning point for the series) more often than visiting it, and in Season 3 Fringe went full-on bonkers, which is exactly what we were all hoping for.

Oh my god, Season 3. Everything came together brilliantly for Fringe in Season 3, which remains one of the best seasons of television, sci-fi or otherwise, that I've had the privilege of covering since I've been in this business. The back-and-forth between the two universes opened up so many possibilities, but showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman made a great call when they used this new concept to focus on the romantic relationship between Peter and Olivia. It was a will-they-won't-they scenario that had no rules because there was no precedent for it on television, unless I missed the episode of Moonlighting where Maddie was cloned and her new carbon copy started a relationship with David. The addition of the second universe and a second Olivia brought Fringe into its own Age of Philosophy, with unanswerable brain-scramblers being asked weekly. Could you also love a copy of a person you already love, especially when the copy doesn't have the same hang-ups as the original? How much do one's experiences shape a person, and how much of a person is always embedded in their consistent core? Dirty blonde or redhead?

Season 3 was layered, man. So many new aspects were smooshed together that the show could've easily buckled under its own weight. But it was a unique storytelling device that glued everything together and was the real hero of the season: The concept of the "Mythalone" took the series to new creative heights. Many Season 3 episodes were telling a standalone story and working on the season's mythology, and thematically they resonated with each other. If an episode was about some creep who ripped out the hearts of his victims, it came back around when Peter had his heart crushed by Olivia. If an episode was about Fauxlivia learning about an unexpected pregnancy, the case involved parasites eating someone from the inside. And Fringe, with its out-there ideas, needed this sort of anchor. I don't know if it made it harder to write the show, creating weekly cases that reflected the set path of the mythology, but it certainly made it a lot more fun to watch.

The idea that each season was built on a new concept inherently makes each season only as good as its concept, and that's where Season 4 tumbled from the peak of Season 3. Peter was "erased" in Season 4 and didn't even show up for a good many episodes outside of being an odd flickering apparition. It was a daring move, but it was one that didn't entirely pay off. Some fans were outright PISSED, and I see their point. See, (at least) half of what made Fringe so good was its characters and their relationships with each other. We'd watched them grow from strangers into a tight-knit group that only had each other. Think about Season 1 Olivia. She was guarded, cold, joyless, and not so "quick to smile," as Peter put it. Those characteristics put many viewers off both her and the show early on, but I like to believe that her behavior was intentional all along. We saw her become someone entirely new, someone warm, someone who would finally smile, and there is no doubt that the reason it happened is that she spent time with Walter and Peter. The same can be said about Walter, whose manic moments were softened as his relationship with Peter grew stronger, and his eccentricity turned into patriarchal love. Don't get me wrong, he was still a freakshow, but an adorable freakshow.

By resetting things with a new timeline and new versions of Olivia and Walter, Season 4 took the relationships we'd watched grow for three years and erased them. Given their concept, Pinkner and Wyman asked all the right questions in an attempt to replicate much of the success of Season 3, and many times that worked. But most television audiences feel that character relationships are sacred ground and shouldn't be messed with so suddenly, and Season 4 was never able to fully overcome its "erasures," despite some fantastic moments. A lot of the philosophy still remained, and some standout episodes ("One Night in October," "And Those We've Left Behind") kept the show alive in Season 4. But without the concrete relationships established over the previous 60-plus episodes, the show felt more hollow than it'd been before.

Which brings us to Season 5, and the series' biggest reboot to date. Building on the post-apocalyptic "What if?" scenario of Season 4's "Letters of Transit," Season 5, the series' last, jumped into the future and transformed Fringe entirely from an emotional near-future procedural into an epic sci-fi action movie. On its own, it was watchable with shining moments. But compared to what the show was before, I'd call it a mess. Even though Season 4 was shortened to just 13 episodes, things started off slow and laborious as Walter's scavenger hunt had us chasing items for a reason unknown to us. Peter had a dalliance with Observer technology. Walter wanted to be relobotomized. And Olivia never had much to do at all. Though a clear goal was set (kill the Observers!), several core tenets of Fringe's past were dead and gone. There was no alternate universe (well there was, we just didn't go there until very late), no philosophy, no lingering questions that kept us awake at night and remained until the next episode, and the emotional territory revolved around a new character (daughter Etta, the metaphorical and physical product of Peter and Olivia's love) who'd just been introduced.

But the final episodes of Fringe salvaged plenty; they were a service to the fans, giving us one last visit to the alternate universe and strumming the emotional chords one last time. The show may have started off as a show about three unique people who solved strange cases, but in the end it was about a father and his son, a couple, family, and the enormous sacrifices we're willing to make for the people we love.

Fringe is gone. Gone! Forever. This will likely be my last bit about the show here on TV.com, but we'll be talking about it as long as we have functioning mouths that haven't been closed over by some toxic gas. And I'll talk about it reverently because even though it wasn't perfect, its greatest accomplishments were unlike anything I'd ever seen and affected me on so many levels. Toward the end the ratings may not have been what we would have liked, but future generations will stream the series and be wowed just like we were. And in some alternate universe, Fringe definitely got the recognition it deserved.


A FEW MORE THINGS ABOUT THE SERIES THAT, TO ME, REALLY STAND OUT

The Theme: If you ask me (go ahead, I'll wait... okay thanks for asking) one of Fringe's great contributions to the Museum of Television is its theme. Written by Abrams, it's actually a clue to where the series would go. Listen to the first "verse" and it's fairly simple. The second verse adds more complexity by hitting twice as many notes, and then the final seconds are a dude pounding on a keyboard like Schroeder on bath salts. If you can process the sounds visually, it's a tip to the multiple universes. The first piano chimes represent the world we see, the second batch adds another layer (the red universe to the blue universe), and at the end you're essentially staring into the void and seeing the infinite possibilities of infinite universes, something I had hoped Fringe would approach had it lasted longer.

The Openings: As a big fan of relevant opening credits, I always admired Fringe's because they were simple enough to be altered for maximum effect. Remember when the 1980s version came out? You were like, "Holy shit this rules!" weren't you? Because that was the appropriate response. And when the credits went red, more expletives. All the way up through the Observers version of Season 5, Fringe never just threw something out without wondering what could be done to make it cooler.

The Budget: Toward the end of the series, the show's budget was a pool of lunch money. But the men and women behind the scenes stretched those Canadian Loonies as far as they possibly could for really impressive production values. Though special effects were a big part of the series, they were only used when necessary. The sets always looked great, and the backdrop of the alternate universe and 2036 became worlds all their own. Fringe created its own world(s) as well as any sci-fi property ever has.

The Acting: Do you remember being iffy on Anna Torv when the show began? The girl ended up putting it all together and delivering one of television's most unheralded performances as the bazillion iterations of Olivia. There were moments in Season 3 when I didn't even recognize Torv in Altlivia. But obviously the big to-do here is the wonderful John Noble, who went unrecognized in the awards field as Walter Bishop.


And now I leave you with this, Fringe fans. Keep hope alive.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Nice words Tim , i will miss fringe too , it was an outstanding show in every way , goodbye fringe thanks for making us happy
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Still missing this show. Still wish it had finished on season 4 though. I don't think I'll watch re-runs of series 5, but 1 - 4 for sure.
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Every once and a while I want to see the S05E01 ending again. Seeing Walter in a bit of despair and then hope when he sees the flower, the colouring of that stage, the music, it makes me tear up again and again. It was a fantastic opening of a grand season. For that scene alone he should have had a golden globe (or at least a nomination).
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loved everything about fringe, it was a great show, sad that it's gone, and sad that it didn't had the recognition it deserved, loved the actors and everyone who kept alive so far
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Just been watching a few clips of the actors talking about the final episode. You can see just how much they invested in this show, and how much they believed in it. Sad to think it has gone........ but good to see threads like this show it will be hard to forget.
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I am very very sad to see this show come to an end. It was a great ride. Watching the first season got me hooked on it, but Season 2 and 3 really delivered for the show. The erasing of peter in Season4 really hurt the show's credentials in my eyes as the charcter's interractions very very important for the show. The relationships between Walter Peter and Olivia were disregarded. Fringe restarted well once Peter came back into the fold but it could never recover. The end wasn't great by any standards, it disappointed but it was entertaining nevertheless. I didn't care much for the season finale because when it ended I was like "meh". But in subsequent days I started thinking about the whole opus, Fringe's 5 seasons.

One of the best sci-fi shows to grace the small screen, imperfect yes but very very attaching. Acting was great, the mood was great, camera work and the score. So many points to touch on, but I will elaborate a little on one specific. Throughout 4 seasons of the show, Fringe communicated to us that Peter was of the utmost importance, the catalyst (with Walter). We never really knew why, but implicitly it was shown. But to arrive to the last 2-3 episodes and have September tell Walter that it was actually that baldheaded kid that was the important boy made the series fall flat at the end. "The Boy must not die, he is important". In the whole series they were alluding to Peter being the Boy and then that idea lost its power once we were introduced, very late, to Michael. I felt like Michael was brought in as a literary plot device because the writers, which happened in Lost also (hmm. wonder if it has something to do with J.J. Abrams) didn't know how to end the show. michael basically became the "God Child" from Mass Effect 3, a deux ex machina, brought in to rapidly close off the series by pulling a fast one over our eyes, seemingly to erase all contradictions from the show and close all plot holes in one big giant move. That way, the producers hoped, we would fall for it. Well I didn't and it didn't really work. The show didn't need Michael, even if his story was well presented and integrated into the show, it was a move that was uncool and disrespectful to the fans of the show.

All in all, it doesn't take from the greatness of the show. Kudos to Fringe for a great run!
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I just finished watching the last season of Fringe, and honestly, I think they should have ended it at Season 4. It had a perfect ending then. The world was saved. The bad guys were bested. Peter and Olivia were together and happy. Walter was happy. Olivia was pregnant. It was a good series end.

And then they did Season 5.

There were some episodes that were ok, I guess, and it was nice that Walter also got back his memories of Peter that he lost in Season 4.

But all in all, the ending with them resetting time just opens up the massive loophole of if the Observers never existed, then none of it would have happened, because September wouldn't have existed to save Peter from the lake. Not to mention that September wouldn't have been there to distract Walternate from his work and he would have been able to cure his Peter, hence leaving our Walter with no reason to cross over to the other side and steal Peter.

See what I mean? You can't just say "we're resetting time." It has too much far reaching repercussions.

But ok, I'll go with it. It's Fringe and I have had to go with a lot. I still didn't like the end of the last episode. It was just kinda cut. It didn't feel very properly done.

Oh well, I've stuck with Fringe for all 5 seasons. I will miss it. I still think season 1 and 2 was fantastic TV.
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I agree, although I also think season 4 had enough story (everyone remembering the old timeline for example) to have the last 13 episodes as a continuation, rather than something different.
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My favorite thing about FRINGE, without regard to any particular storyline, is the writers' ability to "go there." Every time there was an idea that something might happen but you weren't sure it was going to happen because of how insane it sounded when you said it out loud that's what would happen. It never failed to amaze. And the believability was way up there as well, everything that happened on Fringe could really be happening in Boston, New York, etc. and we would never know about it! I totally agree about the credits, it was really cool seeing the different variations and it was nice to have credits that meant something instead of just listing the cast and crew. And underrated actors, mostly John Noble and Seth Gabel since their two characters are the most different, but it really extends to everyone. As for comparisons with the X-Files in the first season, I would compare this comparison to the comparisons between Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers. When Rodgers first started playing, he was compared to Favre 100+ times per game, but at the end of his first season he had distinguished himself as a different, good player and shown that he would be sticking around for a while and now, a couple of years later, the comparison is almost never made. Fringe distinguished itself at the end of it's first season and during it's second season and beyond as a show with great ideas and the means to pull them off. I will definitely miss this show and there will never be anything quite like it. Viva Fringe!
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Thanks for the final article! Such a beloved series, it really was a special experience being a part of the fandom waiting for renewals each season, especially toward the end of Season 4 and the whole twitter takeover on Fridays. (#WeCrossedTheLine)

Looking back on the finale, it did the show justice. I'd love to see a feature film down the line, so Peter and Olivia could retrieve Walter from the future, take a trip to the other side. Now that William Bell is seemingly still the Villain that got away post Season 4, he's really the only unanswered question now.

Long Live Fringe!
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Ooooooooh my god I'm gonna miss this show
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I really enjoyed this unique TV show and all five seasons.

I wonder what happened to the universe (William Bell) created and if he lives there...
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Great Article!
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Lets hope this comment thread never ends :)
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Brilliant article, thank you. Same as many others here, watching these clips not only reduced me to tears again (the acting! The brilliant subtle emotional beats! The attachment to characters who felt like family!) but made me realise I will have to watch this whole show again from the beginning. Season 5 maybe have been a little hollow but I'm so glad this amazing show got a chance to sign out with intention to bring things full circle, and grateful to the network for giving it that shot. I have no idea what's going to come next but I know this show will always hold a special place of its own in my heart that no other show will be able to replace.
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K/J drama premise but with modern scifi... Awesome sauce!
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I have to agree, season 3 was for me the best season. Season 4 wasn't so bad to begin with, and I still enjoyed it. Until the point when Peter started his random theory that he was in a parallel universe (or a pair of parallel universes) rather than being in the same universe with history altered, which contradicted everything we had seen before. Honestly, I found it so irritating every time he mentioned it that I almost stopped watching Fringe altogether. So happy when September straightened it all out, but he could have used that time to erase that rebooted timeline as opposed to getting back to a world he was already in!
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I appreciated this outtake, my brief history with Fringe was probably why it never got the ratings. When it started, I was a little mythologyed out with Lost and Heroes was really getting into its horrible stage. I watched the pilot and just didn't care about anything and could see there would be a mythology that I just was not into getting involved in. I heard from many people around half way through the first season that it got really good, but I had developed other obligations. Then my co worker and I who have similar TV tastes kept wanting to talk about it with me and realized I had no point of reference. Then, sometime during Season 3, my Fox affiliate started replaying episodes at like 11:00 on Saturday nights, I realized at some point they were not the replays of the previous week, but we were like three weeks behind. I have no idea still how much I actually missed of Season 3, but we were deep in the other universe and I think I started watching around the last episode before they figured the Olivias out. And I was hooked. Yes, some things were over my head because I didn't know, but I was able to figure some stuff out. I have tried to rewatch the first season, mainly at my mother's house because she gets the Science Channel and I don't (I must say though, my mother who hates science fiction really liked the show and really only question Olivia's outfit choices) and they just aren't as good. I think where I came in, though, I was able to enjoy Season 4 more because I didn't have Olivia and Peter's history to really influence me. Season 5 was a little, a scavenger hunt, really? But, I liked the finale and it was a proper send off with the past measured with the best season, so, Season 3 was majorly there.
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I have cried at many, many, many tv moments (girls eh!) Like when that cord was cut on Grey's, or a recent heart wrenching death on Sons. There are these big moments in series that are there to get you. But it's only on Fringe that I would find myself crying at the subtlety of a moment. Words are inadequate to describe the brilliance that is John Noble. Thank you for giving life to one of the greatest characters tv will every know.
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I completely agree with this, for me there has never really been a show like it for style and subtlety and deep emotional resonance in the most unexpected little moments.
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I will miss Fringe. It grew on me slowly-like an alien fungus-and finally became devoted to show. It was not just the stories or the epic 2 universes and Observers lurking that made it great-it was the core cast and what they became-they were not stagnant characters. The blossomed and had layers both good and bad. You cared about them. It became about family and the power of love despite all odds forging the heros together. That's what makes good science fiction and fantasy. It is so rare to find. So rarely appreciated.
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There should be a movie to fix the loose ends. Did we ever find out how William Bell was able to develop technology to stop the Observers in Season 4? i.e. gun that fires faster and runes to restrict movement.

Do we know who the ones with observer tech are that suggested alternative observors? (Donald in season 2, John Mosley in Season 1) Also, in Michael's first appearance he was moved before a government agent was able to take him in. When the government agent was talking to his mysterious superiors, he said "We found another one". Were there supposed to be more child observers?
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The first season stared a little bit slowly but the last two episodes were a big bomb! Especially the last scene of season's 1 last episode Olivia standing in the towers was the most shocking moment in the recent history of television.
The second half of Season 2 was a masterpiece with episodes like "Jacksonville","Peter","White Tulip" and "Over there 1,2" sky rocked Fringe as a result the epic season 3 ! Season 4 started slowly too but the second half was amazing . The last season of Fringe covered the big subject we called observers and if it wasn't Season 5 we couldn't have answer as a result complaints from the most of the fans. Season 5 into the future was important for the mythology of Fringe.

The series finale was epic and the best series finale for series for years!

I hope for Fringe movie in the years to come!
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I thought all the seasons had their own strengths in each way, but now that I look back, season 3 was pretty damn awesome. Regardless, I love Fringe for all that it has given us. Thank you for an incredible 5 years, Fringe.
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...and my favourite season was 1-2, up until the alternate universe thing. I liked the anthology-like episodes best.
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Fringe was great and at least it got a proper and understandable ending. Lost got screwed up completely in that department.
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What, I liked the ending to Lost! It completely resolved that whole 'alternate reality thing' and kept the show's inside rules about time travel intact! My only complaint was that we didn't find out what happened to those who left on the plane.
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They all went to Heaven as Lost solved the biggest mystery of the universe - where we go when we die. Thank God I don't have to worry about that anymore, WHEW...
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Maybe you Americans like the cheesy endings "heaven and hell" and "walking into the light" type of thing, but to me it was like a slap in the face after all the random mysteries that happened for no reason only to lure people in to watch the show. Somuch was unresolved, so many unanswered question. It didn't resolve much at all.
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Wow, I don't think it has anything to do with being American or not. Some Americans hated the end of Lost, some loved it. Some people like the more romantic endings, some people want something more concrete. But I don't think it has anything to do with being American. So no need for that jab.
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Yes I definitely wanted to see Richard Alpert return to society in the 21st Century. It would have been interesting for sure. But, I didn't care for the ending.
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I will not miss these people for a long time. You see I have all five seasons to enjoy for a very long time...
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Actually, I think Fringe deserves to be remembered, and talked about for some time to come. How lucky those people are that have yet to go on the journey. I think I'm going to create a website for them and us.
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Looking at how the vote for favourite season is going, I think some people have completely forgotten how brilliant seasons 1 and 2 were! Have you done a rewatch yet? Surely they were better than season 5? I'm confused.
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Yes, I think season 2 was the best.
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Yes, I thought the same. I think it is just that people have forgotten, especially series 2.....
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seasons 2/3 were the best, definitely
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I have watch this show from beginning to end..and this was one of my best TV series ever..great article...
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John Noble never getting an Emmy or a Golden Globe for his terrific performance is definitely one of the worst mistakes in TV history.

He is what made Walter Bishop one of the best characters on television.
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If Walter went in the future after the Observers came how would he prevent their creation if the world was already full of them??
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It's complicated, just not that complicated
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With its ups and downs Fringe was a great tv show, I gonna miss it. I did already this past friday...
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Started watching Fringe because of your reviews here Tim - thank you! What an amazing journey it has been
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I'm still deeply disappointed by the season 4 reboot, I felt cheated, I wanted to know what was going to happen to Peter's son and Fauxlivia... And all of a sudden none of it happened, Walternate wasn't evil, Nina Sharp was a loving mother with no hidden agenda... The show was still ok to watch, but I missed where it was going. And when I was getting used to it and accepting we wouldn't go back to the original timeline, boom! Season 5 and a complete change in what the series even felt like. The finale was a consolation prize, it was good considering what Fringe had been lately.
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Yes, I mostly agree with you here.

Season 4 did present some great questions. How will they accept Peter knowing so much yet a stranger to them? How hard must it be for Olivia beginning to love someone who doesn't even think he belongs in this time?

However, where I agree 100% is with the losses. I wish the story had found a way back to the original timeline, rather than just Olivia. And as someone else said, a big issue was assuming Olivia's memories would make her the old Olivia.

Plus all the emotional turmoil and the side effects of that were wiped away. I lot was lost there. I also think the reset lost the chance of a full season 5, due to some fans being upset.

But as standalone episodes they were great, although I found the Peter apparition approach a little frustrating.

Still, it gets 100% from me for creativity, so can't ask for more than that with TV.
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Maybe if Peter had spent his time back trying to set the timeline right as opposed to getting possessed by this random idea that he was actually in an alternate universe and needed to get back to his own world he could have done just that.
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They can make a side story about their daughter's adventure in that 21 missing years.
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It could be like the "missing years" featurette about Sydney's missing two years on Alias. Except there would be a lot more to explain about Etta's "missing years."
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Actually the problem with that would be that we would all know the original characters are there.......... it would kind of be frustrating for some knowing that each day Etta goes about her business while the people we really want to see are nearby in amber......
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Its funny I remember back in 2008 when Fringe first aired that CBS had a new X-Files type show as well titled Eleventh Hour. I was ecstatic to have 2 new "freak of the week" shows to watch and really disappointed when Eleventh Hour was canceled. Back then if I had to choose which of the two would be canceled it probably would have been Fringe. I mean who could have imagined how incredible Fringe would become in later seasons. I'm still not happy Eleventh Hour was canceled after 18 episodes but if only one could survive I'm glad it was Fringe.
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Eleventh Hour was awesome. Very sad when it was cancelled. The relationship between Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton's characters was funny to watch.
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I miss Eleventh Hour sooo bad!
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Right on!
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Call me cray cray but I loved season 4. It was so interesting to see how they re-established their relationships. I was so into that. I am a little bit glad that the show did not get the recognition it clearly deserves(d) (seems so douchy when I actually write this). Hear me out. It forced the makers of Fringe to work from such a difficult position and I have a feeling that the show would be different if it had been a major hit from the beginning. They knew that only the weird sci fi hardcore fans would be watching. And in a sense, it probably set them free, they could go as crazy as they want. They had nothing to lose.
And also, I loved being in this small club which was aware of this show and its awesomeness. Mostly if I mentioned this show to anybody I just got back empty stares. But every now and then I stumbled upon another Fringe maniac and it made me feel that we had a secret to share. A secret no one else knew about. We could talk to each other about physics, philosophy and psychology using a sci fi show, how ridiculous is that? It is like a secret language. If you had not seen the show, it would be like jibberish.
I am gonna miss you Fringe, you oddball.
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I agree about the freer nature of less viewers. However, I think for me it went too far in season 5. I believe it was aimed at the hardcore fans, but missed.
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While many viewers may have appreciated, even loved, Fringe as a gem of science fiction (and I am certainly one of them), for me it was the main characters and their ever-changing and evolving relationships that made Fringe the finest show to ever appear on television. If you watch all 100 episodes enough times and with enough eye for detail, you will find some flaws, but who cares? I know I don't. Due to the exceptionally and consistently fine scripts, and the exceptionally and consistently brilliant acting (where are the multiple Emmy nominations?) I came to care about these characters almost as if I actually knew them. Fringe...you will be sorely missed. But I am just glad that we had you for as long as we did.
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Great show, will be missed. hoping for an extra season.
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They ruined the show with the changes in season 4 so it's no wonder that season 5 wound up being such a mess. They wound up resorting to a token hunt for the story.
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There was another problem that really sealed it's fate when I dropped late last year and continued in the chances I gave it this year (although I haven't seen the finale yet). The atmosphere became absolutely dreary and the stories became almost entirely dialogue based. You did not really need to "watch" more than a few minutes of an episode. It was all characters talking low and seriously to that same score music that reeeeeaally got old.
I want to watch the final episodes but I just see them in my queue and cringe at the idea. They completely forgot the great rule of filmed work. SHOW don't TELL.
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I don't think Show don't Tell was the problem, although I get what you mean,

I think in season 5, their was just not enough story happening. They were doing things....... showing not telling...... but not important things, or not important to us at that stage.
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That scene with the car and CD... always gets me. Something so simple, so touching, and so Walter (and quite frankly, so me). To be honest I will miss Walter the most. This character had this intense warmth about him, no matter how crazy he'd go.. he was always.. I don't even have a word for it, aside from amazing.. The other character I really loved was, yes Peter too ;->, but I truly loved Lincoln Lee, actually both of Seth Gabel's characters, but Lincoln was just so.. intense, in a very individual kind of way. As for the seasons, I really enjoyed the procedural part of it, it let me get to know the characters their own dynamic, and then learn how their dynamic changed as they grew closer. The third sason was great, it truly was. Mainly because of the double act, that was remarkable, but also for its consistency of the plot. Fourth season got me angry... Just sooooooo angry. But not at the beginning, like it happened with many viewers. I just knew Peter would fing his way back. After all, this all happened because of him. What made me angry was actually the end of the season when everything went... like WFT? And it was hard to get a grip, where are we? The past, the present, the future, or maybe the alternate present, or ..whatever o_O' What I mean is not that I couldn't get it... no it was more about it was hard to predict in an annoying way, not the good kind when you're sitting on the couch with your mouth open, trying to articulate "Woooow!", it was like "What now?". The final season was by far most disappointing for me. Sure, it had its moments, especially Walter moments, but somehow that precious vibe of cooperation, and that quest-like plot got lost and I missed that plenty. The final moemnts, were however very rewarding, and a really good summary for what the writers, the cast and the story itself tried to show us throughout the entire series. Still, I wish they'd wake up one day and decided for some twisted continuation (it didn't feel as final, as tv shows have a tendency to get... so, let there be hope). ;-)
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Tim, you may be right about season 3 being the strongest (I don't remember all the episodes off the top of my head and I couldn't match them to the titles anyway, so I probably don't have an opinion on that unless I were to re-watch the series one day), but I will always remember Fringe for giving me what I considered to be one of the best episodes of television, ever, in season 2's "White Tulip." Not just Fringe episodes. All TV episodes in history. "White Tulip" is something I will never forget. The story, the theme, the acting, the directing, and the amalgamation of all of the above......it remains one of the most powerful viewing experiences of all time for me. And I really loved that Walter's final message to Peter was the drawing of the white tulip. The finale threw the fans a bunch of bones, but the white tulip was the one that was just for me.

Oh, by the way, you so missed the episode where Cybil Shepard's clone hooked up with Bruce Willis. That totally happened.
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BTW, if John Noble was never recognized for his work, that's a crime against acting. From regular Walter, to crazy Walter, to semi-sane Walter, to Walternate, to sane Walter of years past, to high-on-dope Walter......the writers created a brilliant character and John Noble brought it expertly to life. One of the best characters ever on TV.
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Thank you for your words. Crying again with Walter's scene.
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I liked Season 1 and 2 quite a lot. Most importantly, i really liked Charlie. What disappointed me most about the end was that i got the feeling that i've wasted my time by watching this season. I watched them gather all those tapes and rocks but in the end it didn't matter because they didn't use them. Same with the fact that everything that happend during season 5, all the hardship and character development was basically for nothing because the world basically reset to a post season 4 state.
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I expected much from Season 5, seeing they're taking us to future ruled by Observers about whom we never had much information that would reveal their true nature. I was glad they decided to explore it but even though the season turned up to be a nice conclusion to the show and revealed true nature of the Observers, it somehow left a sour taste as I am/ was wondering "is this the best they can/ could do?" Mainly, it was probably due to some preconceptions I had or due to high expectations or probably because the season didn't felt very cohesive, as someone pointed out before, or that the writers didn't use the time they were given as best as they could. S5 wasn't the best Fringe season but it was well worth the time and gave a satisfactory ending to the great series. Wouldn't change a thing now.

Either way, first four seasons were great for me. As Tim pointed out, character relations are sacred and even though I didn't like the whole "erasure" thing the writers dropped on us, I decided to consider it as a bold move that would somehow restore everything to what it was, and add something more to it in terms of character development. It did in a way and we learned that love between Peter and Olivia transcends time and space (or that fate really is a fickle thing if it exists at all).

Overall, Fringe was a great experience and a quality series very few can compete with. It is a shame many didn't realize its worth in time, but c'est la vie. Maybe, in another universe, Fringe "definitely got the recognition it deserved."

Planning to re-watch it as soon as time constraints of this lowly dimension allow it.
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The end of an era.

There are so many things one could say. But to save you from reading an essay, and to save my tear ducts which are sore enough, I'll keep this short and only talk about season five. I agree with you Tim that it was not up to par. With the roller-coaster ride that was season three and four, I cannot understand how they managed to slow things down so completely in season five. Fringe has always taken us to weird places. It could have done literally anything in season five, it is sci-fi after all. But with all options on the table, why spend all that time chasing after some clues on videotapes? Why not for example focus more on the war against the Observers; sabotaging their operations or recruiting people to an armed uprising against them? I expected season five to blow my mind, but I'm afraid the gunpowder was a little wet.

The ending on the other hand was satisfactory. There's only one way to do an ending, and all viewers expect different things. Everyone can't be satisfied, but I thought the last two episodes brought everything together into a warm farewell to the show. I can't complain about it.

At the end of The Truman Show, everyone around the world are watching the broadcast, empathising with Truman. But as soon as the show ends, they just switch the channel to find something else to watch, as if The Truman Show never existed. So now I guess it's time to move on from Fringe, but it won't be forgotten. At the moment I do not have any show that touches me like Fringe did. I'm waiting to see if Anna Torv gets a major role on some show. She hasn't done anything significant besides Fringe during the last five years, only a small role in The Pacific. I hope she finds some work, she deserves it and I don't want her to turn into one of those has been sci-fi actresses who never get any other work after their one big role.
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Nice post. And I think you've hit the million dollar question..........

" It could have done literally anything in season five, it is sci-fi after all. But with all options on the table, why spend all that time chasing after some clues on videotapes?"

My guess is that throughout season 4 the writers assumed it was the end, and everything they had was put in it. Therefore when season 5 was confirmed, I think there was no story left from the point of view of where they were originally going.

The real shame for me was that season 4 actually left a natural gap - what about the original timeline?

It would have been much better, in my opinion, to forget the future invasion stuff (effectively 13 episodes of a completely different show), and use instead those episodes to bring us back to the original timeline. I would have much preferred a continuation of where series 4 left off, rather than a series reboot.
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.....and I think that would have made for a much more satisfying conclusion to the series.
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I agree with your comments on Season 5. I really liked several elements and key turning points during the season, but the continuity of the episodes was an absolute mess. Etta was there for 4 episodes and then not. Peter became an Observer for 4 episodes and then that was scraped. The anomaly child was great, but brought in during the last 4 episodes (including an episode where he randomly submitted himself into the custody of the observers). So, yeah. There were some great elements, but definitely needed a better cohesion between them. Poor Astrid was lasering amber all season... geez. I liked the lower focus on Broyles and Nina - this allowed for these actors to be used more efficiently and to great effect.
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I think a lot of us complained about Season 3 initially. I certainly remember complaining a bit myself. But I think, looking back, it has to be one of the best seasons of television that ever aired. So complex yet so compelling to watch.
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I've recently done a rewatch of Fringe and I find it very difficult to pick a favourite season. If I pick my favourite 10 episodes they come from every season.
Season one is the possibility of what is to come and the realisation that this is great TV. Season 2 is building relationships, momentum and moving toward something fabulous. Season 3 is extra different and out there AND over there. Season 4 takes a while to warm up but it gets into its stride echoing past seasons and building releationships in a slightly altered world where anything is possible again. Then season 5 is the final, ambitious leap, leaving all stand alone territory behind and concentrating solely on story arc. Apart from one episode, The Recordist, all the episodes are solid and inventive, Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There and The Boy Must Live being among my favourites.
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I look at it like this. Fringe was like a wonderful and very long movie that lasted about 75 hours dealt out over five years. It was a truly wonderful ride with a beginning, middle and end. It was what happened with great moments all throughout and a fun satisfying ending. I wouldn't change a thing. I think it's fans will come to realize this over time as they revisit often...
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