Fringe Finale Review for 5.12 & 5.13 - 'Deus Ex Michaelna' ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Finale Review for 5.12 & 5.13 - 'Deus Ex Michaelna'

      Email Post       1/26/2013 02:09:00 PM      

Deus Ex Michaelna

Fauxlivia - ‘Stop checking out my young ass.’
Walter, ‘ It’s a beautiful name - Astrid.’
Walter, ‘You have always been my favorite thing, son.’
Donald to December, ‘You can change destiny.  If you have the will to change it.  It may require sacrifice.’

The Fringe Series Finale:

1) Emotionally Satisfying.
2) Mythologically Satisfying.
3) Narrative Ninja.

'That is cool!'

A tip of the Fringe Fedora to everyone connected with the Fringe show.  They invoked one of those pat phrases that make fans cringe whenever such platitudes are uttered - this season will be a love letter to the fans - pulled it off and made it a first class delivery.

I have let my feelings and reactions about the finale marinate over the week after it aired so that when I put down my final thoughts they would be a more accurate encapsulation in print than if I had dashed them down immediately.

It has been a good week.  As I reflect on the finale and the series as a whole; taking in other people’s reactions to help refine my thoughts, my appreciation for the finale has grown immeasurably.

And I loved it upon first watch.

Tables Turned
The emotional satisfaction the finale provided figuratively oozed off the screen as the final two episodes played out.  It was there on first watch and has grown deeper upon rewatches. The last two episodes gave the fans those bucket list items they had for the final season such as seeing the return of a kickass Olivia, the RedVerse, Fauxlivia, Gene, Astrid getting out of the lab, Broyles - always far more Raven than Dove, and the payoff moments between the main three cast members.

All that and, my number one bucket item, redemption for Walter.

The finale gave us all that and more.  It also tied up the few loose ends of the show’s mythos in terms of the Observers.  The original team of enigmatic future humans were on an expedition they believed to be of scientific research only to discover they were a prelude to invasion.  In the end, they all met tragic ends because their exposure to us stirred within them long dormant feelings.

Donald/September had been touched the most by the relationship between Walter and Peter to the point where he was ready to take Walter’s place by Michael’s side as any true father would.  It was a wonderful parallel of Donald and Michael to Walter and Peter that the show weaved into not just the final season, but the entire run of the show.

Where my opinion of the close of the series really improved is how the narrative was handled. The timeline reset back to the park and the Invasion at first make no logical sense. The beauty of how the finale handled the timey wimey aspects lies in its, ‘less is more,’ approach.  In taking such a tack, the show left the details of how the reset point is arrived at for the fans to speculate on.  And speculate the fans have.  Theories are flying fast and furious on the internet.

Such speculation are fun, ‘What If,’ activities but what matters in the end is the reset point was the most emotionally satisfying one.  Any explanation on the show’s part would end up sounding like one of those TrekBabble scenes that sound impressive but are little more than hand wavings away of plot obstacles.

The true beauty of how Fringe handled the narrative in the last two episodes is that it leaves the series at a point where each of us can have our own vision of what happened.  In my version, all the transgressions that Walter caused have been corrected since the start of the series,  Peter and Olivia remember those first four seasons, and with the final shot of the White Tulip, Peter, and by further inference, Olivia, will remember the fifth season as well.

How my version hangs together is not important.  That the show has allowed me to construct such a satisfying ending, is.  That is brilliance and given the show’s writing pedigree over the run of the series, something that I am convinced was calculated rather than accidental happenstance.

Episode 'Patterns': Add your own in the comments:

  • Windmark & Michael scene - now who has the bloody nose!
  • Olivia jumping to the RedVerse
  • Cougar Fauxlivia!
  • Olivia kicking ass and rescuing Michael
  • Fauxlivia and Lee have built a life in a RedVerse that looks like the healing has continued

An Enemy Of Fate
  • Donald visits December
  • Peter finding Walter’s tape which leads to their poignant goodbye scene
  • Walter, Astrid, and Gene - Astrid is a beautiful name
  • Astrid coming up with the shipping lane solution
  • Donald becoming emotionally developed to the point he was going to take Walter’s place
  • Olivia using the bullet as the emotional lynchpin to putting the final smackdown on Windmark
  • kudos to  actor Michael Kopsa who brought seething undertones to the emotionally stunted Windmark
  • Broyles survives and he indeed a Raven
  • Walter walking into the light, a la Grey Havens, towards redemption
  • Olivia, Peter, and little Etta back in the park
  • Peter opening the letter with the White Tulip and the quick cut from Peter’s double take

Any issues I have with the finale are quibbles, subjective desires that do not affect the overall impact of the show’s final chapter, but would have enhanced the experience for me.  Most of which could have been nonverbal.  There was a rushed feeling to the final few moments as Walter stepped into the light of redemption.  Given the strained and ambiguous relationship Peter and Olivia had in the Fifth Season it would have been great to have had Olivia step up beside Peter when Walter stepped into the wormhole. Maybe even taken his hand.  Another wished for moment is at the end when Peter opened up the letter from Walter to see the White Tulip.  Olivia should have been a participant in that scene too.

Love Letter Written Correctly - All Part Of  Emotional Satisfaction

What I am most thankful for is that Fringe employed very little usage of Deus Ex Machina devices such as unexplained helping forces that tainted the Lost and BSG finales.  Michael was the embodiment of such a device.  He ended up being a cypher as the little boy who seemed to be able to do a lot but in the end did very little.  His passiveness made for better character moments for the main cast but it was also frustrating at times.  Maybe he was privy to Donald’s conversation to December about changing fate.  Or maybe he had has own Time Protocol he did not want to override.

I am going to miss these characters.  Terribly. At one time or another over the course of the series, the three leads had their chance to shine and indisputably, John Noble shone in every season and made Walter Bishop an iconic TV character.  Same for Anna Torv for her portrayal of Olivia Dunham and Josh Jackson for Peter Bishop.

Fringe may have started with the intent of being a stand alone type of show but when it embraced the serialization of story and character it became something better.  Also in that process it morphed from being separate installments or novellas and became linked chapters in one 5 season novel.  Rewards come over the long haul like Walter telling Astrid her name is beautiful.  Such a great payoff to a series long running gag.  Kudos for the showrunners for tying all the seasons together.

The Fringe Finale ranks up there at the top for me.  On par with FarScape.  Both above Lost and BSG.

The biggest sign of success for a finale?  Upon its conclusion it made me want to rewatch the entire series over again to gleam new meanings and interpretations.  And to spend more time with these characters.

What more can one ask for?

Full Circle - Walter Rescues Donald's Son & Himself


Unknown said...

Great review! I totally agree! I loved how Walter had a moment with Astrid and Peter, he did kiss Liv on the head but I think Liv should have been involved a bit more at the end. I personally hoped she called him Dad a call back to that episode Walter said that purple tuxedos never go out of style and wondering if Agent Dunham will ever call him dad. Just my two cents worth. I am still mourning the fact this great show has ended.

Old Darth said...

Most kind. Agree that Walter/Olivia moment was touching.

Unknown said...

Yes, loved the series and the finale...but I also was surprised that the Olivia/Peter relationship seemed strained to the end...united in their love for Etta but seemingly devoid of any other context.

The distance between Peter and Olivia was so convincing that I started to think that the offset relationship between Josh and Anna had chilled over the last year...Maybe just the natural effect of knowing that that show/team would be breaking up.

Briar said...

Actually, floating corpses are sick. The fact that Walter and Peter think they are cool is really disturbing. But then, using chemical and biological weapons is what we are supposed to fear terrorists will do, and I don't think terrorists are cool either.

Anonymous said...

But Olivia using her superpowers to kill windmark was soooo cool right?

134sc said...

Totally agree. The finale made me want to rewatch not only the finale itself, but the entire series. That is the sign of a satisfying conclusion. (Believe me, I have watched finales that had the total opposite effect).

Old Darth said...

I have seen such finales as well 134sc.

Unknown said...

Hi Ken there was some beautiful Polivia moments but I think Wyman wanted to focus on the battle. Discussion forums have been discussing these rumours about Anna/Josh but have been squashed by actual people on set saying that they are fine with each other. I personally think Josh's squeeze might have said no love scenes lol because I find they have a lot of chemistry I wish was shown in season 5 as a thank you to Polivia fans

Unknown said...

I am also hoping for a fringe movie!!

Zepp said...

Yes, I also agree with you Cazza Rule. I think with all this excellence of arguments and scripts that Fringe has, without doubt, that all this would provide a marvelous, exciting and thrilling movie "big screen". We can not let this idea die!

Cmattgo said...

Loved the finale. I am already missing Fringe. I also loved the great reviews like this one. My disappointments were very insignificant. What was Polivia and Lincoln's son's name? Henry by chance?
And maybe the "Bullet that saved the world" flying through Windmark's head?? Loved it all and have already started the rewatch from the beginning.

Unknown said...

Trevor is his name so sorry not Henry :-) rewatching is great :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks Zepp I will miss your comments on fringe. I see there is a twitter petition for a movie I will find the link and post it here. I would so enjoy a movie. Each episode of fringe felt like a mini movie :-) will miss this amazing show

Unknown said...

Great review, loved the finale, shame it has to end. I whole heartily agree with all the points made and share an eerily similar vision of what happened.

Unknown said...


Thanks for your insight. I’ve been thinking about the finale some more. For me, Olivia was the lynchpin of the show. Even in her most trying moments, she was always the adult, always considering the impact on others. I really loved her “you belong with me” precisely because it was such a departure for her and one of the few times that both she put herself first AND openly showed the love inside. In many ways, Olivia was the most parental of all the characters, even looking out for Broyles in the end. It would have been powerful to put an exclamation point on that facet of Olivia with an Olivia/Etta moment in the park at the end…something more than talk about giving Etta a bath (Olivia spent 5 seasons giving Walter and Peter their baths)…a moment, a word, a look, an embrace just between Olivia and Etta.
I will really miss these characters and the fine, fine actors who portrayed them.

Unknown said...

Apologies for the coarse metaphor. No offense was intended. Certainly not meant to be sexist. Just meant that Olivia was always the voice of reason and discipline...corraling and cajoling Walter and Peter to do what was needed at those times they resisted.

I was and am a fan of Walter and Peter(and Astrid/Astrid too!). The finale perfectly demonstrated how much their characters had grown. It was powerful.

I was just lamenting the lost opportunity for a final moment in which Olivia in some way tells Etta "you belong with me"

milostanfield said...

@ Ken McGuire
You have nothing to apologize for. You unfortunately have been introduced to this site's most hateful troll, aka 45/LadyClapTrap, who apparently lives only for anonymous hateful attacks on other posters. Your posts and opinions are most welcome. It does not matter if anyone feels differently, you have a right to post here because you post responsibly, without personal attacks, and we hope you continue.

Έλενα said...

Wonderfull review thank you!
I enjoyed the series as much as the finale and I start to rewatch from pilot to enjoy it even more!
You are right about Walter's redemption. Since the first season we meet a Walter full of regret and guilt and they give him the ultimate redemption! It's a perfect finale!

Unknown said...

Hi Ken I agree I love all the characters i too thought that there needed an Olivia moment even if she had joined Peter when he opened the letter so they shared the white tulip from Walter I would have been happy and a goodbye hug to Walter.

Zepp said...

Thoughts ...

And I'm wondering, what are doing now, in this moment Olivia, Peter and Etta, huh? Does Peter kept or discarded from the white tulip design, which came to him by mail? Do they remember everything that happened in 2036? No, I guess not, because there was a reversal of the timeline, I assume. But Peter and Olivia must remember Walter undoubtedly is not it? This subject is that I'm really curious. Walter, based on the year 2015, he would be in the distant future, or there, in that moment, in his laboratory at Harvard? It paradox here, times have never existed there, I'm a little lost, but Fringe is just that: magical and fantastic. Yes, I know there are many, my questions and issues, but in reality is that I'm feeling very lack of Fringe. Or rather, I'm with many "saudades" of Fringe!

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