Serge and I use to be real fans of Fringe during the first two seasons. Then they brought in the alternate universe and “Fauxlivia,” and we lost interest.
Well, with the end of the fifth season, I decided to go back and watch the whole thing from beginning to end via Netflix. I found I loved the first two seasons as much as I always did. Adored Walter, found Olivia a strong and likable character and found Peter mysteriously attractive.
I still didn’t like the third season that focused so strongly on Fauxlivia (taking Peter away!) , and I never got to liking her nor understood how Olivia could so easily forgive her. Olivia is much more charitable than I am! I was bothered by the new timeline in which Pater never existed, but cheered when Olivia began to get her memories of Peter back and realized she loved him.
Then that last season … weird. A sudden change in tone. What I found most implausible about it was that the world was supposed to be under occupation of a kind of police state, yet the “Nazis” seemed completely incompetent in getting the fugitives, there was no real sense of dread except when our heroes were captured and questioned, no food shortages, no apparent benefits to being “loyalists” and no penalties to those who weren’t, including those who had some authority.
So none of that made sense at all. Nor did the decision of all “Observer” invaders to wear plain gray suits and ties and carry briefcases. After all, they didn’t have to “fit in” anymore. If it was because they lacked emotion, why not simply choose something more practical? Why take on traditional businessmen’s clothing? Why did they eliminate females? Why did they hang out at bars to get human women?
All bad worldbuilding, and since that’s my job as a writer, it bothered me. But at least we had the emotion to save the season. Etta’s death and particularly Peter’s reaction was heartbreaking. What impressed me most was that the producers/directors (though not, I suspect, Abrams) were not afraid to show that Peter was both strong and yet capable of expressing real emotion. He wasn’t afraid to grieve openly, when Olivia appeared-on the surface- to be “stronger.” That’s why Peter, who isn’t quite my physical type, nevertheless became very dear to me as a character. In fact, they all did.
I was deeply moved in the last episode when Peter and Walter watched the tape he’d made, in which he explained what would happen if he suddenly disappeared. When he explained the rest to Peter in person and they embraced … well, I was very choked up. And when Walter said … “You are my very favorite thing …” Well, there I am, crying like a fool. The only thing I missed was a more proper good-bye between Olivia and Walter. And, of course, all the people they worked with, like Anil, would disappear with the beginning of a new timeline, or at least have a very different (and hopefully better) life.
The ending was terribly sad, and yet happy at the same time. Peter and Olivia are happy together. They have Etta back. But I’m still confused … if Walter was also erased from the timeline, who was Peter’s father? If it was Walternate, how did Peter move between worlds? If he wasn’t raised by Walter, why is his name Bishop, and how did he turn out to be the same Peter? Or did I misunderstand something? What was Peter remembering when he received the tulip drawing? It seems as if Walter must have seemed to have disappeared in another way, perhaps by dying earlier, but that doesn’t hold with the situation when Peter was erased. So, that leaves a lot of questions.
Anyway, those things bugged me, but it was the characters that saved the show in the end. I became deeply fond of them, and I’m so glad there was a resolution for all of them, however bittersweet. By the end I came to realize that, as much as I loved Peter and Olivia together, it was truly Walter’s and Peter’s relationship that lay at the core of the show. I’m sorry that I won’t be seeing them again. But then, I’m always that way when I become deeply attached to a TV series, which doesn’t happen that often. Sometimes I forget the difference between fantasy and reality when it’s done well. This was a case when an ensemble struck a perfect pitch, and where love, of every kind, saved the world.