Tonight FOX will air the two hour final episode of the science fiction series "Fringe". Although it never became the breakout crossover mainstream hit that “Lost” was, "Fringe" developed a rapid and loyal fan base that utilized social media and kept pushing FOX to renew the show each year despite less than spectacular rating.
Although this final season has been controversial among some fans who were frustrated with the bleakness and repetitive nature of the story line, fans of the show will get a chance to say a proper goodbye tonight in what promises to be a mind-blowing and emotional television event.
“Fringe” is arguably the smartest dramatic series to ever air on network television. A whole new generation of physicists may one day emerge and point back at “Fringe” as why they became scientists, in the same way the original “Star Trek” inspired many young students to pursue engineering degrees and try to work for the space program.
"Fringe" began in the fall of 2008 as a fascinating hybrid of “The X-Files” meets “Altered States” (1980). Casting Blair Brown, who co-starred with William Hurt in “Altered States”, was a both a brilliant casting move as well a revealing homage, as was the utilization of special guest star Leonard Nimoy as the enigmatic and mysterious Doctor William Bell.
The show’s storylines and the characters grew tremendously over the five seasons, but always it was the eccentric Walter Bishop (brilliantly played by John Noble) who was the core of the show. It was Walter’s desperate and selfish act he committed as a younger man when he crossed over into another universe to take a child who was not his to take that became the catalyst for every “Fringe” event that happened and has lead up to tonight’s final revelation.
"Fringe" has had shocking openings, mind-blowing endings, and unforgettable guest star performances, creepy and sympathetic monsters of the week, and complex alternate universe scenarios that would make Michio Kaku proud. But in the end, “Fringe” is the story about a father and a son and the FBI agent who reunited them and became intertwined in both of their lives. It is about the caretaker who looked after Walter in his lab and a cow named Jean and the intimidating senior agent with the cool voice who looked after them all.
For all its science fiction trappings, “Fringe” is a personal, intimate story told through the prism of alternate realities and shape shifters. It is a show that challenges the intellect and moves the heart.
In the end, and in the finale, people are what matter the most after all.