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TV Review – Fringe S05 E12/13

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All good things must come to an end. This is a saying that TV fans can relate to more than most as we’ve all been victims of that horrible empty feeling that lingers once one of your most loved shows comes to an end. Whether it’s through poor ratings, a decline in quality or a natural completion of the story; it’s an unavoidable conclusion that we all must face and it’s not an easy pill to swallow when you have invested so much time and emotion into something you’ve let into your life. For the most avid fans of TV our favorite shows become more than just a show as we form emotional attachments and bonds with the characters. Outsiders may look at that and proclaim “It’s just a TV show” or “he/she is just a TV character” but when you invest as much time as it takes to watch a TV programme that runs for a few years, they become much more than just TV shows and characters, they become part of your life. I’ve been in this place before, first with 24 and more recently with Entourage and Chuck but now it’s Fringe that left me with that hollow feeling of knowing that a TV show is no longer part of my life and I’m sure there were plenty of Fringe fans with similar emotions as they woke up this morning.

All I wanted from the Fringe finale was to be satisfied with a happy ending. I went into season 5 wanting all sorts of answers from previous seasons, answers for a number of questions left lingering over timelines and universes or holes in the plots. However, as the season developed I become less worried about those questions and concentrated more on wanting a satisfying and happy ending for Peter, Olivia and Walter.

As far as finale’s go, it wasn’t the greatest and as far episodes of Fringe go, neither of the two were spectacularly strong either but for me, it is forgivable as I got the emotional satisfaction and happy ending for the characters that I wanted. I know it’s disappointing for the show to sign off with a couple of episodes that were far from the strongest that the show has ever produced, but considering what J.J Abrams did with Lost, I’ll more than take it! Ironically, the finale actually left more questions than it answered as there were plot holes galore and a few things that didn’t really add up, which would have had me tearing out my hair 6 months ago, but I’m willing just to overlook these and leave the finale for what it was. Looking back at season 5 now, I don’t think the show’s final season was ever meant to be a source for answering all our questions, it only had one job and that was to bring the story to a completion and give us a satisfying ending, which I wholeheartedly feel it did.

I’ve mentioned that individually, the episodes were far from the best that Fringe has produced and the first hour in particular wasn’t great. As much as I loved seeing Fauxlivia/Bolivia (maybe oldlivia would be the most appropriate now?) and Lincoln back, it all felt a little shoehorned in just for the sake of nostalgia. I know Olivia crossing over was essential to save Michael but I do wonder if there really was much need for Windmark to take Michael in the first place, it all felt like an emotional device from the show to fill some time and give them an excuse to cross back over to the other side, although I suppose the Cortexiphan dose Olivia received is what defeated Windmark in the end. How great did Oldlivia look by the way? I mean there is supposed to be a 21 year difference between her and Olivia, they could have aged her a bit more than that! I shouldn’t be too upset with the first episode though as I’ve been saying all season that Olivia needs more screen-time and more input on proceedings and with this episode we finally got just that as she was Cortexiphan-ing it up and, kicking observer and loyalist ass as if the Olivia Dunham we fell in love with had never left. Her best Cortexiphan induced moment was yet to come though, but we’ll get to that. The second episode was much stronger, but still didn’t wow or shock me as much as I would have liked. The battle against the observers to save the world has been simmering along nicely all season long and in the end it was somewhat anticlimactic.

Just because the episodes were disappointing doesn’t mean they weren’t full of great moments though, they were littered everywhere. I’ll start with Walter as John Noble’s performance in the finale, the season and the show since the very start has been nothing short of magnificent. Those face to face moments with Peter, Astrid and September were outstanding scenes of television and I’m man enough to admit I cried like a baby through all 3 of them. Noble is a master of his craft and it angers and upsets me that he’s never had any real critical recognition for his role as Walter Bishop. The Peter and Walter stuff has been slightly overplayed in the build-up to the finale but try and tell me you weren’t moved by the pairs goodbye as Walter told Peter about his plan to take Michael into the future, it was heart wrenching material to watch play out, especially when Walter said “You are my favorite thing Peter, my very favorite thing” and even more so when Peter mouthed “I love you, dad” back at him as Walter headed for the portal later in the episode.  Aw man, I don’t know about you, but there were tears everywhere in my house!

Walter’s scene with Astrid was also emotional, not just because we finally saw a reunion between Walter and Gene, but because of Walter telling her that Astrid was a beautiful name, it was a real sweet way to end things between them given the running joke about him always getting her name wrong. The relationship between Walter and Astrid is one I would have loved to be given more insight into. We watched as he constantly got her name wrong, barked orders at her and at times took out his frustrations out on her, but all along we all knew fine, as she did that deep down he had a special place for her in his heart. Speaking of Astrid, I was really happy with Jasika Nicole’s performance in the finale. A couple of reviews back, I wished for her to be more involved in the show and hoped she had a large part to play in saving the world and she did, it was great to see her character given so much influence on the final proceedings and for a character who’s been undervalued and underused for the entire show’s run, it was a fitting end for her.

Another fantastic moment was the scene where Olivia and Peter walked through observer HQ while loyalists and observers lay dead or dying from some classic Fringe weapons previously used through the show’s run. There was epic-ness stamped all over that scene and it was good enough for me to hold on to and use to help forget the things I didn’t like so much about the finale. The anti-gravity bullets were awesome too and allowed for a little Walter humor to sneak in, which was sadly but understandably in short supply over the 2 hours. As I hinted at previously, the whole battle scene was anti-climactic, I mean come on, we’ve been waiting months for this showdown, but the moment where Olivia summoned her Cortexiphan powers, shutting down half of Manhattans power in the process and crushing Windmark for good was brilliant. (It’s been pointed out to me that it may have been Michael that killed Windmark and not Olivia. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!)

I have to say, there were some special performances in the final season of Fringe, none more so than Walter and Peter but Captain Windmark deserves an honourable mention. Michael Kopsa’s performance throughout was flawless, he was an outstanding protagonist and for me will go down as the best we saw on Fringe. Towards the end, we discovered all about September and his 11 observer colleagues learning to feel love but having the balance of having Windmark learning to feel hate was fascinating to watch play out. By the end you were left in absolutely no doubt that Windmark did hate his opponents, just as easily as September had learned to love his son and Kopsa done a terrific job of portraying that. The acting from everybody in the final season was top notch; I don’t have a single complaint about anyone. For everyone to bring their “A game” in the final season has confirmed my belief that the show has definitely ended a season or two too early, but ratings are all that matter in this business and if we’re honest, we were very fortunate to even get this final season as ratings for this show had plummeted, which is something I’ll never understand. I often see Fringe as described as “the greatest show that people never watched” and I’d be inclined to agree with that statement.

For me, the ending was perfect. Sure, it meant the whole of season 5 never actually or never will happen and left plot holes and questions galore but I’m willing just to leave all that aside and be happy that Peter and Olivia got Etta back and got their happy ending together, where they belong. We’ve seen that scene in the park play out so many times this season and to see it one last time, with no observer invasion and nothing but smiles on the faces of Peter, Olivia and Etta was hugely satisfying. I thought the final snippet showing the white tulip to show Walter has got the forgiveness from god that he has always so badly desired was a beautiful moment for the show to end on and although we’ll never know to what extent Peter understood that message, it’s ok as they were always going to leave a small tease in there somewhere and I’m happy for that moment to be it as all the characters have got their happy ending and so have I.

Fringe will always remain one of my favorite shows and a big thanks goes out to everyone involved in making the show what it was. It’s been one hell of a ride and it’s one I’ll never forget!

Ross Hunter – @Rossco1893

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ross,

    Enjoyed your review a lot but I need to disagree on one point. I don’t believe that Windmark’s death was due to an “Olivia Cortexiphan moment”. My strong impression was that it was completely Michael’s doing. We knew that the full extent of Michael’s amazing intellect and abilities were largely unknown and underappreciated. Notice how earlier in the story, when Olivia had pleaded for his help, he had raised his finger to his lips in the classic “Shhhh” gesture and then immediately Astrid shouted out the idea to hijack a Shipping Lane to transmit Michael into the future. This was no coincidence IMHO – Michael had telepathically sent the idea to Astrid. So when he made the gesture again when Windmark showed up at the final confrontation, it was a clear sign that he was in effect saying again “I got this covered. Shut up and watch THIS!”

    • Thanks for your comment Glenn.

      You know, you make an excellent point about Michael causing Windmark’s death, I hadn’t even thought to look at it like that. I’ve see many people on a few websites try make sense of Michael’s “shhh” gesture before his death and not really seen anyone come up with that conclusion, which I think is probably correct. Given the Cortexiphan was still in her system, it could maybe have even been a combination of the two, with Michael helping her channel it?

      I’ll leave my review as it is as it’s still the way I picked it up when I watched it, but thanks for your input!

      • Ahhm, I thought it was obvious that Michael stepped of the train in the first place because he knew that Olivia had to be dosed with cortexophan so that she can in the end be triggered, thanks to an emotional response the bullet gave her and kill Windmark. It was definitely her. Michael’shhh was a silent acknowledgement: Yeas I know this was going to happen. Much like he did in the lab when he sussshed Olivia right before Astrid gets the idea to use the shipping lane.

  2. I have to disagree completely with Glenn on the issue of who killed Winmark. At no point in the series are we told or shown that Michael has telepathic or telekinetic powers beyond those of the observers, who are not telekinetic and whose telepathy appears limited to reading thoughts, not transmitting them. Michael had to touch Walter to impart the memories. We are told that Michael thinks at a higher level than the observers, so I agree that he foresaw or acted in ways to create a timeline he thought would lead to Winmark’s death, but if we want to imbue him with the ultimate agency of that act, he still had to use Olivia as his tool.

    Everything about how the scene is shot also points to Olivia as the one who kills him. The look of concentration on her face and the way she stands up, the lights going out, which is a cue about her powers we have been shown before this time magnified because the object she chose to move was much bigger than anything before. In addition, Winmark specifically turns to look at Olivia as her powers are gathering; the fact he turns his attention to Olivia shows us he can feel something out of place is happening and the source is Olivia.

    As for whether Michael did anything to magnify her abilities, there is nothing we were shown or told about him that would make this a credible point. I would point to the season 4 finale (or right before it), in which an Olivia who had been repeatedly and for a long time dosed with Cortexiphan to ensure her system was saturated with it did several things just as amazing as moving that SUV: she manipulated Peter’s limbs to save him, stopped a bullet mid-air and diverted it back to the shooter, and was being used by William Bell as the power source for the destruction of two universes to set up a new one.

    • Thanks for your comment Gepap.

      Having re-watched it, I stick by my original statement that it was Olivia and agree with what you have said.

  3. Great review Ross, I agree and interpreted the finale the same as you on all points. However, I’m having a harder time “letting go” of the plot holes! The biggest one is the explanation as to where Etta went when the observers came (in 2015) and more importantly WHY HER? If this was addressed in an episode that maybe I missed I would love the info… Theories also welcomed!

    A

    • Thanks for your comment!

      I know how you feel, if there’s one complaint I have about the final season it was that we didn’t see enough of Etta’s story or Etta in general. Her death was a real curveball (for me anyway), I would have loved to have seen more of her. I’ve seen mentions of spin-off’s everywhere since Friday and I think a spin-off following Etta from that day in the park until 2036 could be a great show!

  4. Ross,
    I enjoyed reading your review. One of the better ones, IMO.
    Couple of points:
    1) I thought you somewhat contradicted yourself in saying it provided the emotional satisfaction you wanted, but then complained about Olivia’s crossing over as an emotion device. Wasn’t that the point of the device? I think Joel Wyman was going for the emotional punch more ten the answers. I thought he even took a page from David Chase’s book in the quick cut from Peter’s face at the very end, so you are left wondering if he remembered or not (probably not, IMO).
    2) I felt in my initial viewing that Michael was the one who moved the truck, knowing that Olivia’s power interruption would distract Windmark. That said, I need to go back and re-watch too. Perhaps the answer to this question is also intentionally left ambiguous by Wyman.

    • Thanks for your comment!

      Watching it back a second time, I realized that the whole point of having Olivia jump “over there” was so she would still have Cortexiphan in her system later in the episode that enabled her to defeat Windmark. Before it just seemed a bit shoehorned in for the sake of it. Now that I can see it’s purpose, I’m less sceptical about it’s place in the finale and hey it was actually pretty great seeing Lincoln, Bolivia, The Twin Towers and the copper Statue of Liberty “over there” one last time, so if it was an emotional device, then it worked on me!

  5. In the same way Peter and Olivia use all the old Fringe weapons to take down the building in a homage to earlier story lines in the show. The role that Michael in part portrays, is the character from the alt-universe who can see all the threads of a situation to bring about an outcome they desire. From the moment Michael steps off the train he sets in motion the events that will lead to Winmarks death using Olivia as the means by which to accomplish this. He is aware of what actions will occur next the script points to that Olivia stating “You smiled you were not surprised to see me” Michael indicating to listen because he knows who will speak the next important piece of his visualised sequence. Also in a re-run moment when Peter opens the envelope he will then go to the lab find that Walter is nowhere to be found and come across Walters video tape in which he says “you opened a letter but do not understand what it means which is why you came to the lab to ask me” From that perfect moment in the park Peter will never see Walter again

  6. merci pour vos commentaires
    Je pense que la mort de Windmark est due à la combinaison de Michael et Olivia. Les effets du Cortexiphan ont permis à Olivia de détourner l’attention de l’observateur en déclenchant l’extinction de toutes les lumières de la ville, ainsi que les klaxons des véhicules tandis que Michael projette le véhicule qui tuera Windmark.

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