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.