The Fringe Finale (and the LOST Finale)

The finale of Fringe was different than what Abrams and company did with the finale of LOST. Whether it was better or worse is debatable, but it was different in just about every way that it could have been different. And that makes it interesting. There are spoilers ahead, so if you have not seen it, go watch it first, or read on if you don’t care!

The finale of LOST was all about the characters, with some resolution of questions but not to everyone’s satisfaction. The finale of Fringe did a much better job of bringing the entire series full circle. The time travel that was needed to account for the First People. The Observers. The parallel universe. The technology developed by ZFT. Walter’s need to redeem himself and question of whether that was even possible.

The one thing that both shows had in common was an interest in spirituality. But they tackled things very differently, with Fringe not (on the whole) willing to embrace anything that could genuinely be called spiritual or religious without at least some veneer of scientific explanation.

One thing the two shows focused on was fate. Whether fate could be changed was ambiguous on LOST, but the attempt to rewrite history failed. On Fringe, it succeeds. And it is emphasized several times before that resolution that “destiny” or “fate” is not immutable. As September puts it, “It’s not about fate. It’s about changing fate, about hope…about protecting our children.”

The theme of fathers and sons runs through both shows. But in LOST there is just a hint of reconciliation between Jack and his father in the afterlife. At the end of Fringe, September had found a way to love his son, and Peter and Walter had reached the pinnacle of their relationship and rejoiced in the stolen time they were able to share.

As a Doctor Who fan, I was delighted that the phrase “reverse the polarity” appeared on the show!

There was an insightful post on the blog Think Christian which noted that the music box which featured in both the previous episode and the finale plays “Greensleeves.” That melody, of course, is associated with the Christmas carol “What Child Is This?” The music box is closely associated with Michael, the anomaly whose intellect and emotions are integrated, and beyond anything humanity can understand. Something of a miracle child. This was a nice touch. Our human future may, and perhaps must, take us beyond anything that we today would be able to understand. Even the Observers from hundreds of years in the future do not understand Michael. That is what religion at its best is all about: a recognition of our limited perspective, and that transcendence even of a relatively near-future humanity sort defies our comprehension, so how much more so does Ultimate Reality.

What did you think of the Fringe finale? How much will you miss it now that it is gone? Did it provide a better resolution for the show than LOST did?

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  • Keika

    Well I’m sorta stuck with the problem that Peter was shot multiple times, and his body was flung up into the air and back against a very dark wall. Then he walks out of the dense smoke from all the gunfire in slow motion, to see Walter and the boy heading for the wormhole. Walter is looking towards Olivia as Peter is standing next to her, or not? Then we see the dreamlike ending in the park which if Peter was dead, then his ghost was playing with the little girl, whom only Olivia could see. I’m Lost.

    • MarkTemporis

      From the way those guns were throwing him around, I’m guessing what the Observers were using was some kind of force blaster instead of the guns they used…well, all the other times. There was some kind of blue energy effect when they fired. On the off chance you know what I mean, Energy Blast rather than Killing Attack.

      • Keika

        Well there were other problems with the story, like when Peter and Olivia drop the parasites into the AC units and find Agent Broyles tied to his chair in a room where Peter says, “You’re lucky there are no air vents in this room.” That was sorta funny. Still, I think we’ve been fed a red herring and Peter may not have made it out alive. But that’s okay because it will stick in our heads forever, like who shot J.R. or the ending of LOST.

        • James F. McGrath

          Well, however much Peter was injured, presumably the changing of history eliminated the Observers’ invasion and thus his injuries.

  • Paul Levinson

    James – had Peter been badly injured, that might well have derailed Walter’s trip to the future.  But gunplay was the least of the problems with last night’s magnificent finale.   There is the underlying paradox of how Peter can be alive at all, given the erasing of the Observers in the time re-set.

    • James F. McGrath

      Well, September distracted Walter when he discovered a cure for Peter’s illness, and so I think that could work. But it is indeed a fair point to ask how much of the ending with Peter, Olivia, and Etta makes sense if time were rewritten in that way. If Walter had never crossed over, them all the fringe events might never have occurred.

      But as Desmond said on LOST, maybe time has a way of course-correcting…Or maybe when they stopped pushing the button on the island every 108 minutes, it made the other universe aware of ours? :-)

  • Huwwster

    Really enjoyed the show start to end. One slight flaw in the plot logic that I am finding difficult to reconcile is how ‘the plan’ actually worked. It all hinged on Micheal, an anomaly artificially created in a future that would no longer exist, by observers and observer technology that would no longer exist, with the DNA of September/Donald who, also following this logic, would also not longer exist… if the plan worked that this. In short, for the plan to work, Michael was to play key role in resetting the time line to one where he would never have been created.

    • jianpang

      Well I think what may happen is that the year 2167 scientists would study Michael of his ability to be both intelligent and emotional at the same time. As long as they are ‘still’ studying Michael, he would ‘still’ exist (as the studies have not been put into effect yet). If Michael were to disappear halfway during their study of him, the scientists may not even go ahead with the new findings, and stuck with the initial plans that lead to the creation of Observers and their defect Michael. What I mean is, Michael would only cease to exist (disappear into thin air) right after the scientists of year 2167 have finished their studies on him and made the fundamental decision or ‘change’ to the first designs of the new human brain.

      • kinarky

        While i agree it could have been a decent explanation the flaw is bigger than that :
        Why would a scientist in 2167 study a science that was imported from the far future to 2036. Remember that at the moment Walter and Michael are going forward through time, the Observers are about to wipe out the former humanity from earth? If i try i could think that maybe the Observers could “engineer their future” to make sure they would still invade the past in exactly the same way so the loop could work, but the scientist in Oslo 2167 can’t exist.
        An explanation maybe : the story is incomplete, it’s not Walter and Michael who make the Observers go away. The Observers are overthrown nevertheless?. Walter and Michael still change the future though and save Etta in the process. Finally by going in the past and making whatever they want the Observers have set a course of events that will prevent their own existence.

  • Huwwster

    Moving onto the parallels drawn between Lost and Fringe and ‘Spirituality’. As an Orthodox Christian myself, I found the LOST finale deeply unsatisfying and troubling with its use of imagery from all faiths and its ecumenist discourse. The moment I spotted the atheist symbols of Eastern religions alongside Christian and other faiths (Abrahamic or otherwise) hanging proudly in the ‘chapel of rest’, the show completely LOST me. It was a bitter betrayal after what promised to be a dazzling wrap up to what had been, admittedly, a truly wonderful sci-fi show. Its feeble attempts at offering heretical explanations for the great mystery of death was just appauling and cringe-worthy and, to top it off, it fulfilled my worst forebodings that arouse in me towards the end of season 1 – “this had better not end up with them all dead or a dream or both…!”

    Fringe, on the other hand, remained loyal to its hippy, 1960s mad-scientist roots to the bitter end. It did not attempt to rise above its station and offer any wholly inadequate explanations for the great mysteries of life – the realm of the divine. No, it remained unpretentious, good old LSD-influenced, sci-fi fun with engaging character-development. Bravo Fringe, 5 stars from me.

    • Ric5678

      Nothing was changed from 2015 on. Walter and September set the machine to read FROM 2015, not 2036. In this sense, it doesn’t matter if Walter and Michael even reached 2136, because the fact of going into any future would change everything after.

  • Temo

    “The Plan” was nothing more than stopping THE INVASION. Nothing before that was intended to be affected the only things affected if the plan succeeded was The Observers never INVADING. The plan was to alter the decision the Observers made to go back in time to our era.