After five seasons, we said goodbye to Fringe last night. There’s certainly a lot of nitpicking we could do with the series finale: Like the final season as a whole, it was too simple, too straightforward, the culmination of an overly simplistic scavenger hunt. It was predictable and sentimental, but it was also beautiful, heartbreaking, and in its own way, the perfect ending to a series marked with so many high and lows, resets, and frustrations. That white tulip was not only a sign that the universe had forgiven Walter Bishop, it was a sign that we’d forgiven Fringe for all its missteps. Whatever you want to say about Fringe, unlike another J.J. Abrams’ series, the series finale was immensely emotionally satisfying. We may have been cheated out of much of the narrative complexity that marked earlier seasons, but we were not cheated out of gratifying closure.
Let’s not dwell on the series’ mistakes, let’s instead revisit the highs of last night’s finale.
It felt almost as if the only reason that Michael allowed himself to be abducted by The Observers was so that we could revisit the parallel universe and be reunited one last time with Lincoln and Fauxlivia. And you know what? Totally worth it.
Lincoln made the right decision to stay. He and Fauxlivia are happy together, and not much worse for wear (I hope a few highlights in my hair will be all the aging I do in 21 years). They also got an opportunity to save Olivia from some supercharged Observers.
We already got our goodbye with Nina Sharp (although note that, with the reset, Nina Sharp is alive again, because Nina NEVER DIES),
and this week, we also got to spend a final few minutes with Phillip Broyles, who brought out some emotion in Windmark.
Speaking of Windmark, we also said goodbye to him, but not before Michael demonstrated to Windmark that he had the upper hand the whole time.
By the way, this is Michael Kopsa, the actor who plays Windmark.
Also, Windmark: Do NOT f*ck with Olivia, dude. Here’s Michael and Olivia’s drop-the-mic moment.
I will mention this quibble I had with the Observers all season long: We never really understood their motivations, why they had taken over Earth, what their endgame was, and why they insisted on being such assholes. They were cool villains, but they were not that interesting.
There hasn’t been a lot of moments of levity in the final season, but Walter brought it with this, the funniest moment of the finale.
September and Michael’s relationship was supposed to parallel that of Walter and Peter, but September’s subplot felt kind of forced, and was never really allowed to flower because, like everything this season, it took a backseat to THE PLAN. Farewell, September, all the same. It was neat to see an Observer as a human.
And then there is Astrid. Turns out, Walter knew her name the whole time, and thought it was a beautiful one. This, folks, is where the waterworks started.
So long, Astrid.
And then, after the death of September, and Michael’s defeat of Windmark, THE PLAN finally came to fruition, but not before Peter and Walter had a few heartfelt moments. Tissues, please:
I absolutely loved the callback here, too.
And that was that. Walter and Michael went to 2167, where Walter would live, having finally atoned from the mistake that led to everything else: Traveling to another dimension to retrieve Peter, who also forgave Walter, and forged a true father-son relationship with him. I would have loved to see Walter and Michael in 2167, but Fringe reset us back to 2015, no one the wiser. There we got another callback to the picnic scene that we’ve seen so many times this season, but this time, there are no Observers to steal Etta away. Just father, mother and daughter living happily ever after.
But there was one final moment of ambiguity: The white tulip and a flash of recognition from Peter. What did it trigger? Considering all the resets, alternative dimensions, and timelines in Fringe, who could say. We’ll never know, although I’m sure in some dimension, in another timeline somewhere, Fringe continues on.
So long, Fringe. Thanks for the memories, and thanks for bringing great science-fiction to network television.