There was almost nothing that wasn't perfect in this two-hour double-episode finale. The first hour brought us back to the other side. How good it was to see Faulivia, now middle-aged but no less sassy and beautiful, happily married to Lincoln (telling him to stop checking out her "younger ass" - i.e., Olivia's) and still in action with him fighting bad guys, or at least the Observers trying to stop our Olivia from rescuing Michael by way of the other side. This single episode was one of the very best and most satisfying of the series.
And the second hour was no less superb. We get Broyles a lot older of course but no less courageous and effective. We get another great hour with September, and December on hand for a bit, too. We get more of the classic 1950s-science-fiction-style Fringe tropes which have been sprinkled throughout this season like the glittering blasts from the past that they are.
And of course we get Walter. I was so sad and moved by some of the scenes - actually one in particular - that I almost wasn't in the mood to write this. I just wanted to soak in the moment. Walter telling Peter how Peter was his favorite thing, as Walter explains to Peter why he must leave him, for permanent residence in the future with Michael. And then ... a cool Fringe twist. September can take Michael to the future and Walter can stay, but- No. There's another turn, and Walter must go.
And so the show ends on paradox, on a much higher plane than it began. Walter and Michael succeed in their mission. Time has been re-set so that there are no Observers. Olivia and Peter will be able to continue their lives in the meadow on that beautiful day with Etta. Except no Observers will arrive to despoil their lives. Except-
Well, here's the one flaw that I mentioned last week. If no Observers, then how is Peter saved at Reiden Lake by September? For that matter, how did Walter and Michael manage to get to the future at all, to erase the Observers, with no September to help build the time machine? There could be workarounds, answers, to these heady time-travel quandaries - maybe good, emotion-feeling beings like Michael helped save Peter - but none were provided.
Perhaps they will be, in some future special or movie or other return of Fringe. Walter is in the future, he's not dead, and therefore there are all kinds of possibilities at hand. Luscious, bright fruit of paradox for the picking.
And there are some good not-quite-paradoxical loose ends to be tied. Walter explains to Peter why Walter cannot continue to live in the 2015 beautiful meadow-with-Etta world. The explanation was not completely convincing, and, in any case, we need to know how Walter's sudden absence will play out in that world. What will happen? After Olivia and Peter and Etta come home from the meadow they will find when they to contact Walter that he has just gone missing? That wouldn't in itself be so surprising given Walter's history, and it could provide a good scene in a movie ... the search for Walter.
As it is right now, Fringe ends a remarkable run, part successor to the Twilight Zone, part successor to every great science fiction series with a continuing story on television, part successor to nothing because it cut a path all its own. Farewell for now, Fringe. You're floating away like someone shot by Walter's helium or whatever-they-are bullets. You gave us a great five years. I hope to see you again sometime in some future.
... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest ... Fringe 4.15: I Knew It! ... Fringe 4.16: Walter Likes Yiddish ... Fringe 4.17: Second Chances ... Fringe 4.18: Broyled on Both Sides ... Future Fringe 4.19 ... Fringe 4.20: Bridge ... Fringe 4.21: Shocks ... Fringe Season 4 Finale: Death and Life
"A thinking person's time travel story... I felt like I was there." - SF Signal