Fringe, "Liberty": the other side of the end

Quick Take: Fringe, “Liberty”
“Stop checking out my young ass.” - Fauxlivia

Liberty

Review: Fringe, "Liberty"
(S0512) It’s a shame, really. The fifth and final season of Fringe has rejuvenated the show’s focus, allowing it to find its way onto the list of 2012’s most downloaded series - and now it’s over. Don’t get me wrong, one hundred episodes for any show is certainly a feat - especially and double-especially for a piece of science fiction that airs on Fox - but tonight’s two-hour finale marks what I’m inclined to agree with as “the decline of sci-fi.”

Fringe was far from perfect, but it endeared and endured. John Noble and Anna Torv made audiences fall in love with multiple versions of their characters (something some shows can’t get right with one character in twice the time); Joshua Jackson has added “genius” and “badass” alongside “romantic” on his list of available archetypes, while still fostering some of the show’s most intensely emotional moments; even peripheral characters like Astrid (Jasika Nicole), Broyles (Lance Reddick), and Nina Sharpe (Blair Brown) have proven their mettle and worth in the Fringe multiverse when the writers cared enough to flesh them out. Heck, Gene the Cow’s popularity has her marked as the unofficial mascot of the show’s self-proclaimed “Cortexi-fans,” making it into one last scene before the night was through.

The penultimate episode, “Liberty,” takes somewhat of a detour in reaching what was already a rushed ending. After answering two of the most pressing questions of the season last week (Who is Donald and what is “the plan?), Michael the boy-anomaly acts true to his designation and leaves the care of the Fringe team, turning himself in to the custody of Windmark and the Invaders. While Donald/September (Michael Cerveris) works to assemble the time-travel device that will send his son into the future and prevent the Observers’ creation and ensuing invasion in 2015, Olivia and Walter revisit their origins as they work out a rescue plan.

Having burnt out the original treatment of Cortexiphan at the end of last season, Olivia must undergo an excruciating round of injections with concentrated doses of the ability-inducing drug so that she can cross between universes four times to pluck Michael out from the Observer laboratory on Liberty Island. After using Walter’s old viewing window and ensuring that the Redverse remains intact and untouched by the Observers, Olivia crosses over to enlist the help of the Fringe Division “over there.” With Department of Defense access to Liberty Island, Olivia once again crosses back and forth to retrieve Michael, and then back one last time to rendezvous with Peter, Walter, and Astrid.

In the midst of all the fan service while revisiting the Redverse, however, there was little time to explore all the implications of the episode, as was the case with the show’s final hour. Olivia’s brief time on the other side re-acquainted her with her counterpart, Fauxlivia, looking stunning (and stunningly like Nina Sharpe) for being twenty television years older than when we last saw her. Likewise, Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) makes his slightly greyer reappearance, though unwittingly made to suffer the happy guilt that his life with Fauxlivia has been markedly happier and more fulfilling than it would have been if he stayed in the Blueverse.

Olivia’s extraction mission is not without incident, as she leads the Invaders to the other side in her escape. Considering the plan is to halt the creation of the first Observers, the repercussions of leading them to the other side aren’t as important as why the Redverse was left untouched in the first place. I’m going with the theory that there was still too much damage to the fabric of the universe, but it doesn’t explain why Fringe was able to detect Olivia’s phasing between universes with technology that you’d think the Invaders would have. I’m sure many similar questions are already popping up, and things might get messy without any explicit answers.

That being said, the consequences of rushing an ending are not symptoms of sci-fi’s popular decline, but rather a result of it. Fringe’s finale may have holes in it, but holes are what made Fringe possible in the first place. In a world - or worlds - with shapeshifters, time travel, wormholes, and an alternate universe, the unanswered questions might supply room for a more hopeful interpretation of the finale’s implications than what they could make explicit in the episode.

By Mark D Curran

About the author

Mark is a freelance writer, student of English and Philosophy, and still has too much time on his hands. If you have any of your own, check out the blog and follow him on Twitter!

http://twitter.com/#!/MarkDCurran

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1 Comment
On: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Mark, always such a pleasure to have you round these parts !

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