It is with complete sadness that I write this post talking about the end of this wonderful show, Fringe. After 5 very well-earned and incredible seasons, Fringe has come to an end. I won’t go into details of the series finale itself, but rather I’d like to take this opportunity to just write about the show.
From its start, Fringe was a show that defied the odds and sort of epitomized the saying “expect the unexpected.” Being a show from J.J. Abrams and the Bad Robot brand, and premiering after the mainstream cult success of Lost, high hopes and expectations were thrust upon the show. Many were trying to tout it as “the next Lost” (a label that gets put on any sci-fi/high concept series nowadays); some called it “the new X-Files“. What intrigued me was, of course, that it was a J.J. Abrams show (I never watched Lost, but I was a huge fan of Alias) and the sci-fi aspect of it. I saw Anna Torv, as Agent Olivia Dunham, as the new Sydney Bristow – a strong, kick-ass female lead. Then they cast Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop, and seeing as how I watched Dawson’s Creek in my tween years (and also The Mighty Ducks movies as a kid), that got me really excited.
The first season, while trying to find its footing, wasn’t perfect. They started off as a show that seemed very procedural, with a case-of-the-week style of storytelling that gave room for new viewers to jump in. With the nature of the show being part science, they had dropped hints along the way of some sort of a mythological background in the overarching story. By the end of season 1, going into season 2, we were introduced to the idea of alternate universes, and that’s where things really got going for the show. Once we got to season 3, it felt like the sky was the limit for the writers; a creative kick bumped the show from a really good show to a really great one, exploring these alternate universes and different character dynamics. At this point of course, the show was much more serialized than its first season, but it still contained case/monster-of-the-week storylines, that which had an impact on the characters. While most shows that straddle the line between procedural and character drama, it can become very cheesy and cliche; with Fringe, everything came about in a rather organic and grounded way, which is a little funny considering all the weird stuff it has going on each week.
Aside from all the sci-fi, what really set Fringe apart from all the other genre shows was that it had such a strong focus on the characters and their development. As someone who majored in Sociology in university, it somewhat surprises me how sociological they got with the characters and the relationships in the show. These characters – Olivia, Peter, Walter, Astrid, and extending to Broyles, Nina, and Lincoln – became a family to each other. They have suffered in their lives and through insurmountable odds and circumstances, they found a way to connect to each other and form this incredible bond. Particularly in season 4, with the timeline reset, it begged the question: how do the people around us affect who we are?
For a show like this to reach 5 seasons, 100 episodes, and get a proper ending is rare. Yet like our characters, the show itself has beat the odds (moving timeslots from Tuesdays to Thursdays to Fridays, low ratings) to get to this point. Many shows don’t often get the opportunity to wrap up storylines before going off the air, and the fact that Fringe got this final season was a complete act of faith/kindness by Fox, who really could have cancelled the show a few times in its run. It is the group of passionate fans that the show has that played an integral part in the show’s survival. In the end, the loyalty and passion put on display by the fans paid off, as the show ended with what can only be said as a perfect finale. The ending was a wonderful recall of everything we know and love about the show – the action, the scientific elements, the love and relationships, Walter’s humour, the alternate universe, and even a sequence that featured a callback to past “monsters of the week.” It ended in a way that gave us a sense of finality with regards to the overarching series and storyline, but leaves us in a state of wonderment as to what these characters are up to now, in hopes that we can get a movie made to catch-up and go on a different journey with the gang. Now, can these fine actors and writers get the credit and respect they deserve?! They are overdue for some Emmys.
Thank you J.J. Abrams, Robert Orci, and Alex Kurtzman for developing this wonderful series. Thank you to Joel Wyman and Jeff Pinkner for spearheading the creativity and uniqueness of the show, along with the rest of the writers. Thanks to the Fox network for keeping the show on the air for five seasons. Without a doubt, thank you to the cast – Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Blair Brown, Lance Reddick, Seth Gabel, and all the actors who have come through the show – who brought such heart and emotion to these characters we have all come to love dearly. For this fan, I don’t think it’s possible for there to be another show like Fringe.
Thank you again for 5 incredibly heartfelt and awesomely weird seasons.