Deus Ex Michaelna
The Fringe Series Finale:
1) Emotionally Satisfying.
2) Mythologically Satisfying.
3) Narrative Ninja.
|‘That is cool!’|
A tip of the Fringe Fedora to everyone connected with the Fringe show. They invoked one of those pat phrases that make fans cringe whenever such platitudes are uttered – this season will be a love letter to the fans – pulled it off and made it a first class delivery.
I have let my feelings and reactions about the finale marinate over the week after it aired so that when I put down my final thoughts they would be a more accurate encapsulation in print than if I had dashed them down immediately.
It has been a good week. As I reflect on the finale and the series as a whole; taking in other people’s reactions to help refine my thoughts, my appreciation for the finale has grown immeasurably.
And I loved it upon first watch.
The emotional satisfaction the finale provided figuratively oozed off the screen as the final two episodes played out. It was there on first watch and has grown deeper upon rewatches. The last two episodes gave the fans those bucket list items they had for the final season such as seeing the return of a kickass Olivia, the RedVerse, Fauxlivia, Gene, Astrid getting out of the lab, Broyles – always far more Raven than Dove, and the payoff moments between the main three cast members.
All that and, my number one bucket item, redemption for Walter.
The finale gave us all that and more. It also tied up the few loose ends of the show’s mythos in terms of the Observers. The original team of enigmatic future humans were on an expedition they believed to be of scientific research only to discover they were a prelude to invasion. In the end, they all met tragic ends because their exposure to us stirred within them long dormant feelings.
Donald/September had been touched the most by the relationship between Walter and Peter to the point where he was ready to take Walter’s place by Michael’s side as any true father would. It was a wonderful parallel of Donald and Michael to Walter and Peter that the show weaved into not just the final season, but the entire run of the show.
Where my opinion of the close of the series really improved is how the narrative was handled. The timeline reset back to the park and the Invasion at first make no logical sense. The beauty of how the finale handled the timey wimey aspects lies in its, ‘less is more,’ approach. In taking such a tack, the show left the details of how the reset point is arrived at for the fans to speculate on. And speculate the fans have. Theories are flying fast and furious on the internet.
Such speculation are fun, ‘What If,’ activities but what matters in the end is the reset point was the most emotionally satisfying one. Any explanation on the show’s part would end up sounding like one of those TrekBabble scenes that sound impressive but are little more than hand wavings away of plot obstacles.
The true beauty of how Fringe handled the narrative in the last two episodes is that it leaves the series at a point where each of us can have our own vision of what happened. In my version, all the transgressions that Walter caused have been corrected since the start of the series, Peter and Olivia remember those first four seasons, and with the final shot of the White Tulip, Peter, and by further inference, Olivia, will remember the fifth season as well.
How my version hangs together is not important. That the show has allowed me to construct such a satisfying ending, is. That is brilliance and given the show’s writing pedigree over the run of the series, something that I am convinced was calculated rather than accidental happenstance.
Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments:
- Windmark & Michael scene – now who has the bloody nose!
- Olivia jumping to the RedVerse
- Cougar Fauxlivia!
- Olivia kicking ass and rescuing Michael
- Fauxlivia and Lee have built a life in a RedVerse that looks like the healing has continued
An Enemy Of Fate
- Donald visits December
- Peter finding Walter’s tape which leads to their poignant goodbye scene
- Walter, Astrid, and Gene – Astrid is a beautiful name
- Astrid coming up with the shipping lane solution
- Donald becoming emotionally developed to the point he was going to take Walter’s place
- Olivia using the bullet as the emotional lynchpin to putting the final smackdown on Windmark
- kudos to actor Michael Kopsa who brought seething undertones to the emotionally stunted Windmark
- Broyles survives and he indeed a Raven
- Walter walking into the light, a la Grey Havens, towards redemption
- Olivia, Peter, and little Etta back in the park
- Peter opening the letter with the White Tulip and the quick cut from Peter’s double take
Any issues I have with the finale are quibbles, subjective desires that do not affect the overall impact of the show’s final chapter, but would have enhanced the experience for me. Most of which could have been nonverbal. There was a rushed feeling to the final few moments as Walter stepped into the light of redemption. Given the strained and ambiguous relationship Peter and Olivia had in the Fifth Season it would have been great to have had Olivia step up beside Peter when Walter stepped into the wormhole. Maybe even taken his hand. Another wished for moment is at the end when Peter opened up the letter from Walter to see the White Tulip. Olivia should have been a participant in that scene too.
|Love Letter Written Correctly – All Part Of Emotional Satisfaction|
What I am most thankful for is that Fringe employed far less usage of Deus Ex Machina devices such as unexplained helping forces that tainted the Lost and BSG finales. Michael was the embodiment of such a device. He ended up being a cypher as the little boy who seemed to be able to do a lot but in the end did very little. His passiveness made for better character moments for the main cast but it was also frustrating at times. Maybe he was privy to Donald’s conversation to December about changing fate. Or maybe he had has own Time Protocol he did not want to override.
I am going to miss these characters. Terribly. At one time or another over the course of the series, the three leads had their chance to shine and indisputably, John Noble shone in every season and made Walter Bishop an iconic TV character. Same for Anna Torv for her portrayal of Olivia Dunham and Josh Jackson for Peter Bishop.
Fringe may have started with the intent of being a stand alone type of show but when it embraced the serialization of story and character it became something better. Also in that process it morphed from being separate installments or novellas and became linked chapters in one 5 season novel. Rewards come over the long haul like Walter telling Astrid her name is beautiful. Such a great payoff to a series long running gag. Kudos for the showrunners for tying all the seasons together.
The Fringe Finale ranks up there at the top for me. On par with FarScape. Both above Lost and BSG.
The biggest sign of success for a finale? Upon its conclusion it made me want to rewatch the entire series over again to gleam new meanings and interpretations. And to spend more time with these characters.
What more can one ask for?
|Full Circle – Walter Rescues Donald’s Son & Himself|