“I don’t want you to be sad. The time we had together, we stole. I cheated fate to be with you, and we shouldn’t have had that time together, but we did. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t want to say goodbye, but I will say, I love you.”
-Walter Bishop (John Noble)
That specific quote via Walter Bishop’s videotaped self-eulogy to his son Peter Bishop from Fringe’s recent two-hour series show-stopper not only embodies Fringe’s main relationship story arc of father and son, but also perfectly summarizes the five season relationship between Fringe fans and the show itself.
Originally billed as Fox’s venerable X-Files-ish sci-fi replacement, Fringe never gained the same viewer traction when compared to the just-as-unexplainable adventures of the two infamous FBI agents from years past. With Fringe’s ratings constantly on the ‘fringe’ of unsustainable, the renewal of each new season was a battle, and the series could have easily gone the way of that other cult Fox Sci-Fi show by a certain someone named Joss Whedon.
In contrast, however, the fans – including some within the executive ranks of Fox itself – made their voices heard louder than Rosanne Bar on karaoke night, and managed to stave off cancellation not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times!
Taking those details into account, the appropriateness of Walter’s quote becomes incredibly clear and meaningful. Fans not only cheated fate to continue watching new episodes of the show they loved, but they also indeed stole time from the network in which that hour of programming could have been easily replaced for possibly greener – think dollar bills – pastures.
Attempting to recap the story and highlights of the Fringe two-part finale into a blog that doesn’t require an entire winter solstice to read, is tough on its own merits. Trying to intertwine the pertinent details of story arc from the past five years in the same amount of space requires the elimination of specific fundamental writing elements such as grammar, structure, introduction, conclusion and the English language in general.
So here’s a video instead…
Without any better words coming to mind, I will happily confide that the series finale of Fringe was an emotionally epic and gratifying tour de force (and no, I’m not referencing a certain French bike race that a certain someone cheated on). From beginning to end, the entire Fringe cast and production team provided a gripping and heartfelt wrap up of what many – myself proudly included – felt was one of the best sci-fi shows currently still in production on television.
Fringe nostalgia littered the final two hours with one of the most notable scenes taking place when Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) unleashed what seemed like every past Fringe science experiment gone wrong upon the Observer building. It was a chaotically brilliant and kick-ass way to take a stroll down memory lane.
On the emotional front, one of the tear-jerker moments came when Walter Bishop (John Noble) proclaimed what a beautiful name Astrid (Jasika Nicole) had after 5 years of humorously mis-calling her every other A-name in the book.
There was even a semi-reunion of sorts with the Fringe team in the alternate universe being cleverly written in to help Olivia one last time. It was a nice treat seeing Agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) one last time and an added bonus allowing the fans some closure (or at least visual conformation) of what happened to Fauxlivia (also the beautiful Anna Torv) and Lee – the latter of whom stayed in the alternate universe to be with the blonde agent’s doppelganger. (Hey, if you can’t have the original, why not go for the next best thing, right?)
On the subject of reunions, even Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) finally blew his Observer butt-kissing cover and rejoined the cause to save the world in several well-paced and intense action scenes. In fact, he might have had the best four-word line during the whole episode when in response to the head observer Captain Windmark’s observation that he was feeling a new emotion called ‘hate’ towards Broyles and his cohorts. In a piercing and effective tone, Broyles sternly replied, “The feeling is mutual”. If you’re a Fringe fan, the moment was sweet.
Speaking of sweet moments, how awesome was it to see Olivia use her last lingering inner-dosage of Cortexiphan in a monumental city-sized surge of energy to deal with the Captain Windmark (Michael Kopsa). The number-two eating grin could not be wiped off of my face.
At the end of the day though, the heart of the entire Fringe series revolves around the relationship between Walter and Peter (as I briefly touched upon earlier). That father-son dynamic is actually the main backbone for the existence of the entire series. Literally from the pilot episode on, Peter is called upon to help keep his genius – but psychologically challenged – dad in check as the group tries to solve the strange cases of fringe science.
Things are set to high gear later in the series when we find out about Peter’s true origin from a parallel universe. While his Walter from the current universe saved him from a similarly predicted death that the Peter from this universe unfortunately met (confused yet?), the struggles both face in coping with the how and why are truly intriguing and powerful continually during the course of the series.
Fortunately, all came full circle in quite a few emotional wallops within the two-hour series ending extravaganza. To say the Outlaw would have been better off cutting onions might be an understatement.
As with a similar series from the producer (calling J.J. Abrams) of another little show you might have heard of about plane crash survivors trying to live on a supernatural island, Fringe doesn’t necessarily answer every detailed question or wrap up every answer to every question in a nice little bow (although I would argue it does tie up more).
Like the wildly popular show LOST, the essence of Fringe doesn’t lie in the accuracy of the time paradoxes or the detailed explanation of the science itself. No, Fringe is driven by its characters and their relationships. The importance of friends, family, and love are constant themes through the show’s entire five season run and how those relationships evolve and finish in the finale is a thing of beauty.
For those behind, or new to the concept of Fringe, it’s never too late to start watching (or re-watching) the series on DVD, Blu-Ray or with video on-demand.
The final seconds of the series showing us Peter receiving the paper white tulip from Walter is not only a gift to the die-hard fans (whom held up white tulip cards in unison at the final Fringe SDCC panel that took place in 2012), but a symbol of forgiveness, love, hope, and faith that are all integral parts of the show, and more importantly the human spirit.
As with the highly controversial LOST finale, the conclusion to Fringe reveals the most important science of all is that of the relationships and bonds we form with those that mean the most to us in life. It’s a concept that proves true… no matter what universe you call home.