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on March 5, 2013
"Fringe" enthralled me from the first. Its alternate universe structure, its forays into the future, its "pattern" of impossible-yet-real cases - all these could have easily become unwieldy, opaque, or - even more dangerous for a TV show - complete gibberish to the viewer. And yet, these negative outcomes never happened. We always knew where we were. A large part of the credit goes to the close attention paid in the very structure of the show to the inner reality of the characters: thus, the very color of the background to the show's logo lets us know immediately if we are in the original prime universe or the original alternate universe. (And yes, please note the use of the word "original" here; I will not divulge the number of universes, nor the colors associated with them, lest any new viewers who are reading this review lose some of the thrill of discovering the complexity of "Fringe" for themselves.) Also, credit for helping us locate ourselves within the "Fringe" universe must go to the superb cast. All of the main characters - yes, even the one who at first seems to be the only 'singular' person in the several universes - play subtly different versions of themselves so well, we know immediately who they are and which universe they belong to..

Unfortunately, the best of these universe-twisting role-playings occur prior to this final season. But for those of you who are only now dipping int the wonders of "Fringe", as an added fillip, in an earlier season (no cheating, I'm not gonna tell you when), please keep your eyes open for the time when a very major character suddenly starts to channel Leonard Nimoy's guest star persona so well that at one point you can actually see Nimoy-as-Spock reacting to an incident. Why this show has never received Emmy recognition is beyond my ken. Acting, writing, direction. All deserve comment and recognition. I do not want to put any of the award winners down - excellence is excellence, after all - but how many of those who won writing awards have had the difficult chore of delineating a number of universes so well that it's a joy to recognize not only their differences, but also their similarities? And have kept the flow very near to flawless in all that time? How many of the award-winning directors have had to deal with more than one persona in one - or all - of their actors, and have had to showcase them in more than one universe - and maybe all of that within one episode? All award winning actors are capable of creating believable characters from one show to another; how many are capable of doing that change subtly and completely from one moment to the next, from one show to another, from one season to another? "Fringe" fans - and future fans - we wuz robbed. *sigh*

Unfortunately, the fifth and final season of "Fringe" was severely curtailed. We were given only thirteen episodes - essentiallly one half of a full season - with which to conclude one of the most intricate worlds that has ever been created on television. I have read some reviews of the first season which stated that the viewers found it weaker than later seasons because the episodes were 'stand-alones' and did nothing to establish or ground the overarching mythos. I disagree. Several times in viewing fifth season episodes I was startled when something that had occurred in the first season was reintroduced and suddenly had a new meaning. Things from the first season on - even things that had appeared to be momentous when they first happened - now had even more significance.

The major wonder, however, was that such a complicated tale was, indeed, successfully completed in these thirteen episodes. I will not deny that, satisfying though the ending might have been, it would, indeed, have been even better had we had those nine extra episodes. The remembrances that were placed throughout the season convince me that those few strands that were not completelly tied off by the time the thirteenth episode aired would have received competent - and loving - treatment had there been more time.

Time. Time has always been one of the threads woven through the mythos. Time, and regret, and reconciliation, and expiation, and love. Love most of all. Love forbidden, love familial, love lost, love regained, love twisted, love so singular it can warp the universes to itself. Love that can turn a dysfunctional family into the most loving in all the universes. Love that saves those very universes. Love grounded in reality, in everyday things, yet transcendent for all that. Fringe the series begins with a forbidden love that ends tragically; it carries through four episodes developing a love that heals a very broken family; it ends with a love fated by the stars, a love that is no tale of Romeo and Juliet - although we can certainly be forgiven for thinking those tragic lovers might have been our lovers forbears, a love that is triumphant. Love. Family. Time.

Circling back to time....Season five takes us from 2015 to 2036 and back but also includes off-screen trips to several other eras.
It's a tour de force of complete and total closure - almost. Enough closure that we're satisfied. Everyone's story comes to a close that's absolutely right and proper for each person. It's not always happy - there are some deaths - but it's always an appropriate closing to their story.

Now. You want specific plot details? Not from me. If you haven't seen this season yet I'm not gonna spoil your pleasure in discovering its many twists and turns and intricacies. Just know that if you were a fan of seasons 1-4 you WILL find this a *real* ending, a satisfying ending, an ending that lets your mind spin a myriad of "what ifs" and "do you supposes" and "d'ya think they meants...?"

And yes, I will admit it's not yet perfect. There was enough story for twenty-two episodes and they just couldn't give it all to us. Despite what some have said, the continuity has always been exceptional with "Fringe". Things left in the air in season one might not be resolved until a season or two down the road. Something tossed casually aside in one episode might have a more prominent role further on. Which is why I know that the few things that bother me - mostly scientific problems with the hows and the wherefores of certain chronotechnical concepts that might seem as though they've just created a bigger problem than the one that was being 'corrected' - I'm confident would have been explained with a bit of exposition that there just wasn't room to include in a mere thirteen episodes. Not when you had to have the room in those thirteen episodes to recover that which was lost, make plans to defeat the bad guys, be discovered by said bad guys, track down some of the items you need to make your plan work, rediscover the love you once shared with the person who brought you back from non-existence, lose the very thing that led you to engage in this seemingly doomed plot against authority, discover the true identity of one of your only contacts in this world you didn't make, have beautiful sacrifices, make new friends, lose some loved ones, revisit dear friends, get the bad guys, and save the world yet again. Oh. DId I just give away the plot?

(Forget twenty-two episodes; I think they had enough in their 'Bible' that they could have given us *seven* very full and complete years! *sigh* I really want those two-and-a-half extra years!)
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on October 8, 2012
Which means you already know what I think of this simply amazing, too good for TV scripted show that NOBODY is watching, hence I get, I think 11 more episodes until my heart is once again broken as I salute the end of another absolutely outstanding television show. I am with both reviewers of TV Guide and USAToday who have tirelessly and shamelessly promoted this show (who both often will try to push a Friday night show opposite it, ie: "you can watch so and so for some slightly decent entertainment, or you can crawl out of your it's the end of the week and I'm tired and don't want my brain to work too hard malaise and watch Fringe for truly intelligent, well-acted, excellent entertainment" (sic). I do have to say that putting Grimm up against Fringe is simply Hollywood being rude again as if there is a real choice. I mean, Fringe has been on a lot longer, but has continued to get better and better for the three of us watching it. Grimm is pretty much on a par with Fringe, in creativity and intelligence and lovely quirky characters (seriously, Walter or Monroe? As if we have a choice!), but I think I'm just being bitter again.

Admittedly, Fringe had a bit of a stuttering beginning, but I don't believe I've ever seen a sci fi show that didn't (I'll reference Eureka here, which in my opinion had about the worst first year of any sci fi show I've seen - fast forward to its final show that I used up a box of Kleenex as my heart broke watching what became, to me, as close to the perfection of Firefly we have gotten on the entertainment medium called scripted television). Fringe, for those of you who abandoned it for whatever reasons, thus making me soon face another evening wrapped in my favorite blankie, box of Kleenex on hand as I once again, pay homage to the finale of sci fi perfection, will forever be burned into my memory with its wonderful cast of characters - Olivia, Peter, Astrid, and the ultimate arguably best character since Capt. Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, Walter, presumably *SPOILER ALERT* defeat the Observers as they seek to strip earth of whatever they need and move on to do the same to another hapless planet. And honestly? How did they find the perfect actress to play Etta - who is the spitting image of Olivia with Peter's eyes?

While I am grateful that we get with Fringe what we have not gotten from countless other wonderful shows (she says, bitterly, still wondering just what The Event was even after two or three years). So I should be grateful to Fox who has been far more generous overall than other networks *cough* NBC *cough* for giving us closure (ie:Prison Break). But really, I couldn't say it better than either the TV Guide guy OR the USAToday guy who have shamelessly and bravely stood up for this truly brilliant show (although without ant compensation) - THIS is not Fox's fault. It is our's. After all Fox is a business and has continued to allow the same 3.5 million viewers (paltry in network world) the privilege of this intelligent, exceptional scripted show far longer than the numbers game should have allowed. We all make choices with what little time we have these days - especially in the only demographic that counts which boggles my mind - those 18 - 49ers who are simply too busy raising families, working to pay the bills or attending whatever event or child-centered Friday night delight to watch an original brand new Steven Spielberg offering let alone a simple TV show. No matter that those of us OVER the age of 49 have made our money and probably have more discretionary income to spend on most advertisers wares - but I'm on my weighted soap box again. I think even Fox was hoping that the final season of Fringe would garner more than the usual 3.5 million voters as I read the comments when they announced them. I think even Fox would have liked another year of this wonderfully odd cast and the many stories left to tell about them. But alas, for whatever reasons, we, the People, have spoken and Fringe will soon be no more. Some day, people who could have made a difference now WILL find and watch Fringe and wish they'd watched it when it mattered. So do I. So do I!
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on October 6, 2012
(Review of 5.02)
When we last left the Resistance, they were experiencing the first burgeonings of hope - here we learn just how hard those hopes will be dashed, and how mightily they can rise again.
Fringe hits its stride again, calling up questions of hope and hopelessness, and whether the bonds of family can transcend the good and the desperate. While the pacing seems to trip up in places, "In Absentia" provides several emotional thrills with a tiny dose of heartbreak - but that's Fringe for you. Dialogue does the heavy lifting plotwise, but the heart of this show has always been in the quiet moments, the subtle looks, and the powerful cast chemistry, and this episode is no exception.
With only a few episodes to go, Fringe promises excitement around every turn, and I am thrilled to be along for the ride.
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on October 14, 2012
(Review of episode 5.01)
With only a half season to wrap things up, the pressure is on for Fringe as it tells its final story. Gone are the filler episodes of yore (here's to you, Molebaby) as mythology takes charge.
Etta (Georgina Haig) fits right in with everyone's favorite team of misfit heroes. The burgeoning family dynamic is nice to see and will certainly be interesting to watch grow.
The episode itself was well-paced and engaging, keeping me right along as it moved from plot point to plot point. Some of our regulars were conspicuously missing, but they were in the promo photos so I'm sure they'll reappear. Complimenting the acting at this point is just silly, as once Anna Torv shed all accusations of "woodeness" in season one, there have been nothing but thoroughly-deserved accolades for the entire cast.
All said, a very worthy beginning of the end. I look forward to so much more.
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on March 1, 2013
Update update! Today is 2/3/2015. It took me almost 2 years to get back to watching it again. This time am able to catch a lot of plot twists i missed the first time around. I find it as addictive as my first time, find myself watching 6-7 episodes at a time. Good show, still highly recommended!
----------
Original review: I watched the finale 2 days ago and am still suffering from withdrawal! Often a complex series, I do not wish to watch it again because of the attention-span it requires, however, I will watch the finale a second time.
I wish they would offer us another two-part conclusion for I would very much like to see Dr Walter Bishop in the future ....BTW, John Noble, as Dr. Walter Bishop, offers a very wide ranging talent. Just as importantly, the character he portrays, is one of the best written and developed characters (IMHO) on any TV series in TV history, and I am OLD....
The other characters are good, too, Olivia, Peter, and Astrid, are quite lovable, the interaction between the four, very realistic and warm, but Walter Bishop takes the prize. And John Noble, the actor, was born to play this complex part with all its nuances.
Fringe is a well written, intelligent, thought-provoking show. Kudos to those who conceived and produced it!
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on January 17, 2015
Yes, indeed, a depressing thought. No more of Walter's antics, forgetting Astrid's name and general bad behaviour. This sombre mood pervades the season where the focus is really on further developing character depth at the cost of the bonkers pseudo-science that ruled the roost in earlier seasons. This season is set in 2036 in the dystopian future first glimpsed in a seemingly out-of-place episode in season four.

Earth is ruled by the no longer benign Observers where humanity is mostly helpless against their super-powers and their ever vigilant human collaborator police force. Walter and the Scooby gang have ambered themselves so that they can be resuscitated in the future by the resistance and the season predicated on the search for a series of Beta-max tapes that Walter and September have left which should eventually piece together to form a plan to defeat the Observers. Unlike earlier seasons where there is a continuing theme and sub-plot behind the nonsense, this season is a coherent whole with each episode propelling the plot towards a crashing conclusion. Along the way there are wormholes, implants, a shocking death, an Observer child, time travel, alternative realities, Walter tripping and all of the usual mind-bending paradoxical jiggery-pokery that has given the whole show its unique identity.

We've been stalwart observers of the Fringe universe since season one first came to DVD and this final season is a fitting end to this intricately plotted and original program. It is nice to see, just for a change, a sci-fi themed show actually finish properly rather than being cancelled by unimaginative ratings-chasing bean-counters. Splendid stuff.
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on January 23, 2013
While I am a fan of the entire Fringe series, I found the last season to be a little disappointing. This show started off as a mystery of the week show, turned into a show based more on an overarching story, then turned into a strange battle for survival in the future. WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!

I found the last season a little divergent. The observers who have had a strict non-interference policy are now revealed to be humans from the future, intent on overtaking our time. This is a fairly poor handling of time travel. It creates a paradox and provides no explanation for how the paradox is sustained. The primary problem is that the invasion would change the course of human history and mess with the future the observers come from. I can think of very few stories that handle the paradoxes associated with time travel well perhaps the only one that comes to mind is 12 Monkeys. The ultimate blow to the logic within the story is that Walter traveling back in time with the observer child creates a paradox and resets time, because nature cannot handle paradoxes and must heal itself. Had the story merely ignored paradoxes it would have been acceptable, but to make it so a paradox saves the day is silly.

Another problem is that the observers are retreating in time to live on a planet that is yet to be completely destroyed and uninhabitable, yet the observers are pumping carbon emissions into the atmosphere because the atmospheric composition is too pure in oxygen. This is total nonsense, a society as advanced and calculating as the observers would not expedite the destruction of the planet they call home. While the adventure is exciting and interesting it is ultimately an unbelievable one, even for a genre where reality must be suspended.
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on January 25, 2013
Fringe is the most imaginative SF ever. The plots are so intricate that if you miss one program you are lost. I will never stop finding new clues each time I watch.
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on March 25, 2014
I feel like Walter, Peter, Astrid and Olivia, Philip, Nina, etc., have all become a part of my life, and now that I've watched the last season and it's all over, there is this void in my life...
I might just have to watch all 5 seasons again.
And again.
This series is excellent. Playing characters in two different universes displayed many of the actors excellent versatility (Ann Torv, playing the two Olivias AND at times William Bell, and, Jasika Nicole as the two Astrids, for instance, John "Denethor" Noble as Walter and Walternate). These characters, despite the absolutely insane and seemingly impossible world in which they operated, came very much alive for me. The actors made them real and believable characters.
The plots/investigations showed immense creativity and originality.
This is some of the best TV I've ever watched.
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on June 28, 2013
The fifth and final season of one of my favorite shows, "Fringe". This season finds our team in 2036, trying to overthrow the Observers who have taken over our planet. 13 episodes with extras that include "A farewell to Fringe" - Reflections from JJ Abrams, JH Wyman and cast, episode commentary, gag reel, and unaired scenes.

We have all the Fringe seasons on blu ray, even though it is readily available on Netflix and Amazon digitally. Why? Because it is important to me - I loved this show and faithfully watched it every night that it was on, from the beginning to the end. Sure, like all of JJ's shows it wandered off here and there, but the cast and the characters they played, kept it real, kept it entertaining, kept me involved. Walter, Olivia, Peter, Astro...Astrid, Nina, and yes, William Bell, are some of the most creative, well written characters to ever grace television.

If you have ever watched this show and lost interest, come back. You won't be disappointed.
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