Friday, January 18, 2013

Fringe: A Love Story

Tonight Fringe comes to an end. For five seasons, this show has entertained its tiny, loyal audience, and somehow achieved the impossible: surviving on FOX without being cancelled. Clearly someone high up loves this show as much as we do.

Why do so few people watch it? I think they're afraid of the fact it's a "sci-fi show." And why do the rest of us love it as much as we do? Well, because it's so much more than a sci-fi show (as almost all sci-fi shows are).

Fringe, as I've said here many times, is a story about love. It's a show, like Lost and so many other shows of the 21st century, about the connections we have with others. But while Lost was content to show us that everyone is connected, Fringe explores what those connections mean and more importantly, what we are willing to do for those we love.

Season 1 began with a typical fringe-science-freakshow-of-the-week premise, where they found a problem, dealt with it, and moved on. But even then there was a sense that it was moving to something bigger. Like many people, I watched the first episode or two and then gave up. Too much science, not enough emotion. Boy, was I wrong. Thank goodness I came back.

Now, five years later, it's clear what Fringe is. It's a show about love: parental, romantic, filial, platonic. It's a show where a father loves his son so much he creates a catastrophic bridge between two universes to find him. Where he hates himself so much for what he's done that he literally has a piece of himself removed. It's a show where a race of superhumans can travel through time like the aliens in Slaughterhouse-Five to observe how their ancestors acted. Where one of these superhumans defies his own unemotional nature to become attached to the Bishop family, saving Peter's life as his father crosses him from one universe to the next, thereby driving a hole through time that would destroy one universe while another one slowly disintegrated.

It's a show where that son would grow up and love a woman so deeply that he would cross over through the ether to show her he loved her, where he could tell the difference between her and her alt-universe copy and love only one. It's a show where these two people would find each other in a world beyond our world, beyond death, beyond any understanding, and come together once again. Where they would create a daughter who would bring them together and then explode them apart when she is taken during the Earth's invasion of the Observers (circa 2015), and where they would freeze themselves in time just to find her 20 years later, and help her overthrow the superhumans. Where their love is not only just for each other anymore: it's for all of humanity.

And I have this terrible feeling that they're not all going to make it. There is nothing in the world that Walter Bishop loves more than his son, Peter. And nothing Peter loves more than his wife, Olivia. And nothing she loves more than her daugher, Etta. They've already lost one, leaving Olivia a shred of her former self. And if they can follow the path that will lead them to the salvation of all humanity — moving to a point in time where they can make it so the Observers never existed — then does that mean that the history of humanity will play itself out without the interference of the Observers? Will Walter still create a bridge to steal a son... but lose him in the ice?

Fringe began as a show about a group of scientists and agents who were intent on helping save the world from nasty things. And they grew into a group of people who were intent on finding each other and saving their relationships. Now, they must try to save the world without losing each other in the process.

If you have not watched Fringe, I urge you to go to season 1, make it through those first episodes (don't worry, they will add up to something by the end of the season), and watch the most exquisite love story unfold before your eyes. There is nothing these people won't do to save each other. And that's what makes their fate so terrifying... and yet so beautiful.


hgdownunder said...

Fringe is much like that other JJ vehicle - Alias - in lasting 5 seasons despite small audiences.

(In this case, could it be that being related to his ex-wife, Anna Torv has an agreeable personal relationship with Uncle Rupert?)

I have a feeling Walter is not going to survive the finale, a la Jack Bristow.

Anonymous said...

and Astrid! What a gem / helper she has been for Walter!

Erin {pughs' news} said...

Oh boy. Bracing myself! I really love this show. I'll be sad to see it go. I've got a good feeling about tonight though, and I refuse to believe that any of my favourites are going to die. I hope you're wrong about that bit. But I should probably stock up on some kleenex just in case...

Marebabe said...

You're so right to use words like "exquisite" and "beautiful" to describe this show. I've been with it from the very beginning, and I'll be sad to see it go.

Michele said...

Unlike you, Nikki, I fell in love from the very first episode and have not missed a single one since. Tonight, I have to say goodbye to fictional characters that I have grown to love. The logical side of me is happy that the series had the opportunity to be completed and not cancelled in the middle of things. The emotional side of me is stocking up on tissues. I thinkit will be an exciting and emotional night and I fear that they will not all make it out alive.

Page48 said...

I certainly was not in love with "Fringe" from opening day. I was definitely prepared to love it, having climbed aboard that glorious "Alias" train right from the opening frame, but "Fringe" just took so much longer to develop into the kind of show that I really hoped it would be from the start.

I think a lot of people abandoned "Fringe" in those early days and many never returned. I was determined to stick with it, probably solely for the fact that "Fringe" was born of "Alias" creators and "Alias" writers. And, now, as the series wraps up, I have to say that my patience in those early days has been more than adequately rewarded.

Page48 said...

Hard to believe it was 5 years ago tonight that we saw the last of Walter and Peter and Olivia and Philip and Astro and the Observers. Every now and then I come back here to re-read Nikki's beautiful comments about this series. It's what I would have said if I had Nikki's way with words.

There are so many great scenes from 5 seasons of "Fringe", but this one seems to be my favourite (because it's the one I re-watch more than any other)

"Fringe" really was a love story and I miss it.

Unknown said...

Gah. I just finished watching the series in its entirety last night. It's always difficult to watch characters say goodbye to eachother when they know the show is ending. But when Peter mouthed "I love you, dad". I died inside a little. This is one of the best love stories I've ever watched.