Watching Fringe – one of the most complex and ambitious shows on television – opt for such a simple and meaningful conclusion really displays just how much excellent work has been done this season to finish the story appropriately. Constructing a finale that honours the many distinctive elements of the series and hits the right emotional beats can’t have been a straightforward task; with ‘Liberty’ and ‘Enemy of Fate’, Fringe finds an ending that is gripping, emotional and most importantly of all, perfectly fitting to this gloriously unique sci-fi drama.
The action picks up very soon after the events of ‘The Boy Must Live’, and things are able to progress much more swiftly now that we’ve been provided with all the relevant information about the plan. The first matter that the team needs to deal with is reclaiming Michael from Windmark, who is holding him on Liberty Island. To do this, Olivia comes up with a clever plan to bypass security which involves her getting four injections of Cortexiphan so that she can travel to the other side. Sure, this might be seen as a bit of a curtain call for the alternate universe but it’s not without it’s place in the overall story as we later see how Michael’s intentional capture gives Olivia the Cortexiphan powers that she needs.
While this is happening, Walter and September are working to set up the machine that will allow them to move Michael forward in time. There are, of course, many complications that need to be resolved including missing parts, logistical issues, and the Observers finally realising that Broyles is deeply involved with the Resistance. Everything contributes to keeping the episode exciting and while it may not be the most epic Fringe season finale, it keeps things focussed and engaging. Sure, it could be argued that the first hour is slow but it doesn’t ever really give the audience the opportunity to get bored.
The return to the alternate universe is executed very well. It doesn’t take up much time but it provides us with a great chance to see Fauxlivia and Lincoln again. Fans will definitely appreciate getting a little more closure for the alternate characters as they really grew to be as important to the show as the central figures are. It’s also fantastic to see Broyles back in action – he gets a couple of really memorable moments in the finale and it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see more of him in the final season.
For its emotional moments, the episode focuses strongly on the relationship between Walter and Peter. The two most effective scenes here both feature the two of them and emphasise what has been one of the show’s most important themes over its five seasons. Joshua Jackson and John Noble are really at their best, especially when Walter tells Peter that he is his “favourite thing”. The final scene that Walter and Astrid share together is also brilliant, it sums up their dynamic in a way that is both amusing and earnest. (It’s also worth noting how Astrid is the one who comes up with most of the best ideas here.)
Fringe delivers great concluding moments for its central romance too. Olivia’s relationship with Peter has always been about their subtle but deep connection. It seems fitting that it doesn’t overpower the episode. Their love is expressed at multiple points and the very last events echo the flashbacks we’ve been seeing all season in a way that’s guaranteed to get fans misty-eyed (the image that the episode ends on is absolutely the perfect way to end the show).
Anybody worried that Fringe wouldn’t find a way to provide the action needn’t have been concerned. It brings back memories of its gory past in a sequence that showcases some of the most memorable cases the team have undertaken. All of Season 5 has built towards Walter’s plan to stop the Observers and when it happens it doesn’t disappoint. The writers even pull off some real shocks and surprises at the very end.
It’s worth remembering just how lucky Fringe and its ever-devoted fans are. That the show has lasted for five seasons and told a complete story is quite something. Challenging and unusual sci-fi is becoming a rarity on television and this series always showed just how interesting it could be. It blends ambition and emotion assuredly, and takes the risks that other shows wouldn’t dare to. The actors’ performances are outstanding and the writers must be commended for holding together a hugely complicated narrative. We should be thankful that this special and crazy adventure ends on its own terms and in such a satisfying way.
Aired at 1.10am on Saturday 19 January 2013 on Sky1.
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