Thoughts on Fringe Season 5: The Final Season
I’ve been giving this last season of Fringe a lot of thought. I’ve been a huge fan of Fringe since the very beginning as it gave me an updated “X-Files” fix that I had been needing for some time. I was a massive fan of “The X-Files” for most of its run and trailed away as I got a little older, but when I saw commercials for Fringe a few years ago, I thought we might be right back on track with something special.
For those of you who don’t know what the Fringe series is about, it follows FBI Agent Olivia Dunham as she teams up with Dr. Walter Bishop and his son Peter Bishop and they investigate odd cases that involve unexplained phenomena or fringe science. Those cases can involve anything, from being able to get inside of a dead person’s mind to mutations and creatures to my favorites time travel and alternate universes.
The first three seasons were, in my opinion, were the strongest out of the five; with season 3 being by far the best season of them all. I felt as if there was so much at stake and they were throwing everything at us that season. Four dropped it down a peg, but picked itself back up mid way through the season. It was still strong, but Fringe peaked with season 3. Which brings us to season 5.
I’m going to say it plain and simple, there might and most likely will be spoilers past this point, so you’ve been warned.
Back towards the end of season 4 there was an odd episode that took place in the future. Fringe as a series has not been without odd episodes, they have had numerous episodes that took place in the 80’s, with a completely different opening intro (along with synthesized music and 80’s effects) along with alternate universe episodes which themselves had different colored intro. This future episode, at least at the time, seemed as if it was something out of a dream. (If I’m not mistaken, there was another future episode back in season 3 which Peter envisions what life would be like in the future, but that episode had little to no consequence on what we are currently seeing in the series and if what we are seeing now is supposed to be the future, then what Peter saw was in fact a dream.) There were different characters, one that would revel herself to be Peter and Olivia’s daughter Etta, which up to that point, Peter and Olivia were romantically linked, but they had not gotten to the point of having a child yet.
Fast forward to the end of season 4 and Olivia finds out she is pregnant and when the series returned, they were in the future.
Season 5 has not been our traditional Fringe series. Instead of going out and investigating cases. Our characters, which were Ambered (which if you don’t know what that is, you’ve obviously drifted past the “SPOILER ALERT!” warning and have no idea what I am talking about) and have returned in 2036 to a world that has been taking over by Observers (again, SPOILER ALERT!). And the Fringe team has been going around collecting information left behind by Walter two decades early on VHS tapes in order to potentially bring down the Observers.
It has the makings of a very good ending to a great series. But I’ve been feeling like it has fallen flat.
I miss the regular fringe cases, I’m tired of the team almost obtaining an important item, only for it to no longer be there. If the series had ended with the season 4 finale (aside from the very last 20 seconds) it would have been a great ending. Now I feel like they are simply milking the fact that they only have 13 episodes. Also, I feel as if they skipped ahead, missing some really great action packed scenes.
One thing I realized this morning, and I don’t know if it simply by coincidence, but something tells me that it is someone at Fox who has wanted a series to close out with a completely different final season than the rest of the season. By this I mean, look at what Fringe is now in its fifth and final season, it takes place in the future, with the characters out of place and the future itself is in disarray. This brings to mind, first “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”.
The second season finale (which would become the series finale) had John Connor going forward into the future and finding his father and uncle in a future that no one knew who John Connor was. This also left behind Sarah Connor in the present to figure out how to stop Skynet at that point in time. I never heard what they were going to do with the third season, but I can only imagine it would have taken place mostly in the future where the elements that made the series great and special, were simply not there.
Second on this list of Fox shows with very similar ends was Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse”. The series finale was actually the second part of what would happen in the future to all of the Dolls in the show. The first part wasn’t even aired on network television, it was an additional episode that was shot and added to the first season’s DVD collection. The second part was aired as the series finale and had the characters in the future. I can only assume that if there was a third season (or if the series were to have continued, the final season) would have been about this future which placed the main characters (or those that were left) in a completely different setting as the first few seasons.
I’d like to think that these decisions, to have a completely different ending than the rest of the series, is something that the individual creative forces behind these three shows have come up on their own terms. But it is also no surprise to me that the three shows mentioned, Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse were not only all on Fox but they all ultimately ended up on Friday nights and all had very similar ends. I really feel as if someone at Fox really had the intention of seeing this type of final season for one of their series.
Moving away from this, I would like to write down some of my predictions for the end of the series. So far we’ve seen Etta get killed off and Peter removing the tech that makes the Observers tick. If I were to write this, based on what’s going on right now, this series would not be ending well, sadly. I would make Peter the first Observer, even if that doesn’t make much sense, but the show is called Fringe and why wouldn’t that be one of the final twists. The main observer a few seasons ago always told Olivia that when this is all over, she’ll be dead, I can see that happening as well.
With all of this said, I really hope that the last few episodes of Fringe redeems itself and that the series can end on a high note and completely smashes any of my expectations. I really hope that the team ends up winning and are able to move on into the future with high hopes. I feel like we’ve invested a lot into these characters and they should continue to live on and be happy. I’ve always been someone that appreciates a good end to a series as opposed to one that has the characters scattered and going in different directions.
But we’ll see and hopefully be surprised.