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End of the Universe: The Fringe Series Finale Review

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm by Amanda Andonian

Fringe Series Finale review

After five years, the saga of Olivia, Peter, and Walter has finally come to an end. The two hour series finale was filled with action, tearful goodbyes, and a conclusion that was at once saddening and affirming. We get to revisit many of our favorite characters, and even some of the strange Fringe events the team solved, that made the show so compelling. Overlaying all of it, of course, is a father’s love for his son. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, be aware that there will be lots of spoilers in the following review. Also, be sure to check out Justin’s interview with John Noble from a couple months back if you haven’t already.

Fringe Series Finale Review – Spoilers From This Point Onward!

From the very first scenes of the episode, I felt that there was a much more cinematic quality to this two-parter. It also seemed a bit rushed to me, but it was the finale after all, and they have to go out with a bang. Sweeping camera angles give us shots of each Fringe team member as they arrive back at the lab to regroup after Michael’s capture by the Observers. Although things are looking dicey, it’s the Fringe team at their best—trying to figure out how they can solve the current predicament they’re in. Things move pretty quickly in the first half hour as they get ahold of Broyles, figure out where Michael is being held, and hatch a plan to get him out, which includes pumping Olivia full of cortexiphan to reignite her ability to cross universes.

Fringe Series Finale reviewI just have to say that Anna Torv is an incredible actress. The scene in which Walter injects the cortexiphan into Olivia’s brain is so intense and seems so painful that I could easily believe the near torture that she undergoes. It’s also intensely creepy how quickly Walter seems to slip into his dispassionate side, browbeating the others into allowing him to give her all four doses. It almost made we wonder whether he was actually becoming the old Walter again afterall, but the touching moment that he and Peter have later as Olivia rests demonstrates that he’s still the same Walter—he just knows what’s at stake and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Peter, on the other hand, is terrified of losing his wife the same way he lost his daughter, and it continues to be a theme throughout the episode that he doesn’t want Olivia to take the risks that they know she needs to take.

windmarkMeanwhile, Windmark finally gets a crack at questioning Michael, and it seems that he’s finally met his match. It hardly matters that Windmark sees Michael as just an anomaly or defect—the fact remains that he’s incapable of reading the boy, no matter how hard he tries. In fact, Windmark concentrates so hard that his nose actually starts to bleed. Despite this evidence that he won’t be able to get into Michael’s thoughts, Windmark keeps attempting to do, all the way up until he bursts a blood vessel in his eye. It’s an intensely satisfying moment, knowing that Windmark won’t get what he wants.

While the Fringe team is off saving Michael, September/Donald is working on the device they need, but he needs help from an old friend—December. We find out that the 12 Observers who went to study humanity started to develop emotions from being in such close proximity to humans, and Donald appeals to December’s sense of affection for humanity, telling him that humanity is worth saving and asking that he go to the future to retrieve one last part for the device. The conversation between Donald and September harkens back to one of the other major themes of the show—that humanity is capable of great things even if they aren’t “perfect.”

fringe series finale reviewDonald’s concern for humanity is two-fold, of course—he also wants the best for his son, and he sees Michael as the most important living being on the planet. Given that he’s the key to making the plan work, that’s no surprise; but it also mirrors the father-son relationship between Walter and Peter. In fact, Donald even tells Walter later in the finale that after observing his love for Peter for so long, it was only until he had Michael that Donald truly understood what a father’s love for his child meant.

On Liberty Island, the Observers are experimenting on Michael, trying to figure out what’s so special about him. Of course, they discover what the Fringe team already found out from Donald: Michael is special because he’s not only highly intelligent, but he also possesses empathy and emotions—two things that the Observers have always believed to be diametrically opposed. Windmark is convinced that Michael is a threat, but his superior in the future doesn’t care about his assessment, telling him to “disassemble” Michael and “preserve the parts.” Not sure how that’s different from just killing Michael, but I guess there was a distinction.

fringe series finale reviewOlivia recovers (somewhat) from the cortexiphan injections, and Walter tells her that she only has 3 hours and four trips back and forth between universes in order to save Michael. They take her to where the Fringe division should be on the other side and she crosses over. Fortunately, she’s in luck as alarms go off everywhere inside the Fringe division on the other side, and she’s soon surrounded by agents who take her into custody. Of course, the whole reason the writers are taking us to the other side is so that we can see Bolivia and Lincoln again, which I was completely on board for. Lincoln was one of my favorite characters of the previous two seasons, and I’m really glad that they brought him back for the last episode, even if he did have some weird age makeup on. Also, I’m not sure that I liked his awkward heart-to-heart moment with Olivia in the hallway, but it was still nice to see him kick ass again when the Observers followed Olivia back to the other side after she rescues Michael.

fringe series finale reviewUnfortunately, Olivia didn’t liberate Michael without anyone noticing, and Windmark quickly narrows down the breach to Broyles. From that point onward, all their well-laid plans start to fall apart. Windmark finds out about Donald and December’s meeting, and it doesn’t take him long to realize that they’re trying to reset time. The second half of the finale focuses on the team trying to find an alternate solution, as well as say their goodbyes—to each other and to the audience. Walter and Astrid have a touching moment in the amber tunnels, and Peter and Walter have several father-son moments as they try to come to terms with the fact that Walter (long story short) has to go to the future with Michael and will likely never see Peter again.

The final confrontation finally brings the Fringe team face-to-face with Windmark in a huge battle between the Observers and the Resistance. In the confusion, Donald is shot trying to get Michael to the wormhole they’ve created to send him to the future, and Walter steps up to take Michael’s hand and lead him through the portal. The silent goodbye between Walter and Peter is still heartbreaking even though they’ve been saying goodbye to each other throughout the entire episode, but at least we know that Walter’s sacrifice was not in vain as we see Peter and Olivia reunited with Etta back on the day when the Observers invaded. Instead of an invasion, though, the happy family goes home together safely. In the last moments of the episode, Peter opens the mail to find the drawing of the white tulip, the last remnant of Walter in this world. So the story that began with a grieving father trying to save his son ends with him making amends by saving humanity—a fitting end to the Fringe team’s five year journey.

Who else watched the finale last week? Did it meet your expectations? What was your favorite moment from the series? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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