Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
The announcement that Fringe has been renewed by Fox for one final season is great news – especially for those of us who were worried that this might’ve been the last year for the show, given the ratings – but with only thirteen episodes in the final season, it’ll be time to stop messing around and get down to business. Instead of five questions, here’re five things I want to see from Fringe: Season Five.
The Observers/Humanity War
Given the hints we’ve seen this year – especially last week’s “Letters of Transit” – there’s almost no way that Fringe‘s last year could pass without some showdown between the “good guys” and the time-traveling Observers. Given what we learned last week, it might be a showdown that would leave the Fringe team trapped in amber (or, of course, we might go back to 2036 and find out what happened next), but still: This is a plot thread we need some closure on.
And talking of long-running plot threads that need closure: We’ve had some payoff over the years about Olivia’s being part of a trial to create super powered children, but nowhere near enough. Are the twenty-seven Cortexephan kids that’ve been recruited by David Robert Jones all of the other subjects, and if not, where are the rest? How powerful is Olivia, anyway? And just how connected are the Cortexephan trials and their subjects to the twin ideas of David Robert Jones trying to create the next generation of humanity and the superpowered descendants of humans, the Observers? Of all the dangling plot threads, this feels like the one that, should we pull on it, could unravel the whole Fringe mystery. So, let’s pull.
(If nothing else, I’d like the sheer number of coincidences in the Fringe mythology to be addressed: Olivia not only turns out to be central to the survival of existence, but also happens to have been a test subject to create superhumans that was run by a scientist who then went on to cross between Earths creating the very threat that Olivia is important to the resolution of, and by the way, he’s also the same scientist that she’ll get out of a mental institution for an entirely different case altogether…? Really?)
Less an unanswered question than a personal want, but: Massive Dynamic has been in the background of the series since Day One, but we’ve not really seen enough of the clearly-shady goings-on that constitute the corporation’s business. I don’t know if there’s going to be anything close to enough time to essentially start a new plot (unless this is already planned as part of the explanation of last week’s unexpected William Bell appearance?), but if there was any way to work in an expose of Massive Dynamic and Nina Sharpe somewhere during the last thirteen episodes, I have to admit that I’d love it…
Remember “The Pattern”? Maybe you don’t, if you joined the show after the second season, by which point the concept has essentially been dropped from the show. “The Pattern” was the name given to the unidentified weird science events caused by Walter crossing between universes the first time, that were (presumably) stopped with the creation of The Machine in season three, and the joining together of the two Earths. But, given that we’re heading towards the end, it’d be nice to see some tip of the hat – Not a wag of the finger – to the concept that formed the backbone of the first episodes of the series (If we can also get Mark Valley back for a cameo at some point, that’d be nice, too. What? I like symmetry and nostalgia, what can I say?).
A Happy Ending
…I also like happy endings. So sue me.
Here’s the thing: It’s not that I don’t think Fringe could get away with – or benefit from – a downbeat ending, or something more vague and/or cliffhanger-y; I suspect that last week’s episode was built partially from a desire to prepare for that very thing, in fact. But, as someone who’s been watching this show from the start… I want a happy ending. At this point, I want to see Peter and Olivia together, and I want Walter to have them as his family (Along with Astrid, too). I want Lincoln to find love with Fauxlivia. I want Broyles to finally have something to smile about, and not just in that grunting, “Well, I guess that’s something less to screw my day up” manner. I want Nina to… actually, I don’t really care about Nina that much (Sorry). But it’s there, the hope that by the end of the fifth season, we’ll actually have an ending and that it’ll be a positive one for the characters we’ve come attached to over the last five years. It may be old fashioned and uncynical and the opposite of good storytelling, but I find myself not caring: All I want, to quote Elliott Smith, is happiness for you and me. Buck the system, Fringe. Show the good guys actually winning for a change.