12 May, 2012

Review - FRINGE 4.22: 'Brave New World Part 2'


The season finale (not series finale since the show has been picked up for a fifth, 13 episode, final season) wraps up the story of the two-collapsing-worlds-to-make-another-new-world that could have made for a TERRA NOVA reboot (since that show's been cancelled) storyline. Was it worth the ride?

Not really. And I think the biggest problem with the finale is the great episode "Letters of Transit." But how can a great episode be a problem? Well, it pretty much made all the shocking points of the last two episodes too obvious. We have already seen into the future. We know Astrid lives. We know Olivia lives since Pacey Poof and her have a kid. So, at no point did I feel any sense of real danger for these characters. And that's why ending the season like this was a bad idea.

A very bad idea.

Not to mention that Olivia's death (granted, I thought they might have Peter have to make that choice) seemed obvious to me from the start. So none of it worked on the level the writers clearly intended. And even the final scene with September carries less weight because of "Letters of Transit." We know who is coming. We know how these things play out. And I'm not excited about the prospect of spending 11 episodes next season getting to the next scene that would have followed "Letters of Transit."

I'd much rather the writers not stall us for 90% of next season to get us to the point in the story WE ARE ALREADY AWARE OF.

So, the best episode of the season essentially ruins the finale for me, and based on how this season was constructed, it isn't ridiculous to expect it to ruin the main beats of next season.

Granted, the writers could surprise me and do something unexpected, but there were so few surprises this season, and such great dependence on contrived elements, that I can't lean on recent evidence to support such dreams.

If there is anything positive to say about this episode, it is that it ended what has been a mostly disappointing season. Sure, there are maybe 7 or 8 good episodes and 1 or 2 great ones. But the majority didn't live up to what the previous two seasons had built up. There was no great payoff. It all seems so convenient. And one must wonder what went wrong?

This happens on many great shows. They have solid seasons with daring and unique payoffs and then, suddenly, it is as if the writers stop giving a shit. Or they lose touch with the part of themselves that was passionate about not just telling different kinds of stories (FRINGE is at least still doing that) but telling them WELL.

If I had to rate this episode, I'd give it:

72 out of 100

If I had to rate this season, I'd give it:

75 out of 100

Too bad. Let's see if they can salvage this whole thing and not just tell a convincing, well written, and consistent story, but also do so without losing what made the show so loved: its characters.


15 comments:

  1. You didn't mention the stupid demon trap from Supernatural they had September standing on. The whole episode was a ripoff of something else. Shit episode shit season. I don't know if I can put myself through another season of this.

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    1. I meant to but I wasn't about to devote any extra time breaking down the episode. You watched it. You know what happened.

      But yeah, the entire episode was at best an homage to other shows... at worst a poor ripoff of ideas from other shows.

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  2. Personally, I'm grateful that they didn't even try putting any of the key characters in great danger or apparently dead as cliffhanger, because everyone would have called shenanigans. It was rather quiet for a season finale because of episode 4.19, but I think it was smart they avoided the contrivance of a suspenseful season's end. That's all I could ask for from these writers at this point.

    It seems to me they thought this would be the last season and they put as little effort as possible in it. Like their brains moved on to working on ideas for future projects. Now they were given yet another half season. I'm not really counting on them snapping out of the slumber they've fallen in, but I hope they can make up for the blunder that was this season, at least partially.

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  3. Finally everyone gets that this season sucked! There was no coherancy to the story or character arcs or plot or themes or whatever all season long. All the questions about where Peter went? How did the machine function without him? did no one never ask why machine was there in the first place? Does it matter that Walter and Astrid and everyone but Peter and Olivia are not themselves and have lost all their history?

    On and on we could go but as Newton said...these are some lazy ass mother fuckers and they did a lazy assed mother fucker job. I suppose when no one gives you Emmy's or viewers barely tune in you can lose interest...and that is what happened! They lost interest.

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  4. While reading this I could not believe what I was seeing, you actually stopped defending the shit they were putting on the screen! All season long you have been defending this show and now you finally Vaal them out and it was glorious! Ryan McGee has given them a ton of shit too and his final article said he is done reviewing this show, I mean he stuck with Chuck till the end and even cried about losing it from our screens! But for Fringe? He thinks it is shit and so do I.

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    1. You are so full of shit... I've taken the writers to task MANY times this season. All I ever defended was giving the writers a shot to tell their story. To simply attack just because you FEEL it won't go well is the same as being positive just because you FEEL everything will work out.

      I gave them a fair shake. And pointed out that it didn't work.

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    2. Too be fair it looked like it was not working for a long time, the writing was on the wall sadly. Like fans used to say with Lost it would have taken a character giving answers non stop for three episodes for them to answer every question satisfactorily but they half assed it. They were retconning ideas from a previous timeline that made no sense...as Ryan McGee said they this whole reboot was done to bring back Jones and Bell and their motivations were shallow at best, like cartoon villians. As Ryan said when character gives way to plot then your series is in big trouble and they sold off their characters badly this season that there is no come back. What I do not understand is the Fringe people have the same schedule as Chuck, when they were doing their 13th episode so were Chuck...when Chuck did stupid things like the whole "curse" and the series finale when they sold their characters out, how and why did no one at Fringe say guys we should not do this it is not cool, do not do this....alarm bells anyone?

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    3. You can't lead a sentence with "to be fair" if it is to support your own year-long argument. What you mean to say is "to posit my own position further."

      You don't know if it is going to work until it doesn't. Season 3 of LOST had people going crazy for a good portion of it, but it nailed the final few episodes of that season and came back on fire.

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    4. Question....do you think there is a point in any series where a show knows that they have opened up too many questions and will never know how to answer all of them satisfactorily? I mean Lost knew they had 3 seasons left to get everything done and still failed it's plot and mythology (but did good by it's characters). Fringe knew that they had maybe this season only to answer everything and yet failed, how does this come about? I mean for all Chucks faults one thing I hear you say on your podcasts is they got Chuck Sarah right (apart from he final episodes) they got the characters and most of the plot and mythology right in the end, knowing it could be the end....how can they answer (even crappy answers like what Chucks mom did for 20 years) yet Fringe not bother answering the biggest questions?

      Is there a point where they realise that giving answers may not be ideal because the answers are not going to be good? Or are they unwilling to be cut throat? I mean I would hate Chucks mom if they said she just never loved her family more than being a spy but it would have been more honest....etc. Is striving for a happy ending better than giving a good answer?

      Quantum Leap gave a harsh, harsh ending but it was an awesome ending and I respected the hell out of for that. He saved so many people and his family and could never enjoy it but it fit who he was and what the show was about. Ugh, whatever.

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    5. "do you think there is a point in any series where a show knows that they have opened up too many questions and will never know how to answer all of them satisfactorily?"

      Yeah, probably when they break the final season. Though, in the case of LOST, a majority of the questions fans bitched about them not answering, were actually answered in earlier episodes. So, fans sometimes bitch about things because they don't remember them, or didn't like the answer.

      And as Ronald D Moore once said, sometimes it is better to not answer questions because the answer isn't what fans have built up in their minds. So, don't answer it and you may piss off some fans, but you will also create discussions about what it meant with others. It is better to piss them off than to make it lame (and to prove that point, BSG's post finale movie, THE PLAN, suuuuuuuucked and gave lots of crappy answers).

      QUANTUM LEAP was also a show that tackled serious issues and was about so much more than one man getting home. So, ending it the way they did was appropriate to the story. I think an appropriate ending to CHUCK would have been having them go on one more mission that we never see.

      Answering questions is far less important to getting the character beats right.

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    6. Exactly and that is probably why this season of Fringe has been so divisive. The fans who like character will feel really disappointed. Fans of plot and mythology are probably ecstatic but I am like you a character fan and that is why abandoning the fundamentals of this show hurt them. This is all about Walter going over the other side to save his son and being reminded by the sight of his son the question of whether it was worth causing all this damage to save him. Take that away and that human element goes and you are left with characters who make no sense at all and we do not understand them either. What a colossal fuck up by them.

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    7. Making it about Olivia's journey isn't as interesting as that father/son dynamic. But for whatever reason (and one could easily suggest it is because of Torv's relationship with the owner of the company), they went down that road this season and lost perspective on what made many of us care.

      Now that we're past Olivia's lame story, maybe we get back to the heart of the show next season.

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  5. yours is the review that i can watch before actually watching the episode
    thank u for the effort

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  6. I did feel like this episode was a little predictable because of the previous one, but it could also just be that this season has felt mediocre overall. I think the bet part was Pacey Poof making it look like jumping 20ft out of a helicopter and falling onto a cargo container with a dislocated shoulder is no big deal. While, this season doesn't necessarily give me great hope, I'm still glad they got the renewal. Even if they don't use the best mechanics to tell the stories, I still enjoy the overall themes and characters.

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