Farewell to Fringe

“You are my favorite thing, Peter … you are my very favorite thing.”

In my opinion, that’s the best line from Friday’s two-part finale to one of my favorite science fiction shows ever, J.J. Abrams’s Fringe. With the show’s five-season run completed, I wanted to talk about why I have loved this show and why I’ll be re-watching it repeatedly in the future.

Peter and Walter saying goodbye on Fringe (Source: TVLine)

WARNING: SPOILERS MAY APPEAR

1) Epic Storytelling

There’s nothing like the possibility of destroying not one, but two universes to make for a gripping story. Even from the beginning of the show, there was a sense that something greater was at work, and that the threat to our world was much more severe than the lead characters initially understood. From rogue scientists capable of destroying the world, to a war between parallel universes, to threats to the space-time continuum and invaders from the future, Fringe has demonstrated a mind-boggling level of intensity that always left me wondering, “How could this possibly get any worse, and how are they possibly going to get through it?”

2) At Least Quasi-Believable Science

My engineering friends might chastise me for this, but I’ve found that the science of Fringe was usually quasi-believable. This was far truer in the beginning of the show than near the end, but even when the theories crossed the line into ridiculous, that ridiculousness still made some sense. One thing that I was wondering throughout Season Five, for example, was how they were going to erase the Observers from the timeline without also erasing everything that had happened on the show – since if September never existed, he would never have prevented Walternate from discovering a cure for Peter’s illness, and the events of the show would basically have been avoided. However, the show’s writers managed to present an at least believable explanation for a different effect on the space-time continuum. And any quantum physicists who want to criticize this show for not being entirely accurate in its science … just remember that it’s TELEVISION.

3) Characters That Draw You In

Somehow, J.J. Abrams and his writers have a real talent for creating realistic, dynamic and intriguing characters in their shows. Fringe was certainly not lacking in this department. Beside the principle characters, there was a host of recurring individuals that I kept waiting to see again and again – such as September, William Bell, Sam Weiss, and Elizabeth Bishop, just to name a few. This is what makes a truly brilliant show: characters that you want to see grow and develop, and that you can believe are real people with truly complicated lives.

4) The Family Dynamic

Connected to the above, one of the things that always hooks me onto a television show is the relationships that develop between characters. Part of my ability to care for characters is through seeing how they care for each other, so that I want them all to be okay in order to remain together. For Fringe, seeing how much Olivia, Peter, Walter and the others developed into more of a family than a team was a big part of why I kept watching. This was especially true of the relationship between Peter and Walter, which I realized has always been the locus of the show. Fringe is more a story of their bond than anything else, and it’s a gripping and heart-wrenching story. In fact, Abrams and his writing team are so adept at bringing that relationship to life that I’ve watched Peter and Walter’s goodbye scene from the finale three times since Friday, just because it’s that good.

Feel free to add any further comments about Fringe – positive or negative. Though I’m going to miss seeing new episodes of this show, I think the ending was absolutely brilliant. Kudos to the actors, writers and staff that made this show amazing for the past five seasons!

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