on 19 January 2013
Please note that I won't pretend to be impartial, but this is just my opinion. Personally, I've always loved Fringe, and think this final run has been tremendous, but I know that many haven't been as enamoured. All I can encourage you to do is buy the DVD and try it for yourself. I'll try and give you an idea of what to expect, whilst being as spoiler-free as possible.
To put it delicately, this Final Season of Fringe has proven to be very divisive, the time-jump into the future aside. In opting to focus more on the quiet emotional moments between the main characters, the series' trademark streak of weird and wonderful craziness has been toned down a little, leading many to claim this last 13-episode run has been 'boring'. I respectfully disagree. It's these little moments between characters that have always made Fringe more than just another throwaway sci-fi series. 'Weird science' may be what Fringe started off as being about, but since then it has matured into quite a brilliant family-related drama, and a thought-provoking discussion on the relationship between pure emotion and pure intellect, technology and faith, the old and the new, the unknown and the conventional. But above all it has been about the relationship between father and son, between Walter and Peter, and that is where this Final Season places its focus. It goes for the emotional jugular, without sacrificing its intellectual integrity, and it connects. It provides satisfying answers to long-standing questions without feeling as if the writers are simply painting-by-the-numbers. It's difficult to create an ending that feels fitting both plot-wise and emotionally, but somehow they managed it.
This Season eschews the traditional Monster-of-the-Week format the show has typically followed in favour of telling one long overarching narrative, that starts and ends with a bang. This might be jarring at first, but Fringe never forgets what it is, and the constant callbacks to previous events serve to tie the series' mythology and themes together neatly. This Final Season borrows liberally from classic dystopian science-fiction, with Orwell's '1984' clearly being a very big influence. But it never feels derivative - it takes these ideas and runs with them, and creates something new.
It needs to be said that none of this would have half the impact it does without solid acting behind it. So, this is the part where I say that yes, it is most definitely a pan-universal crime that John Noble has not been awarded the Emmy he deserves. His talent has not only been the anchor to this series, but his performance has created perhaps my favourite fictional character of all time. Walter is funny, heartbreaking, tragic and endearing, and I really don't think anyone else could have pulled off such a character so well for so long, all versions included. And while I single Noble out, all of the cast brought their A-game this year. Such complex material would've been wasted on a lesser cast, and they gave it their all. It speaks for itself.
All in all, a well-crafted, thrilling and fitting ending to a much-beloved, little-known series. Week by week, Fringe has been a quietly intelligent, beautiful science-fiction tale. Yes, there's a little gruesome body horror here and there, but that's more of an extra, isn't it? Long-time fans will find much to love here - this season has really been about them - and even newcomers will be able to enjoy it. This is one to treasure. Fringe has been my "favourite thing". Thank you, to all involved.