Looking Back on Fringe Season 4: A Love Story Disguised As a Disaster Movie

Most television shows like to live in a nice, comfortable place where things don't really change and at the end of every episode, characters are mostly back to where they started. Not Fringe. Even for a series that goes from 2-D to 3-D with the layers it presents each season, the storytelling device used in Season 4 was a huge risk that pissed off a lot of people.

Heck, the season started with one of the show's main characters completely missing, only flickering on the screen for split-second moments or appearing in the reflections of televisions. Naturally, this did not sit well with Olive Eaters (a name I just made up for Olivia-Peter 'shippers), and many fans complained that it undermined all the growing up we did with Peter, Olivia, and Walter (and Astrid!) in the show's first three seasons. All of a sudden we were in a new timeline where things were the same but incredibly different, as if we'd wiped the hard drive but still had the original system software. Walter was a lonely, sheltered kook, Olivia was the same drab agent we'd known in early Season 1, and only Peter was privy to what had happened in the previous 65 episodes.

I'm not sure this plan totally worked, but I found it to be a daring and fresh way to tell the stories of the characters' relationships all over again. And from a philosophical standpoint, it raised all the right questions...which I subsequently went crazy over: "What would happen if I never existed?" "Would my girlfriend still love me if we'd met at a different time?" "Are various iterations of ourselves still recognizable?" (Season 4 was the advanced course on that last topic; it was touched on in Seasons 2 and 3 on a 101 level.) In this sense, Season 4 actually outshone Fringe's previous seasons in the TV-for-thought department, and for the most part did a fantastic job with it.

Season 4 also played a lot with inter-universe action, which is totally badass. In retrospect, I actually wish Fringe had done more of this. I was such a fan of "One Night in October" (Episode 2), which brought a man over to the Other Side to help him catch his murderous counterpart—it could have been a fantastic template for the season. Imagine if Season 4 had dealt with the world slowly realizing the existence of multiple universes. That's a whole new can of worms that would have been mind-blowing to witness; just think about millions of people crawling over each other to get to the Other Side to see their dead pet parrot, a Cubs World Series win, or the seventh season of Firefly.

Instead, the inter-universe stuff was just first chapter of one of three overlapping arcs that made up Season 4. The first focused on the teamwork between the two universes and getting Peter back home. The second was the wonderful love story between Peter and New Olivia, which really got the brain and heart working. Seriously, if the Peter/New Olivia situation didn't make your heart ache, then GET OUT! We're sensitive types here who like to share their feelings! The storyline played to one of Fringe's strengths, which is creating engaging characters and situations. Even if we knew that Peter and Olivia would get together, we didn't know which Olivia it would be, we didn't know where Peter would end up, and the writers kept everything hidden exquisitely so we could sit around have plenty to talk about. If I had to choose, I'd say Season 4 was at its strongest during the Peter/Olivia love story arc, specifically that fantastic run from Episodes 12 through 15. Initially I thought the big Peter and Olivia thing would extend through the end of the season, but the writers had bigger plans.

And HUGE-GANTIC plans they were. Season 4's final leg focused on stopping David Robert Jones, and ultimately William Bell, from destroying our entire universe and the alternate universe and probably like a hundred other universes we don't even know exist in order to play God and create a new world where there's no shame in being a porcupine person. As I said in my episodic reviews, the two-part finale didn't make for as satisfying a finish for me; many of the layers Fringe is famous for were flattened, resulting in "let's catch the bad guy" one-dimensional storytelling. But in terms of wrapping things up and provide a finish that was fine in a summer movie kind of way, the two-parter did the trick. The events leading up to the final showdown were still intriguing, but once the bridge to the other universe was shut down, a huge part of Fringe went into hibernation, stuck in the amber of being shoved off to the side. Would the season have benefited if the spoilers from "Letters of Transit" hadn't been revealed? Olivia's pregnancy and Astrid's survival, two monumental moments in the two-part finale, were pretty much guaranteed based on what we saw in 2036.

In the technical departments, Fringe was once again blessed by superior acting. Joshua Jackson was his normal steady self, but Anna Torv and John Noble once again carried a huge load. Torv did wonders with all her characters, so much so that Olivia and Fauxlivia seemed like completely different people, but Old Olivia and New Olivia were immediately recognizable as individuals. That's serious acting skills when you think about it. Noble did the same with Walternate, and provided the best demonstration of acting his ass off when Walternate and Walter had their heart-to-heart. Production wise, the effects department was way on-it with what little budget it had to work with. The look and feel of Fringe caters to cheap filmmaking, but when they need to go big, they can. It was another great year for the people behind the scenes.

Season 4 had its ups and downs with specific plotting, but the season was remarkably well paced—there were few, if any, lulls. It did a great job of furthering the implementation of "mythalone" episodes (episodes featuring a case-of-the-week that thematically speaks to the overall story) and raising questions that transcended the events on screen. In that sense, Fringe really found its footing as an intelligent sci-fi drama. The season was also remarkably consistent in its high quality, and I think that had a lot to do with the way the season was parsed. It got to tell three huge stories in smaller arcs, rather than in one long, drawn-out season with filler. I thoroughly enjoyed it!



The Fringe Season 4 Superlative Awards

Best use of trans-universal device:
"One Night in October" (Episode 2). The professor who crossed universes to profile himself as a serial killer would still be twitching on the ground from the brain beatdown he took if he wasn't forced to forget everything. A great episode that only Fringe could pull off.


Best mythalone episode:
"And Those We've Left Behind" (Episode 6). This was just a killer story about the extent to which we'll go for a loved one. Stephen Root as a husband trying to help his dementia-stricken particle physics professor wife (real-life wife Romy Rosemont) was strong enough to be its own hour, but the way it tied into Peter and Olivia's situation was beautiful. Fringe at its mythalone best.


Best mythology episode:
"The End of All Things" (Episode 14). This great hour featured one of the scenes we've been looking forward to for years: Peter learning some truths from September by mind-jacking him. But it was also bookended by some great relationship stuff, as Peter and Olivia's hook-up was interrupted by a kidnapping and the episode ended with Peter turning his back on a heartbroken Olivia.


Best secondary character episode:
Tie: "Making Angels" (Episode 11) and "Everything In Its Right Place" (Episode 17). In "Angels," Astrid told her counterpart a white lie for her own good. In "Everything," Lincoln found the place where he belonged. Two great chapters that totally did these characters justice.


Freakiest episode:
"Welcome to Westfield" (Episode 12). Walter, Olivia, and Peter got stuck in the town of Westfield, the eye of a storm that DRJ was using as an experiment on the effects of punching holes in the universe. The hour was claustrophobic and tense, and gave us a guy with two faces. And the freakiness wasn't confined to Westfield; when Peter came back to New Olivia's, she kissed him like he never left.


Best episode still searching for a superlative that's fitting:
"Letters of Transit" (Episode 19). I initially thought this episode was the writers having fun with a possible future scenario, but apparently it was much more important than that and will play a big role in Season 5. Totally fun with a fascinating bummer of a future, "Letters of Transit" showed off the series' imagination and just how much longer Fringe is capable of going.


Worst case-of-the-week:
"Alone in the World" (Episode 3). Telepathic moss instructed a boy to bring bullies to its den so it could kill them. Bleh.


Best Walter quote:
"Peace out!" So simple, so perfect. Other good ones: "I think it's in my Spider-Man fanny pack." "These are not the droids you are looking for." "I'm feeling more peckish than thirsty." And, while approaching a kid in a blood-spattered apron, "Alright young man, let's get started—take off your shirt and hop on the table."


Best hair:
Lincoln.


Worst hair:
Lincoln.


And that's it! I'll be back in the fall to cover Season 5 unless I win the lottery or get stuck in another universe. What did you think of Season 4 as a whole?


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

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I have discovered Fringe a couple of days ago and I like it, but imo, the best season was 3, Personally I don't like horror-like movies/series and that's the reason I watched Fringe so late. I did not enjoy its procedural side, "mythalone" as you call it. Instead, I greatly appreciated the general plot about multiverses and time travel. I remember the true-SF novels and movies: Asimov, Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Terminator ?
When and why did all the horrible viruses/bacteria, mutations, pandemic deseases became part of the SF genre ?
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Olivia & Peter - forever. Loved season 4. Obssessed with Fringe. Don't know what I will do without Fringe. So sad!
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Nice to see a season summary. It reminds us just how good this TV show is.



For me, this has to rate as the most intriguing, imaginative and creative series of TV ever. I doubt it will be surpassed for a while (if at all).
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Let me guess? Everybody on Fringe is actually dead and going to heaven!



Deus ex machina does it again!



Thank you Jesus ... i don't know what I would have done if I did not know that Jin-Soo Kwon found true love, and Sayid, poor Sayid, found love, and Desmond found love, and Juliette and Sawyer find true love, and Jack oh Jack oh Jack oh Jack we knew you loved Kate, what took you so long to realize that?



I'm hoping for a Sequel. I simply MUST know if Benjamin Linus finds love...



Fringe rocks
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That made for some very good reading, Tim. Why isn't there more of that aside from the reviews?



I've found myself agreeing with almost every point. The lack of appreciation for Joshua Jackson does bother me, though - I think he's been up there with John and Anna.



Overall, I've really liked this season (regardless of the disappointing finale), and I'm glad that they had the courage to explore all these different directions. So many memorable episodes. "Letters of Transit" has clearly shown how much potential there is still left in Fringe. At least we'll get to see some of that potential this fall.
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That's because Josh didn't have 5 people to play.
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I liked the season a lot though 1) I think the writers made mistakes with the new timeline thing or appeared to make them as it wasn't always clear what had or hadn't happened in this "new world" that differed from the one we'd grown to know in previous seasons and 2) I hate knowing that the future episode will be fulfilled and what the next season's monumental focus will be. Much of the mystique of the Observers was their mystery. Now Fringe appears to be turning them into garden-variety if very powerful/tech-advanced baddies. Plus, we now know that Bell will be back.



And Olivia's destiny pregnancy disappointed me.



I like the second universe and wish that now that the machine could be turned back on that they did so (after all it would help the other Universe along in its healing) so we could get Fauxlivia and Lincoln back at least some of the time.



I agree with all of the best episode picks here except "Letters of Transit" - why blow the suspense like that. And as Ian whazzizname is a regular on Scandal which just got renewed I doubt he'll be back in this storyline.



Still love Fringe.
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Fringe is the Best Sci fi TV Show since the Battlestar Galactica last season and in the best shows of the year/season
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I agree with all of your list, except "And those we've left behind", that felt like a rehash of "White tulip" to me ( but maybe I just need to watch it again, to see how it fits into the whole season ). And my best Walter quote would go to his quoting of "The Prisoner" in "Letters of transit", but the droids one was good, too.
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just an outstanding show , each episode is unique! can't wait for the last season...and of course, lincoln's hair!!
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Some Notes :

*I Like FRINGE .

* The 2-parts season finale was a big disaster . Creating a new universe is a great idea but they implemented the plot in a bad way " cartoonish death of a villain , silly shot of Astrid "

*"Letters of Transit" is the best episode in this season and it didn't ruin the Finale.The Finale is already SUCKS!

*Stop comparing Lost to Fringe , maybe in season 5 FRINGE will beat LOST but until now if you feel that a finale like this is better than a LOST episode then i can't even argue with you ! "Fringe s4 finale final scene : They're coming.....................meh , the obserevers!

"Lost s4 finale final scene : Ben : we have to bring him too.........

camera is moving.........

Lock in the coffin .................ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! :O
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I think people should stop comparing FRINGE to LOST.. they are two completely different shows, different story lines and different theme.. i stoped watching lost after season 3, not because I didnt like it.. i dont remember why but it was great in its own way... i am the BIGGEST fan freak of fringe and its also great in its own way.. nothing to do with lost!! they are both great, just saying... its like comparing two and a half men and the big bang theory just because they're both chuck lorre's.. nobody is ever going to win.. it's a matter of personal taste but there is no comparison they are just different
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Fringe has all my respect for trying to finish the series... i'm sure that if they had known in time about the extra episodes the series would have looked differently
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Yeaa, the human shapeshifter plot did kinda wind-out didn't it? I believe Brave New World was mean to end the series. sucks having to look back at that..had they known about Season 5 around episode 10 or so...I believe the final half of the season would've been paced a bit different.



But I have no problem with LOT setting up the future of the show and everything after that explaining how we get to 2036, even though we can assume whats going to happen..Fringe always delivers.



I found Season 4 to contain some very very great character driven episodes. Love the series..and I think my favorite seasons are 3-2-4-1 and hopefully Season 5 wraps up my favorite show of all time and doesn't leave a weird taste in my mouth like Lost at the end or a confused PLEASE MAKE A MOVIE end like with Chuck.



Final Seasons for heavy serialized shows can go either way..ya know? I have faith in the writers..Season 4 had great, great moments. It's not the writers fault that the show peaked starting with Season 2's Jacksonville all the way to Season 3's Entrada. To me..thats when the show was at it's best creatively. But it has taken more chances..and dealt with taking those risks (erasing a character from the shows existence..rewriting the timeline we've known) it was done very, very well.



Fringe will live on as one of the most creative Sagas ever.
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i'd like to see that season 4 alternate ending...
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You did, with that tiny bit about they're coming clipped off
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A shame you seem to think Josh's performance was "meh" for some reason. He's always been subtle and understated rather than flashy and dramatic, and it's the sort of portrayal that fits Peter's character perfectly. You can't say he wasn't great in the finale, especially in the scene where Olivia was shot. He can hold his own with anyone else in the cast.
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Josh gets punished by the media all because he didn't have a double to play.
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One thing, Tim, please don't let this be your last visit to Fringe before season 5, your love for it makes most of us smile a lot...
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The finale ended the only way it could, though leaving Olivia dead by Walter's hand would have been better stoy telling. So we bought the whole Cortexiphan revival because we needs us our sweet Olive and Astros. As for season 4, it was killer just like you said, Tim. If we don't go back to the other side at least once in 5 I will be surprised and disappointed, as I know we all will be. But I'm looking forward to a great sendoff next year...
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Lincoln and Lincon for best and worst hair

fantastic

But how could you not crown the great sex scene of Welcome to Westfield with a title??
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Great review and well written story, Tim. The only thing I would add is that the dialog in the last episode was very weak.



Other than that, the cast and writers took a very slow starting season and built it up to a nice finale.
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It's probably just me, but I loved season 4 from beginning to end. I know it did start slow, but knowing what quality tv Fringe does week-to-week, I had no problem with that. Rebootlandia was a fascinating concept to me that had to be taken slowly because for the most part, it had never been attempted or executed this well on tv, ever, in my opinion. Around episode 8, momentum really picked up, and Fringe ended on a fantastic two-part finale!! I for one have no complaints about season 4 and very much look forward to season 5.
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"These are not the droids you are looking for."

"I'm feeling more peckish than thirsty."



best 2
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i just watched it last night with the wife. we both agreed they should just end the show like that (since we were satisfied with the ending) instead of coming back for a short last season
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I agree with Fringe of delivering an intelligent sci-fi but there were a few questionable moments in this season which i believe kept it from not being as exceptional as the other seasons were. Peter's little adventure with his theory of his world being in another Time-line was a disaster because, and setting aside that it didn't make any sense in the first place, they didn't even attempt to provide us how he came up with that conclusion. They just rolled with it and thought we should too. But It was so obvious that his time-line was simply changed because he was erased, so it was way impossible to accept these people didn't see that. There were also other stuff they didn't explain or could not explain properly which put the science not in a favorable view.



Another thing that bothered me, Olivia's powers were way exaggerating. Emitting that strong energy force that could collapse two universes and still she looked so casual and didn't affect anyone around her at all. She was also shot through the brain, then later they poked inside that brain with some long metal stuff pushing the bullet outside from the back of her head. And Few seconds after that she was quickly repairing her wound, her brain, and she was already on her feet a few hours later and everything while being pregnant. I don't know but it seems that bell and walter also have the ability to create a god.



Dr Jones trying to kill peter with a crowbar was dumb, and following how he died subsequently in that moment made it even worse in the face of the show and his character after they beautifully built it in the beginning of the season.



The fourth season was still great but it ranks in fourth place in which i think the best seasons are. The third is first, second's season is second and the first season in third. I should say i also agree that Letter of transit should've been the season finale. And if they follow in season 5 what they did in that episode then there's a whole possibility that the last season might be the best.



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but if there wasn't going to be a Season 5, could you imagine Letters of Transit being the Series Finale had they waited to show it as episode 22 and then the show was canceled? I think it's better that Brave New World is explaining LOT instead of the other way around. Less shock value..but more of a planned out Saga you know
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NO! Say it isn't so! (I'm still watching Season 2).



That's what ruined LOST, which was a quasi-religious romantic drama pretending to be sci-fi/fantasy.



I'll just assume you're on one of your nonsensical benders.
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nothing ruined LOST. it was awesome. just because we didnt get all the answers doesnt mean it was ruined.



Fringe is up there with LOST, but LOST is still better in my book.
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If you like romantic dramas with lots of suspense and clues and red herrings about nonsense that doesn't really matter because everybody's dead, then I see your point.
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Thank you. People need to give this show a break. I feel that in retrospect people hate on it much more than while watching (including the finale). Obviously the ending was controversial but with great disappointment comes big anticipation.
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I readily admit that I liked it while watching it. Because while watching it it wasn't yet clear that it was a show for lemmings.
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Oh, it was ruined for all time, make no mistake about that. Hey mommy, look at us, we were Lost for a while but now we're all in Heaven...
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While I tend to disagree--I do think that Lost went off the rails later in its run, but to each his own--I will say that Fringe has managed to balance all of its elements quite well, and hasn't ever changed what it is throughout its run. You won't be disappointed, I don't think.
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Season 6 of Lost was a giant turd sandwich. Giant.



I LOVED 'letters of transit' so I'm looking fwd to how this storyline will play out next season. Please don't pull a Lost Fringe, I am begging you!!!!
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I think season 4 was strong but lookin' back I wished season finale was different. All season we hadn't any fillers (like you Tim mention) coz of the tense three long arc stories. There was no time for fillers. And it sets the quality bar very high. The Show becomin' more confident in its mythology.

But I wished that Olivia Peter story would go till the end and complicate things a bit more. I waited for her memory loss/new memory embrace thing to be explained better. And I thought at some point it would have to do something with her death in all possible timelines) and how about Walter why didn't he get new memory of Peter universe? But I think writers gonna skip all this memory thing for good. I hope this situation with Olivia memory gonna reappear in upcoming season.

All and all I enjoyed this season very much. And I like Westerfield episode more than One day in October) coz I like claustrophobic episodes when people get stuck in some place (like on island for example)) as I liked episode in season 2 when our team got stuck in quarantine building. And there were many good episodes throughout season. Especially with Olivia Peter story arc it was exciting and mind-screwing stuff) and with whole Peter situation and inter-universe stuff. Also the best for me the future episode Letter of Transit. It was fun and smart episode. And I think this year Fringe was more thought provoking than in previous seasons.
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Yeah, the finale wasn't great.
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This season wasn't perfect. But it was still brilliant. It had many fantastic character moments, daring story telling, and most of all it was incredibly thought provoking.
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In short: I found season 4 to be the weakest of Fringe.



I have to admit hadn't even thought about it how much balls the show had when it decided to change just about everything and this deserves praise. However it felt like Fringe sprained an ankle just when it was reaching a good running speed. Season 3 was amazing. It built up characters nicely and even Olivia seemed interesting at times who, at least compared to Fauxlivia, is about as enjoyable as wiping your ass with sandpaper (not that I've tried). The story was playing with both universes and even the Fringe-of-the-week stuff felt more captivating.



Season 4 started out slowly by resetting characters and playing with how things changed without Peter. This was interesting but as it was now mainly focused on the Dullivia, I felt like my interest was waning. And as the season progressed it felt like the balls the show had so proudly dangled in front of us, started retracting and shriveling as the show struggled to bring back the not-so-Dullivia from season 3 using SCIENCE! that made little sense even in the Fringe-verse. Instead of trying to make a new Olivia, they returned the old one with ridiculous new and convenient Cortexi-powers.Even the most interesting promise of "Olivia dying in every possible future" and Cortexiphans new and neverEVER mentioned before regenerative powers came a convenient and lame as hell deus ex machina.



Of course season 4 wasn't all bad. It had some wonderful episodes, most of them being listed in the above article, few of them ranking up as best episodes in the show thus far. But then it had horrible episodes, like the one where they revisited the old episode from season 1. The episode idea was great, visiting the old episodes and showing how things have changed in the universe, but why oh why take THAT particular episode and I really had to stop myself from throwing things at the TV when the massive muscled porcupine monster spread those ittybitty bat wings and fly away. The other episodes left an overpowering feeling of "meh" and left from memory as soon as the ending credits rolled.



Regardless, I'm still looking forward to season 5. Oh and am I the only one who thinks that the other-universe should get it's own series?
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I agree with everything you said, Tim! (although I have to disagree with you on Joshua Jackson- he was given an emotional story, and hell, did he deliver). In fact, the entire cast shone this season- I felt a connection to each one- that, I think, is the best reflection on their work. Overall, season 4 was incredibly strong, and so many thought-provoking ideas, it really did throw a lot of philosophical questions at us. And I loved it. September cannot come soon enough, I need to see these characters again!
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Best character: Lincoln Lee, both of them.



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While season 4 is good imo, some think it's the worst season of Fringe....Mostly because of the reset of history.



Just a few weeks ago I still saw someone complaining that he couldn't feel for the characters because of the reset and claiming that season 1-3 had turned to waste, ever after Nothing As It Seems.
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Season three will always be my favorite, but season four came pretty darn close. It was a solid season that started slow and built to unimaginable crescendo - like any good story should. My favorite episodes were "And Those We've Left Behind", "Subject 9", "Welcome to Westfield", "A Better Human Being", "The End of All Things", "Worlds Apart", and "Brave New World (Parts 1 & 2)". I was squeeing with joy when Olivia's pregnancy was confirmed. What a sweet moment!

You call Fringe a love story at heart, and it completely is. Honestly I think that is the reason why I ADORE the show so very, very much. It is a love story between Peter/Olivia and Peter/Walter at its core, made palpable by these amazingly talented actors and actresses.

I'm so excited for the next season (and sad, because it is the last). Fringe will most definitely go down as one of the greatest, most intelligent and thought-provoking shows of our time.
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Oh. And "Letters of Transit". How could I forget "Letters of Transit"!!! That was also one of my favorite episodes. We just met her and I'm already in love with Etta Bishop - well done, show. So eager to see how that storyline pans out.
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I just want to say: of course Anna Torv and John Noble are incredible actors: they're Australian.



(Says the proud Aussie)
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i loved season 4. It started out slow and i while i liked seeing how characters were different w/o Peter, it didnt feel like Fringe we all loved. But when Peter came back in ep.5, it was like a shot in the arm Fringe needed. I think, with the exception of Wallflower, Fringe was great since Peter returned, and especially turned it up at ep. 12 (welcome to westfield). I enjoyed how there was a season long arc, with 3 separate arcs weaved in seemlessly, that's what i thought was done best. great acting once again. Peter and Olivias arc was definitely the best part of the season. i was happy they didnt do anything with her and lincoln, it just felt weird and unnatural. i loved jared harris, he's fantastic, but i felt like he didnt get a great ending. of course nimoy coming back at the end was great. Great season and perfectly set up for the end and season 5. Favorite Episode -- im going with 'The End of All Things'
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Is it possible that Fringe just has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to possible plot directions... so that any angle they take will mean turning away from possibilities that are equally as compelling? (and thus,disappointing to at least half the viewers?)



While the quasi-reboot at the start of Season 4 was harsh, the season actually turned out great. Some elements were more compelling than others. I agree with Tim that it was the "blended worlds" aspect that was most compelling (and I had had serious doubts that it would be, but I was very wrong). The Peter/Olivia story was okay, if dragged out. I missed William Bell being involved in the narrative, but the showrunners certainly addressed that by the end.



Again, I have to laugh at the tendency of fans and critics of the show to proclaim that Fringe has done this or that thing wrong or ruinous... or has gone bad. Gone bad, compared to WHAT? Yes, this is a big cliche, but it's true - the show has still got a purer quality ratio than almost anything else out there - including the risk-taking factor.



Lastly, there are still a few fans (or former fans) waiting for an explanation of Big Eddie and upset that they haven't gotten one yet. A rather extreme example of viewers being fixated on the narrative they expected, but didn't get... but hopefully you get my point. Fringe lost people every single season - the fans who were there for Freak of the Week bailed in Season 2 when it became serialized, then a bunch of fans bailed when they introduced the alternate universe in Season 3, then a bunch of fans bailed when they erased Peter, and you can bet next season a bunch of fans will bail on 2036. Ho hum.
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Very well-written comment, bravo my Fringe feathered friend...
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Joshua Jackson was his normal steady self...nice way of looking down on josh and his talent.
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"What did you think of Season 4 as a whole?"

Amazing. As per usual with Fringe.



The show still goes into depth with the characters' connections with each other even with an altered timeline.

Yes the Finale would've been a better episode in terms of shock value had we not've seen Letters of Transit, but at the same time, I'm loving that Fringe is going there and that we didn't witness another Possible Future, but one that is destined to come to fruition.It takes the show to another level in terms of well thought out sagas.



I've always wanted to see how the true stories were meant to go for shows like Firefly, Dollhouse, and even Heroes when it canceled it's original third volume and when it was canceled. I also wanted to see a different ending to Lost where the two timelines were merged or something and yet this show has done that or tried to do that in some form or another. Fringe Season 5 is such a gift.



This show always seems to take it to the next level each year, and Season 5 is no exception





Best Finale Cliffhangers in terms of Shock value for me: 2, 3, 1, 4



If Letters of Transit had been either the Season 4 Finale or the Season 5 Premiere, I would say Season 4... undoubtedly
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Some of my favorite Walter quotes from season 4:

After he calls Astrid Alex: "I was on a roll"



"I'm human, what are you? Is this some sort of alien invasion? Are you part of a strike?"



"Ah, fresh air. I've forgotten how much I love it. I should have gotten out of the lab years ago!"



Agent Tim: Night Doctor Bishop.

Walter: Night Donny.

Agent Tim: It's Tim, sir.

Walter: Night Timmy.



"I wentbeaver hunting in eastern Canada in the 70s. Of course, in those days, beaver hunting meant something else entirely."



"One more thing, have you tried LSD?"



There's just so many!!

I freakin' love this show, I think I'm gonna watch all seasons again this summer.
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Fine, I'll join you...
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Crumbs. The thought of there being a season 7 of Firefly out there somewhere is making me consider going back to university to study all the sciences so I can discover alternate universes.



Didn't like the first half but the second half picked up more and more momentum. Hoping season 5 will be epic start to finish
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I hear Walter's going to work on THAT converter box over the summer, so we can all catch up. But he say there's probably no Castle on there...
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FANATICALLY LONG POST ALERT!



Best Fringe Reviewer: Tim Surette.



Honestly, man, your reviews of Fringe have become an extension of the show for me. It's like the episode isn't complete until I've read your review. The only other show/review symbiotic relationship I can compare this to is Price Peterson's TVD reviews. They're an integral part of my viewing process. Thanks for the excellent analysis all season long and a great recap here.



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This season was a huge storytelling risk. Can you imagine any other show nearly rewriting its entire history? Can you imagine any other show pulling it off with this much considerable aplomb? I can't. But that's exactly what Fringe did. And there in lies the unparalleled brilliance of this show. Relationships that had been meticulously built for three seasons were erased in an instant. But the reformations of these relationships allowed us to see another unique side of them that would not have been possible otherwise. Peter and Olivia had to go through all the motions again, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't extremely frustrating at times. Yet it was this frustration that allowed the small incremental steps back to what they had be so meaningful and profound. I remember the first smile of true warmth New-Olivia gave Peter and to me it seemed like a monumental moment. If Peter and Olivia shippers are Olive Eaters, than I guess my favorite restaurant in Olive Gardens, because I can't get enough of these two. Peter's heartache and determination to find his way back to his Olivia, to the realization that New-Olivia IS his, was a breathtaking emotional journey that made season 4 especially memorable.



Although, as you wrote, the storytelling mechanics of the rewritten timeline wasn't the only thing that made season 4 spectacular. Because of the bridge we got to see the universes work together and this development alone almost made Peter's temporary non-existence worth it. Every scene with Duo-livia's was a testament to the amazing acting skills of Anna Torv. She's now played like 7 different versions of herself and the range of her abilities is astounding. Though, let's not forget the master that is John Noble. The scene before they close the bridge when Walter and Walternate were sitting side by side is one of my favorites of the season. The two characters could not have seemed any more like completely different people in that moment, and as I think back I'm once again reminded of the travesty of John Noble not being even nominated for an Emmy. I also loved the subtle (and not so subtle) differences of the universes. Fringe is truly a show where the settings are nearly characters in and of themselves. One specific example that always resurfaces when I'm thinking of this is the other side's superhero The Mantis. It's intricacies like these which make me further appreciate the writing behind Fringe.



To your point, Tim, not everything worked in this season. The futuristic episode that we initially thought was just a "what if" scenario and then subsequently told by the showrunners that it was more than that, may have been a detriment to the finale. David Robert Jones was given a rather unexpected and unceremonious death for a master villain they had built up all season long. And the sudden inclusion of William Bell as the big bad did seem a little rushed. Yet, on the whole, season 4 was an exponentially large gamble that I believe paid off in spades. Fringe has always dealt with philosophical components with a certain virtuosity that no other show can match. Another question that we were forced to ask ourselves is, "what makes me, me?" Is it our environment that shapes the person we become? Are we nothing more than just the sum of our parts? Or does self-will play a part? Life, death, fate, love. Fringe deftly navigates these elements in such an original way, I truly believe this will be a show that withstands the test of time.



Now I will leave you with a few of MY favorite Walter quotes of season 4:



"I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't it be easier to just eat people?"



"I went beaver hunting in eastern Canada in the 70s. Of course, in those days, beaver hunting meant something else entirely."



"Even I don't have drugs strong enough to forget they kidnapped Olivia to the other side."



"On purpose? Anything's possible. Even Santa Claus."



See you all on the other side! ... And by other side, I mean the comments section of Tim's season 5 reviews.
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Best Fringe reviews commenter: FringeFanatic.

For me, the episode isn't complete until I've read Tim's review and your comments. So thank you also :)
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Agreed! I always look for FringeFanatic's comments:-)
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So be it...
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Great retrospective, Tim! Captures all of this season's greatness (soooo much of it), and its few flaws. As some others have suggested, I think "Letters of Transit," with a bit of tinkering, would have been a stellar finale. Certainly would have had the "WTF?!" factor as well as kept everyone salivating for more come this fall, and kept some of the surprises we saw a bit more, well, surprising.
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If there is a season 7 of "Firefly" in the other universe, I'm glad they severed the connection. My heart could not take the possibility of awesome that I'm missing.



Also, I pretty much agree with what is said here, and "And Those We've Left Behind" wins my MVP for the season easily, possibly tying though with "The White Tulip" for best of the series (thus far, I suppose).
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If there is a season 7 of Firefly in the other universe, I'm PISSED they severed the connection.
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But you have to wonder. In the other universe, does Firefly star the same people? What if Nathan Fillion isn't in it? And if he is, does that mean there is no Castle? Or does that star someone else? So. Many. Questions.
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Aaron Ashemore plays him in that uni, and its not nearly as good...
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The more I think about it, the more I think Letters of Transit should have been the season finale. It would serve like a massive teaser for season five, while almost directly continuing where we where left in the finale.



My favorite episode of the season was the one where they where closing the alternative universe, and you just see them working together for the majority of the episode.
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I agree with you, and made a similar suggestion Tim's finale wrap-up. I don't think it would have worked perfectly just shifted into the finale spot, but with a bit of tinkering, it certainly would have done the trick. Imagine how angry this would have made people, but how awesome it would have been: if the penultimate episode had ended with Walter shooting Olivia, then the finale was "Letters of Transit" (again, with some tinkering)--we'd find out at the end that Olivia probably somehow was brought back to life, but it would still have left a great, huge cliffhanger and thirst for the fifth season.



But of course, hindsight is everything. And this is only my opinion.
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This. They really missed an opportunity here. Would have been wonderful as an epilogue.
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I don't have much praise for much of the first half of season one. Besides a couple stand-outs you specifically mentioned (One Night In October and Those We've Left Behind), much of it dragged on without feeling like it was really going anywhere. It wasn't til about 11 or 12 episodes in that it got past thematic monster of the week episodes and felt like Fringe again.
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i thought episodes 8 and 9 were fantastic and for me, really got the season going.
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Though it didn't really move very far plot-wise, I really did love a lot of those early episodes. I'm equally a huge fan of the latter half of the season, but some of the quieter, mythalone episodes were my favorites. But to each his own!
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