‘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. I feel mind &$@*ed but in a good way…

  2. I think the last two episodes of Fringe have been extraordinary, due mostly to the fact that I thought I had it pegged from the beginning, but was impressed with the foregoing of a half-season plot of Peter’s amnesia, or the future normal universe. And am glad to see that Fringe is taking yet another turn into weirdness, (Peter’s disappearance from seemingly both universes)

    Though a few more answers would be nice, I love the way they tied up the First People plot, and why the machine was so old.

  3. Great epi but what the frak?

  4. I’m just happy to see the word “myriad” used correctly in print.

    • Yesterday I used “hirsute” and Anthony called me a nerd. :)

    • Myriad can be used as a noun or as an adjective

      Fringe rocks!!

  5. I personally was left with a giant question mark. The ending of the episode made absolutely no sense. With the build up, a tired and true “loop” theory explaining where the machine came from to the disappearance of Peter and the Bald Men saying that no one remembers him. What? Obviously, Peter found a better way to use the machine, to unite the two universes but then why did he disappear? I can understand where they were going with the whole concept of both universes being joined, however, a more simple plot arc would have been for Peter to just choose to have never been born. Both universes would have been separated and all of the damage would be reversed, wouldn’t it? I am so tired of these stupid plot twists about going back in time because they never work. Anyone analyze Terminator lately? It’s filled with holes. So, Walter “creates” the machine to destroy the other world, but Peter is the only one who can power it? Then, when he realizes his folly, he sends it back in time so that Peter can decide a different path? This causes Peter to disappear? I am so confused.

    • “Peter found a better way to use the machine, to unite the two universes but then why did he disappear?” Good point ,the machine may have time traveling implications from that episode and i think peter may reappear as a time traveler correcting problems with the machine in future[past?] episodes :)

      • I think they had this show back when I was a kid…

        Maybe you’ve heard of it.. Quantum Leap??? LOL!!!


  6. Didn’t the writers once say that they wrote this ending as if Fringe really was ending (this was before the show was renewed) and that it would satisfy a lot of the viewers.

    I personally enjoyed the episode until the last 2 minutes, I found that twist exciting and yet…I don’t know it doesn’t have the awesomness that the season 1 twist had.

  7. The last 2 episodes were fantastic!!! This is the best show on TV hands down….. Of course everyone is confused!! U dont think they wanted us to be confused/freaked out/etc. Just all the more reason to want more!! Maybe it will grow an even larger audience by word of mouth alone. People can watch earlier seasons on DVD or online/etc and catch up. Cheers!!

  8. If Peter doesn’t show up next season, I for one will be sorely disappointed. Don’t they dare say “he never existed”!!

    I will look forward to the next season, but I swear if he is gone from the show, so am I. *sigh*

  9. To the heaters – am I confused? Of course. The episode ended with a CLIFF HANGER, we are SUPPOSED to be wondering what’s going on and what happens next. This is not a minus. It is good storytelling. Every season this show has gotten better and more ambitious, exploring science fiction in groundbreaking new ways and what this season finale promises fits right into that. loved it.

  10. Haters not heaters. Damn autocorrect.

  11. Obviously Peter will be back….

    Olivia will make it so as they are cosmically entangled!

    She will feel something not right and will bring him to be…

    Obviously if he never existed in the first place, none of this would have ever happened… (think about it…) and also the observers wouldnt have been able to observe him…

    • i said this in my own post but what about Otherlivas Baby??

      • Exactly…

        Not as though it was a minor detail…

        Otherlivia: “Oh my God.. what’s this?”

        Walter: “Don’t you see?! It’s obvious my dear, that this is a baby!”

        Walternate: “I concur, and if I hadn’t been rudely interrupted I would have come to this conclusion sooner!”

        Olivia: “You’re forgetting the obvious.. But where did it come from?”

        [Silence and dumbfounded look upon everyone's face]

        Somehow I don’t see that one working out… But it’ll be good to see how they sort this one, and many others, out..

        • This was my big problem with LOST. I think they spent too much time trying to keep people in the dark instead of progressing the story line. A good mystery can solve a problem while presenting others. The writers on fringe are too A.D.D. They often just forget about the previous problem all together. What happened to writing a story line and following through?

          LOST was the biggest waste of 6 years of my life. Hopefully, FRINGE can live up to a fourth season, and we can scratch shat of an episode off as end of series jitters. They were lucky to be renewed.

  12. Completely underwhelming. We all already know whats going to happen given how it ends. Peter goes back in time, Olivia dying never happens.

  13. I love the finale BUT SOOO many questions no answers LOL, but it is supposed to leave you with suspense…. did anyone consider other olivias baby? perhaps there is something about him that will remind real oliva about peter….but i get so confused wih the observers dont they realise its pretty hard for otherlivia to have a baby if Peter never existed…..i think season 4 is going to be very interesting….

  14. amazig episode
    leaves us with alot of questions and alot to think about.
    i hope this show goes on for a few more seasons

  15. I find the previous posts interesting because everyone assumes that the characters in both alternative worlds are for real. What if they really aren’t? What if their actually something else all together???

  16. Future Peter undid his future ,so he was erased whle in present Peters body . as for Present Peter?
    His body may no longer exist but his consciosness is somewhere.
    Enjoy it while you can .
    Fringe tied their season low of a 1.2 rating.
    They are coming back,
    But Season 5 is already in doubt.

  17. Hmmm… I feel the whole “Peter never existed” was lame. Sure it’s a cliff hanger but there are better ways to do cliff hangers. I mean at least give us a “plausible” one. If Peter never existed then Walter would never have gone to the other side to save him. Or given all that the machine was coded for his DNA so therefore the machine would not have activated and brought the worlds together. A better cliff hanger would have been – now we can work together to fix this… Cut to the Observers standing around – “You were right, you can change the past from the future… Yes, but the future I see now I don’t think they will like. They are resourceful, maybe they can work together to fix what’s about to happen…” DUN Duh Dun duhhhhhhhhhhhh… Ta-DA! This assumes anything in season 3 is plausible… Remember season 1? I do love this show though.

  18. I still got goosebumps from that ending.
    here’s my take on things – Peter’s existence here (in the past)is built on part of his consciousness from the future, and I’m guessing after merging with the machine again and doing it right this time (saving both worlds), his consciousness went back to the future, thus erasing his existence in this time. This would make Walter’s action to ‘retrieve’ peter from the other side make a lot more sense as he’d be breaking the world to fix it in the end, but he’s doing this purely on some innate instinct, he thinks its his fatherly instinct, but it just may be his inner consciousness simply knowing what’s best for the both worlds.

  19. It was a good finale, even doe one could see “ab initio” where it was leading to. I gotta say that Walter “solution” and explanation of it was indeed a paradox in the plot line and background mythology of the show; it got a friend and I arguing in circles for at least half hour. My big surprise was the last minute and what the Watcher said which what it did was leaving people with even more questions than they had at the beginning of the episode. I hope that they’re going somewhere with it. I will give it an 8 out of 10. :)

  20. woah!

    i think nearly everything could be explained or understood in someway apart from the observers comment right at the end…it kind of negated everything we’ve watched for the past 3 seasons .it maks for a nice ending of sorts that they have to work together to save both universes but wheres the fun in that? wheres the weird cases, the love story, the action , mystery and suspense of the overall plot??? im very very very anxious to see where the heck theyre going to go to continue this

    i do hope they bring Peter back somehow

    The whole thing is wrought with factors to frak your mind there’s paradoxes and alternate timelines/realities to consider

    maybe what we saw was an alternate reality to the one we will see play out…

    i dont think that Peter destroyed the other universe simply by stepping into the machine, i think the 2026 reality happened after he consciously destroyed the other universe to protect ours. That reality then paradoxically served as the lesson he needed not to destroy the other universe in this reality…the room where walter and walternate and olivia and fauxlivia met is just a wormhole i think that both universes still exsist as they were and they wont necessarily work together and ffrom that season 4, 5 and 6 can follow… but thats just my mind wandering :)

  21. P.S. the expression is “on the lam”. It has nothing to do with baby sheep.

  22. After having read most of the comments here analyzing and giving critiques of the show, I’ve decided that several of you should be writers for the show! A few of you have postulated some really good ideas and I hope someone from Fringe takes a glance.

    It’s been fun reading all of the theories people have. Look at it this way, you sure wouldn’t get discussions like this for CSI Miami. ;+)

  23. I agree with a lot that people have suggested in this thread, but I don’t think that Peter ever traveled through time. The only time-travel that occurred is the machine being sent back to the time of the dinosaurs through the wormhole. I just watched the ending again, and Walter explains, “I simply need to find a way to bring your consciousness forward to now, so that you can witness what will happen if you make the same choice” (your standard Fringe science).

    The machine doesn’t have time-travel abilities, but Walter altered it somehow to allow present Peter to have a vision of the future. This also leads me to believe that future Peter’s consciousness was not transplanted into present Peter’s body in any way. Peter’s exclamation to Olivia – “You’re still alive!” – when he awakens in the machine is natural after he witnessed her death ‘first-hand’ in his mind.

    On an additional note, Walter could have had a few more weeks or even months to alter the machine before sending it back, assuming the Central Park wormhole didn’t destroy the world or it wasn’t patched up quickly with more amber – they did say it took months to patch it the first time around.

    This doesn’t answer the biggest question of why, how, or where to did Peter disappear, but I feel it clears up some of the more confusing questions. With the exception of the causality-paradox of who actually built the machine pieces, everything made sense to me (in the Fringe world) until the last minute or so. I’m super stoked to see what will happen in the 4th season!

    Oh, and I also wonder whether the dinosaurs weren’t wiped out by a giant wormhole instead of a meteorite impact…

  24. If Peter somehow “Merged or Joined” the two worlds, then wouldn’t next seasons be full of duplicates of each person?

    Also, if he someone merged the worlds, then maybe cretin pieces & differences won out and took precedence. For example, Statue of Liberty Color, the towers still standing. If this is true, then the universe where Peter died took over, there for he never lived.

    My Theory. Walter & WalterNet apparently make the device, so it would stand true that they are the ones who write the scrolls to? If so, they no Olivia is a key part and put her image in the scrolls. But what about Peter? Why did they build a device for someone who never existed? Well, maybe that’s what next season will be about. Maybe, “The Walters” realize they need “Their” “Sons Who Never Lived” DNA to power this machine and therefor have to find a way to make sure one of the Peters lives?

    I don’t know, I’m totally trying to make sense of it, can’t wait for next season.


    • “If this is true, then the universe where Peter died took over, there for he never lived.”
      Peter is actually from the other side, so your theory does not work for that. The “merging” would just make him into Shrodinger’s Peter (both alive and dead), or either alive or dead, but not never-existed. Also I’m pretty sure he only made inside Miss Liberty a shared area for both universes, not the entire world.

    • He didn’t merge the universes. He created a bridge between them. I’m just confused as to why Walter and Walternate both accused each other of destroying the other’s universe after Peter disappeared.

  25. the finale was a real mind f%*$ especially when Walternate shot Dunham in the face lol I was like what the hell just happened. I can’t wait for next season this is one of my favorite shows. I’m thinking that one of the observers will help bring Peter back into the picture from wherever he may be

  26. The bogus physics discussions are interesting but the music just before the opera house disappears is magnificant. Someone on the web said it was a Donizetti aria from Elixer of Love. Not. Its from Henry Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3.

  27. The two universes can only cross over in specific spots that Peter created before he left the machine, one of them being the Liberty Island.

    I’m curious as to who “created” Peter as this catalyst to unite the two sides. The Observer comment at the end of the episode seems to imply that one Observer came up with the idea of Peter but that it might not have worked out. Like they were taking a chance on his theory. So will it turn into a “BSG” “All of this has happened before and will happen again” type of thing?

    What about Sam Weiss? As the author of the “First People” book and the vessel of the knowledge of all the previous Sam Weiss’ he’s gotta have some insider knowledge. When will we meet him on the other side?

  28. This is all a dream. Peter is still in a drug created coma when the docs put him under after Peter hit his head – after touching the machine.
    In the Saw Weiss episode we were told that he would be asleep for 12 hours – in the episode 12 hours never went by – and there were many references to time.
    This is like the who shot JR year on Dallas…
    My guess is that Peter wakes up next season with the knowledge of what to do next to save the universe.

    • @ Zack Adams: Good call on the dream. I thought he woke up a bit fast myself but figured we just didn’t see the time go because there was nothing to drive the plot forward in those 12 hours. I like your thinking.

    • Great theory! It would answer a lot of questions. but also raise others. Although from the ending this might not be the case. There are a lot of different ways to go with Season 4 now. Will be intereting to see how to all folds out.

  29. Chekhov. Chekhov. Chekhov. Just as with Lost, what began as a gratifying, relatable story has spiraled into an almost unsustainably convoluted series of shocking cliffhangers and purposely misleading events.

    So, Peter never existed?? Okay, Mr. Abrams-Shyamalan… I’m a little over it, to be honest. If Fringe is going to be another Lost — i.e. 6 seasons culminating into 50% of the questions remaining unanswered, and 50% of them being explained by Jesus through a man named “Christian Shepherd” — then count me out.