Time’s tight, so I’m going to throw out some spoilery thoughts on the universe-straddling season finale of Fringe, entirely in hail-of-bullets form. Stand back; I’m using the 77 model.
* A random thought first: I can’t help but think that, however the parallel-worlds storyline of Lost is resolved in its finale, it will eventually beg comparison with how Fringe has handled its own (very different) one. And how long until networks begin mandating that science-fiction serials employ alternate-universe storylines, as a way to cut down on cast salaries? (She’s the hero… and the villain!)
* Having said that, wow. Fringe is not a replacement for Lost (and comparisons are ultimately silly), but with its past few episodes it’s definitely placed itself in my regular rotation when it returns next season. Assuming it keeps up this level of narrative drive. Which makes me wonder…
* One thing that always got me about The X-Files (Fringe’s real closest analogue) was that the standalone episodes were so cleanly removed from the mythology episodes that they seemed to take place on another show. Fringe usually does not observe that sharp a delineation; increasingly, its monster-of-the-week cases include some service of the larger story arc. But considering how urgent the universe-war situation is, will it really be plausible for Fringe to do standalone episodes, unless they’re somehow at least linked with the bigger arc? Even assuming that Our Olivia gets jailbroken soon, how believable would it be that the Fringe division would be taking breaks from, you know, protecting our universe from being destroyed?
* In any case, Fringe’s ending run demonstrates how well the show noe manages to balance its far-fetched sci-fi with grounded character storylines. To be a broken record again, this was another victory lap for John Noble, expressing Walter’s uncontrollable anger and bitterness at William Bell—and playing an oily, confident villain to boot. But good work as well by Joshua Jackson, showing in an understated way Peter’s disappointment at learning that Walternate was using him—that he can’t entirely trust either “father” of his—and that he can’t go home again.
* Anna Torv, meanwhile, played the distinction between Our Olivia and Their Olivia almost too well—to the point that, as soon as I heard her husky voice, I knew it was Their Olivia who roused Bell and joined Walter and Peter.
* Also, a fine wrap-up for Leonard Nimoy (if that was what that was) and another delightful sprinkling of amusing and chilling details about the differences in the alternate universe. Not, perhaps, as strong as “Peter” a few weeks ago, but “Over There” was a season-ender that did what it should—left me wanting more.