‘FRINGE’ Finale Photo Recap: “Liberty” & “An Enemy of Fate”
Fringe is over.
I still haven’t quite processed all the emotions that go along with that fact, but I imagine this feeling is something akin to how Wile E. Coyote felt when he ran off a cliff chasing the Roadrunner, pausing for a second in midair, at which point the Roadrunner handed him an anvil, causing him to plummet to the ground. Only, in this scenario, the anvil is our hearts, and the cliff is five seasons of heartbreaking, soul-crushing, blood-pumping, life-affirming Fringe. I never thought heartbreak could feel so good. I guess this is what John Mellencamp was talking about when he sang “Hurts So Good.”
I’m going to be honest—I’m pretty sure I started crying every time Lincoln came on screen. I don’t even know why; it was like this visceral reaction to having him back for those few precious minutes. If you had played a drinking game where you took a shot every time I started crying during the final episode of Fringe, you would have been passed out by the end of act I. Now, I’m not a crier in everyday life, but once fictional characters become involved, the tear ducts start flowing like a Champagne fountain at Beyoncé’s baby shower. The Fringe finale was like The Notebook + The Lion King x Brokeback Mountain to the power of Life Is Beautiful. Fortunately for everyone, the brilliant writers saw fit to inject enough humor and heart into the final chapter of Fringe that it made you smile almost as often as it made you weep. Whether or not I can recap this episode without my laptop suffering extensive water damage from my tears remains to be seen, but let’s see how it goes…
The episode began with Peter, Olivia, and Astrid frantically trying to track down Michael after his little episode on the monorail. Adolescents, man… They’ll do anything to get a rise out of you. Even if it means handing themselves over to a guy who looks like Darth Vader’s snappily dressed younger brother.
They weren’t making any progress locating the boy, but lucky for them, they had a man on the inside—Broyles! (AKA the Dove.) We hadn’t seen him since “The Bullet That Saved the World,” so Broyles had to fit half a season of Certified Grade A Broyles Sass into two hours. First order of business, Broyles needed to get some information out of an unsuspecting Loyalist lackey about where they were keeping Michael.
Over on the ironically named Liberty Island, Windmark was trying his hardest to get some information out of Michael, but he obviously didn’t have much practice interrogating kids (or watching The Baby-Sitters Club, for that matter) because he had no idea how to handle little Michael.
Back at the lab, they were still trying to figure out why Michael would have hopped off the train. Obviously he just wanted an excuse for them to travel back to the Altverse, and he knew that was what they’d have to do to save him. Michael is totally a Pecoln shipper you guys!!! It’s like one of those Olsen twins movies where the two kids try to trick their parents into a semi-romantic situation, and then the parents fall in love and everything is beautiful! Except Olivia had to be the one to cross over instead of Peter, which meant Peter and Lincoln remained as star-crossed as ever. But A for effort, Michael. The Olsen twins would be proud.
It’s Olivia’s turn to have foreign matter inserted into her brain. (This is the grand theme of season 5.) It was pretty awesome to see Fringe going back to its roots. Plus, Olivia really came full circle with the restoration of her Cortexiphan powers so she can cross over. Good thing it wasn’t a super dangerous plan or anything…
While the gang worked on using Walter’s old window to the Altverse to make sure that Liberty Island was still active Over There, Donald was getting everything together for the time machine.
They needed a place to dose Olivia with Cortexiphan, so they called Anil (ugh), and he hooked them up with a safehouse, some equipment, and one of his best underlings to assist them.
By now, Olivia is a pro at being poked and prodded and electrocuted for the sake of Walter’s world-saving experiments, so she knew the drill. It was just like that first time Olivia let Walter stick her in a sensory deprivation tank wearing nothing but her underwear and some electrodes, except this time she got to keep her clothes on, for the most part. (And also she wasn’t in the tank.)
YOU GUYS. This was exactly like that scene in the pilot! Only now our babies are MARRIED and wonderful and emotionally connected and whatnot. Olivia started to feel the effects immediately, fading in and out between universes. ALTVERSE, HERE WE COME! But first, a lovely Polivia goodbye scene, just because we can. (And because you never know what might happen Over There.)
I love how the rainbow theme was woven through the episode. Olivia shimmered like a rainbow as she crossed into the Altverse, where they no longer have rainbows because of the damage to the atmosphere or something. Last season, Altlivia confessed to Olivia that she still looks up after it rains, hoping to see a rainbow in the sky. Olivia told her to “keep looking up,” which was the Twitter hashtag for this episode. Of course, Altlivia found her rainbow in the form of Lincoln, who chose to move Over There after having his heart broken by reboot-Olivia. But it’s all good because as we saw from Olivia’s visit, it all worked out.
But first, I never thought I would say this, but I actually missed seeing random blimps for no apparent reason:
And then this happened:
I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE THIS YOU GUYS. THEY’RE SO PERFECT I WANNA DIE. And just when I was huddled on the floor gasping for breath due to an unexpected mix of joyful sobbing and excitedly shouting random vowel sounds, they threw this feelings grenade at me:
But seriously. I just. How. I can’t. WHAT. This is too much. If it were possible to die of happiness, I would be in cardiac arrest right now. THEY’RE MARRIED AND THEY HAVE A SON AND A FAMILY PORTRAIT AND IT’S SO PERFECT OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL IN THE WORLD.
Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll try to pull myself together. Breathing…
Meanwhile, Donald was building a time machine that runs on Mountain Dew-flavored Jell-O, but something went wrong and it didn’t seem to be working right.
It’s a small price to pay for the ability to grow a goatee, Donald.
But back to two of the most precious human beings of all time…
Editor’s note: Okay, so I might be getting a little carried away here with my Pecoln-obsessed imagination, but it’s the final episode of Fringe ever, so just indulge one last time.
Olivia made her way to the room where Michael was being held, somehow managing to take out a bunch of Observers despite only being able to half-see them as she was wavering between universes.
Olivia and Michael hopped on a boat and she zapped them back to our universe, where they all piled into the van, looking like a happy couple coming home from the hospital with their very tall new baby.
Windmark was super not-pleased about losing his prisoner that he was about to murder, so he started chewing out Officer Rando about the meaning of the words, “classified information.”
In need of some fancy reactor or conductor or infractor or something, Donald went to visit an old friend, one of his old fedora addict pals…December!
Well played, Fringe. With the closing of December’s door, so closed the first hour of Fringe’s finale. And now welcome to episode 5×13!
As much as I was hoping to have an Anil-free finale, it wasn’t in the cards…
Honestly, I was still so excited about the whole Lincoln-and-Altlivia-made-a-baby thing that I couldn’t even muster up any real resentment towards seeing Anil. But that didn’t mean he contributed anything to the episode.
Broyles called and told them he was on his way to meet them, but unbeknownst to them, Windmark was listening in on their phone call. Before Broyles could escape, Windmark summoned him so they could have a staring contest.
Windmark should know better than to challenge Broyles to a staring contest. Broyles may not have Observer stamina, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t blinked in five seasons.
With the addition of the syncopator (or something), the time machine was just about ready to go, except it needed a jump-start…or something. You know what, I don’t watch Fringe to better understand the engineering of time machines, okay? Just go with it…
I’m pretty sure Broyles doesn’t know how to not be a badass. He’s physically incapable of being anything less than 100% awesome. He led the Observers on a wild dove chase for a while before he got caught and questioned.
HEADS UP. Things were about to get weep-a-licious in this place. Peter un-ambered one last recording…
Okay so I might not ever stop crying over that scene. I mean, have you ever seen a better-acted scene on television? I think I’m going to buy an Emmy on eBay and send it to John Noble. And Joshua Jackson was phenomenal. This scene was positively gut-wrenching. (Literally—I think I got a hernia from crying so hard.) But how perfect is it that Walter sacrificed himself so that his son, whom he broke the universe to be with, could be with his child again? I also felt like when Walter told Peter, “Our time together, we stole,” that the same could be said for Fringe. We should never have gotten this much time with Fringe. These past two seasons especially were the epitome of “stolen time,” and it may be a bittersweet goodbye, but I wouldn’t trade our time with Fringe for the world.
I was so disoriented by grief that I didn’t even notice why Olivia and Astrid were wandering around Observer HQ, BAMFing it up together. I think they were looking for the last part they needed for the time machine, but instead they found a less-than-alive December.
So they encountered some unfortunate setbacks, but Olivia managed to get the magic Brita filter or whatever it was that they needed. There were still some kinks to work out in the machine, but Donald remained optimistic.
So now they needed another shiny Allspark cube thing like they used in “An Origin Story” to create a shipping lane. They started making a plan, which involved a quick stroll down Fringe memory lane. Walter was very focused as usual.
“Because it’s cool.” I believe that’s the second official motto of Fringe, the first being, “Have we broken your soul yet?” It was nice to see Fringe harkening back to its origins, especially in the next scene…
I’m so glad these two got to have their moment. Sometimes I forget how much they really mean to one another, but they’ve been each other’s constant companions for five seasons now, and they deserved to have a heartfelt goodbye before Walter went on his great adventure into the unknown.
Broyles was sharing some not-so-heartfelt time with Windmark, who was way too pleased with himself for capturing “the Dove.”
Oh Broyles… Even when you’re tied to a chair, you still find a way to make the other guy feel like the dumbest person in the room.
Walter and Donald were having a bit of an epiphanic moment. (Get it? Because the Epiphany is the day when the three Magi visited the baby Jesus? Also, big series-defining revelations were going on…) Donald told Walter that he wanted to be the one to take his son into the future. He had grown to love Michael like a father loves a son, something that he learned from watching Walter and Peter for all those years. This really got to me—the idea that Walter and Peter taught Donald how to be a father. It was just so poignant and beautiful, and it made me want to go out and find all the people in the world with daddy issues and make them watch this show. (Scratch that—all the people in the world. Period.)
Meanwhile, Peter and Olivia got to share a brief moment of alone time before the big plan went into motion, and Peter took this opportunity to show off his expert re-gifting skills…
For a second I thought these two were gonna make another baby right there in the back of that car. But they were on a tight schedule. And apparently this plan required that they put on gas masks (of course), which you know are the least sexy safety accoutrements.
Twenty minutes and one glass of sea monkeys later, all hell was breaking loose in Observer HQ.
All the Observers and Loyalists had been infected with various plagues from earlier episodes of Fringe. It was pretty awesome, unless you were the guy on the floor watching a worm crawl out of your stomach. Then it was probably not your favorite thing.
*(For the record, this could have also been an homage to season 3’s “The Box.” You may recall there is more than one episode of Fringe in which people’s heads explode. Go figure.)
Good times… After that gruesome spectacle, Peter and Olivia grabbed the cube and Broyles, and made their way back to the van, leaving a trail of extremely dead Observers in their wake.
With the cube, they were prepared to get the wormhole going, and Donald started setting up his fancy time machine doodads.
OH. SNAP. Did Olivia just drain the power from New York City so she could crush Windmark with an SUV? The only way that could have been cooler was if the SUV was a Nissan. (I found myself almost nostalgic for Fringe’s blatant Nissan product placement days…)
But the plan wasn’t complete just yet, and there were still a brigade of Observers shooting at them…
DONAAAAAALD!!! You were a great man, Donald. And a great father. You died protecting your son, just like you protected Walter’s when you saved Peter from the lake.
This meant that it was Walter’s job to take little Michael into the future in order to save the world. It would seem that fate is a little harder to change than Donald thought. But Walter was ready to embrace his.
I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the utter PERFECTION of this scene. They’re so happy! Adorably, wonderfully, incandescently happy! They’ve got sunshine, and flowers, and V-neck tees, but most importantly, they have each other. They had to work hard for it, but they have each other. Even if their Best Day Ever took a bit of a sad turn when they got home…
I am dead, you guys. I’m pretty sure I’m dead. This must be heaven, because Peter and Olivia are frolicking in a meadow with their still-alive little girl, and Lincoln and Altlivia are married with an adorable son—and they look amazing for being in their fifties! And Walter and Peter shared the greatest hug ever captured on film, and Gene was there, and EVERYTHING IS FRINGE AND EVERYTHING HURTS.
I can’t even handle the beauty and wonder of this show right now. Everything came together so well, and the acting was the best it’s ever been (which is saying a lot on this show). It was, if I had to pick one word: miraculous. The Altverse, the white tulip, Walter and Peter’s final scenes together, the Bullet That Saved the World, Olivia’s powers, Gene, Astrid, Donald’s sacrifice…it all converged into a devastating, blissful, poignant, heartfelt, wistful, magnificent crescendo.
I just want to take a second to say one really important thing… I WAS TOTALLY RIGHT ABOUT KEANU REEVES BEING THE KEY TO EVERYTHING. Back in my recap of “Making Angels,” I theorized that Keanu Reeves held all the answers to Fringe, and the final episodes have proven me undeniably correct. Fact: Keanu Reeves starred in The Lake House, a movie about a wormhole inside a mailbox that transports letters through time. (Also note the importance of Reiden Lake in the history of Fringe.) Fact: Walter and Michael used a wormhole to travel to the future in order to save the world. (Granted, theirs was larger than a mailbox.) Both white tulip letters were sent through the mail and appeared in another time from when they were sent. Fact: Keanu Reeves also starred in The Matrix, in which he had to choose between a red and a blue pill, much like the red and blue universes of Fringe. Fact: Keanu Reeves is Canadian. Fringe is filmed in Canada. Fact: Keanu Reeves was in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure—a movie about time travel. Fact: Keanu Reeves starred in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, which is about Observers aliens who want to take over the world and exterminate humans. Sound familiar? I could go on, but it’s 2 am, and I’m writing about Keanu Reeves being the answer to life’s great philosophical questions. Needless to say, I’m a little worried about my current mental state.
Before I go off on a tangent about why the movie Speed explains the second season of Fringe, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to the writers, producers, cast, and crew of Fringe for giving us five amazing years of outstanding television. More than that, you’ve given us hope. You’ve shown us that sometimes it’s not about how many people watch a show, but how much it means to the few people that do. Fringe probably shouldn’t have gotten a fourth season, but by some miracle it managed to make it to a fifth, going out on its own terms with a satisfying and well-deserved conclusion. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make Fringe what it was—a brilliant, thought-provoking, passionate show about science, faith, family, and most of all, love.
They’re not the only ones I have to thank for Fringe. From the bottom of my now-tattered heart, I want to thank you, fellow Fringe fans. Sharing these past few seasons with you has made this show so much more special for me. I’ve never felt so supported and accepted in my obsession with a television show, and I want to thank you for every encouraging comment, every shared laugh, and thank you for not making me feel self-conscious about imagining that Peter and Lincoln had a clandestine love affair.
I also want to thank my mother, who is probably reading this, even though she doesn’t watch Fringe, and all my friends and family who have graciously accepted all the times I’ve said I couldn’t hang out with them because I was going to spend the next twelve hours recapping Fringe. Thank you for appreciating my weirdness in all of its forms.
Years from now, when the rest of the world catches up with us and realizes what a fantastic show this was, we’ll be able to look back and say, “I was there.” And, yes, I realize I’m making it sound as though Fringe is, like, the signing of the Declaration of Independence or something, but it was a truly monumental moment in television—one that I’m incredibly grateful to have witnessed. And I’m glad that you were there with me.
Every once in a while you come across a television show, or a movie, or a book that is so unquestionably great that it gives you a kind of cathartic experience. When a story comes together so exquisitely, it’s like the perfect song, or, to use a comparison that Walter would approve of, like baking the perfect soufflé—where all the elements coalesce in just the right way to create a masterpiece. When you find this rare work of collective genius, it’s like a key that reaches into your soul and unlocks every emotion that the human spirit is capable of feeling, flooding your senses with an entire spectrum of sensations all at once, making the story feel more real than reality itself. After all, that’s what stories are: alternate realities. They allow us to experience things that we can’t imagine on our own, feel things we’ve never felt before, and discover worlds that are different from the one we live in. I, for one, am so grateful to have spent the past five seasons living part-time in the world of Fringe. (Both of them.) In the words of Walter Bishop, “I think I shall miss them…more than I imagined.”
P.S. A huge thank you to the amazingly talented Price Peterson, who just retired from his Vampire Diaries photo recaps, which are so hilarious that they inspired me to start doing my own Fringe photo recaps. I hope I can be as fabulous as you someday, Price.
*All images are property of FOX Broadcasting
Photos provided by FringeFiles.com
See all my Fringe photo recaps here.
Posted on January 21, 2013, in Fringe Photo Recaps, Television and tagged Fox, Fringe, Fringe season 5, Lincoln Lee, Olivia Dunham, Peter Bishop, photo recaps, series finale, television, tv recaps, Walter Bishop. Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.