Fringe Season 5: The Finale – An Enemy Of Fate

Fringe series finale poster

This is the last ever Fringe review I’ll write. But I’m not sad. These writers, cast and crew, they’ve taken us on some wild rides over the past 5 years, and they’ve rarely steered us wrong.

And throughout this final season, Fringe has been touching on cases the team have handled in the past, and giving new relevance to things we thought were in the past. Look at how they took September from being an Observer of dubious motivation to being instrumental in saving Walter (and Peter) and saving the world in the end. Look at how old tech like the amber, and the “universe window” have resurfaced.

The emotional touchpoints are still there too. Fringe has always been fantastic at cutting edge sci-fi, but bringing raw human emotion into it. Walter Bishop didn’t just cross universes for no reason. He crossed them by being so distressed at the death of his son that he couldn’t bear it. Walter, more than anyone has made us laugh and cry. With his unbridled passion for LSD and all kinds of confectionary. With his realisation that he was out of control, removing parts of his own brain to limit his ability to cause any further damage.

As for the finale, the two-part Liberty/An Enemy Of Fate had its work cut out from the beginning. Our small Fringe team of Walter, Peter, Olivia and Astrid were outgunned by the incredibly powerful Observers and their military of Loyalists. With the odds stacked against them, could they possibly prevail and save the world?

Well, naturally. To have humanity enslaved by a group of reptilian-brained bald men from the future would have been a bleak ending. But the ending wasn’t without cost to the Fringe team. We’ll come back to that later.

When a series like Fringe wraps up, it’s got a heavy load: it must wrap up the story to the satisfaction of the fanbase, J.J. Abrams will know this from the universal grumping that followed the finale of Lost a couple of years ago. Fringe excelled in this regard. Not only did the storyline get resolved, but they built in a ton of goodies as a reward to the fanbase: a trip to the Altverse, and a meeting with Fauxlivia and Lincoln Lee. Beautiful moments, seeing the aged version of Olivia and Lee and how far they’d come in their own world. Another reminder of what Peter and Olivia had lost in their own reality with Etta.

As for Walter, how many beautiful moments did our mad scientist have? He rediscovered his pet cow, buried deep in the amber. He called Astrid by her real name for once, something which stupidly had me as close to tears as any other moment in the episode. And of course, he did sacrifice himself for the good of humanity in the end.

I was ready to deduct marks when September/Donald told Walter that he would travel to the future with Michael. First impression was that it was a cowardly fakeout – making September make the sacrifice that Walter should have made. But in the end, September wasn’t able to make the jump, and Walter stepped up without hesitation, having already said his goodbyes to Peter. And how poetic was that, considering that Walter had destroyed the walls between universes to steal a perfect replica of his son, to then have to leave in order to save the world and bring back Etta?

And to cap it all off, when Peter and Olivia finally stormed the Observers’ HQ, they went on the offensive with the combined tech gathered from all the Fringe events they’d dealt with over the years. Razor-tipped hallucinogenic butterflies, the stomach dwelling eel/alien critters all came out to play. And it felt like the perfect revenge after decades of Observer tyranny.

I was also pleased to see Lance Reddick pop up again as Col. Broyles. Broyles got his cover blown and was rewarded with a horrible interrogation at the hands of Windmark.

To be perfectly honest, this finale was all about the emotional beats for me. And September/Donald may have encapsulated the spirit of this season when he said:

It’s not about hope. It’s about protecting our children.

Because isn’t that why they were on that mission in the first place – to avenge Etta’s death and overthrow the Observers so that future generations wouldn’t have to live under their tyranny? Walter heroically stepped aside to give his son the precious time with his daughter that he’d lost. And even Fauxlivia had created a family of her own in the Altverse.

An Enemy Of Fate will certainly be worth a second viewing, and any self-respecting fan of the show will have planned for that. Certainly, I felt that the first viewing was simply to soak up the emotion of the final chapter of Fringe. A second viewing will be necessary, if only to work out how Walter was able to send the white tulip to Peter and what that means. Was it a simple message of hope to end Walter’s story? I’m not sure. Ask me after a second viewing.

Was the Fringe finale satisfying for you? Leave me a comment, Fringies!

by Gerard McGarry on January 19th, 2013

Gerard is the founder and editor of Unreality TV. He writes about TV dramas as well as reality TV talent shows and is obsessed by sci-fi and Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @gerrybot or Google+

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42 thoughts on “Fringe Season 5: The Finale – An Enemy Of Fate

  1. Five13 says:

    That’s what I’m dying to know – how did he send the tulip? He only had it in the first timeline until September have it to him in te second timeline in the future. And are we to assume he knew he was leaving and sent it to Peter as a farewell? And how did he make a video from the future/same second timeline fortelling what would happen after he left back in the present – and explaining a letter he never sent in the past? Confusing, but exciting.

    1. doss says:

      Well here’S what i think,they ended this awesome tv serie as hollywood know how to do it,an happy ending even if it make no sense.Because if sending the kid to the futur for the observer to never exist,september shouldnt exist too so unable to save peter from drowning or even help and/or distract “walternate” to make a cure.Following logic the end should have been, peter living a long life in his dimension and Olivia keeping working as an FBI agent with his husband,and Walter lock up in an asylum.

  2. Mike says:

    Well said…..
    Ended perfectly…..

  3. Mike says:

    Remember when Walter asked”Where is the tulip” to Donald and Donald said “Only you know you did with it”…… now we know where Walter sent it. After all September showed Walter the future and what needed to be done.

    1. james says:

      you are right, i forgot about that conversation with Donald
      about what happen to the tulip – Donald said “Only you know you did with it” – now we know

  4. dan says:

    How would Peter and Walter survive drowning in Raiden lake if September never existed to pull them out??????

    1. james says:

      Walter made it in that time line, and peter did not – that was the bi-gist difference when he came back – from being erase

    2. Jason says:

      He would never have crossed over because September distracted Walter when he was about to discover the cute for Peter so Peter would never have died in this universe

      1. Inanc Gumus says:

        It was walternatif who was distracted by September not the original Walter. So, even this does not explain it.

  5. Bleachedredhair says:

    And for some reason mail is immune to changes in timelines in the Fringeverse. That white tulip has now been sent through the mail by two different people who don’t exist in their timelines anymore.

    1. Doxys says:

      The tulip equals faith … hope two things that aren’t impossible to explain with logic. This is the point you are missing in the way the tulip works in the the FringeUniverse.

      1. Doxys says:

        The tulip equals faith … hope two things that aren’t possible to explain with logic. This is the point you are missing in the way the tulip works in the the FringeUniverse.

    2. August says:

      In the original White Tulip episode, the scientist traveled back in time, dropped it in the mail and sent it to Walter (and then died there). There’s zero ambiguity as to how that worked.

      In this case, Walter and September prepared the plan, and it got mailed out to Peter the day before the invasion. September knew the date of the invasion and told Walter the mail it the day before.

      No ambiguity

  6. james says:

    i agree, on all notes – the best series i have ever seen, and a was OK with the ending , event though i wanted 10 years of DVD NOT 5- OH WELL – But i wonder if perter some how, was able to remember the old time line after seeing the white tulip – did you see his face ?

    1. Mike says:

      That’s what caught my attention.

  7. adam says:

    awesome ending to and awesome show,im really gonna miss it,john nobles acting really got to me especially the line ”youre my favorite thing peter,my very favorite thing”,its such an emotional line delivered perfectly. i was 110 percent emotionally satisfied with the characters endings,although i would of like walter to of had a 1 on 1 talk with olivia like he did with peter when they watched the tape,astrid in the amber with gene, and september. im not sure if the whole time paradox ending makes total sense but it almost doesnt matter although ill be picking it apart for weeks to come,if anyone can explain it let me know. awesome ending to one of the best shows ever,im glad i stuck with it from the very beginning, i even watched the leaked pilot over the summer before it aired. i tried to get alot of my friends into it but most of them didn’t get into it. im glad i stuck by it all th