Fringe: Some Reflections on the Series Finale

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January 21, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Steve Secular

APphoto_TV Fringe Finale

It’s now 2 am and I’ve just finished watching the Fringe series finale. I don’t really have much to say, as it was Fringe as usual. Two great episodes, with very few and minor flaws. But there is one point that stands out: as the episode wound down, I began to question if I truly felt satisfied, if it felt like a great finale. Did all of the characters really get their proper due? Was seeing them with Etta again (a character only introduced in a weak fourth season) enough to make me happy?

I wasn’t sure, as Peter and Olivia sat there in the park, smiling like the clichéd happy family. I wasn’t sure, as Etta hugged her father, and I still wasn’t sure as they pulled up to the family home. But then Peter looked through the mail, and sure enough, sitting in the pile was a letter from Walter, just as it was foreshadowed. And the letter isn’t an explanation of the Observer crisis that Walter averted, or some passing on of information about what is now yet another alternate timeline. It’s a white tulip. The White Tulip, passed from father to son. A symbol of sacrifice and the necessity to keep going, that forgiveness is possible all can be well. It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending for the show, one that summed up the whole of Fringe’s series narrative, while hinting towards a future.

Fringe, at its heart, is about fathers and sons. For anyone who’s watched the show (as I imagine you have if you’re sitting here reading this), that’s a fairly obvious statement. Yet beyond that, Fringe is about Walter, his fall and his redemption, and how far he was willing to go to save his son, how powerful and blinding and beautiful and special such love can be. Walter nearly destroyed two universes to save his son. And in this final season, we saw a glimpse of Peter almost embarking on the same path. The moment that Peter sticks that Observer chip into his head (in “An Origin Story”), he becomes one step closer to Walter: obsessive, maniacal, and willing to do anything to save those he loves, consequences be damned. Eventually, Peter realizes his error, as Walter does, and comes back into the world.

The White Tulip is perhaps the most powerful symbol of the cyclicity of the Bishops. Walter saw the tulip as a sign from above, a divine message that he could be redeemed. When Peter gets his same symbol, it is a confirmation that not only is salvation possible, but that Peter may need his own White Tulip one day. Etta is only a child now and when you’re Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham, work doesn’t exactly consist of the conventional 9 to 5. Peter, like Walter, will have to make sacrifices for his daughter and will be just as driven as his father before him. That White Tulip means everything. It means the inevitable fall and rise. It means hope. I couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Oh, and let’s not forget how awesome it was to see all of the assorted Fringe horrors return and take down the Observers, from giant parasites to psychosomatic homicidal butterflies. And this episode’s addition of anti-gravity bullets. Why? Because, as Walter Bishop said himself…They’re cool. And strangely, I think that line may have been the most important of the episode. Because sometimes things are just cool.

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