Fringe Season 5: The Finale – An Enemy Of Fate
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!