All good things must come to an end. There’s a reason for this, and in television it mostly happens to avoid a good show from turning bad. “Fringe” has been lucky in that it kept its core acting troupe together throughout its five-year run. Many shows fill the need to add characters, change familial structures, or just flat out start pandering to the lowest possible viewer.
The “Fringe” two-hour series finale was absolutely fantastic, and left me—and hopefully other fans—completely satisfied with how they wrapped it all up.
So, Michael gave the group the slip in last week’s episode and tracked down Captain Windmark. He clearly had a plan. The clear advantage Michael has over the rest of the Observers is he’s infinitely smarter than them. Windmark hasn’t a clue what he’s in for, but the opening scenes of the final episode suggest he’s catching on really quickly.
Windmark is busy trying to play his mind games with Michael when he realizes it isn’t going so well. His first clue is his bleeding nose, followed shortly by the white of his right eye filling with blood. I love that he’s finally outmatched. The look on his face is priceless as he’s clearly out of his element. I give huge props to actor Michael Kopsa for his terrific turn as Observer Captain Windmark; I cannot imagine another actor in that role.
The “Fringe” gang pulled a rabbit out of their hat when Olivia suggested they use the alternate universe to get to Michael. It really brings full circle the ideas and ideals of the entire series, and reminds us how important the alternate universe is to the relationship between Olivia and Michael.
Olivia reacted negatively to the Cortexiphan drug necessary to get her safely into the alternate universe. It was a stark reminder of the high costs often associated with the sacrifice and dedication of extraordinary human beings.
On a technical note, props to the SFX guys for making Olivia’s foray into the alternate universe as very disorienting to viewers. It added a lot to the feel and atmosphere of where she was headed.
There was a real “THX-1138” moment in the episode when Windmark speaks with the Observer Commander about Michael. Their didactic, monotone way of speaking was greatly enhanced by the white room in which they were sitting, facing each other. It was all so clinical, so disinfected, so Observeresque, if I may. I really loved that little scene, and it was only a minute or so long, but powerful and unsettling.
It was really fun seeing alternate Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) and Fauxlivia (Anna Torv) again as Olivia flashed into the alternate universe. I liked the matter-of-factness between the three of them as Olivia explained why she was there, where she was headed, and how they could help her. No dillydallying around with that group; all business, all the time.
It was also good to see Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) again, even if Windmark was all like, “I’d like to have a word with you.” Broyles stared him down until a commercial interrupted their good vibes. Of course it was Broyles who told the Fringe gang where Michael was being held, hence the reason for grumpy Captain Windmark’s visit.
With Michael back safely in Walter’s Harvard lab, the gang, led by September; who was waiting for them there, begin to question Michael why he stepped off the train and went directly into harm’s way. A reasonable line of questions, to be sure, but if we know one thing about Michael, it’s this: he’s likely not going to talk about it.
I’d say he went to plant the seed of dissent. After all, he’s living proof that Observers can indeed live with high intellect and high emotions, and the two Observer scientists who first examined him were flabbergasted at their findings. They knew his was the proverbial missing link.
Meanwhile, Windmark pulled a fast one on Broyles and is now tracking him as he heads towards the lab. Fortunately, he spots the tail and knows exactly what he needs to do. Again, the pain of big sacrifices cannot be borne by anyone but the extraordinary, humble as that person might be.
Walter and Peter share one of the most genuine moments in the entire series. Walter explains to Peter that in order for all this to work, he and Michael have to live out their remaining days in the future; that once they leave they’re gone for good.
Walter tells Peter the only thing he really wants is for him and Olivia to get their daughter back. It was a very touching moment and both actors were clearly in the moment. Fiction or not, it was one of the most selfless moments of the entire series, and that’s saying a lot where Walter is concerned.
What looked like a piece of cake—getting to the year 2167 to reset time with Michael—was suddenly put into jeopardy when a key component was captured by Windmark’s team; another bit of good writing to be sure. I mean, why should it be so easy? After all, it’s only the final minutes of what’s been an awesome series.
Windmark surprised me probably the most of any character in this final episode. He admitted something to Broyles that caught me completely off guard, but in a single word—hate—summed him up for the entire series. He hates the humans present in the current era, and it’s totally driven him since he arrived on the scene. What a nice bow on a tidy little package. Captain Windmark is the very essence of hate.
The gang discovered another way into the future. Remember when Astrid translated the Observer shipping schedule? She pulled that one out of the wayback machine and suddenly they had their pathway restored. They knew they were on the cusp of pulling off the end of the Observers and restoring sanity to the current human era.
I don’t know how it happened, and you’ll have to think all the way back to episode nine of the first season (“The Dreamscape”). Suddenly, all the observers and their sympathizers begin dropping dead in some very strange and brutal ways. The room filled with butterflies was a very nice touch, and reminded me of that very early episode when it was discovered that a black market hallucinogen was causing people to manifest their own deaths, from within their minds, and in very gruesome ways.
The ending is worth not spoiling, so I won’t. Suffice it to say Walter and Michael handle their business and we’re left with the knowledge that they’ve accomplished their mission.
It was an excellent ending to a terrific series, and one that really held a big payoff for its loyal viewers. Props to everyone involved for delivering something worthwhile and notable, exciting and satisfying.
Stephanie Caldwell is a writer for CableTV.com. She has an intimate relationship with TV and wants everyone to know.