Good bye Fringe.
It’s amazing that Fringe lasted as long as it did. And now that it’s over, it’s as hard to know what to make of it now as it was when it first aired.
Oddball is the first word that comes to mind. Fringe never really worked as anything. It had interesting elements that never came together.
What the X-Files did effortlessly, Fringe struggled and sweated to do and couldn’t. Fringe brought interesting ideas and characters to the table, but somehow when everything was done, none of it felt like anything.
In its final season the series took a risk by taking us to the future and a war against inhuman human invaders from the distant future. It’s a great concept undermined by the execution. The dystopian world of the future is a place where you can wander around, plot conspiracies on cell phones, escape on trains and do most other things, even when facing an enemy that can move through walls and uses technology from hundreds of years in the future.
The resistance fighters that we meet are surprisingly blase about it. Even the old Walter who fought back with a bomb gives way to the new Walter who putters around the lab and has a plan on a bunch of cassettes to save the world with an uninteresting scavenger hunt.
The last season, like the rest of Fringe, had its moments, but not nearly enough of them. The characters are soggy. Peter’s revenge quest was the closest the last season came to coming alive. Olivia never holds the screen. She’s a weak main character. Walter is comic relief, and except for Black Blotter, is even soggier.
Fringe never got its characters right. And its stories are toned down versions of the X-Files. Where the X-Files would go for the throat, where it made the world seem like a dark and darkly funny place, Fringe always felt like a procedural, like a knockoff that didn’t know what it really wanted to be.
The X-Files was paranoid. Fringe wasn’t. The X-Files was like one of those conspiracy 1998 conspiracy websites in garish colors on a black background ranting, ranting and ranting about the end of the world. Fringe is like one of those cable conspiracy specials that wants the same audience but doesn’t have the guts to commit and instead spends its time studying goofy characters and interviewing professors.
Fringe was a show that never came together but lasted a surprisingly long time.