Mark Finishes ‘Fringe’: Liberty / An Enemy of Fate

In the series finale of Fringe, the team sets out to change fate. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Fringe.

I can’t believe I just had to type that.

  • It’s hard to write this because I really don’t want it to be over. I love this show so much.
  • And this two-part finale just spent ninety minutes reminding me why I adore it as much as I do. Totally unfair.
  • Okay, let’s get to it!
  • I want you to know that between typing the last bullet point and this one, 25 minutes passed. I can’t do this. If I do, it’s all over. I just spent time reading the liveblog comments and watching y’all descend into despair and tears. Wow, apparently all of us were cutting lots of onions during this finale!
  • Anyway, series finales are strange things. In a way, I feel like they’re way more intense than a book unless it’s part of a longstanding series. Some of y’all invested five years in Fringe, and for those of you who’ve been following along since I started these reviews in the midst of season three, it’s been right about two years since we began following along with this show. That’s a long time! And my god, what a journey we’ve been on.
  • I’m much more forgiving for television than books when it comes to finales, and it’s why I am such a fan of the Lost and Battlestar Galactica and Angel and Buffy finales. They’re all long-running shows that I followed for a significant amount of time that had contentious finales. It seems fandoms are fairly evenly split on whether they enjoyed or hated their show’s finale. With Fringe, I came into these last two episodes expecting to be satisfied. Every season finale before this was done super well. The writers have consistently taken risks, provided us with plot resolutions that were pleasing, and satisfied us emotionally in terms of the characters. With J.H. Wyman left running the show, I felt good.
  • So what did I want? I wanted the plot brought up in this future timeline to be resolved without ignoring the logistical difficulty in pulling off the time reset. I wanted these characters – characters I’ve loved for a long time – to either get closure themselves or for me as a viewer to feel like there was closure. This is it. There’s no more. Am I going to be left wishing desperately for something else beyond the sensation of missing the show?
  • Before I get into specifics, I will start this off by saying that I was immensely pleased with the end of Fringe, that it hit nearly every emotional and intellectual mark I wanted, and that if you watch the videos for these two episodes, I am a goddamn wreck. I don’t think I’ve ever happy cried so hard because of a television show, y’all.
  • These really were two intense, suspenseful, and nerve-wracking episodes, and there were no real breaks for the audience. Especially during the second video, I could not figure out how this show was going to resolve its plot in the time allotted. Bravo, Fringe. You kept me guessing right up to the last minute.
  • Even right at the beginning of “Liberty,” when Windmark goes to 2609 to report his findings on Michael, I wasn’t sure what the Observers would do to him. It was clear the Executive did not want Michael destroyed, and you could see the frustration build on Windmark’s face. It was a hint towards his eventual revelation that of all human emotions that Windmark could have developed, he got the worst one: hatred.
  • God, how many times was the Fringe team’s plan totally derailed? Like, just as they got one thing solved, another thing went wrong.
  • I read only one review of the finale after I finished it, and it called the trip into the alternate universe “unnecessary.” Sorry, were you watching the same show I was? As soon as Olivia suggested it, I couldn’t believe I’d never thought of it. AND I WANTED IT TO HAPPEN SO BADLY. It was fantastic, then, that “Liberty” featured the logistical nightmare of pulling off such a feat. The cortexiphan in Olivia’s system had long burned out, and even injecting her with the drug didn’t prove to be easy. On top of that, the writers gave us some particularly nightmarish sequences where Olivia phased in between both universes, sometimes being unable to distinguish which was which.
  • FAUXLIVIA. OH MY GOD, SHE LOOKED GREAT. AND SHE HAD A SON WITH LINCOLN. THE AVALANCHE OF FEELINGS HAS BEGUN.
  • Was anyone else super worried that September was assembling the device in the lab WITH THE DOORS OPEN? I kept expecting someone to walk up behind him and kill him in the midst of the assembly. CLOSE THE DOOR, DUDE.
  • I loved that moment in the hallway between Olivia and Lincoln. It was a short but sweet moment. Olivia gave Lincoln the validation he needed about the choice he’d made. I got the sense that he’d never expected to see Olivia ever again, and her appearance jolted his world.
  • Mostly, I am so thankful that we got a glimpse of the alternate world, though I would have loved to see Alt-Astrid, too!
  • I COULD NOT BELIEVE THAT DECEMBER WAS IN THE FIRST EPISODE HOLY SHIT WHAT. What the hell did September need from him?
  • I was also convinced that at some point, Broyles would die. Dude, someone had to die in this finale, and it looked like it was him. How great was his “raven” line, though? UGH, I LOVE HIM.
  • I’m glad that we got both “Liberty” and “An Enemy of Fate” back-to-back, as prolonging this any longer would have induced an anxiety attack in me after the cliffhanger in “Liberty.” In many ways, this season truly has felt much more like a mini-series than a normal television show. However, large parts of “An Enemy of Fate” were nods to the past, almost as if J.H. Wyman and crew were thanking us for following along.
  • It was great to get absolute confirmation of the purpose of those initial twelve Observers from the first four seasons, as well as to know why they had been excluded from “Letters of Transit” and season five. All twelve of them developed various emotional connections to humankind, thereby ruining the whole point of them being there. Fringe is not the first to tell this kind of story, about the resilience of humanity in the face of apathy and science, but it does it so well!
  • I was saddened that December appeared to first reject September’s offer, and then it’s never confirmed whether he agreed to help his old Observer comrade. Did December ever change his mind? Did he intend to bring the initiator reactor to September? Did he hang himself in shame, or did the Loyalists/Observers do it? (My guess is the latter, as I don’t know why he’d kill himself.)
  • UGH, THE INTERROGATION OF BROYLES HURT SO MUCH TO WATCH.
  • I honestly thought that Walter would be able to keep the secret of his fate from Peter until the end of the episode, but I’m thankful that Peter found the videotape Walter had made. It provided an emotional closure for the father/son duo, but it also left me satisfied that the two had said goodbye in a sense. Plus, it explained that the Observers’ invasion would be the point in time that would be reset. There wasn’t much rumination on why that was the specific point in which things would be changed, but ultimately, that’s one of a few things I was willing to let go.
  • AHHHH THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SHIPPING LANES IS BROUGHT BACK THAT IS SO INCREDIBLE. Y’all, the continuity porn in this season and this episode specifically is unreal. I love it so much.
  • Look, I don’t even understand how it was at all possible, but one of the best moments in all of season five was the ridiculous biohazard concoction that the Fringe team dropped into the Observer headquarters to get a control cube. We saw references to “The Dreamscape,” “Os,” “Snakehead,” “Ability,” and at least a few other episodes I couldn’t remember off the top of my head. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING THIS HERE. IT WAS SO RIDICULOUS, AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.
  • THEY RESCUED BROYLES, HALLELUJAH.
  • In hindsight, I now understand why having September take Michael to the future wouldn’t have been as satisfying as what we saw. At the time, I was just super excited that Walter would survive and would be able to spend time with his friends and family. But this season – and this whole show, I’d say – is about the redemption of Walter Bishop. He needed to save the world in order to redeem what he’d done to tear it apart. While it was certainly powerful to see September realize the love he possessed as a father, I think it wouldn’t have worked quite well if he’d sacrificed himself.
  • The series’ one major, major flaw has been underusing Astrid, and this finale does that, too. That being said, having that moment in the amber with Gene was needed, especially when Walter turned to Astrid and vocalized what we’ve all known the whole time: Walter has not had a better friend than Astrid, who has selflessly put his needs first for years. It was nice. It was also not nearly enough.
  • So let’s talk about the final battle. Brilliantly shot and plotted, it’s one of the finer moments in the whole show. It possesses a real sense of danger and risk, and I fully expected that any character who came out of that van or who was with Anil to die before the mission was completed. But once Windmark showed up, shit got unbearably real. I was terrified that he’d nabbed Peter and drug him away to a different location or a different universe, especially since we saw in “Liberty” that Observers could still appear in alternate worlds. Yet even when the two tumbled back into view, I wasn’t comforted. Windmark, possessed by a relentless hatred for these people and for humanity, attacked Peter and Olivia with a terrifying ferocity.
  • It all leads up to a moment that had me cheering: Olivia’s transformation into a woman full of unbelievable power. The Cortexiphan was still in her blood, and it was enough for her to pull energy from MILES AWAY so she could destroy Windmark, crushing him between two cars. The imagery of her picking up the bullet that saved the world before doing so was not lost on me. Olivia did this so she could save the world and see her daughter again.
  • AND THEN SEPTEMBER GETS SHOT AND DIES RIGHT THERE. HE WAS SO FUCKING CLOSE! Oh god, how chilling was that moment where Michael put his finger up to his lips, and then he began to play that lullaby? My god, Walter knew. He knew he had to do this, and I wonder if he always knew that September wasn’t going to walk through that wormhole. I was glad Peter got to tell his father he loved him, and it just broke my heart to know Peter was letting Walter go. To go save the world, y’all.
  • I think the ending to this show is ambiguous enough to not be definitive, but it satisfies me enough. I found it remarkably clever that the one scene that haunted Olivia and Peter throughout the fifth season replayed here again, except at the critical moment where their lives were changed, there is no flash of light. The Observers never show up. Walter did it. He and Michael stopped the development of the Observers, and they saved the world. I’ll have to re-watch that last scene with the letter and the white tulip, but in my head, the letter either jogs Peter’s memory, or it leads him to the video tape. In some way, I think these people will know what happened and what was sacrificed. We’re left to wonder what their lives have been like, but I’m ultimately fine with that. I wish we had seen Astrid’s life, but that’s one of the only glaring flaws I found with this finale. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but that doesn’t also mean I’m displeased.
  • And I want to thank all of you who followed along with this side project for the past two years, and to those who joined much later than that. I’ll miss this show, and I’ll miss discussing it.

Now enjoy me crying like a baby for 90 minutes. Thank you, Fringe. You were worth the journey.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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