"Fringe" said goodbye the only way it could on Friday, Jan. 18: with touching moments, action sequences, tears, and the perfect ending. From the first moment of "Liberty" until the last frame of "An Enemy of Fate," we couldn't have asked for a better series finale.
In the first hour of the "Fringe" series finale, the focus was on finding Michael and bringing him home. Unfortunately, while Broyles (Lance Reddick) was able to find out where he was being held, it was a place they couldn't get into…on this side. They used the Universe Window to check on the Other Side, and once they saw the Observers hadn't invaded there too, Walter (John Noble) dosed Olivia (Anna Torv) with enough Cortexiphan for her to cross over, cross back to get him, cross back over, and finally return home. After sharing moments with Walter and Peter (Joshua Jackson), she crossed over and explained to Fauxlivia and Lincoln (Seth Gabel), who had their own family—and son!—why she hadn't aged and what she needed. But while Olivia was on her way to rescue Michael, Windmark (Michael Kopsa) had traveled back to the future to meet with the Commander again after being unable to get anything out of Michael (except a bloody nose and burst blood vessel in his eye for his trouble), and the Commander told him to "disassemble" Michael and "preserve the pieces." What mattered to him was being able to examine him; he didn't need to be alive for that. Olivia did run into problems with Observers, who followed her back to the Other Side once she grabbed Michael, but Lincoln and Fauxlivia were there to back her up, and he stayed behind to take care of any others who followed while Fauxlivia took Olivia and Michael to Battery Park for them to cross back over. They returned safely, but what they didn't know was that Broyles was exposed when the Loyalist Lieutenant who told him where Michael was told Windmark Broyles had said he authorized it.
Meanwhile, September (Michael Cerveris) returned to the lab only to find it empty. He got to work, and while he had the machine looking pretty good, he discovered a problem and turned to a familiar face—December (Eugene Lipinski)—for help.
"An Enemy of Fate"
The team returned to the lab, where September was waiting. He explained he had turned to a friend for help because they needed a new initiating reactor; without it, they had nothing to spark the device. They were going to open up a wormhole, send one of the cylinders through to stabilize it, and someone would guide Michael through to the right date. It wasn't until Peter unambered a tape while looking for a synchroscope they needed that he learned that Walter was to be the one to bring Michael through. What followed was one of the most touching moments of the finale (more about that later). However, when Olivia and Astrid went to get the reactor from December, they found Loyalists in his apartment and he was hanging from the ceiling. Windmark had the reactor. But then it was Astrid's (Jasika Nicole) time to shine as she suggested using a shipping lane. They were heading to New York, but they needed to get a cube. Peter and Olivia let loose biohazards into the vents and cleared the path for them to get a cube—and to rescue Broyles, who had refused to lead Windmark to the team once he realized he was onto him and had been captured, with the Observer trying to read him.
And then it was time to put the plan into action, only, instead of Walter going with Michael, September was. As he explained, he didn't understand his feelings for him until he saw what Peter meant to Walter. However, implementing the plan wasn't so easy, with Loyalists and Observers at the shipping lane, and the fight saw Windmark try to take Michael, only for the others to intervene and Olivia to use her powers on the Observer. But as September led Michael to the wormhole, he was shot and Walter ended up being the one to go into the future with him. And so time was reset, taking us back to Peter, Olivia, and young Etta in the park, only this time, the Observers never invaded. The family went home, and as Walter had mentioned in his tape, Peter received an envelope from him. And inside was the White Tulip.
The Perfect Goodbye
We said it earlier, and we're saying it again: "Fringe" said goodbye in the only way it possibly could—perfectly. Over the course of the two hours, we saw those who needed to have those last moments together have them, moments of strength and courage, outstanding acting from the entire cast, and a series finale that was both heartbreaking and satisfying in all the best ways.
Peter and Olivia's love story has had its shaky moments, but in the finale, they were as strong and stable as ever. Earlier this season, Olivia nearly lost Peter to his revenge mission after they lost their daughter. And this time, it was Olivia's whose life was on the line for Etta. And in the end, after everything they had been through and everything they had lost, they did get their happy—albeit bittersweet with Walter in the future—ending and they got their family back.
Anna Torv was once again brilliant as both Olivia and Fauxlivia, and we enjoyed the brief catch-up with the Other Side (and seeing Lincoln again, of course), especially the exchanges between all combinations of the three. We got a touch of humor as Fauxlivia told Lincoln to stop checking out her younger self, we got a touching moment between Olivia and Lincoln as she told him, "You deserve all the happiness you got" (which is true for all of our heroes) and we got Fauxlivia seeing Olivia off before she crossed over for the last time with Michael.
It was the second hour, "An Enemy of Fate," which provided the sob-inducing scenes. Sacrifice played a major role in the series this season, especially in the last few episodes. In "Anomaly XB-6783746," we saw Nina sacrifice herself so Windmark couldn't read her, and in the final hour of the show, we saw Broyles willing to do the same so he couldn't be followed to the team. While his ending was much happier than Nina's in the future, both proved their loyalty in their decisions.
"It's a beautiful name. …Astrid," Walter said to end the perfect moment between those two even as he knew that they would never drink those strawberry milkshakes in the lab after she showed him Gene ambered. It was the right goodbye scene for Walter and Astrid, though she didn't know it at the time, as Jasika Nicole continued to be such a delight even though the others remained the focus. It was her quiet presence, shining at just the right times, that was one of our favorite things to watch over the course of the series.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best (and most touching) scenes of the episode were those between Walter and Peter. Peter uncovered the tape Walter had left for him to explain what had happened once they went through with the plan, in a scene where John Noble and Joshua Jackson took it to another level. Walter explained on the tape that to ensure the future of their humanity and the future of their family, he had to live out the rest of his life in the future with Michael: "I don't want you to be sad. The time we had together, we stole. I cheated fate to be with you, and we shouldn't have had that time together, but we did. And I wouldn't change it for the world. I don't want to say goodbye, but I will say, I love you, son." And if what Walter had to say on the tape wasn't moving enough, he topped himself as he told Peter, "I know in my soul this is what I am supposed to do. I want you to give Olivia your daughter back. I want to give you your life back. As a father, how could I not do that for you? What I said on the tape about stealing time with you, I meant it. I wouldn't trade it for the world. …You are my favorite thing, Peter. My very favorite thing." And after that, there was not a dry eye to be found. But that wasn't all. As the plan changed after September was hit, Walter had the chance to say (a silent) goodbye to Peter, who mouthed, "I love you, Dad," Olivia, and Astrid.
And last, but certainly not least, we have to talk about Walter and September in the finale and what it means to be a father. Despite how it worked out, this scene was very telling. Despite the fact that both September's decision and Walter still having to make the sacrifice were to be expected given recent episodes and the rest of the finale, their conversation could not have been more right. September admitted that things had changed since they first came up with the plan: "I didn't have the feelings I have now. …I couldn't understand what it was that I meant to him, and I was unable to reciprocate. When I saw you, when I saw Peter and saw what he meant to you, then I understood what my feelings were and why they were important. I can't communicate with him in the traditional ways, but when I take his hand and I lead him, he'll know that I love him." "That's being a father," Walter told him. And while they couldn't change fate, September's "It's about…protecting our children" rang true as Walter made his sacrifice to yes, save the world, but also to protect his son, protect his family.
And like Walter told Peter, "I wouldn't change it for the world," that's just the way we felt about the "Fringe" series finale. What did you think of "Liberty" and "An Enemy of Fate"?