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Fringe

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I have to rant a bit. 

 

I'm rewatching the show with my girlfriend, who's watching it for the first time. We're at the end of Season 3. I'm dreading the twist at the end, and I've already told her if she doesn't want to watch past that point we don't have to. She has this thing where one bad move by a show makes her swear it off forever. Typically I try and persuade her to keep giving shows a chance, but I just don't feel like the show went in a worthwhile direction after this season. I'm even more bothered by certain other choices near the end of this season than I used to be--important character aspects being overlooked like Bell never seeing Nina when he's possessing Olivia, Peter and Olivia never discussing his killing the shapeshifters, the dropped idea of "I think he's the man that kills me," etc.--and it feels like there were so many missed opportunities given how well this season was set up. 

 

While Peter's disappearance did set up some interesting ideas and new avenues, like Olivia being raised by Nina, ultimately I think it closed off so many others that it wasn't worth it. We never truly got to see the fallout of everything that happened in Season 3. We finally got to see the two sides interact and join forces, but now the whole context was different--the two Walters and the two Olivias still had major beef with each other, but it wasn't *our* beef. It wasn't fully about the issues we'd spent three seasons building up, so it was hard to care. We never got to see Olivia deal with finding out that Peter and Faux had a child--even within the context of Peter's erasure from reality, this was unforgivable. 

 

Did Peter ever tell Olivia he had a child with Faux in the previous timeline? After being told by September this plotline is completely dropped. This was absurd for a show built on the foundation of the lengths fathers will go to to save their sons. I understand Peter never met the little guy, but still, finding out that he had a son who was wiped from existence should have had SOME effect on his character. You can headcanon that this is part of his motivation for not getting back with Olivia at the end of that episode, and even his hatred of Observers later on, but that's all between the lines. Why didn't he demand September find a way to return the child? They could have even had September say something like "The child will return, but not the way you think," then when our Olivia gets pregnant Peter can assume it's "Henry" returned to them via soul magnets or something. Then part of Olivia feeling like a bad mom in Season 5 could have been related to her feeling like she stole Henrietta from Faux. A transdimensional, somewhat transgender baby wouldn't have been  the most outlandsih concept for this show. 

 

Another thing they could have done with Peter's erasure is tie it directly to the Observer-run future. Make that the first step of their plan. We saw how Peter's removal weakened the Fringe team--Olivia is back at square one with her powers, Walter's a mess, and they don't even know the Observers exist! Instead both Season 4 and 5 feel weirdly isolated and gimmicky in relation to each other and everything else. There's no explicit connection there.

 

I think it would have been better to just eliminate the Peterless timeline storyline altogether and continue following up on the implications of the original timeline, but even sticking with that storyline there were severe problems with the execution that negatively impacted both characterization and theme. 

 

Season 5 may be even worse. Nothing about the Observer-run future makes any sense. The Observers are geniuses able to figure out rationally everyone's next move...but they can't figure out the Fringe team is based in Walter's lab. This pushed suspension of disbelief too far. And just like with the flaws I mentioned in Season 4, there was an easy fix: just have Walter phase them into a pocket dimension or something so that when the Observers come looking, they can't find them. There were also too many Observers; they should have just kept the original twelve so that when one died, it mattered, and it would be more easy to believe the Fringe team posed a real threat to them. For a show that had previously had detailed and coherent worldbuilding, this was a mess. "The Day We Died" creates a more lived-in future in one hour than Season 5 did in 13 episodes. 

 

And then of course there's the finale, which, while moving, makes the least sense of all. How would stopping the Observers from being created help Peter and Olivia get their daughter back? If the Observers never exist, then Peter and Olivia never meet, and Henrietta is never born. 

 

My main problem, though, was the Observers' motivation. The writers made them completely self-serving, which went against everything we knew about them. The Observers are supposed to represent perfect logic. Their reason for invading should have been perfectly logical. And again, there was an easy fix: humans had almost destroyed the universe and others multiple times at that point! So make the Observers take over to save humanity from themselves. They now control all science, and independent research is banned. Instead of setting in the far future, just have it be couple years from now, and the Fringe team now stops rogue scientists from advancing technology past the Observer-approved limit. This could be a new team or our guys working for the Observers at the beginning of the season because they have no choice, or because they've accepted that this is what they have to do to prevent a worse future from coming to pass. Make the Observers less murder-y and more willing to use mind control to get people to do what they want. Maybe their endgame is to convert all humans into Observers so that we don't make the same stupid mistakes again; the Fringe team finds out about this early in the season, and spends the next third secretly working against the Observers, then the final stretch of episodes could be an open rebellion. Not only would this have been more interesting, it would have fit the characterization of the Observers better. 

 

Ugh. Sorry for the rant! I just loved this show so much, and I feel that Season 3, while flawed, is the show at its peak. Had they ended with Peter vowing to help restore the balance between the universes and the teams pledging to work together, it would have been almost perfect. But the last two seasons really left a sour taste in my mouth and are not even close to the first three as far as quality, IMO.

Edited by Fat Elvis 007

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Nearly a decade late, I have finally watched every episode of Fringe. This is an accomplishment for me, since I no longer have the attention span for years-long series, and because I actively dislike Season 1. I’ve tried to watch Fringe before and never made it out of Season 1. Until now.

And I do now agree with the “It gets better!” cries. I really like certain aspects—the characters, Peter’s story…but I end the show with the lingering sense that Fringe never truly lived up to its potential. It echoed so many ideas or plots from shows like The X-Files or Charlie Jade. It even echoed its own ideas in later seasons, though it made good use of them.

Anyway, my opinions are unoriginal, and years behind, but I like ranking things, so here is my list from favorite to least, and why:

  1. Season 3
    It fully invested in two universes and made them both interesting! The story finally paid off many details from earlier seasons, including Cortexiphan, the machine, the prophecy, you name it. I enjoyed that it explored Peter and Olivia/FauxLivia with more heart than soap opera. Peter vanishing in the finale cliffhanger is great, too. Also: Broyles, LSD, and a twizzler.
  2. Season 2
    Walter and Peter’s—also Olivia’s—backstories and conflicts reveal that Fringe’s strength is character, not science fiction, and the show steadily improves. The larger arcs and conspiracies with the shapeshifters and Walternate also focus it for the better. Though vague, the Observers are intriguing. The fringe-science cases are still boring.
  3. Season 4, the middle and end
    Setting aside the beginning (see below), S4 affords better purpose to the MOTWs from S1 than S1 did. Better use of David Robert Jones and William Bell, too. Peter’s yearning for his timeline, and the team getting to know each other again, didn’t strike me as a huge step down from prior seasons, and so I enjoyed S4—more than others, apparently. But Olivia, Walter, and Fringe are different, less vibrant, because of the timeline changes, and the show ultimately doesn’t recover from it here or in Season 5.
  4. Season 1
    I still don’t care for it. I especially don’t care for the cop-show clichés that abound. And the fringe cases, the monsters, are… “echoes” really is the best word. S1 didn’t inspire any investment until almost the finale. But it does an okay job of world-building, at least, and Walter is at his most eccentric and original. Thus, I rank it above S5.
  5. Season 5
    Technically, I enjoyed watching it a lot more than S1, but the storytelling was “last-gasp” in quality. Example: the scaffolding of the Betamax-tape scavenger hunt. It also felt like a double knock-back for Olivia and Peter to be estranged again, though it lead to touching moments, as always. I missed the multiverses, too. The series ends beautifully, though.
  6. Season 4, the beginning
    Stunningly anti-climactic after S3, and a massive mistake to not bring back Peter in the premiere. I guess Fringe thought it was exploring Peter’s absence, but really it was wasting episodes. And one of them was about an emotional fungus, FFS.

So, there you have it.

I don’t have a concrete list of favorite episodes, so instead I'll include an exchange that has stuck in my mind through all the marathoning. From 4x9, Enemy of My Enemy:

Quote

Walter: I-I will help you, Peter. I will help you get home. The last 25 years, I’ve spent thinking about losing my son. I thought I was an expert on loss. Maybe that’s why you’re here, because there are still things that I need to learn. What?

Peter: I just spent the last several days with the other Walter. And I was very surprised to learn that he was not the man that I thought he was. But I am not at all surprised to learn that you are. [He smiles.]

Walter: Is that a good thing?

Peter: Yes, Walter, that is a very good thing.

Four seasons into the show, it was a touching reminder of what Fringe was really about: a father and a son, both learning to be better men.

Edited by weyrbunny

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I could say it took you long enough, but that would trivialize your accomplishment. Congratulations! There are many that couldn't finish the trek. My own brother used to coordinate our Fringe watching sessions across the country. Unfortunately, he dropped out once they started alternating between universes. I actually enjoyed that part also. I even loved season 1. I've binged watched the whole series at least 7-10 times and I still love it. Of course the heart wrenching episodes we're when Peter and Olivia lost Etta. One of my favorite scenes was Peter reintroducing Etta to Olivia when she was shot out of the amber, "Hello, mama!" Dust gets in my eyes every single time.

I'm sure, after awhile, you'll find yourself thinking how you would like to watch your favorite episode again and then realize you're putting in season 1 and can't stop binging. Thumbs up!

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On 5/5/2018 at 9:37 PM, weyrbunny said:

Season 5
Technically, I enjoyed watching it a lot more than S1, but the storytelling was “last-gasp” in quality. Example: the scaffolding of the Betamax-tape scavenger hunt. It also felt like a double knock-back for Olivia and Peter to be estranged again, though it lead to touching moments, as always. I missed the multiverses, too. The series ends beautifully, though.

Henrietta

Two tokens for your completist accomplishment ??

Come meet your Mum

There goes that dang dust again. Where's my feather duster?

Edited by Jacks-Son
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I started re-watching after watching Anna Torv in "Secret City" (which you should also check out, BTW).  The first season got better when it started introducing more of the mythos that would carry the series throughout its run, which was why I got very intrigued about it after "Ability".

If I were to tell someone which episodes to watch to get the gist of the series, I would pick  the following from the first season .

1. The Pilot-duh!  Real freaky opening scene.  If you're squimish about that, you might as well stop there.

2. The Arrival-introduces us to the Observers, and the episode that really gives Peter a reason to stay with Team Fringe.  It also contains Walter's crucial recalling of a key event in fringe lore.

3.  Ability-the one that reveals that Olivia might be capable of abilities of some sort, and that Olivia was experimented on as a child with a drug Cortexiphan.

4 Bad Dreams-This one revealed just how damanged some people were due to Bell and Walter's experiments.  And first hinted at what Olivia could be capable of.

5. The Road Not Taken-This one features some weird sequences where Olivia starts a scene off in one place, and ends up in another. Wassupwithdat?   It's the first that really gets into the whole multi universe mythology.

6. There's More Than One Of Everything-Notable especially for the dual revealations at the end-one of which is one of the series' best visual moments.

Season Two-The first half is mainly stand-alone monster of the week stuff, with a smattering of mythology (mainly "Momentom Deferred" and "Grey Matters"). With Jacksonville, the series really, to me, started to get into another gear-which culminated in the excellent "Peter". Years later, I still remember how good that episode was.

So, if at that point,  a person is not converted, chances are they will never be.

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IMDb (Amazon) has a new free ad supported streaming service that has Fringe available! There’s not a mobile option yet but you can stream to your laptop or PC. 

Here is some info.  

Here is where the Fringe page is.There is a “watch for free button” under the hand glyph. 

I own the DVDs now but I wanted to let my fellow Fringe fans know!

Edited by ramble
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That IMDb app is phenomenal and Fringe is amazing. I was a fan of Lost back in the day, even when the storylines were as convoluted and crazy. When I saw J. J. Abrams' name on this, I was intrigued. I'm still in Season One, but I've gone and looked at other sources. Snowed in for a week? Who cares. I found a new show to watch.

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