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 these years, i wasnt dissapointed at all,just confused by the ending lol

  8. Ricardo says:

    One thing doesn’t make sense in this ending. The beginning of the story (not the series): Walternate got distracted by September when creating the cure for Peter when he was dying. December told Donald (if you succeed) “then we would have never existed”. Then Walternate would have cured Peter, thus Walter would have never crossed universes to save him, (all the interferences by the Observers wouldn’t have existed, though not relevant for this comment), thus rendering the whole story incoherent. Peter would have never crossed universes, Olivia would have never met him, Etta wouldn’t exist and the whole story of the show wouldn’t make sense.

    It makes sense counting from the 1st episode of the future universe but not from the beginning of the storyline.

    I did LOVE this whole show, though.

    1. Francisco says:

      It does make sense if you think in fringe terms. Walter said that If it works than he would not exist after 2015 because if he would exist then that means that the observers invaded and he is needed to go to the future and stop the invasion but since he is not needed after 2015 he doesn’t exist after this moment. The observers still exist in the future, it’s just that they have emotions since the child observer showed the scientist how to stay with their emotions. The original 12 observers sent to the past said that when they arrived they started having emotions. So emotions was the reason September interfered in saving Walter and distracting walternate. The original 12 did not know of the pending invasion, September tells this to December. So it can be argued that they were still sent from the future with emotions just to observe. Therefore still having a September with emotions there distract walternate and save Peter from the lake. Thus Peter still existing with Olivia and since the William bell universe collapse thing still was gonna happen than the only thing that changes is the events after 2015 where Walter now due to his sacrifice cannot exist.

      1. m_ily says:

        you’re assuming that even though the observers have evolved in a different way that the same group of 12 will exist and September will still go back to view Walternate create the cure?

        I just don’t buy it.

      2. Inanc Gumus says:

        So, how the chain-reaction events happened without Walter that needs Walter!?

        1. Inanc Gumus says:

          And (sorry), what people remember even their past event happened with Walter?

  9. Kay says:

    I deeply and honestly believe that Peter remembers the what happened. He is a constant, similar to Desmond from Lost. Peter has knowledge of the first 3 season timeline, plus the future of the season 3 finale, and the second timeline of season 4. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he remembers the future that was in season 5. Which is what I think the writers intended. The way his gentle face grew intense couldn’t be our imagination.

    And I as I suspect, had the season continued, Olivia would have remembered as well. The two characters often work in a symbiotic relationship. Peter remains unwavered as Olivia latches on to him, similar to how he was able to bring out her memories in season 4.

    Despite certain anomalies here and there, this was an earned endging to Fringe.

  10. Kristina says:

    Walter says the he and Michael would disappear in I think 2013 or 2015? He said he would get a letter and would go to the lab to ask him what was going on and would find that Walter was gone forever. I think when he said they would never meet again would imply that at that moment from when the observers are supposed to attack but never do is the end of his and Peter’s relationship. Walter is still in the timeline up to that point until the change of the timeline with Peter Olivia and Etta in the park. There is no way of knowing what the Walter in that timeline knows but it is possible he knows or just leaves the letter to be sent or when Walter goes back to maybe send it who knows. Also the best part of that scene before Walter steps in is Peter saying “I love you Dad” calling him dad for the first time in a very long while.

  11. Bill says:

    Peter’s look at the camera at the very end was to me a couple of things. One being a nod to the old saying “in the blink of an eye”. In this case, in that moment the tulip elicits a memory which brings me to the second thing, dejavu. He looks as if he knows what the tulip means somehow, that he’s seen it before somewhere. But how?

  12. qultear says:

    Walter did NOT manage to take that injection before stepping into wormhole (September/donald took it himself coz HE wanted to travel with micheal instead), anyone knows what’s suppose to happen to walter without injection?

    1. Bucky says:

      Walter had already had the injection. The one they found in the amber was a backup one in case he needed a boost.

  13. Lynn says:

    You guys are overthinking it. Walter did not cause a new timeline. The only thing that happened is the reset brough them to the moment before the invasion. Now, by going in the future, Walter stopped the invasion from occurring. This was the plan. Nobody has forgotten Walter. He is not erases from time. Why do you think he made the tape saying goodbye to Peter? Peter will now find the tape and see what his alternate father prevented, where he is, and the sacrifice he made. Walter is present in anthe future. He is not ceasing to exist and he’s not erased from their memories.

    1. Five13 says:

      I think you’re mostly right, Lynn – but the tape was made after the invasion. It was meant for Peter to see before walter entered the wormhole. It couldn’t have been meant for Peter to see in the past, unless we believe that September told walter all of this and it was part of what was relied from his memory.

      1. Jaalong says:

        September tested Walters loyalty well before the invasion. Walter trusted September and knew that he would have to make this sacrifice regardless of any knowledge he has because he had breached the universes. Everything aside, Walter knew he had a price to pay.

  14. Tey says:

    Why when Windmark learned about team’s plan to send the boy into the future (to 2164, I think)to erase the timeline he did not inform other Observers in 2609? We know that Windmark can easily travel to 2609. Knowing about the plan the Observers in 2609 could have intercepted the boy and Walter at the time of their arrival (to 2164) and before they were able to see the scientist.

  15. Final Sin says:

    Question What Was With The Shhh Sign that Michael made to Olivia Twice?? Maybe I Missed Something.

  16. Maarten Kraak says:

    My alternate ending + and overall comments @ bottom (last alinea)

    The end I thought up was so much more spectacular and with a ‘real’ scientific basis. My way better ending would be that Walter or Donald find the signature for the dimension exactly opposite (anti) to the dimension of the gullible (sure I’ll put some device in my brain – makes the invasive pre-abortion at least reasonable) The silly Fringe group either remotely open a portal or trick them into opening it. All matter and particles in both dimensions annihilate in a massive flash coming together with the anti-matter and anti-particles reality is that in a very short time-span (nanosecond or less)this actually occurs (still Fringe cringe science allows for great CGI possibilities – stretch the time nanosecond or smaller value to a couple of minutes for CGI). Immediate auto-reset to a point before contact and as always w/ this director because when information i.e 2 entire dimensions is ‘lost’ and never existed thus nothing happened. And we the viewers did see 2 entire dimension pull together then ensuing in an unbelievably (believable to me) all encompassing explosion leaving it absolutely empty. Even their space won’t exist. Also the memories of the baldies cannot exist. This ending beats poison (jucky critters in the vent miraculously ending up right in the vessel w/ delivery needs [glass o’ H2O] seemingly everyone deemed bald or wannabee baldies (groupies/employees) had a glass of water right in front of them.

    Hands down my ending’s very possible. Fringe reality s#cks. Who could have thought that the ending that IS possible would be spectacular. Seems a pattern with this producer ‘Not knowing how to end’ and then pick the worst ending possible. And another 24*5 120-hours of my life wasted – like reading a book that entices and just stops on page 458 with conclusion written by another writer in 2 alineas leaving you angry having read the book and buying the book. And now you want to give the author a piece of your mind + requesting your hard earned money back.

  17. Bobby says:

    Bad grammar “…the team _has_ landed in the past…”

  18. anonymous says:

    Every theory proposed in your comments, guys, is simply a typical case of ‘ad hoc’ hypothesizing, in attempt to salvage an obviously logically incoherent story. Ever since the finale of season 3, I’ve seized to even attempt to make any sense of it!
    The word ‘Paradox’ is obviously a sci-Fi writer’s get-out-of-jail-free card! It’s a time-paradox, so suspend your disbelief and swallow it no matter how nonsensical it may be, and enjoy the show! :)

  19. Wellington says:

    The white tulip confusing? Not at all. Walter being the genius he was, the boy being the hypergenius he was, and they were sent to meet the scientists in the FUTURE: could’nt be easier for him! Walter ROCKS!!!

    Beautiful finale indeed. Well done, well wrapped. Right message, right signs.

    And Etta.

  20. Stelios says:

    I did wonder what the tulip was my self and how he did receive it.

    THe only explanation i can give is that somehow walter new of the impending invasion that was gonna happen.
    He there for created the tape that they have both watched in the future of explaining him what the letter meant, and that is what he will see in the future again.
    The tulip meant that he was asking for forgiveness. So Walter was asking for forgiveness from him, but i suppose that he doesnt know yet for what the wants him to forgive him about as he still is not aware of his lose.

    Bummer … i do need to watch the finale again.

    But i do agree that the calling of astrid with her real name, did bring tears to me as well !

  21. Ronny.S says:

    Its simple, at some point in the finale, September asks Walter surprised if he doesn’t remember that he had to sacrifice himself. the whole plan the videotape, it was all done in the past and they both knew what was going to happen all along, except for Walter who had lost his memory. Basically in the past, Walter knowing that he was going to sacrifice himself wrote him the letter put the tulip in it, created the videotape, just like the other ones (The Plan), and sent it to Peter. Peter goes to the office and sees that Walter is not there… he watches all the videotapes (Plan and Goodbye) and remembers everything… Everybody lives happily ever after.

  22. Ronny.S says:

    One last thought:

    The reason why the 12 Observers developed feelings to begin with, was because the boy was sent to the future… And the boy was sent because they acquired feelings, confusing ? i know… Basically with timetravel time is not linear and you cannot tell which came first… it all happened at the same time. If the plan hadn’t worked, then time would change and the observer would invade, so the true and only timeline, the one that September tried to maintain, is the one where the pan works…

  23. iWilliams says:

    I think I get it. Walter no longer exists as of that specific moment in 2015. All events up until that point have happened and Peter remembers them. He knows what the tulip is because he remembers. Walter says that Peter will receive something from him and go to the lab and not find him. That is the tulip. I think that at the point when Peter looks at the tulip he doesn’t know Walter has gone. Up until that point on that day Walter hasn’t left their timeline. The tulip worries Peter because he know it means something is up but we are to assume, as Walter said (guessed) that after getting the tulip Peter will go to the lab and discover Walter is gone.

  24. Glenn says:

    This was a dumb ending to a great show. Their view of saving the world and their daughter, meant erasing the entire life that their daughter had lived in her timeline. It also meant erasing an entire world of people in the alternate universe, as their time would have been reset too. The ending was not happy, it made the Fringe team look selfish and inconsiderate of their daughter and an entire universe. A more suitable ending would have been Oliva using her powers to cross the Fringe team into the alternate universe and living happily ever after, where the observers never invaded.

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