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Fringe Season 5: 5 Answers to Old Questions About The Show’s Final Season

Tomorrow sees the final episode of Fox’s Fringe, bringing to an end the five-year run of the at-times spectacular, at-times infuriating science fiction series. As the fourth season ended last year and we were told that the final year of the show would take place in the future setting of the episode “Letters of Transit,” I had five questions I wanted answered in the final year. But did I get the answers that I wanted?

What Does This Mean For Olivia?
At the time, I was referring to the fact that “Letters of Transit” returned Walter, Peter and Astrid to action in 2036, but pointedly didn’t show Olivia. At the time, I wondered whether this meant that there was some labyrinthine plot explaining Olivia’s absence, but that turned out not to be the case; she was just somewhere else, but equally ambered. Reading it over again from the other end of the season, it’s almost tempting to snark that I somehow subconsciously knew that season five would see Olivia reduced to the passive presence she became this year for no immediately apparent reason.

Will We Ever See Earth-2 Again?
Depending on what lies in store in tomorrow’s final episode, the answer for this one appears to be “not in any real way,” which really feels like a shame considering the importance of the alternate world to the series in the show’s first four years. Far more than the Observers, it was the show’s alternate Earth plot line that “was” Fringe for me, and that that thread was essentially severed unfinished in the fourth season’s “Worlds Apart” remains a particular point of contention to me. I know that the trailer for the final episode teases a return to the “Other Side”, and remain hopeful – but, admittedly, only slightly – that we’ll see some return of Lincoln and Fauxlivia at some point in the finale. Don’t leave us hanging like this, Fringe.

Will We Jump Straight To 2036, Or Spend Some Time In Between?
The answer to that one was “the former,” with surprisingly little time spent even on flashbacks of what happened between the end of the fourth season and opening of “Letters of Transit.” Sure, we have the whole Donald plotline and the Etta flashbacks that, weirdly, didn’t seem to go anywhere, but everything else has been exposition, disappointingly enough. Again, we have one more episode to go that might give us more of an idea of what happened in the intervening 24 years between seasons, but given the amount of story requiring some form of resolution, I’m not holding my breath.

How Close Are We To Finding Out That Broyles Is Working For The Observers?
By this, I meant that the “current” Broyles would sell out humanity when the Purge began. Turns out, he did, but was secretly working for the Rebellion all along. Which is… okay, I guess? I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any of the regular cast having been revealed to have turned into an Observer collaborator this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that that was because it would’ve spent too much time away from the main storyline that they had constructed for the year. A shame, though; it feels like a missed opportunity. (Plus, this year has been very keyed into the Walter/Astrid/Olivia/Peter dynamic, with both Broyles and Nina making minor appearances; it’s felt like a far smaller world – perhaps for budgetary reasons as much as creative ones? – as a result.)

Does This Mean The Observers Were Behind Everything All Along?
Apparently not, but maybe? This year has pretty much ignored previous continuity wherever possible, sadly, and so everything outside the scope of the Observers-as-Invaders plot has more or less been ignored. Perhaps the Observers were trying to manipulate the timeline all along to make their invasion more possible, but at this late point, I really doubt that we’ll get a definitive answer on that one way or another before the whole thing is over, sadly…

Fringe‘s final episode airs tomorrow on Fox at 8pm Eastern.


  • numberthirty

    Only slightly hopeful?

    It’s not like they might have SHOWED UP TEN SECONDS INTO THE FINAL TRAILER is it?

    Getting it wrong right up until the bitter end.

  • Liquidyears

    I never watched this show, but from what you wrote above, and what others have said, it seems like they pulled a page from the fiasco that was “Lost” to me. Lost ended as a completely messed up and hazy and mixed up bag of plot points. Looks a little similar here. GLAD I didn’t spend the time watching!   

  • AlterNATE

    This writer/reviewer is usually very wrong in his estimations of the show (as others who frequent this blog will tell you) so don’t base your initial impressions of the show on this fellows like of understanding. 
    Commenters have pointed out time and time again, how Graeme is always wrong about something or how a plot point that ranges from subtle but noticeable but down right obvious, just goes over his head. Sometimes he just flat out forgets or ignores things so he can ask his questions.What I’m saying is, don’t right off a great show because of this.

  • AlterNATE

    *Lack of understanding*

  • AlterNATE

    *how a plot point that ranges from subtle but noticeable too down right obvious, just goes over his head**don’t write off a great show because of this.*Apologies for the spelling errors. Its been a long day. 

  • oldforce

    Actually, Over There was already wrapped up nicely, as were most of the outstanding mysteries each season. Not sure what show this guy is watching.

  • nightw1ng

    While I appreciate that Fringe has been getting some love on this site, I always got kind of annoyed that Graeme’s lack of understanding of the show lead to confusion and misunderstandings.  He would often focus on irrelevant plot points, ask questions that have already been answered, or completely misinterpret an obvious scene.

  • Dave

    I’ve been quiet but after reading this column for years I’m just baffled as the author either is watching the wrong show or misses so many things. No offense but this is the worse analysis of a show I’ve ever seen.

    For example his last point about not being sure that the observers have been manipulating the timeline all along as ALREADY been answered.  When Windmark went back to the future it was revealed that they invaded at the specific time they did due to detailed calculations. Their other appearances were a research party studying time.These were all mentioned LAST episode.

  • Yanks5179

    Has anyone considered that maybe Graeme is watching Fringe on Earth-2, and his analyses are spot on, but we don’t see them as such because we’re watching the shows that actually airs on Earth Prime..?

  • Linda

    I remain optimistic about the ending…but I honestly do not see it concluding with a satisfactory resolution!?

  • Arichards218

    I’ve caught the Marathon for season one and fell in love I intend on Netflix -ing everything just to absorb every aspect of the show. Normally, good shows like these tend to take big risks to tie things up and go out with a bang. I still appreciated how it ended, and I look forward to watching every season like a movie. Fringe is by far the best science fiction drama that I’ve learned from and enjoyed. I’ll miss every character. J.J really knows how to get folks hooked, lol

  • zagatosz

    I for one will miss Fringe. I will be the first to admit that at times the show would lose its way for the most part it was a well told and acted show that would surprise you with the depth of drama and human feeling that was packed in the series.  I thought the last two episodes were a well done, ending the series with dignity and leaving the charters that we have traveled with the last 4 years in deserved circumstances.

  • Lol