Thoughts on Fringe Season 2 Finale Over There Part 2

-by Amy Yen

With the big finale coming on Sunday, there’s been a lot of talk at the upfronts this year about networks looking for the next Lost. It wasn’t Flashforward & it wasn’t V, that’s for sure. I have to think it’ll be a while before we ever see anything quite as revolutionary as Lost again. In my opinion, the only show that’s already on the air that comes anywhere close is Fringe.

Fringe is quintessential JJ Abrams, it almost can’t help but become more & more mythology-based as it goes along. But the smartest thing Fringe did was let us in on the key underlying mythology of the show—the idea of the alternate universe—very early on…and then show us that our three main characters are all closely intertwined with this mythology. Fringe is a fun show: it’s weirdness & gross-outs & there’s a cow & the best character is, essentially, a crazy person. But for all its week-to-week monster chasing, Fringe has always excelled in telling very human stories about its characters within the frame of its sci-fi universe.

In that way, it’s a lot like Lost. Obviously, it’s a completely different show—I’m still not convinced it was ever a good idea, or even a realistic one, to try to make Fringe more accessible to a larger audience by making the majority of the episodes, particularly in season 1, mostly self-contained stories less dependent on myth-arc. I think that the audience that would watch Fringe is always looking for myth-arc, that’s why we’re there. Monster-of-the-week is great, it’s fun & Fringe does it well. There’s something incredibly entertaining about Fringe’s enthusiasm for general weirdness. But especially as it moves into season 3, I don’t see how they can possibly keep it up. The audience that will tune into Fringe now wants the story to keep going every week.

It is because of the great job that the show has done to grow its characters & to make us care so much about these three people & what they mean to each other that “Over There,” the two-part season 2 finale left me shaken. I wouldn’t say it topped “There’s More Than One of Everything,” the season 1 finale, which had two of the greatest reveals you will ever see on television. But the idea that the Olivia that came back over to our universe with Peter & Walter is not our Olivia at all, but the Olivia of the alternate universe, there to infiltrate our world as part of the Secretary of State Walternate’s ultimate plan to destroy our universe as revenge for Walter taking his son, all those years ago…that’s still a hell of a reveal.

I came out of it with a feeling of dread because the producers certainly weren’t kidding when they said this would be a game-changer. The thing is, a big part of why I like Fringe is the interaction between our three main characters—the “family unit” Peter talked about, before things went south on his & Walter’s relationship. So the idea that that aspect of the show won’t be there, or will certainly be drastically changed, is a scary one. But I applaud them for taking the risk. I have absolutely no idea where they’re going to go next season, but I will definitely be tuning in.

A few final thoughts on “Over There, Part 2”:

  • What a chilling final scene with Walternate looking in on Olivia—our Olivia, imprisoned & terrified in complete darkness on the other side. It’s unsettling to realize how long she might be stuck there…there’s no way for our Fringe team to get back “over there” now that the other Cortexiphan kids are all dead, as is William Bell.
  • I was very pleased that Bell turned out to be not evil after all. This was a fine send-off for Leonard Nimoy into his retirement. Especially loved his reunion with Walter (“I see you’ve aged.” “It appears I’m not the only one.”) & his arsenal of gadgets of awesomeness that he both geeked out to AltOlivia & AltCharlie to & then used on the AltFringe team.
  • I really don’t see how AltOlivia can possibly maintain her cover for long. For one thing, her interactions with Peter after our Olivia went from like a 3 to a 10 on the shipper scale with him in one episode are going to be interesting. Great to see the typewriter communications device to the other side again (who’s receiving those messages? Walternate?), although how did AltOlivia know the procedure to get in touch that way for orders? Didn’t she just learn about our universe like a day ago? And she definitely didn’t know she’d be going there until right before she went.
  • How creepy was the alternate universe quarantine procedure? Loved that it turned out to be the amber from “The Ghost Network,” all the way back in episode 3 of season 1. Remember, it was used to trap everyone on a city bus, like mosquitoes in amber. It was creepy then, but is about 45 million times more disturbing when you think about it being used on Madison Square Garden or the entire city of Boston. Especially horrible that they just leave it there, with all those people trapped inside.
  • All the performances were excellent. Joshua Jackson has been really impressive with his emotional deliveries in both parts of the finale. Going from his relief & sadness at seeing his real mother to how hurt he was over Walternate’s betrayal of him…he’s just a really good actor. Anna Torv has been criticized a lot for Olivia’s coldness & general lack of relatability, but Olivia & AltOlivia are clearly two separate people & you have to admire how hard that is to play. Plus, come on, that fight scene was awesome. And I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: John Noble. Emmy nomination. Make it happen. I don’t care if you don’t like genre shows. Watch that scene with him & Bell at the Harvard lab. Just brilliant.
  • PS: The video I included at the top is a summer blockbuster-style trailer put together by Fox “for all audiences in THIS UNIVERSE.” Good stuff.
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