Review By: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Preacher
Fringe is an absolutely incredible science fiction television series that is bound to leave you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Created by the immensely talented trio of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, this show premiered on Fox in 2008 and ran for five seasons, totalling an impressive 100 episodes.
The plot centres around the Fringe Division, a newly formed unit of the FBI in Boston that investigates unexplainable and often gruesome occurrences related to a parallel universe. Led by the brilliant yet dangerously eccentric scientist Walter Bishop (played by the amazing John Noble), his estranged son Peter Bishop (the incredibly talented Joshua Jackson), and FBI agent Olivia Dunham (the stunning Anna Torv), the team employs unconventional fringe science methods along with traditional investigative techniques to solve each case. Phillip Broyles, played by the much missed and unforgettable Lance Riddick, leads the team, and the exceptional Jasika Nicole as Agent Astrid Farnsworth assists Walter in laboratory research.
‘Fringe’ is a genre-bending combination of fantasy, procedural dramas, and serialized storytelling, with influences from classic films like Altered States, as well as popular TV shows such as ‘Lost’, ‘The X-Files’, and ‘The Twilight Zone’. Although it started as a mystery-of-the-week series, it evolved into a more complex, serialized drama in later seasons. Most episodes feature standalone stories, while others delve deeper into the series’ overarching mythology.
The cases explored in the series are nothing short of astounding, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone awry to the possibility of a destructive technological singularity to a potential collision of parallel universes. As the team investigates deeper, they come across advanced biotechnology created by ‘Massive Dynamic’, a company founded by Walter’s former partner, Dr. William Bell, played with inimitable finesse by the late Leonard Nimoy. The company is run by the mysterious Nina Sharp, played with real splendour by Blair Brown.
One of the most unique aspects of Fringe is the enigmatic group of bald, pale white men (‘The Observers’) who silently watch the team’s every move, adding an extra layer of intrigue to an already captivating plot. In the fifth (and final) season, ‘The Observers’ would invade the world, exploring far more deeply their dark and disturbing roots. At first, I personally disliked this last season, but eventually grew to appreciate its importance in the story arc.
Season one will leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The Fringe team of investigators are tasked with solving bizarre and seemingly impossible cases that all tie into a mysterious pattern centred around Reiden Lake in New York state. As the team delves deeper into the cases, they discover a sinister plot orchestrated by an international network of rogue scientists known as ZFT, who are preparing for a doomsday event.
The mastermind behind the ZFT, the evil David Robert Jones, is played to perfection by the talented Jared Harris, who delivers a performance filled with malignant joy that will send shivers down your spine. The stakes are high as the team races against time to stop the ZFT’s nefarious plans, and the tension only increases as the season progresses.
Season two of ‘Fringe’ takes the audience on an even more thrilling and mind-bending ride than the first. The introduction of a parallel universe plagued by singularities adds a new layer of complexity to the show’s already intricate plot. The use of an amber-like substance to contain the dangerous events is a clever and inventive addition. As the Fringe team continues to investigate these strange occurrences, they uncover a larger conspiracy involving human-machine hybrid shapeshifters from the parallel universe. The tension builds as the two universes appear to be at war, leading to a climactic “great storm.”
The standout performance of the season comes from John Noble as Walter, who is forced to reveal a devastating truth to his son Peter. Noble brings a vulnerability and depth to Walter’s character that is both heart-wrenching and captivating. The revelation of Walter’s past actions and his search for forgiveness through a white tulip adds an emotional weight to the already compelling story.
One of the most captivating aspects of the third season is the alternate universe storyline, which takes viewers on a thrilling journey through two parallel universes. The introduction of “Walternate,” Walter’s doppelgänger in the parallel universe, adds a new layer of intrigue and mystery to the show. As the U.S. Secretary of Defence, Walternate is on a mission to assemble the Machine, a doomsday device that only reacts to Peter’s biology.
The addition of “Fauxlivia” Walternate’s Olivia doppelgänger who infiltrates ‘our’ Fringe Division in the prime universe, adds even more excitement to the show. After becoming pregnant with Peter’s child, Henry, she is ultimately exposed and sent back to the parallel universe. However, the baby’s blood is used by Walternate to activate the Machine, which leads Peter to discover the true purpose of the device.
The climax of the season is a true masterpiece, as Peter uses the Machine to merge the two universes, creating a bridge that allows both sides to solve their problems before time is rewritten. The show’s ability to seamlessly blend science fiction with complex human emotions is truly impressive. The season ends with a shocking twist that will leave you desperate to know what happens next! Confused? You will be!
Season four of ‘Fringe’ is an absolute triumph, taking us on a thrilling journey through an alternate timeline where Peter’s fate is forever changed. The storyline is brilliantly executed, with the butterfly effect causing ripples that impact the characters’ pasts in surprising and unexpected ways. The addition of the alternate Fringe team, including the talented Seth Gabel as Lincoln Lee, adds a refreshing new dimension to the show.
Peter’s struggle to accept this new timeline and his fear of altering Olivia’s memories is a testament to the complex character development in the series. The emotional reunion between Peter and Olivia is a highlight of the season, their love rekindled in the face of the new reality they find themselves in. The reveal of the Observers’ plans and the importance of Peter’s future child with Olivia adds a layer of intrigue that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
The season’s climax is a rollercoaster ride of suspense, with William Bell’s plan to collapse both universes and create a new one under his control threatening the very existence of the world. The decision to close the dimensional bridge and Walter’s ultimate sacrifice to save the world is a heart-wrenching moment that will leave you shaken and stunned.
The final scene of the season, with Olivia and Peter starting their lives together and the ominous warning from ‘September’ that the Observers are coming, sets the stage for an epic continuation of the series.
Season five of ‘Fringe’ is an epic and emotional conclusion to the beloved sci-fi series. Set in a dystopian future where Earth is ruled by the menacing Observers, the Fringe team must band together once again to save humanity from their tyrannical grasp. The season kicks off with a thrilling continuation from the previous season’s flash-forward episode, “Letters of Transit,” where we witness the devastating aftermath of the Observers’ invasion. The Fringe team is forced to go into hiding, but hope is not lost. With the help of Walter’s intricate plan, they uncover the key to defeating the Observers and saving the future.
The story is filled with heart-wrenching moments, particularly the loss of Etta, Peter and Olivia’s adult daughter, which drives the couple to complete the mission in her honour. The addition of Michael, a young Observer child, adds a unique and unexpected twist to the plot. His character is brilliantly portrayed by Spencer List and Rowan Longworth, who both bring a sense of innocence and vulnerability to the role.
The final episode is a satisfying conclusion that ties up all loose ends and brings the series full circle. As the team succeeds in their mission, time is reset, and we see a peaceful future where Peter, Olivia, and Etta can finally live their lives without fear. The inclusion of Walter’s white tulip drawing serves as a beautiful tribute to the character and his journey throughout the series. Overall, season five of ‘Fringe’ is a fantastic and fitting end to an unforgettable series. The story is well-crafted, the characters are engaging, and the performances are top-notch. It’s a must-watch for any fan of sci-fi and anyone who loves a good, satisfying ending.
Although the show received mixed reviews initially, it garnered critical acclaim as it delved deeper into its intricate mythology, which included parallel universes and alternate timelines. Fringe, its cast, and its crew were nominated for many major awards, a testament to its quality. Despite its shift to the notoriously challenging “Friday night death slot”and struggling ratings, the series developed a passionate cult following. It even inspired two comic book series, an alternate reality game, and three novels (all of which I have, plus many cast autographs.
Overall, ‘Fringe’ is an epic masterpiece that you simply cannot miss. With its intriguing storylines, phenomenal performances by the cast, and breath-taking visual effects, this series is guaranteed to keep you hooked and entertained until the very end. It’s no wonder that it has gained a devoted fan base and critical acclaim over the years. I highly recommend giving it a watch!