‘Fringe’ Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 12th, 2012 at 11:22 am,

fringe season 4 finale olivia Fringe Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

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.

fringe season 4 walter bishop william bell Fringe Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

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?

fringe season 4 finale peter bishop Fringe Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

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.

fringe season 4 finale william bell Fringe Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

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.

fringe season 4 finale Fringe Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

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

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

TAGS: Fringe
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  1. that was great…….i think we all know what September meant by “they are coming.” :) and of course everyone knew Olivia wouldn’t die permanently. that would have been an ending I could’ve lived with. :)

  2. Knowing what was coming, it was as good as it could be. I guess now we know that season 5 will start with the observer takeover. With only 13 episodes I don’t know if they can start right when the Observers take over or go to where “Letters of Transit” left off.

    • Let’s hope they’re not stuck in amber until 5 episodes before the finale ;) Hope it won’t be so attack vs defense minded. By this, I mean I hope it isn’t superior tech takeover vs simple, ant-like, archaic humans

  3. I loved the ending to the 4th season cant wait till the 5Th season.
    My wife normally hates Sci-Fi but I got her to started watching it and she loves it as well, It has became a family Friday date night.


    • that is sooo sweet:) I also love the show and can’t wait for another season….makes date nite so much more complete

    • Funny as I hate sci-fi too (with a couple of exceptions); yet I love and am hooked on Fringe. Can’t wait to see what unfolds.

  4. I love this show. I will admit this finale doesn’t stack up to the past ones. But it still had the heart I’ve come to expect from this show. Plus, Astrid surviving makes it all the more better. I am so glad we are getting a 5th season. My interest has never faulted in this show and I don’t think it ever would. This is and forever will be my favorite program to grace the small screen.

    • her survival was never in question……if she didn’t survive the creators would have to come up with a believable answer as to why we saw her in the year 2036.

      • Good point ben g., I guess I just got caught up in the current episode.

        • it happens to all of us. lol :)

      • olivia wasn’t in 2036….we just saw walter said “don’t you remember whad William did to Olivia?”

  5. All I can say is wow… I think this episode has to have been the creepiest Fringe episode yet. First with the reanimation and then with Oliva at the end… Gotta say this episode would have made a fine series ending except for letting Bell basically get away. Can’t wait for season 5 to start!

  6. Well.. At least now we know the origin of Etta´s Necklace

  7. Actually, I’ll soon stop watching this series as so much holes are coming into it. I’ll list some in the past and what came out of this season
    1- The teasing of a relation between Broyles and Nina made out at some point (I think season 2) and they seem to think it’s a bad idea.
    2- Agent Scott was not officially announced dead but meh, seems they didn’t pay him well and he decided to leave(season 1)
    3- Charlie came from the dead in one episode in season 3 where the episode wasn’t something in the past or different timeline/universe.

    And more…

    With this season
    1- It started with Peter wants to get back in his timeline which I assumed would be something resolved by the end of this season but instead they took a different path which leads me to the next point.
    2- The Cortexiphan was deactivated, shouldn’t Olivia convert back to her original state of memory or does it work one way and becomes permanent? And she is pregnant, that is just great.

    Actually I was hoping those issues would be resolved than being left questioned and it seems they won’t be answered and they’ll just go with the flow. Peter managed to bully his way into the people’s hearts with an exception of questionable memory transformation for Olivia(not sure based on what)

    I think they should start plotting a better story flow or I’d expect season 5 with be there last(most likely will be anyway), as they remind me with Heroes and their boguseness

    • The Charlie Francis sighting you refer to was in an episode that was played out of order or some such. So it was before his death, but shown after the episode in which he had died.

      • the charlie thing was an un-aired season 1 episode……..they chose not to air it because they decide not to use that plot line.

        also….peter is in his timeline but everyone forgot him when they turned on the machine.

        technically olivia has reverted back to her original memory already.

        • Intentional or not, the first time he walked onto the screen freaked the hell out of me. :-)

    • Ya I’ve been wondering about the Nina-Broyles thing for a long time. It seemed they either forgot about it or ended up not wanting to do it but we never got any explanations.

  8. Peter never left his timeline, just everyone else forgot him because he was removed. Olivia loving Peter technically IS “reverting back to her former self” case solved in the Peter matter

  9. Love the series. Last night’s episode was no exception. Look a the photo of Olivia injecting. Isn’t the needle going into bone? They are coming!!!

  10. Reanimating the dead chick for an interrogation was the creepiest most unsettling thing ive seen in a while lol creepy voice, googly eyes.. I think its mostly the eyes.

  11. Evil Spock quoting Yates was creepy/ Great episode

    As always the star here is John Noble.

  12. I’m not sure you used the phrase “for all intents and purposes” enough in this article.

  13. I really enjoyed the season four final episode. Seeing Leonard Nimoy reprise the roll of William Bell was excellent. The shock was, Walter’s character was the real villain many years ago, not Bell. What masterful weaving of an engrossing story. Walter realized in the past, he had overstepped the bounds of mortal and God, therefore, biblically smiting that part of the body that offends. Hence, the brain tissue removal. It’s that tissue that may save humanity from the Watchers future grasp. I think I jumped four feet when Walter aimed the weapon at the source of the huge energy flux, destroying Peter and Olivia’s universe. Olivia was the conduit and Cortexaphan was the catalyst. Only someone fully aware of his actions could pull the trigger, as calm and collected, as Walter did. Because Olivia’s daughter was present in the future, I knew she was pregnant in the past with Peter’s child. Superb acting, excellent storyline. What will I do after season five is over. Perhaps the SCIFI channel will pick FRINGE up.

  14. The Season 4 finale appears to have been, in essence, the series finale for Seasons 1 – 4. If Season 5 has to do with the coming of the Observers, the show will be going in a new direction. If so, I hope we have not seen the last of Leonard Nimoy.

  15. Why was half this review dealing with “what if’s?”. What if this was the series finale, what if Nimoy was avaiable, etc. etc. Why can’t you review the actual episode and leave your “what if” fantasy land in your mind? A series should stand on its own merits, not based on your worries about future episodes or what could have been.

  16. Umm, Mr. Ocasio, you might want to proofread and fix this article. Just a heads up.

    • Well said, thank you: I couldn’t finish the review–maybe 10% of it, max–because of the grammatical errors and the massive number of non-sequitors. Good finale though; it will be interesting to see how episode 19 synchs up with season 5. I suppose the finale of season 5 could have Peter, et al. end up in amber, but who knows. The fate of Bell will also be interesting.

  17. How come everyone seems happy that we “only” get shortened season 5? Or is it just a matter of that being better then nothing. I just feel the show has potential to go longer then that. I guess there was a point during Season 4 where I felt they might as well wrap this up. But last few episodes got me hungry for more.

  18. Yep, it feels like everything up until now has been “addressed”. With 1 -4 flipping between universes, season 5 and beyond will likely have a lot of flash forwards to the future. Sounds good to me!

  19. Reading this review was a Fringe event….maybe the repeated paragraphs of text is acceptable in an alternate universe.

    I watched part 1 & 2 back to back over the weekend. I loved it as a season finale. But, I had my doubts of this ever serving as a good SERIES finale. I wondered if the Observers future episode from weeks ago was planned before or after they got renewed. If they aired that, and thought this episode was a fitting end to the series, they were dead wrong. If you removed that future episode with the Observers, and used this as the series finale…it would have been excellent. That’s my only issue with this episode…well, that and where the f#ck did Bell go at the end… every time a bell rings, William Bell drifts away like the Sandman from Spiderman…WTF? Still, I can’t wait until season 5!

  20. Fringe is probably my favorite show on TV right now,mainly because of the awesome cast and the chemistry they have together.

    As for the finale,I thought that it was pretty lackluster for a finale,especially compared to the previous finales.

    I didn’t hate it,but I didn’t love it either.Wish there would’ve been more of a cliffhanger to end the season on.

  21. I don’t think what we saw was the original finale if Fringe was not going into season 5. In my opinion, I believe it would have ended very similar but with the death of Olivia to save to universes, without the healing and regeneration. I think she would have died but the extra scenes were added after season 5 was greenlit so her character would continue. With regards to BELL, it is possible that ending was changed too, that maybe Walter shot him after Olivia, therefore ending the threat and being the last heroic act of the series. I have no doubt extra scenes were shot and then added and re-arranged once they knew they could continue the story into season 5. I personally loved season 4 but found the last two-part finale episodes not up to the rest of the series, although I did enjoy them.

    • Ya I hope that when they release the season on dvd they will put the alternate ending as a bonus in. I’m very curious as to how they were planning to end it without season 5.

  22. Just finished watching the last two episodes. Never had this watching experience in a TV series. Techs, love and everything combined. Two thumbs up! Can’t wait for season 5!!!

  23. Fringe just gets better and better. Hanging out for season five. It’s a shame tho that all good things must come to an end.

  24. I was super-geeked to see Olivia get to use her powers more fully. That alone was worth it for the finale. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but my jaw still dropped when she kick david robert jones ass through Peter.