Fringe Season 3 is a Flawed but Great Piece of Science Fiction
The third season of Fringe is easily the best of the series so far. It moves beyond simply being a good TV show to being a great piece of science fiction. What I mean is that despite the previous seasons sci-fi elements I wouldn’t call it good sci-fi because these same elements could be switched out with regular CSI fare or whatever. There wasn’t much intrinsically science fiction about the series at its core until late season 2.
Now let’s hit the other piece of my title; it’s flawed, pretty seriously flawed but it’s pretty easy to overlook the flaws as the greater drama and ideas are pretty dang awesome.
I’m breaking this article into two parts as I wrote far more then I anticipated to on the subject. This first part will deal with the seasons story and some individual episodes. I’ll let you know when spoilers start hitting if you haven’t seen these episodes yet. And I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and see them.
So let’s dig in shall we? Oh and the whole thing is a spoiler for seasons 1 and 2 so come back later if you haven’t seen those yet.
The series starts off focusing on our Olivia in the alternate universe who is slowly losing her identity to some drugs that Walternate gave her. These drugs give her the memories of Fauxlivia. So this episode is great in that it shows us more of the alternate universe while grounding us in something familiar with Olivia’s character. It’s a fun way to be eased into the alternate universe that we see a lot of throughout the season.
Then the show flips back and forth through universes for a while, and the odd thing is I found myself liking the alternate universe stuff a little more. Now at the end of the day of course were rooting for our universe but it’s a hard choice, more on that in the second article.
OK so some stand out episodes were the first one: Olivia, then The Box, The Abducted, Entrada, The Firefly(feature Doc Brown), Subject 13, Lysergic Acid Diethylamid(the kinda animated one. Though the animations kinda crap), and then the last three episodes are all great.
Subject 13 is not of the same caliber as it’s season 2 counterpart Peter is. Yet it’s still enlightening although as per the show it raises more questions whether intentional or not. For instance I find it hard to believe that Olivia has no memory of the drug trails as from what we see in this episode they are a very important piece of her childhood. Plus the things that happened there were somewhat traumatic. Also it’s clear that Olivia’s connection with the Bishops wasn’t planned from the start as Walter makes no mention and shows no emotion upon their meeting in season 1 that they knew each other before. Now they can explain that away with the fact that he was in a mental institute for 13 years or whatever.
The main storyline of the episode seems somewhat moot to me as Olivia and Peter meeting as kids seems to have no implications, as well as Olivia’s childhood really not being that important in the grand scheme of things. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a compelling episode or an important edition to the mythology. The episode is key in that it explains how Walternate learns of the our universe. And perhaps unsurprisingly the story of Walternate and his wife dealing with the loss of their son, and becoming nationally known because of it, does a lot to make Walternate a sympathetic villain if you can even call him one.
OK let’s talk about the ending. The machine is activated, some admittedly kind of filler stuff happens then Peter goes in the machine and blows up the other universe. The end. Except it turns out genocide isn’t a good thing for anybody as we discover both sides are needed in order for there to be balance, ying and yang folks. On top of that Walternate escaped and is running a terrorist cell, and generally being a sadistic(understandably so) scientist on a quest for revenge.So that last episode is a really nice surprise. It reminded me of the un-aired episode of Dollhouse’s – Epitaph 1 due to it’s flash forward/apocalyptic nature.
Also can I say that Astrid’s hair looks crazy no matter what universe were in.
The episode is great because it gives us super jaded bad ass versions of our characters(including Olivia’s little niece!) that don’t stick around long enough for us to grow tired of them.
Elephant in the room is the final twist that I just can’t take seriously.
I love the fact that Peter bonded the universes together, I can’t wait to see where that takes the show – but him disappearing because “he never existed” is just bullshit.
And everyone watching knows it.
Now you and I know because were watching this season after the fourth season is already out that Joshua Jackson does not leave the cast. Now if they had just pulled him from the cast altogether I would have applauded them for the balls it would have taken to do that, but come on this show airs on FOX. I’m surprised it’s been on as long as it has honestly. Some executive at FOX really loves Fringe because Season’s 3 and 4 saw a big dip in numbers and of course 5 will be their last and for that I’m grateful. But that does say to me that audiences, at least FOX’s audience would rather have a more or less bland procedural like the first season largely was rather than the true drama that Fringe works towards. I honestly feel like the remnants of that villain of the week thing hold the show back. And let’s not forget that when I say a dip, these are network TV numbers so millions of people are still watching each episode. What I can’t understand is why LOST could keep the numbers it did with it’s continues story telling. I’m going on a tangent and I think that’s an article for a later time.
OK the next article will talk about my thoughts on some of the larger ideas that were brought up in Fringe and some of the story telling techniques and styles used.