CRUISE FUNDRAISER UPDATE: All 100 “Bridge Collapse” prints are sold, signed, packed and shipping as I type. If you ordered, you’ll get a shipping email soon.

Me and Wil Wheaton made some shirts for you to put on your body

I have mixed feelings about the ending of Fringe (warning you now, I will definitely be posting SPOILERS]. On one hand, I LOOOOOVED the show, loved the characters, loved the intricate, interweaving plots and subplots and especially loved John Noble’s mushy grandpa face that he wants me to kiss the cheeks of because he is my crazy science grandpa. On the other hand (and this is coming from someone who just said all of those things that I just said), I think they finished telling the story of Fringe a season ago when they finally realized William Bell was the big bad all along and defeated him.

Every mystery established since the pilot: what’s with all the weirdo science crap happening all over the place, who’s this dude David Robert Jones, and what’s his deal, why is Olivia so special, why is Peter so SUPER special, who are the ZFT and are they the bad guys, who are the observers and are THEY the bad guys, who is William Bell and IS HE the bad guy, what happened to Walter’s brain, what’s the deal with Nina and Massive Dynamic and ARE THEY the bad guy? All of these questions were answered to my satisfaction by the time Olivia took the bullet to the head on Belly’s boat.

Everything that happens after that point (and really everything that happens in the first half of season 4) is basically non-integral to the overall story arch of Fringe. Especially considering all the timeline reboots and in-universe retcons that take place in parts of season 4 and the entirety of season 5, those literally do not effect the plot. That said, I did enjoy nearly every episode of the final two seasons. It was great TV and great Sci-Fi. I’m just not sure that all of it was necessary. The argument could even be made that the last two seasons kind of muddy up the mythos of Fringe and detract more than they add. The showrunner already apologized for the “Peter never existed” plot (which should have been 2, maybe 3 episodes max). If you completely ignore the vanishing Peter aspects of season 4, it makes an appropriate endcap for the series (assuming Peter would have gotten out of the machine alive having healed the mutliverse, instead of teleporting to a future war zone). And the “Observers invasion” final season was quite enjoyable, but it was a completely different story from what seemed like a completely different show. It was a ballsy move (skipping 21 years between TV seasons), but I don’t think it was needed.

The Observers might be the one thing that required a bit more explanation by the time Olivia took the bullet and saved the universe(s) once and for all, but I think they could have tied a nice little bow around their existence with one final scene where either Olivia or Walter are greeted by September, who explains how they are from 600 years in the future and how they’ve been intervening in Walter, Olivia and Peter’s lives in order to make sure the two universes were healed. The end. The “we broke the future so we’re going to conquer the past” just doesn’t feel like anything that was ever really planned for Fringe. It felt tacked on at the end. Blah blah blah, still liked it, yadda yadda.

Fringe has been rerunning on the Science Channel for awhile now. I find that I can’t watch single episodes of the show AT ALL. It’s far too serialized to catch a one-off without a definite plan to continue from that point on. Even the early “monster of the week” episodes bother me as standalone adventures because I know too much and I want the characters to know the same as I do. The most satisfying episodes in terms of rewatchability for me are the ones before Peter disappeared where we were alternating between universes. The contrasts between the Universe-A and Universe-B characters, the story possibilities they explored, all of it was just incredibly satisfying. And Walternate… ooh man he was a fantastic character, due in no small part to how my love for Walter fed into my near hatred and ultimate FRUSTRATION with Walternate. That was some expert writing and acting.

Damn, I guess I sort of wish the show had been cancelled after season 4 after all. Oh well. Considering it was primetime sci-fi and ESPECIALLY considering it was on FOX, it’s safe to say I got more quality entertainment from Fringe than I deserved or should have ever expected.

COMMENTERS: How did you feel about the Fringe finale or the last two seasons in general? If you’ve never watched Fringe, what kept you away? Please tag spoilers in your comments with [SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!] for the sake of others.

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    • I really like HIM on it and I sort of hate all of the terrible actors they have playing the mad scientists and what not.

      • True, the acting on that show is laughably overdone and cheesy. I'm waiting for the episode where they tell us about the med student who reanimated Ed Wood and got him a directing gig on the show 🙂

      • The terrible overacting is what really makes the show worthwhile. I especially loved the voodoo priest and the children forcefed cookies by Pavlov's student. And the accents! The accents! The show is pure brilliance.

        • I can also never take any of the scenes seriously since everything is poorly greenscreened. It's always like one mad science table in a green room.

  1. "Irresponsible amount of LCD" – I always love the alt texts, but this has to be one of my favorites.

    Now that Fringe is over, I feel like I can finally watch it (as soon as it's on Instant Netflix, anyway). Unless I happen to inherit a bunch of money and then I can just buy the show on Blu-ray.

    • This is factually correct, but to me "Big Bag" implies intent. Walter never intended to do evil. He was just blinded by his own godlike power and didnt care about the consequences. Bell actually wanted to destroy both universes.

      • At the same time, though, there were definite implications [especially in the last season] that Walter could easily have become what Bell was, or that he would have to


        lose parts of his brain again to keep himself off that path.


        The redemption works for me not because of the man Walter had been, but because of the man Walter could have been.

        • Well, Walternate was supposed to show us EXACTLY what Walter would have become. I am peft wondering if Walter died at the end because he wasn't inoculated to time travel. And if so, what was the point of him walking through the portal with the boy at all?

          • Walternate’s personality might have been what Walter always would have become, but not having Peter changed his motives and actions, and presumably losing (or not meeting? I can’t remember) Bell also had an effect. IIRC Bell’s plan was somehow inspired by the old Walter, or at least something he thought Walter would join him in.

  2. Before I watched the episode(s), I was saying "This better be good or I'm gonna chop it into pieces and mail it to Cloverfield."
    After I watched the episode(s), I said, "Now I'm going to chop it into pieces and Email it to the Matrix."

    I feel like a great disservice was done to the story. There should have been some episodes in which Etta was a young girl before she was kidnapped. They tried to end the show on this great happy note – they get Etta back as a young kid. But the audience never did that to start with. We just kept hearing them talk about how they once had this daughter who was kidnapped – that we never really met.
    That's my only issue.
    Since I met Walter and didn't really meet Etta, I wouldn't have been happy to make that trade. I'd rather have Walter.

    • I heard a rumor – maybe not true, but hopefully it is – that the events of 2015 are something they'll try to make into a movie, because having Season 5 as the final season forced the writers to go right into 2036 instead of doing episodes in 2015. It also helps to think about


      where Walter's going- yeah, he can't see his family and friends anymore, but he's living in the 22nd century and will have an immediate "in" to the scientific community there as both a time traveler and the guy who brought them Michael. It's not the ending he wanted, but it's happier than what was being implied earlier.

        • I think the biggest mistake with Season 5 was that they chose not to retcon or work around what they’d said about her powers at the end of Season 4. We finally had villains who could reasonably challenge a powered-up Olivia and they wasted the opportunity.

  3. My husband and I have been looking for a new sci-fi show for a few months now and, taking your opinions as gospel, my 2 choices were Fringe or Doctor Who. We finally settled on the Doctor, and we're almost finished Series 3 and I simply can't contain how much I love him! The Doctor is amazballs.

    I think I stayed away from Fringe simply because it was on Fox and all they do is break your heart. But now that it's done and I hear from you that the ending was satisfying, that'll be my next nerdy show. Thanks for your thoughts on that, they are appreciated!

  4. As a fan of the show, I really didn't enjoy the final season at all. I agree with your post that it really wasn't necessary, and was almost a separate story in itself.

    I said to my wife a couple of episodes in, that Fringe was pulling a 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' on us (sorry for the slightly obscure reference).

    (Spoiler alert for Truly, Madly, Deeply!)

    In other words, because it loved us so much, it decided to make us hate it, so we wouldn't feel sad and miss it too much when it was gone. 🙂

    • I honestly think they spent so much time being "almost cancelled" that they really didn't think past "The Machine" storyline with any seriousness. When granted a last minute pardon, they must have realized that they'd already wrapped up the main storyline and had to totally shift directions.

      • My theory is that they had the fourth season roughly sketched out, but expected to have two more if they survived that. Thus, they wrapped a lot of things up nicely and then had to skip what could have been a season’s worth of plot details in favor of recaps during what should’ve been Season 6.

  5. I was really into Fringe for the first few seasons, but I stopped watching it (as well as vowing not to *start* watching anything new on Fox) a couple of years ago because I was just so tired of worrying all the time about whether or not it was going to get cancelled. (I realize that's not exactly helping to *keep* things from getting cancelled, but I just found it really emotionally exhausting being attached to something and just waiting for it to be killed off.) Now that it's over and it sounds like they didn't completely screw it up, I'm definitely planning to watch the rest of it, though.

    • "but I just found it really emotionally exhausting being attached to something and just waiting for it to be killed off"

      I am POSITIVE the people working on the show felt this way too. How likely would you be to drop a hint into a script that can't payoff for two seasons when you dont even know if you'll get to finish the current one?

  6. Caught an early episode about something horrid in a plane, then watched a season finale because it had like a minute of Leonard Nimoy, but otherwise I haven't really watched Fringe.
    I've heard good things of it though, from here and everywhere, so if I were to start watching it now, should I just pretend there are only four seasons?

    • As mentioned probably stop after season four, but also don't feel ashamed if you don't like it. Some friends of mine like the idea of the series but various body horror and Experiments Gone Wrong they have in the early seasons manage to nail every squick those girls have.

    • It's a rather safe bet. Season 5 was fun at times, but it was so separate from the main story that you could take it or leave it.

  7. [here there be spoilers]

    In my opinion, the main redeeming factor of S4 was Lincoln. The Olivia/Peter stuff annoyed me (seriously, you're going to give up your memory of your entire life – including important knowledge about, like, how many kids your sister has and the woman who took you in and cared for you like a daughter – so you can remember a few years with this hot guy who just showed up? Make him win you over again), and the new timeline just felt like one gigantic retcon. If it weren't for the still-brilliant writing, Walter, and Lincoln, I would be perfectly happy to completely delete S4 from the canon in my head.

    As for S5, there was a LOT they did right, but the story would have benefitted from a full season's run (like, I dunno, the time they spend on S4). The themes were amazing, and they did a fantastic job of weaving in elements from all the previous seasons in new and creative ways. Really my only complaint is the very ending of the finale when everything goes back to normal, because it just felt so anticlimactic. None of the character growth we saw really happened, none of the sacrifices happened (except Walter's, obviously), etc. To me, it felt the same as when S4 wiped out all the Peter/Walter progress made in the first three seasons. It was still a fun ride, but I couldn't ever feel that emotionally invested because none of it was "real."

    • The main thing I never bought about Season 5 was that there actually WAS a resistance. We never see enough of them to believe there's a real underground network. And the Fringe team has so little contact with them, yet they seem to be able to order them to do nearly anything just by calling Enil? I felt like there should have been resistance cells all over the place. Sympathizers and safe houses and A RESISTANCE.

      • Yeah, that's one of the things that I think could have been done better with more time. I found the idea of the invasion really interesting, and they did at least adequately explain why/how it happened and who was responsible and (most importantly, for me) what the connection was to the original team that September came with. But all of that explanation, on top of needing to actually have things like, y'know, relationships between characters and individual growth and whatnot, meant that everything was really tightly packed and hurried, leaving very little time for additional stories like the resistance, which instead became something of a plot device. I think with a little more time, they could (and maybe would) have explored the resistance and overall future society to the degree that the Red universe was explored in previous seasons.

        • I never once believed either Peter or Olivia were parents. They didn't even question Etta as to what her life had been like. This is not how parents would behave. They also really didn't even seem to grieve when she died (other than Peter's rage).

  8. I agree with the "it ended previous season" idea, but the way they carried it through was quite good. Although the "find a plot tape for an episode" was a dicey move and I'm glad the story carried itself forward after only a brief period of that device.
    IMO, a particular good use of the extension was the use of previously captured Fringe technologies to get the jump on their enemies, and even better it didn't always work perfectly. For me, it felt as if they were real, had history, evolved as characters, able to think and use what they'd learnt. As opposed to just clocking in a new episode a week (incident, drama, we win, roll credits)

    • The "video tape scavenger hunt" was tedious. Especially considering that all of the tapes ended up being "hidden" in the lab. Along with the mental probe that didn't work I really got the impression that there was a lot of last minute rewriting going on.

      "use of previously captured Fringe technologies to get the jump on their enemies,"

      This was maybe the biggest payoff of the entire series.

      • [Spoilers] I was a little annoyed that the tapes were all hidden in the lab. I had hoped that they would find the first tape which would lead them to gather materials and the next tape, etc. I am glad they finally found Gene though. I think the way they used the Fringe technologies in the last episode was amazing though. I also liked being able to see the alternate universe again at the end, and that nothing bad had happened to them, though I wonder why the observers didn't invade that universe as well. They were able to follow Olivia there while she was escaping from her rescue of Michael, so that's not a reason they didn't invade. Overall, I think it was a fantastic ride, and I am grateful we were able to get 5 seasons. If S4 wasn't that great, I think as the "bad" season of the series it's still pretty good. [/Spoilers]

  9. I loved the alternate U episodes, but I couldn't shake that feeling that the last season was just the Matrix on TV.

  10. I would let the physical manifestation of John Noble's voice do things to me. All the things. All the nasty, nasty things it would want.

  11. As someone who has only committed myself to the "just because it isn't on Australian TV doesn't mean I shouldn't watch it" philosophy over the last year or so, I'm afraid to say Fringe is one of the many potentially great shows that I haven't seen/heard enough of to warrant specifically looking for somewhere to obtain it for my viewing purposes.

    But it appears that my habits are largely informed by the Fancy Bastards and the Fanciest Watson himself, as both BSG and more recently Dr. Who have become my "watch everything until there is nothing left to watch" shows in no small part because of the constant references and positive reviews on HE.

    On the other hand, Fringe is talked about on HE but I don't know anyone else who is into it for a more personal recommendation, unlike BSG or the good Doctor.

    Is there something better than Fringe that I may need to add to my Must See list, or is it the next big thing for me to embrace?

  12. I'll miss Fringe not because I've ever watched it (Is lined up on my netflix though). But they film it here in down town Vancouver so I'll miss wondering passed their sets they have every where! Its always Fun running into a set of downtown Vancouver thats been trashed by Fringe. Oh well have to just enjoy them filming Continuum which is being film in the office next door to mine till May

  13. I felt that this last season really wasn't at the same level as earlier fringe. The finale was exciting but it was a bit frustrating that at the end none of the things we saw this season actually happened. Also, one rather silly plot hole: They couldn't finish building their time machine without using time travel. Seems like it might have been easier just to get December to take Michael into the future. (Also, they wouldn't have had to wait so many years to enact the plan)

  14. I feel like I'm missing out, not because I don't feel perfectly vindicated in losing all interest in Fringe after the "Olivia Does a Bad Leonard Nimoy Impression for Half a Season for No Discernable Reason" arc concluded with the "Bad A Scanner Darkly-Inspired Dream Sequence" episode.

    No. It's not a question of being unable to participate in a discussion about the end of what came after the bad Nimoy impressions. I'm missing out because you, Joel, didn't do the responsible thing and prompt commenters to flesh out this wonderful alternate universe in which John Noble trips on TV for the shits and giggles of the audience while they await their next stint as incubators for a new generation of Techno-Wasps.

    • I'm sorry, but "Bad Leonard Nimoy Impression for Half a Season for No Discernable Reason"??!! You're crazy! I thought that was hilarious (and it was only 2 episodes)! Anna Torv was surprisingly great when she was required to be funny (you get so used to her being dour all the time).

  15. Joel, I’d like to vote for you adding a “SHRVAAMP!” button to each comic that shows us the alternate universe’s version.

    • Any of your Fancy Coders that want to get to work on this feature, feel free. Remember to add random scars and change EVERY haircut.

      • I need backstory Joel. Why would better technology make you change the way you did your hair? (Unless you used a comb to make the swoosh and cut your cheek…)

  16. [SPOILERS]
    Was I the only one that was expecting the final episode to end at the point where Walter crosses into the Alt Universe the first time? If the Observers ceased to exist because of the timeline change due to Michael going into the future, then September would have ceased to exist, and September would have not been there to save Peter from drowning. I love Fringe, but the ending seems to have missed that rather glaring plot-hole. I was looking forward to seeing if someone else rescued Peter, or if they would then have to play time forward again without him.

    • Much like LOST (but 1000 time less offensive), I think they were going for the feels instead of for the science with the finale.

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