18 January, 2013

Review - FRINGE Series Finale

"You don't know how lucky you are that this room doesn't have ventilation."

The FRINGE writers, having taken a 2-year break from making an effort, actually delivered a somewhat emotionally satisfying end to an episode. Bravo.

A series finale shouldn't be about giving answers. If you haven't given all the necessary answers by the finale, the end isn't the time. Those answers are bound to be unsatisfying anyway. So just go for emotional payoffs for the characters. And in that regard, these final two episodes (roughly 90 minutes) did that, to a point.

However, it didn't save a series that started taking a dive early in season 4 and made serious errors in season 5 --like killing off the most interesting character, Etta, only so we could meet her younger version at the end via a ridiculously predictable and paradoxically stupid series of events.

So I am not going to take this opportunity to deliver one final shot at the FRINGE writers or their raping of good story telling, or for flushing the greatness of this show down the toilet after its third season. Instead I will take like five shots:

Imagine how awesome the finale could have been had it not been for the complete ineptitude of the showrunner(s) to construct a storyline that wouldn't completely nullify the entirety of the series. That's just a bit dumber than wiping the memory of one of your romantic leads right at the end of the series (hi CHUCK writers!). Just because you wrote an ending doesn't mean it could have happened if we followed the logic of what preceded it.

Anyway, this is the last time I write about FRINGE. I am thankful for that.

If I had to rate these final 90 minutes, and why the hell not, I'd give them:

75 out of 100

And if I had to rate the season, I'd give it:

55 out of 100

That's being really generous.

63 comments:

  1. Halleluiah or however you spell it. I liked most of it but like you said the reset makes no sense. If they reset the Observer story then it goes as far back as September saving Walt and Peter which means they die.

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    1. You are wrong. September said the reset would only go back as far to the Invasion. Also, even if it did go back all the way, Walternate wouldn't have been distracted by September in the lab and would have successfully developed a cure to save Peter, which means Walter would have too. Either way, Peter lives.

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    2. Like I said in the review, just because you write that, doesn't mean it makes sense. There is no way they could just reset that one part and change nothing else. That's ridiculous.

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    3. Even if I was wrong they reset a whole season making it pointless.

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    4. I may have been wrong about resetting only as far back as the Invasion. But like I said below, Peter and Walter would still have lived.

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    5. They would have lived. But not the version of them the show based itself around. And there you have my problem with it. The reset makes no sense.

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  2. Exactly my thoughts Anonymous. If they reset time and the Observers never existed then who saved Peter and Walter when they fell into Reiden Lake? Honestly it's a little insulting how stupid the writers must think their audience is.

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    1. You are wrong. September said the reset would only go back as far to the Invasion. Also, even if it did go back all the way, Walternate wouldn't have been distracted by September in the lab and would have successfully developed a cure to save Peter, which means Walter would have too. Either way, Peter lives.

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    2. And if he is never distracted, then you still change the entirety of the story because everything changes. There is none of Walter's personal pain and feelings of failure. You change the whole architecture of the show.

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    3. Not really. All of that pain and feeling of failure still very much existed. And still exists. Walter is still in the future so he still remembers all of his past actions. And the conclusion with Walter sending Peter the white tulip, asking for his forgiveness, was very touching in my opinion.

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    4. It was touching. Especially if you buy the paradoxical nature of the story.

      I don't.

      That is why I rated the season as a failure. The whole of the interference of the Observers and the version of themselves that decided to invade the timeline that is later reset ignores everything that came before it. Consider that time has no specificity for the Observers. So any attempt to change it would be easily preventable if we simply go by seasons 2 and 3. But this season ends on a reset with ZERO butterfly effect. It's ridiculous.

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  3. The comments are better than the review lol. HGF is right. In any version of your guys reset either Walter never goes to the other universe or they both die or the Observers prevent the change. It doesn't make sense. For some fans it doesn't need to make sense. I needed it to.

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    1. I am a huge fan of the show, and trust me when I say I get turned off and annoyed really easily when shows do not make sense, simply as a means to further the plot. I disliked the timeline change in season 4, because it got rid of all the character development of the first 3 seasons. But this reset made sense and did not drastically change our characters we have come to know and love. I don't really know how to explain it well. Obviously, I respect your opinion of the finale, but I'm just saying that you might not have all the facts straight.

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    2. I can explain it but you can't but you're sure it doesn't drastically change our characters? Like saying Santa exists trust me. lol Like you said you are a huge fan so you want it to make sense but it doesn't.

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    3. Bingo! People who want to believe it all works will blind themselves to what actually makes sense. And that's what the writers are counting on... that you don't think about it.

      Because most people won't.... and then they come here to tell those of us who actually thought about it that we're wrong, even though they can't explain how we are wrong without tripping over their own argument. :)

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    4. Elaborate on why it doesn't make sense.

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    5. If the Observers don't exist then September never interferes then he saves his Peter and doesn't cross into the alt universe. The alt universe has to happen for it to end where it does.

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    6. IF that is even how things would play out. It really depends on what effect the interference of returning Michael would have on the universe as a whole. For a show that spent so much time talking about time and alternate universes and how things happen as the Observers have seen and blahblahblah, to suddenly end on "Hey guys, everything is reset ONLY up to this point and nothing else is affected" is one of the cheapest outs in time travel writing history.

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    7. Krull, what do you mean when you say "The alt universe has to happen for it to end where it does." ??

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    8. I give up. I don't know how you can't understand this.

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    9. Who is the one incapable of explaining now?

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    10. I'm pretty sure we both explained it effectively. How many different ways do you need it restated? EVERYTHING HAS TO HAPPEN FOR THEM TO END UP IN THE PARK AT THE END WITH ETTA. You can't reset shit because then it creates a butterfly effect where any deviation changes things.

      If Peter doesn't die and Walter doesn't cross over into the other universe to get the alternate Peter, then a different Peter with different emotional issues based on his father's completely different disposition exists.

      Any reset changes everything. It is very simple.

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    11. I had the same thought immediately when I learned of the plan, but remember, the timeline was completely reset in season 4. It's this new timeline that's being altered, and in this new timeline, September never saved them, so our Peter never existed. He only exists because he 'bled' into it from the previous timeline. So, in this timeline, Walter and the gang execute the plan so that the observers never exist, therefore Peter doesn't survive, but in the timeline from seasons 1-3, the observers do exist, as does our Peter. So the future that was altered was part of the new timeline-- it doesn't affect the timeline from seasons 1-3, which only Peter, Olivia, and now Walter remember. Therefore Peter can still exist in this timeline.

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  4. In advance we were told by Jackson that 512 was to OLivia exclusively, what I saw was regular screentime for a mainlead,
    so that is how low Wyman has sunk.
    His explanation of Olivias arc makes me sick, Olivia abused by men as a child (Bell, Walter and stepdad) has grown by being lied to and hunliated by Peter over and over and still wants him,
    Wyman clearly hates women.

    Episode 512 was by far the best episode of the season, proved how important Anna Torv is central,
    and that the best thing of Fringe is Over There and Cortexiphan.

    There was tension, there was Lincoln Lee, Altlivia and OLivia, amazing acting from Anna Torv.

    Pity they did not give Olivia and Altlivia a longer scene, and a real shame that they cut a very long scene of AltLivia, Lincoln and son together,

    to make room gor another 7 minute or so Walter and Peter crying talk.

    513 was predictable and very boring with all those men talking,

    The best parts were Olivia and Astrid together, and Olivia doing the action with the cars with Windmark.


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    1. Good points. I was thinking a few episodes back that once it was revealed that Olivia became a wife and a mother, she pretty much became a prop for the rest of the season (until the finale). It drove me bonkers to watch Torv say a handful of lines each episode and see Olivia defer nine times out of ten to Peter and Walter. To me, it said something about how the producers/writers view wives and mothers in our society! Olivia was just so passive for most of season 5 when she'd been so incredibly alive and active, an authority figure to the team in the previous seasons. Sure, she was grieving Etta's death for part of the season, but grief never stopped her from being in command before. I was disappointed about this turn for the character as it didn't ring true for me. But, that said, there were of course many emotional and satisfying moments in the final two episodes, like the journey to the alt universe and the scenes between Walter & Peter. RIP Fringe!

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    2. Were you that concerned when PETER/JOSH spent an entire episode with just 5 lines of dialogue?

      See:

      Wallflower
      Every single over there episode

      I wish Anna torv fans would just shut the fuck up about how poor anna was jipped this season. She played 5 people, she had superpowers AND had episodes centered around her ass.

      WHAT THE FUCK DID JOSHUA JACKSON DO THIS ENTIRE FUCKING SEASON?????

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  5. To HGF, my interpretation of the whole thing, especially the erasing of the observers, was that as explained by september that it would only nullify the invasion by changing the future from 2015 on 2167. You're thinking of time as a line that has a past present and future, imagine this: What if time was a branch that with every consequence, it diverts from the point of which the decision was made? My point is, the way i see it is that that particular part of the branch looped back to 2015 before the invasion to avoid a paradox as there were more than several incursions by the observes in the past. I may be wrong but it's fringe, the show is supposed to engage you and to tell you a story of these people and it's not based on actual physical conditions and besides, no offence, your understanding of time in general is patchy, not that mine is any better but I sure as hell know that time doesn't work the way you understand it.

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    1. That's a super convenient way to explain how things work for you. Except the show established its own rules for time and how it is affected over at least three seasons. Now suddenly we are to believe that you can simply make a bubble fix to a timeline and nothing else is affected? That only works if you want to accept it while ignoring everything else that says it doesn't work.

      It violates its own rules. Season 5 essentially lives as its own show.

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    2. The big objection seems to be, "If the Observers never existed, then how did Walternate's cure of Peter get interrupted, prompting Walter to cross over and take him, yadda yadda?" First of all: Remember that Seasons 1-3 happened in the "blue" (opening credits) timeline, which is out of play now and has been since Season 4. Seasons 1-3 happened because they happened, and all the characters paradoxically have memories of it happening.

      Next, remember that the yellow timeline unfolded differently. We assume that it unfolded differently because September didn't save Walter and Peter from the ice, but it's also possible that it unfolded differently because September didn't interrupt Walternate or something ELSE happened.

      With that being said, erasing the observers DOESN'T alter anything in the "blue" (seasons 1-3) timeline, which is what you seem to have the most problem with.

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    3. Only if you accept what was written into how the reset works. As I said, just because you write it that way, doesn't mean it works that way.

      I'd say the same for season 4 at this point. They broke their own rules.

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    4. If Michael returns then the Observers won't interfere and September never has to protect Michael which means season 5 can't happen so Walter would never have gone into the future so the ending makes no sense.

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    5. Alright whatever. Keep writing for Geek Furious or whatever this site is. I accidentally stumbled upon here and regret my decision to have read your poorly written review.

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    6. 1) To the second anonymous, if only your mother had swallowed, you wouldn't have violated our timeline with your stupidity and wasted my time.

      2) To the other anonymous, exactly. That is what I pointed out last week. If "the boy must live" is Michael, then resetting any timeline he is in also resets the timeline in which he is mentioned. Therefor you just invalidated the show. Booyah! /endofline

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    7. My Little Pony BoyJanuary 19, 2013 at 1:04 AM

      HGF I think the problem is the fanboys want it to fit so it fits but what you say makes sense to me. If Michael is the boy September was talking about when he said that to Walter then by resetting the timeline then September doesn't have to tell Walter anything and Walter never tries to save Michael because he doesn't need to be saved.

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  6. I see what you guys mean now. But isn't that always the problem with time travel shows? If you change something then you break the story? Don't we just accept that as fans?

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    1. It is a problem when you write yourself into a corner. It is lazy. And sure, it happens in a lot of time travel movies and TV shows. But it doesn't HAVE TO happen. It only happens when you "break the story," as you say. They could have come up with something better. ANYTHING better.

      The biggest problem really occurred when they pulled a bad retcon (retroactive continuity) with the "the boy must live" stuff. It was really weak writing.

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  7. I can accept that that Quantum Leap would violate the universe in a billion different ways based on the Butterfly Affect. I accepted Chuck even though they ripped off the Matrix. I acceped the West Wing (or is it the Left Wing) even though I knew that 95% was just a dream that every American has of what a President and White House should be.

    Why do I accept all these shows when it would be so easy to sit and nitpick and call bullshit where time after time after time they went for the sappy happy ending where heart won over head?

    Because at some point the characters all evolved at stayed consistent over their run, they shows invested in their characters and their plots. The show runners put heart and soul and tried to sell a better world then what we have and tried to give hope and it felt earned. Watch two Catherdrals and tell me that it matters if the President in the real world could survive this shit storm? does not matter because they emotional work is so good and the story so masterly plotted (at that point, the show went downhill after some wanker executive decided to cut corners and get rid of Sorking...idiots!!). You watch Chuck versus the Honeymooners and say there is no way in real life Chuck and Sarah do not work..dare you! You sit there and tell me that the whole of Quantum Leap was bullshit after you watch the Leap home parts 1 and 2 in season 3 and you get the best payoff of 2 seasons worth of work. This was man who put his heart and soul for the greater good.

    This brings me to Fringe...they threw out their characters! their plot is fucked beyond belief, they violated their own rules! they violated their entire series. Peter should not exist with the blueverse Olivia. Etta should not be born, Michael should be gone as soon as he shows the scientist who they are. Who was MR X? What was the actual purpose of the observers.

    This show did not in any way or form EARN the happy ending or the sentimentality that went into it because they sold the shows soul a long time ago and I do not know why! This show is so disappointing..... now go and read McGee giving them shit over at Hitfix.

    Fringe

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    1. Did Ryan take them to task? Good. I was very disappointed in his review last week. I expected him to nail them to the cross. Anyway, off to read what he had to say.

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    2. you were disappointed in his review? just because he liked the direction the show was going in some aspects? WOW

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    3. No, I was disappointed in how he didn't take them to task for the things that were obviously going to be problematic... which he took them to task for this week.

      WOW

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  8. You are right, the series finale was a ridiculous mess, but it had Peter and Walter talking nonsense, hugging, crying and being generally awesome together. It doesn't make for almost two seasons without them. That's how it should have been for the last couple of years, the Bishop Boys giving life to the craziness and heart to the FBI stuff. Alas, it was not to be and now it's over. With another reset. Why, oh why?

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    1. Yeah... the moments they got right in the episode just made me pine for when they used to be able to get most of it very right.

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  9. A very emotion-packed and passable, relatively satisfying ending. I cried during all Walter and Peter scenes, father and son were incredible together. :'( Too bad the writers of the show got lazy (I don't know any other way to put it), and ruined the excellent ideas and awesome potential Fringe had in the second part of season 2 and during season 3... The way the whole story is completed and put together in the end was not logically gratifying at all. :(

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    1. I should also make it clear that my dislike for this season, or my problem with the reset isn't just about what it screws up in the main timeline. That's just a point about laziness. My biggest problem with this season is just that general laziness in story telling.

      Any time your solution at the end of your series is a reset, then you are saying to your audience that you gave up. Not to mention they had already used this story telling device at the end of season 3 (to a point). Doing it again is an extra level of lazy.

      At least the CHUCK writers went for something original (for them).

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  10. Great review. I always felt that the first reset was forced due to the uncertainty of renewal during that period. They needed something that worked both as season and series finale, but I don't think it was what they originally had in mind. Once gone that route, they'd written themselves into a corner they never knew how to leave. That said, there were so many possibilities the Observers invasion brought, but it's like they never bothered to explore them, just went for the obvious. They might as well ended the whole thing as "it was just a dream", it was that lazy.

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  11. It doesn't excuse all the problems of the reset logic but I did like that they tried to give the character arcs some good moments and closure, like Walter/Peter and Peter/Olivia. I understand your point about how in some ways that only highlights the deficiencies as a whole, because the show has succeeded in the past on both fronts. But at this point it feels like if they couldn't resolve the logical side of things in a reasonable way then at least they tried to give some closure in that respect.

    Also, this was the first episode in a while where I felt like Olivia had emotional reactions on par with the things at stake in the episode. I had been watching some S3 episodes leading up to the finale and realizing that it did feel like something was off this season with her reactions to Etta's death and things with Peter. But I did at least feel like it was back for this episode which was good. Obviously, all the Walter/Peter stuff was great as usual, and a fitting end to that story emotionally.

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    1. This was the first time in a while when we got to see a glimpse of the Olivia from season 3. It just made me miss her and realize how superior the writing was back then.

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  12. how exactly do they travel into the future to meet the scientist who jumpstarted the evolution of Observers, when the Observers exist rule in and modify that timeline for 100-odd years before that scientist is even born (if he's born at all)?
    Writers basically ignored the most important rule of time travel
    Even Back to the Future addresses this issue better..

    very disappointing end to what once was a great show

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  13. Excuse me but, there are two quite logical explanations I read here and you ignore them saying `it doesn`t mean it is just because you write so`. You say it doesn`t make sense and they are trying to give you sense and you keep ignoring. Maybe they want to believe it makes sense because they like it but you are insistently trying not to believe it makes sense because you don`t like it. I don`t see any difference.

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    1. There are no logical explanations for time travel stories where anything is changed. So the only thing that holds one together is the quality of the writing. It failed.

      Next.

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    2. Oh really? Let me explain. You live A and B timelines. A is past and B is present. Then people from C, which is future, come to your present. You spend 20 years and then you come back to the present, but you don`t remember anything (of course you start to remember after a while, that`s what the show told us). This time people don`t come from future and you live happily ever after.
      Coming to points that did not make sense to you, Walter and Michael existed throughout A. That`s past, you remember it all. After that, they disappear.(because of paradox) Anything after doesn`t happen but anything before happened. (Yes, including the boy must live part) Now Peter, Olivia, Etta are in, let`s say, point D which takes place after even C. Everything that happened happened, the past is locked and now there is a new timeline where the future is different.
      I admit that I might be wrong, but at least I try to give it a logical explanation. So it would be better if you tried to find the logical mistakes in my and the others` explanation rather than saying it doesn`t mean that`s true.
      Thanks for reading it anyway and unlike others I found your review quite right. Just trying to help here in giving you the sense that you can`t make

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    3. Nice try but all of this depends on me buying the notion that there are overlapping timelines that contradict each other without causing a butterfly effect, which is something the show started to ask us to believe in season 4. I went along with it with the caveat that if it stopped working I would call them out on it.

      They wrote nothing interesting into the bit and even overlapped the timelines again, trying to pass off their errant overlap timeline universe as acceptable, when it wasn't. The thing is, if Peter remembers the other timeline, and so does Olivia, then it always happened. And since Peter only disappeared as a memory and eventually came back, we can at least ignore the paradox of events that caused the two world to come together without ANYONE QUESTIONING HOW THAT HAPPENED!

      But fine, I'll let it go... provided it works. And it never worked. It only became more paradoxical. And then they double-down on that ridiculous paradox by repeating it at the end. Not to mention that they tried to leverage their lunacy with an even bigger puzzling story device: they would take an individual who would have had to have existed in a world that will no longer exist, and be helped along in that time, THAT NOW NO LONGER EXISTS, to be able to do something that would be impossible to do BECAUSE HE NEVER DID IT.

      Because any time you reset a timeline that got you to a certain point, that timeline and all events that led up to it CEASE TO HAVE OCCURRED.

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    4. I hate making a comment on a disscusion but think about it, everything is still the same. the reset didn't cease the observers exitence, it just made them capable of emotions like the kid observer, so september did exist and the observers still observed and september did interrump walternative and the whole story is intact it just that they didn´t invade. althoug by saying this there is still a few holes for season 4 but I think this can explain it

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    5. excuse my english I speak spanish

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    6. You don't seem to follow.

      If you reset a timeline in which you send someone back to do something, then it never happens. That person never does what you sent them to do because they never got the opportunity because they reset it.

      That's the paradoxical problem. Once you erase a season, essentially, then you also erase all the events that led up to it, meaning you actually put everything back to square one. It doesn't work the way the writers want it to work.

      It works the way it would work.

      And again, none of this would be a major problem for me if the writing wasn't so weak the whole season. Because they never made an effort.

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    7. HGF, I totally agree with you on 4th Season Peter disappearing and reappearing out of nowhere. I think it is much more ridiculous than the ending and I don`t have any explanation for it. Even the actors said they were disappointed with it and writers accepted that it might have been a failure.

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  14. weird because if they go in the future to change the scientist mind about emotions wouldnt there not be a scientist because the observers are already in the present and would therefor be in the future and have that tech already so noone would need to invent it...

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    1. More importantly, by going into the future and changing something, they prevent all of it from happening since the only reason he returns to tell them to stop the program is because the program existed.

      So if it never exists, his reason for going there is erased which in turn invalidates the entire season and ending.

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  15. Overall, a very dissatisfying 5th series. To those arguing in support of the ending, it seems obvious that either they have suspended their ability to reason intellectually for the emotional gratification of saying goodbye to the show or they never possessed it in the first place. Like some, I came across this review and found the reviewer's comments more engaging than the review. I've watched (and liked) this show since the first series so when the show was given an extension to come back and have this finale series I was hoping for the writers to put their best foot forward. Sadly, it was mostly poor and wasteful story telling with far too many holes and inconsistencies.

    My favorite moment of the entire 5th series has to be when Walter finds the audio CD and plays Yazoo's Only You. For some reason it was quite memorable to see a tattered and torn Walter sitting in the wreck of a car on an empty street with the sun's blinding rays shining on his face as Alison Moyet's voice comes.

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  16. "A series finale shouldn't be about giving answers. If you haven't given all the necessary answers by the finale, the end isn't the time. Those answers are bound to be unsatisfying anyway. So just go for emotional payoffs for the characters."

    Really? Can you tell Chuck fans that?

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    1. Except CHUCK doesn't follow that at all. They created a question and didn't deliver the necessary emotional payoffs. Sure, there are more of those payoffs in the extended cut of the episode but they still failed on delivering on 5 seasons of character growth across the board.

      To me, the most perfect endings are BSG and LOST because they gave every character a beautiful moment. It may not be the kind of ending some people want (I know some people want nothing but answers), but it is definitely the type of ending CHUCK needed.

      Instead, the finale focused on Chuck and everyone else was just reacting to Chuck's suffering. Where was the open concern for Sarah? It was buried in the subtext. And all the other characters we loved were mostly relegated to saying goodbye to Chuck.

      Lame.

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    2. Chuck tried to do what Fringe tried throughout season 4...saying that true love or the sense that people cannot be simply forgotten will always win out. Peter never existing was supposed to be the ultimate test for the characters, can they not but help themeselves feel a sense of longing for someone or something that is missing? Fans called bulshit.

      I have defended CHUCK over on the av club as saying that I can see where they were coming from in a way. I think seasons 1 to 5.11 showed that Chuck and Sarah were happy to date, engage, marry...wanted to have children and buy a house...that was never questioned by fans because the show until the finale did ok by Chuck and Sarah. I think the show was saying that that would still happen but wanted to remind fans just what made them such a special couple in the first place. What made season 2 so special to most fans and critics was the yearning and the fight to be in eachs others live because it just made sense to them in some way that maybe did not to others. What the show tried to say is that Sarah could not but help love Chuck even though she did not remember him at the time, that she could not shoot him or leave Burbank or help but go along with Morgans crazy idea than try and see if the kiss worked and give herself a shot at hapiness that the Sarah we saw in the pilot would never consider.

      It took 3 seasons for Sarah to accept or be comfortable in the life she lived and in the finale it took a week to trust Chuck and want to take a chance...I have been watching Memento lately and as much as I did not like the finale and think they should have gone for the conventional sappy ending I will play devils advocate and kind see what they were trying to say.

      I do not think they were trying to say that they will not be together and have everything they wanted because Sarah was starting to remember and I think she would have remembered and she did laugh and cry on the beach so I suppose some of that resonated with her emotionally.

      I think the show just tried to show that no matter how many times Sarah went back to being the person we met in the pilot (her old self) she would ultimately come around to our nerd hero...something so very romantic I suppose.

      As Lenny says at the end of Memento " I have to believe in a world outside my own mind, I have to believe that my actions still have meaning even if I cannot remember them, I have to believe when my eyes are closed the world is still here, do I still beleive the world is still here? is it still out there? yeah, we all need mirrors to remember who we are, I am not different" - beautiful.

      I think the same could be applied to Sarah.

      Sorry for the lengthy mostly bullshitty answer, I really thought the finale did suck in a lot of ways and I suppose playing devils advocate helped a little. I hope it helps fans who are still really, really, really pissed with the way the show turned out.

      I deep down do not think Fedak and Schwartz were being fucking dicks, they may have just tried to have a little faith in the fans to open their minds to other possiblities. Who knows? I want to shoot myself watching Gossip Girl and stopped watching, same with the OC during seasons 2 and 3...Good luck people.

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