john lawrence looks at Fringe as it airs its final episode tonight…
Unfortunately, after five seasons, Fringe is coming to an end tonight. For five whole seasons Fringe has been one of the most underrated shows on television. To me, it has been like a sci-fi Law and Order. The show has received a lot of mixed reviews over the years being compared to the X-Files and other sci-fi shows, and maybe that was it’s downfall. It was never meant to be like anything else on television.
Fringe follows the case of the Fringe Division, a joint federal task force whose sole purpose is to investigate events based in Fringe science. These cases range from bio-human experimentation to parallel universes. Right out of the gate, with the very first episode, I was hooked when a man who appears to be injecting insulin on an airplane, was actually releasing a biological weapon that crystallized every passenger on the plane. As a result, the Fringe Division is formed. From there, we get to learn about the characters.
First we have Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) – an extremely driven and talented FBI agent that is drafted into the Fringe Division after the events on the aircraft. She is smart, she is just, and she has absolutely no sense of humor (in the beginning). After an explosion puts her partner in direct contact with a flesh dissolving chemical, she sets out to recruit the help of Walter Bishop (John Noble). Walter is a former Harvard/military scientist who is a modern day incarnation of Dr. Frankenstein. Oh yeah, did I mention he is also locked up in a mental institution and is completely batshit crazy? Since he can only be released into the custody of family, Olivia has to find his son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Now, I had my doubts about Pacey from Dawson’s Creek playing a bad boy genius, but he does an absolutely wonderful job. Peter is a super genius, but is also an underachieving slacker that would rather use his vast knowledge and grand I.Q. to stay off the grid and in less than legal business dealings. Once he is persuaded to help the Fringe Division secure the release of his father, the team is almost complete. With Agent Philipp Broyles (Lance Reddick) at the helm and junior agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) serving as assistant, (also my favorite character) they are ready to go.
Through time travel, parallel universes, shape shifters, and a mass conspiracy plot led by the gigantic corporation Massive Dynamic, which is owned by William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), we follow the Fringe Team through unbelievable case after unbelievable case. Just when you think you have seen it all, they prove you completely wrong. No matter what you think, you are wrong. You think Peter will never care about anything other than himself. You think Olivia will never, ever, ever smile. You think Walter could not possibly get any more batshit crazy. You are wrong about all of the above and so much more. And Just when you think you have it all figured out, you are most definitely wrong.
Initially, the show was not based on the character relationships or back stories. It was very much about the cases at hand and the science behind them. But as it goes on, you get to learn more about every character involved and how important they all are to the mission at hand. The acting is phenomenal across the board, and the writing of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Robert Orci is incredible. That’s right I said J.J. Abrams. Yes, that J.J. Abrams. Now do you believe me that this show is awesome?
I don’t believe that this show has ever been given a fair shot and everybody always wanted to compare it to every other sci-fi shows on television. It’s not the X-Files, because it’s not aliens. It’s not Lost despite being created by J.J. Abrams. It’s just Fringe and it’s almost over. Do yourself a favor and catch up with the past seasons. Whether you are a sci-fi fan, a drama fan, or just a fan of good television, Fringe is worth a watch.