Fringe, the sci-fi show currently being aired on Fox Network, is undoubtedly the best running tv series of this particular genre. Offering an eclectic mix of science fiction and compelling drama , the overarching mythology the series explores, the probing questions it raises on various aspects of philosophy, on our very existence, makes it an unique and a fantastic tv show. As an arduous fan of this series , I was elated when it got renewed for a fifth , albeit slightly curtailed season ,which will be a fitting finale for this series. Anyways, the news of its renewal slightly altered my perspective for the recently completed fourth season, which to me was by far the most audacious season of Fringe , where the writers took unprecedented risks , which if not handled correctly could have derailed the entire season.
Most popular TV shows like to dwell in their comfort zones till posterity , where script hardly changes and the storyline goes into a rut. Not with Fringe. Even for a series like Fringe, where the plotline remains dynamic, the risks and the liberties that the writers took for this season, initially managed to disgruntle a major section of its hardcore loyalists.
The series , started with one of its main completely being absent, only appearing ephemerally on television screens or on mirror reflections. The Season 3 Cliffhanger ending , which saw Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson)’completely wiped out did not sit well with the fans. Many argued that the new timeline , where everything was same but incredibly different , rendered the events of the last three seasons absolutely moot. Walter was the same sheltered , borderline schizophrenic kook, Olivia the same boring one dimensional FBI agent , that we had witnessed earlier in Season 1 and only Peter was privy to the events that occurred in the past three seasons.
I cannot say it with absolute certainity that this novel ploy worked. But you have to got to doff your hats to the writers for taking such a daring and refreshing approach of retelling the stories of these three beloved protagonists all over again. From a purely philosophical perspective, the existential questions this concept evoked completely bowled me over. Questions like ..’What would happen if we never existed?’ ‘Will my dear and near ones recognize me in a different time zone?’ and ‘Are there more than one iteration of us and are they recognizable?’ Season 4 heavily touched on all these topics and in fact outshone all the previous seasons of Fringe in the TV-for-thought department .
The inter- universe action which got a lot of timespace in this season , to me was simply awesome. My only gripe was Fringe not dabbling into this inter-universe concept not on enough occassions . It would have made a fantastic template for the entire season. Imagine Season 4 dealing with the entire world waking up to the possibility of multiple universes-the ramifications could have been immense.
Instead the inter-universe action was the first portion of three intersecting themes, that constituted Season 4. The first focused on the cooperation between the two universes and the reemergence of Peter and getting him back to his timeline.
The second plot focused on the poignant, beautifully depicted love story between Peter and Olivia. The two are widely regarded as perhaps the most well progressed couple on TV and the if the conundrum that each of them faced as related to the other did not make your heart ache I suggest you visit your cardiologist pronto. Though we all knew that Peter and Olivia will eventually end up together , but the very fact that the writerss kept us guessing which Olivia it would be or in which timeline Peter would end up, made the entire situation more compelling and often heart wrenching to watch. Ill even go out on a limb and state that Season 4 was its best during the Peter Olivia arc through Episode 12 Episode 15. Despite being a sci-fi showFringe at its core was always a series premised on love ..love between an estranged father and son and love between two damaged persons who in many ways completed each other and in this season also Fringe remained true to its essence.
The final leg of the season focused on thwarting the evil designs of David Robert Jones , as he goes all out to destroy two universes. It also focused heavily on Olivias cortexophan ,enabled abilities and the real reason behind Jones obsession with her. Leonard Nimoys dramatic entrance at the fag end of the season as the quintessential evil genius and the mastermind behind everything , kept the viewers hooked . Although the two part finale was kind of an anticlimax with one dimensional, flat storytelling and lot of hooey science thrown in our faces , it did manage to tie up several loose ends satisfyingly , although certain portions of it did feel contrived.
Overall Season 4 was another blockbuster season for this fantastic, mindboggling, genre bending TV show, that whetted our TV viewing appetite. The cliffhanger finish had me superexcited for the final season , for which my only humble request to the writers will be Plz guys donot pull another LOST on us?