You all probably know about my feelings on Fringe. It is, without a doubt, hands down, one of my favorite science fiction shows of all time, and definitely my current favorite. And last night, on January 18th, Fox premiered it’s final episode of the science fiction television show. It’s penultimate and centennial episodes drew every fan back to where it all began. While some shows lose their path, changed their method, altered their stories, Fringe never did. It’s strongest, truest message, was the power of love. Love between father and son, dedication between two lovers, the unbreakable and honest bonds of friendship. Not a single episode misses this message. Emotion is at the very core of what it means to be human, and it is at the very core of Fringe. I’ll admit, some questions I have were unanswered, I am still a little confused, but I am not going to complain about it. The finale gave me a sense of happiness, blissful but bittersweet.
Avast, sailors, there are spoilers ahead! (Also a lot of analysis by my English major ass)
The final two hours are explosive. The tempo never slows, never gives you a chance to breathe. It’s a got all the action to garnish an ending, but never denies the viewer the heartfelt visceral moments that we have learned to love. Michael’s first showdown with Windmark is impressive. Windmark’s infallible God-like presence, what with facing several almost deaths, makes him seem almost invincible. But it’s nice to see him bleed. Personally, I was jumping up and down out of my seat. But with Michael locked in by the Observers, Olivia has few choices. In another interesting twist, the Observers have torn down the Statue of Liberty into a maximum security prison, of sorts. The very symbol of our freedom, our humanity, has been refashioned to be the chains that hold us down.
Olivia hunkers down, and realizes that in order to save Michael her Cortexiphan powers are necessary. It’s a cry back to the earlier seasons, we see a scared young Olivia with scientists William Bell and Walter Bishop. She pulls out all the stops, bravely taking four near-fatal doses of Cortexiphan at once and transporting herself into the alternate universe. This show has never downplayed Olivia’s abilities, but I truly feel like this was her finest hour. Fading in between our universe and hers, she’s able to fight off Observers with the powers she has learned over the years and save Michael. It is also a wonderful glimpse into the alternate universe, to see a Bolivia and Lincoln who are happy together (a pairing that I have been rooting for since the beginning). Upon seeing each other for the first time in a long time, the Olivias embrace, and Anna Torv’s fabulous acting shines as she is portrayed as both sassy and easy going Bolivia and epicly dedicated Olivia. Bolivia’s sporting a hairstyle and fashion sense that brings to mind Nina Sharp, and the married couple are clearly still in love with each other in a happy family with an adult son.
In a daring and miraculous flash back and forward, Olivia is able to retrieve Michael from the stronghold on Liberty Island. Meanwhile, we see glimpses of September/Donald and I am beginning to realize how much of a favorite he has become. Of course, in the case of my favorite show, favorite characters are all too closely ranked. But his development has been my absolute favorite. From his observation on August in his titular episode, to his saving of Walter and Peter, to him becoming Donald, his character is one that embodies the essence of the show. He meets with December, begging for help, and we learn, that with time, the first twelve had developed emotions while living with the humans. This is no shock to us, since we have seen Windmark display marked emotions of disgust, hatred, and anger. They may be negative, but they are undoubtedly strong emotions.
As an initially crucial character, Broyles makes his appearance back in the finale. He’s nothing short of brilliant. Phillip Broyles shows that he is loyal until the end, sacrificing himself for the group, willingly subjecting himself to the tortures of Windmark. His rescue is just another powerful message of humanity. Olivia leaves no one behind, and his sacrifice will not be awarded with neglect. Astrid also makes her way into the spotlight in a touching scene with Walter. She’s always been there, and in the end the person who understands Walter Bishop the most, seems to be Astrid. Their moment brings together such a sweet scene of a relationship that is both parental and supportive. It took Walter saying how beautiful Astrid’s name was for the waterworks to turn on (if they hadn’t already been on) for me. Their relationship had developed and constantly been one of the highlights of the series.
The perfect parallel of filial love between Donald and Michael and Walter and Peter is perfect. Donald’s confession to Walter about his realized love for his own son has made him unable to be without him. It is a heartbreaking moment, and as he admits that although they cannot communicate like normal people do, he loves his son very much. All of these feelings are reflected in him when he sees Walter and Peter together. In the most beautiful scene of the show, we see Walter and Peter face the fact that Walter must sacrifice himself in order for the plan to work; that he must disappear from his son’s life all together and pay penitence for his actions. Their embrace is racked with authentic, as Walter says what we all already know, that Peter is his favorite thing in the world. They cry emotionally into each other’s arms and there isn’t a dry eye.
The attack on the Observer’s headquarters is a tip of the hat to the seasons of Fringe past. Science is not forgotten because it is part of the personality of the show. Monsters-of-the-week reappear, this time on Peter and Olivia’s side, destroying anything in their way. Even Cortexiphan, so often uncontrollable, unreliable is powerful in Olivia’s hands. In her final showdown with Windmark, it is only her power generated by Cortexiphan that saves her, destroying Windmark in a powerful act of vengeance for her fallen daughter. Again, the episode is rife with filial love and emotions. Admist the gunfire and rain down of bullets between the two sides, the portal is opened and Donald holds his son in his hands, running to the open portal. However, one bullet stops him completely, and a young Michael, unable to express his emotions like the rest of us, pulls out the small music box and plays it for his father. A quiet symphony for a hero that will go on to be unmourned as the fate of all humanity is changed.
Walter’s sacrifice is final. It has always been his sacrifice. He sacrificed universes to save a son that wasn’t his. He sacrificed his brain to protect the world. He sacrificed his life to revive his family’s. He is no perfect man, but his love for his son is never doubted. He is willing to do anything. The final scene of this magnificent show ends in the best way. A completed family. The scene that we have seen in nearly every episode, of the day the Observers attacked, is gone. Etta falls into the arms of her father and mother and they are allowed to live a full and happy life without the losses they never had to face. In the mail, Peter receives a letter from his father, a sign. A sign from God, a sign from his father, it is the symbol of the ultimate changer of fates. The white tulip, an image of forgiveness and worthiness. A father’s final sacrifice for his son, selfless and selfish all at once. It is undoubtedly a powerful message of love.