Is it possible to overcome a major global change without it affecting your own life? That was part of the premise behind the fifth and final season of Fox's uniquely charming show "Fringe," which had a group of people trying to keep the world from falling apart under strange circumstances. Sometimes, their work was at the expense of their own personal lives, but the results were fascinating to watch nonetheless.
"Fringe" followed the FBI's Fringe team as they were forced to overcome some steep obstacles as they tried to stop the once peaceful Observers from destroying life as they knew it. The Observers invaded Earth in 2015 in an effort to control human behavior, but they didn't take into account the Fringe team's efforts to destroy them. Unfortunately, it took longer to do that than they expected. The group was frozen for over 20 years to stay alive until the time was right. Long separated lovers Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) were happy to be reunited with their now grown daughter Etta, but they were devastated when she was killed by an Observer. Peter and Olivia struggled to find their way back to each other after losing their daughter. Peter's father Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) was dealing with his personal demons as he made a major sacrifice in his effort to stop the Observers. He relied on his old friend Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and his loyal assistant Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) to put him on the right track. Unfortunately, it was hard to tell what side that Olivia's former boss Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) was truly on or if it was merely a cover to get information. Will Walter's plan to stop the Observers succeed or will there be more casualties of this war?
In terms of series finale questions, "Fringe" ended up answering a lot of them, but there were still a few loose ends that weren't entirely resolved. The fifth season started off strong by showing viewers a truly different world than how the previous season left it. The Fringe team was scattered, but it never fully explained how they ended up that way in the first place. Overall, that little plot hole was a very minor speed bump because the season left no time to analyze that. Viewers were treated to a new and dangerous world that was full of mysteries that the Fringe team sometimes created themselves. It was fascinating to watch the team as they retraced Walter's steps to stop the Observers in his occasionally damaged videotapes that didn't always stand the test of time. Each episode managed to find a right balance between the scientific and the human interest stories without overdosing on either. Sadly, Georgina Haig's Etta didn't have much of a purpose until after her tragic demise, once that happened Torv and Jackson were able to truly shine as they dealt with her death in different ways. Jackson got to explore his dark side and become a lethal version of an Observer, while Torv struggled to overcome the grief and the fear of losing Peter. In the end, Peter and Olivia's love story helped to anchor the show and allowed it to conclude on a reasonably optimistic note for viewers to analyze for years to come.
As for breakout performances, Torv, Jackson and Noble lead the pack over the course of the season. Torv and Jackson had a genuine rapport that was full of comedy, drama and action. Their characters did everything together and managed to survive it all each week. Viewers rooted for Peter and Olivia to have their happy ending after so many complications in previous seasons. Luckily, many fans should be happy that their favorite couple were able to get everything they longed for in the show's conclusion. Jackson's Peter has come a long way since the show began and has shown that the character has evolved beyond being the initial troublemaker he appeared to be. Torv, on the other hand, became the show's true heroine as she endured a series of personal and professional complications over the course of the series. She also had the added challenge of playing two very different versions of herself, which was no small feat. In terms of challenging stories, Noble had the biggest challenge as Walter struggled with becoming a version of himself that he didn't like. A version that his son would hate to see. Noble's performance ran through each emotional gamut without even breaking a sweat. He played Walter's LSD trip with the same gusto as he said an emotional goodbye to his son Peter, which was heartbreaking to watch from start to finish. Viewers couldn't help but tear up after Peter received a letter from his father long after he disappeared as a way to foreshadow a possible reunion, or until Hollywood decides to make a movie version of the show.
"Fringe" aired its series finale on January 18th at 8:00 PM on Fox. Check your local listings for any reruns.
Verdict: A show that ended on the right amount of quirky and emotional without going too over the top.
TV Score: 5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)