The beginning of the end of FRINGE is upon us and its fans squee in earnest. But was it worth the wait? Can this final season live up to the hype? Does this episode kick off greatness or invite the coming of disappointment?
Season 4's failure was in building up to several main points that under-delivered. Peter's attempt to return to his timeline was a silly and total waste of time since it should have been obvious to anyone paying attention that he was already in the correct timeline (as I shouted in virtually every single review last year). And the "death" of Olivia that was foreshadowed by September felt totally void of earned drama when it occurred after we had already seen an episode about the future that made it clear she had to have survived.
Not to mention the weak plodding along of the main storyline and its lazy resolution.
However, within that season there were several interesting developments, the greatest being the takeover of Earth by the Observers and the jump-forward into the future where everything has gone wrong and our heroes have to be collected and released from amber to fight the invaders.
That is where we begin this season and at least I am excited to see where it all goes. I am thrilled that the case-of-the-week element has been vanquished from the show (I know some of you dig that). So this should be a 13-episode fully serialized story about how these characters either save the world or fail and die.
Spoiler: they will save it. Not that I know anything but... they will. Come on.
What one has to wonder is whether or not the ride will be satisfying. Do these writers have it in them to deliver something worthy of the greatness of say seasons 2 and 3? Will we feel like the journey, even with some of the missteps, was done justice when the final curtain is pulled back on the series?
I want to be able to say yes but this episode made me a bit worried even though I did like it.
The fundamental problem with it is that we are given certain story beats as expositions and that rarely works. Something happened between Peter and Olivia (and Walter I guess) where Pacey Poof decided to not join them because their daughter was missing? Yeah, I'd like to have seen that not heard about it. And if I couldn't see it, then don't bother explaining it. Or don't even write it. Unless there is some grand plan to have that pay off in some way later, it is just a strip of dangling drama that used up time that could have been spent on emotional points that weren't utilized enough.
In that regard, why have these writers been so afraid, since the end of season 3, to allow Peter and Olivia to have actual intimacy without having to play with their relationship? How many times do we need them to rediscover each other? Does this show even need that? I'd rather focus on whatever and wherever this story wants to take us toward. Again, unless there is some grand plan for that this season, it is just a waste of time.
Anyway, I liked the Walter interrogation scenes even as I cringed at his suffering. I loved the infiltration sequence though it did go by much too quickly (could have extended it by doing away with exposition talk earlier). I even enjoyed the search for Olivia even if it was completed (again) much too easily. And I was encouraged by a few character beats that make me wonder about where Henrietta's mind is at and whether she may be a loose cannon at some point.
I also watched the promo that followed the episode and did feel a twinge of excitement about future episodes. So, while I wasn't blown away by 5.01, I am also not too down on it. Instead, I am cautiously waiting to be blown away.
If I had to rate this episode, and Walter's scrambled brain says I do, then I'd give it:
81 out of 100
Less exposition, less Peter and Olivia emo-sillyness and more shooting Observers would have brought the score up.