‘Fringe’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 7th, 2011 at 8:56 am,

fringe season 3 finale ‘Fringe’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Fringe‘s ambitious third season concludes tonight. What happens to Peter, Olivia, Walter and the rest on “The Day We Died”? Can the Fringe Division save the future? Where is Gene the Cow?

It goes without saying that his review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for the third season of Fringe – as well as the season finale. Read on at your own risk.

When last we saw Fringe, the team had accessed the powered-on machine in an effort to shut it down and halt the universal incursions tearing the eastern seaboard apart. Peter entered the machine… and was inexplicably transported 15 years into the future.

Tonight,, we discovered that Peter’s actions in the previous episode destroyed the other universe. Even worse, the destruction caused a seesaw effect, and the primary universe is likewise collapsing. Walter is imprisoned after a public trial and Walternate (who crossed over before the cataclysm) is on the lamb.

As if that wasn’t enough, a group of terrorists called the End of Day-ers (who are better at killing than naming, clearly) are intentionally hastening the end of the world. Guest star Brad Dourif (Deadwood) plays their leader Moreau, while Emily Meade plays Ella, Olivia’s grown-up niece who has joined Fringe division.

Fringe has a better track record than most shows for maintaining a consistent and compelling story arc across multiple seasons, and the Season 3 finale does not break the cycle. At the same time, the show plays with established science fiction conventions while combining its myriad elements to form something new.

fringe season 3 finale 1 ‘Fringe’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Unfortunately, the best way to describe the finale is incomplete. It is a cliffhanger in the purest sense of the word: there will be no resolution, and in many ways no satisfaction, until the promised fourth season. This is even more true now than it was last year – it is, in essence, only one half of a two-hour episode.

That said, what story and developments are there should thrill Fringe fans. Having a glimpse at a possible future wherein the FBI battles wormholes worldwide and we finally see Peter and Olivia in the committed relationship that’s been building for years is very gratifying. The subtleties connecting past and future, like Ella and the tweaked props, are lots of fun.

And just because the story is incomplete doesn’t mean that it won’t take you for a ride. There are moments in the finale that will literally drop your jaw, even if the writers use some old sci-fi tricks to soften the blow. And in typical Abrams fashion, the new developments will leave us guessing until the fall.

fringe season 3 finale 2  ‘Fringe’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

The payoff for the final episode is clearly what the producers and writers have been waiting for all season (and almost certainly longer) opening up a new dimension for the show to explore. I wish they could have done a little more exploring in the present (so to speak) but to say I’m excited is an understatement.

One unfortunate realization: there is a distinct lack of the alternate universe in the finale. This is understandable, what with it being blown up and all, but the alternate Fringe team had developed into a deserving set of characters in their own right – characters that are sadly underutilized here. With the exception of Walternate, there’s almost no developments from “over there.”

Standout performances include John Noble’s menacing Walternate and Meade’s eager Ella. The rest of the players perform dutifully but briefly – largely because there’s very little going on outside of the core cast.

I would have liked to see more of Dourif’s character – the fleeting glimpses of his terrorist cell are not nearly enough to build up a sense of genuine fear or dread, unlike previous bad guy Jared Harris. There isn’t even a decent motivation established for their actions.

fringe season 3 finale 3 ‘Fringe’ Season 3 Finale Review & Discussion

Production values equal or surpass previous Fringe efforts, with predictable results. The scenes of wormholes and Amber quarantines are fun and fit the general feel of the show, and the subtle aging makeup is well done. The excellent establishing scene from the end of “The Last Sam Weiss” is enough to carry the audience into the future.

One rather dour omission is the show’s quirky humor, which is nowhere to be seen. There’s a lot of ground to cover in the script in just roughly 4o minutes, so it’s not unexpected, but a few more of Walter’s non-sequiturs or a bit more of Peter’s sarcasm would not have gone amiss.

The last few seconds of the finale set up the core conflict for next season and bring back some observant old friends. The major shock moments and puzzling end to this part of the story will keep fans itching for a fresh batch of Fringe, even if some are irked that so few of the questions asked this year are answered.

If you’ve been following Fringe diligently, you’ve no doubt liked some episodes of season three (much) less than others. That said, “The Day We Died” will not be one of those episodes. Considering the well-founded fears of Fringe‘s cancellation, the decision to stick with a cliffhanger ending was at least as “gutsy” as the one to renew the series.

What did you think of the Fringe season 3 finale? Where do you think the show will go next season.

Fringe will return to Fox in the fall of 2011.

TAGS: Fringe
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  1. If any of you have read the DC fringe comics, one of them tells a story of how Walter & Bell traveled back in time via a machine, landing in Germany 2nd world war time. They ended up sending hitler back to the dinosaur time. Worth a read if you haven’t already. There may be some hints in there for some of your other theories.

  2. Peter Bishop – the man who never was in the new  pair of Peterless  timelines, what has become of him? The Observers standing around the Statue of Liberty?  Perhaps   Peter will be dead Observer Augusts replacement ?– for he died for the woman he loved.  Since they are named after months and there appear to be 11  (2  appear to be partially or completely  blocked) of them around the statue maybe Peter  will become one of THEM?    Maybe standing behind the 2 observers  talking about what occurred in the Season 3 finale they will turn around and Observer Peter will be standing there after being plucked out of existence by the other  11 Observers.    They will say “Join us for some extra hot and spicy chicken wings and beer…. we have much to discuss….”   

     It would be funny if Observer Peter shows up bald, dressed in a finely tailored Observer suit/hat with fondness for spicy foods who goes to a diner  for lunch and bumps into an FBI agent named Olivia Dunham who looks oddly at him and says “Gee, you look really familiar, have we met before”?  

  3. This is the first time I’ve ever enquired into what other people in the public think about this show “Fringe”. I have been watching it now for 3 years with all of you. I immediately wanted to love it and for it to work. But half way into the 1st season I realized that this show was a failure. Because I’m a writer as well, the show’s developing concept has been the only thing that has kept me keeping tabs on it. So for 3 years I’ve had to sit through putrid performances, incredibly horrible casting choices, clueless direction and absolutely maddening story development and writing. After watching the season finale I wanted to see if everyone was as outraged as I was. Not only do I not see any outrage – the majority of blogs are complimentary to almost every aspect of this terrible, juvenile series. Of course all art is subjective, so I’m just left completely stunned at people’s reactions. But I would like to put my perspective out there because I believe the public, including those who have been following this series, deserved better. This show’s wonderful concept has just been stymied over and over again. The right director/producer would have enforced a strong vision over the writers and the actors and would have delivered a series to you that could have blown you away each and every week. What a shame.

    • Ok in a way i agree with you. However, I did really like the first season, and a little of the second season. Nevertheless I’ll agree that the third season became a bit juvenile. I mean cartoon version of Bell, just so they could give the adoring fans another piece of LN? Soul magnets? And also if interdimensional travel was so damaging how come peter, folivia and even walternate were ok? At those points I just thought the show was starting to run on just hot air ideas! But mind you im still interested to find out how peter disappeared, and for that will be looking forward to season 4, call me a sucker if you want too!

      • I am also a writer, and what you describe is the exact reason why I myself followed the show, and I was just as sadly disappointed by the sane things I noticed in their inability to stick to their own storyline…. What the heck happened to the alternate Olivia’s child???? At one point last week we learned that the observers were actually men from the future who had isolated a gene that after removing allowed them full use of their brain, except that the side affect was the loss of their emotions that made them human.. I was totally frustrated with that because they changed from the original idea… Then this week we find that no, indeed they are aliens from out of space who came here first in a group of 12. I’m not surprised.

    • Hmm, interesting point. I don’t see how Parallel universes are all linked though. When you make a choice it becomes a parallel universe right… but even if you travel back in time, you create another parallel universe, so you can’t affect the other choices you didn’t make… confusing?

      They are implying that if you create a portal between two parallel universes, those two are linked, no others.

  4. I’ve watched this show from day 1, but I truly think they should cancel this show! It has gone down hill, and has become very difficult to follow this “going between universes”. I am shocked it has been renewed for another season! I, for one, won’t be watching!

    • shut up!!

  5. Ok, so here’s my two cents of ranting. I find the entire discussion very interesting! Maybe it is a plotline of ‘Peter is infact one of the Observers, who are also the first people, who are infact people from the future who have travelled back and forth so many times that not only do they know what will happen, like the back of their hand, but also have lost their hair from TTT (Time Travel Trauma).’

    However, I have another theory, perhaps similar to some of the others here. When the observer said ‘peter’s played his part, he never existed’, is a paradox in it self. See it indicates Peter was created by the observers to try and fix the imbalancing universes, but the universes were imbalance because of peter. Peter died, walter created machine to get other-peter back, boom! But then again, once Walter brought peter back from the alternate universe, peter could have died again. But he didnt, because the Observer saved him.

    How about this. Maybe, peter did die, and if he had just died in the water, then the universe would have been doomed without a savior, cuz walternate would have still waged war as his universe had already been tampered with, it started falling apart, and walter would have fought back and both universes would have been destroyed.

    Which then means, the observer ‘saved peter’, or in his way ‘created peter’, so that he would grow up and be an integral part of the machine. Then maybe walter is wrong, he didnt send the machine back in time. Maybe the observers made it and put in the past, linked it with the created-peter so he could eventually save the universes.

    So why did created-peter then disappear, or stop existing… there I am stumped. I admit my theory has holes. So if observer had saved peter, so peter could do all those things, then peter should have continued to exist.

    Right, I think I just ended up confusing myself….

    • I think you may be onto something there. In fact your theory holds water. If the Observer “saved” Peter in the water (or created Peter), it implies that the event already happened.. ie he did die, resulting in both universes being doomed. Then the Observer goes back in time to save/create him.

      It leaves interesting questions then, like why don’t they remember him? Even a created person would be remembered right?

      Well i have abother theory. I think it has everything to do with the machine. If the Observers did create it, like i think they did, it has the ability to jump time, universes etc just like the observers do. What if Peter created or traveled to this time/universe where he actually does not exist, for the purpose of having them save all the linked universes? Once saved, Peter’s universe is intact and as normal.

      There is one true fact though. No matter which way the writers go there will always be holes and lose ends that simply cannot be fixed or explained. But i have to say they have done well so far to keep the suspense going strong. I for one liked the ended. Shocked me actually, but in a good way. This ending means that there are a whole lot of new dimensions (pun intended) that they can go with this show! I for one am looking forward to next season. Can’t wait!

    • If Peter did die in the water, then Walternate wouldn’t have found out where Peter was in the 1st place remember? Olivia drew a picture of her and Peter and showed it accidentally to Walternate. So many questions left unanswered. Can’t wait for the next season! :D

  6. I love Fringe. I wish they would get back to the old format of the show they had in the first couple of seasons though and move the show back to Thursday.

  7. Ok, just helping here:

    The names of Walter and Oliva from the other universe are all puns, and not that hard to spell if you think about the pun.


    Faux (false).

    It hurts my brain to see the names butchered. Thanks!

    • zaphod,
      you know what most people commented three weeks ago and your just stating your discontent now, 1. harden the hell up “otherlivia” is the other + olivia and by current english definition of the word pun is Also one *GASP*
      2. maiking a comment on people grammer spelling etc just shows what a monumental douche you are! the thread was for comments on the finale not for an english lesson for a self important self appointed jerk.

      But seriously if it hurts your brain then thats your own fault for trolling through 3weeks worth of comments lol, everyone else on here knew what each other was talking about… and i HIGHLY doubt anyone will apologise for comments made almost a month ago…..i can certainly say i wont be.

  8. Ok first @DarkestDarkness: interesting theory. I agree that when the observer wouldnt had peter rescured from the water, the universes would had been destroyed. Cause little-Petter met little-Olivia and little-Olivia gave the WalterNet the painting and the explanation of the existing of another universe. So WalterNets Universe would be just destroyed.

    I hope not that Peter was just in a dream. Then it would be like an excuse for not finding a possible explanation for the last episode. It would be a little bit like the movie “inception” then.

    If he wasnt in a dream there has to be a reason why they dont remember peter anymore. I also believe that this is somehow a paradox. Peter was the reason of the overlapping universes. How can they forget that when they wanna solve this problem.

    At the theory with the created-Peter. I think its a possible and good explanation for some things. This created-Peter would be in every universe. We had just watched two universes were certain things happened in a bad way. The Observers are maybe responsible to make sure no universe is going to be lost or destroyed. So they took certain steps to make sure the universes are surviving. They gave each universe a “Peter” to have the possibility to fix the things if there is a problem between universes.

    And each universe had a machine invented by Walter. This was sent back in time by Walter maybe they will figuring out a way to do that with not-living things.

    Anyway I am looking forward to the next season. And yeah there is a looot more potential possible. The show is good but it could be excellent.