Wrapped in a two-part scientific showdown, the Fringe season 4 finale brought the two great minds of Walter Bishop and William Bell together for what could have been the last episode of the series ever. Fortunately, that’s not the case. After all, they are coming.

While part one of the finale can largely be viewed as a somewhat typical episode of Fringe, though not without its own surprises and revelations, the finale really shines during part two. Despite being separated by a week – a move which served to beautifully highlight the sheer amount of quality content being presented in the season finale, though something the producers like didn’t have control over.

A two-hour finale, though making for wonderful promotion and element of “event” television, doesn’t lend itself to the calculated pacing that is included in these two final episodes. As the second part begins, a brief overlap from the previous episode helps reignite the conversation between William Bell and Walter Bishop – a conversation that, for all intents and purposes, deserved the clean palate that dividing the finale provided.

As fans who know the characters, there was and pure and instinctual rawness and joy presented during Bell and Bishop’s conversations. Two characters who we largely know, existing in a world that we somewhat understand, speaking logically about their beliefs, decisions and motivations for wanting to become their own God.

For quite some time, it was David Robert Jones positioned as the genius mastermind behind all of this destruction. And while the character of Jones was completely compelling and absolutely villainous, his continuous goals and motivations never really fit that character when compared to those around him in the series.

Though we’ll likely never know if Bell was always the intended end path for those aspirations of creation, one would find it hard to argue that Bell’s dialogue, along will Nimoy’s spotless performance, didn’t absolutely sell that fact completely and, more importantly, competently.

As a reoccurring guest star, Nimoy’s performances of Fringe have always been thoroughly enjoyable, despite his often limited screen time. However, within moments of the Fringe season 4 finale, it quickly became apparent that Nimoy’s inclusion wasn’t merely an attempt at padding what might have been the series finale with a familiar face.

Though Fringe isn’t the only series which has been graced with a special appearance by Nimoy in recent year, one would be hard pressed to find a performance which tops Nimoy’s in the season finale. Even his much talked inclusion in the 2009 Star Trek could not hold a torch to the amount of depth, emotion and, enthusiasm he was able to convey throughout this episode.

Stepping away from the methodically paced cadences in dialogue that many (many) of Nimoy’s recent performances have included, the joy in watching Nimoy and Noble play off of each other is only topped by Nimoy’s numerous scene-stealing dialogue, which flowed so naturally and briskly that had a familiar, yet completely unique, Aaron Sorkin-equse quality to it.

That being said, Nimoy’s involvement, while completely enjoyable, does put in question the true intent of the story the producers wanted to tell with Fringe. Considering the season 4 finale was originally going to be used as a series finale (in case of cancelation), there is a sense that the story we’re being told would have been drastically changed if Nimoy wouldn’t have returned. He has, after all, retired from the business.

So while one may be hard pressed to find someone who did not enjoy the Fringe season 4 finale, it’s hard not to wonder, exactly, how much of the series’ story has been impacted by their intent, or hope, to have Nimoy return. And, if so, at what point does the original intent of the series storytelling get lost admits appropriately and logical intent from the producers to request the return of an actor who last appeared solely as a cartoon?

Having Leonard Nimoy as an actor on your television series is amazing – even more so now that he has retired from the industry. And even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with shaping aspects of the series arcs around moments of good fortune, it does lead many to appropriately wonder what exactly would have happened if Nimoy did not return.

Though perhaps this may just be one of the few series elements that fans of the show will just have to “give” to the series, that simple logical conundrum is arguably an appropriate example of some of the worries and concerns that viewers have going into significantly science fiction-based series. A deal break, it is not – but it is something that does make it difficult to succinctly draw a line from the pilot to the fourth season finale.

And now that Fringe has received a fifth season, the story will be able to continue. Added a brief scene to the season finale’s final moments, Walter is warned by September that “they” are coming. And from our all-but brief trip into the future, we now know who “they” are – but do we still want to know who they are?

For all intents and purposes, the Fringe season 4 finale was created to serve a series finale in case they get canceled. Everything wasn’t going to be explained, but loose ends would be wrapped up and a feeling of closure would be provided for those who follow the series from the beginning.

While the finale was an extremely enjoyable season finale, the notion that it could have been a series finale was a little worrisome. Acknowledging the fact that the producers didn’t have the time to cover everything, the general sentiment of “everyone is happy” does feel like an odd way to leave the series.

Considering only scenes were added, not taken away, when Fringe found out that they were renewed for season 5, we’re essentially viewing the complete version they intended to use as a bookend if the series wasn’t returning next year. That being said, the inclusion of stasis runes and hyper guns does feel a bit off base consider the series would have been over afterwards.

And now that Fringe has received a fifth season, the story will be able to continue. Added a brief scene to the season finale’s final moments, Walter is warned by September that “they” are coming. And from our all-but brief trip into the future, we now know who “they” are – but do we still want to know who they are?

For all intents and purposes, the Fringe season 4 finale was created to serve a series finale in case they get canceled. Everything wasn’t going to be explained, but loose ends would be wrapped up and a feeling of closure would be provided for those who follow the series from the beginning.

Knowing that they have to include elements that can be expounded upon if they do return, there was an element of Supernatural to it that felt a little too cliché, which serves to briefly take one out of the episode that is all-but flawless. Of course, since Fringe is returning this, many of these complaints can be tossed away, because more story will follow next season. But what if it wasn’t?

Overall, the Fringe season 4 finale was far greater than anything fans could have hoped for. While there are little complaints here and there, it quickly becomes nitpicking for the sake of doing so. With great performances form everyone in the series, but most notably Leonard Nimoy, there really isn’t much more that you could ask for.

Except for more Fringe! And we’re getting that.

 

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Fringe season 5 will premiere September 2012 on Fox

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