So I've been mostly silent, waiting for a lot of things to pan out before commenting on Fringe. But with the latest episode, I feel like I have a grasp on how I feel about this season now. I have a lot of feelings about Olivia as the narrative lead and how I feel like the show lost me when they took her out of play, but that's another post entirely. For now, this post is on my thoughts on the Amberverse the writers created with the Bridge reset and their use of the Alternates to develop the journey of the Peter and Olivia we've known since S1.

I've always felt that Fringe is a show that works best when it explores the major theme of love and loss by taking the individual characters' experiences and blowing up the fallout on a bigger stage. Walter's grief over the loss of his Peter tore the fabric of the universe (S1-S2). Walternate's anger and pain at Peter's kidnapping caused a war between two worlds (S2-S3). And now we get to this episode, where we close the book on the Alt!verse, seemingly for good, and get out our bucket of creys because the loss of them makes the Fringe universe seem smaller -- and yet I can't help but feel that the writers sort of wasted their time getting here and that they didn't develop the relationships nearly as much as they should.

Here are the problems I've had with S4:

1) The cliffhanger of S3 was where is Peter, but the promise of S4 was that they would be working through all that angsty conflict to heal the two worlds and we'd get to see more characters meet their alternates. Why didn't we see more crossovers?

This episode was so much fun because it was the two sides working together in the same episode. And yeah, I get it. It's expensive and complicated and they have a limited budget and time frame to film. But if this was going to be our only season where people other than Olivia could cross over easily, I feel like there should have been more people visiting from the Altverse on our side and vice versa because that is new and exciting. They could have had more eps where an Alternate crosses over to consult like the Astrid episode, Lincoln coming over to the Alt!side, and Olivia in second episode of the season. Then we would have SEEN more how the Altworld was healing because of the Bridge rather than being told. We would had SEEN more of the two teams build relationships (with varying success) and the loss of the Alt World would have resonated even more than it already did.

2) I still don't know why I really should care about the Amber team either.

What's interesting about the Amber reset is that they actually had two sets of Universe mergers: the internal merging of BlueOlivia and Peter with the Amber Fringe team and the external merging of the Alternate side with our side. They completely ignored the latter (which I'll get into below) but they also dropped the ball on the former. One of the things this show excels at is allowing us to see the characters ~react to revelations of loss, and I haven't felt ANY of that from either the Amberverse Fringe team or Peter and BlueOlivia in ways that I should.

If we were always going to lose Amber Olivia anyway, I almost wish that we had gotten Blue Olivia earlier so that we could focus more on how the Amber teams feels about losing their Olivia and gaining ours/Peter's. If the transition happened earlier, it would have kept Olivia at the center of the emotional track (instead of ~just Peter) and been a great way to get to know the Ambers better. We could have gotten to know them through stories told to Olivia to remind her how awesome their relationships used to be, in hopes of triggering her memories and getting their Olivia back. Since they are the ones that Peter and Blue Olivia (and we the audience) are living with from now on, we should have gotten more development, and certainly more of reaction aside from that one scene with Olivia and Nina in 4x17 and Peter's scene with Lincoln about being a good guy. Broyles and Astrid lost a friend and colleague too.

Likewise it would have drawn Peter and Blue Olivia closer together because they would be struggling with the loss of their Blue Fringe team. Just because, yay Peter and Olivia were able to find each other again, doesn't mean that the dilemma of Peter's plight in the beginning has changed. All it means is that there are two survivors of a lost timeline, afloat and alone in a familiar but ultimately different universe, instead of just one. And yet we haven't heard them mention the others in the Blueverse at all. I've missed them leaning on each other, and they could have given that to us a lot earlier.

3) So much of this season was focused on Peter and his quest for Olivia that they didn't have time to develop anything else.

Fringe has its leads, but it's always been about family and the TEAM, not solely Olivia's special destiny with Peter. I don't mind that storyline, in fact I like the two of them together very much, but the show I fell in love with has more layers than that. What makes it great is that it's not just an epic love story but that it's also about the creation of a family with wacky sci-fi hijinks and moral and ethical quandaries on the side, and I feel like the season got away from that.

Instead we got a lot of Lincoln falling for an Olivia that was never going to stick around, Peter reenacting his version of Planet of the Apes, and absolutely no sense of Olivia's storyline, purpose or objective separate from who she's in love with. If not for David Robert Jones bringing it back into focus, the story about two opposing teams forced to work together to save their Universes would fell to the wayside almost completely and Olivia would have nothing to do.

All of which are annoying because it has an easy fix:

If I were the writers, I would had switched things around to establish the characters we're going to keep from now on (Blue Olivia, Peter, and the Amberverse Fringe teams) early in the season and watch how they struggle to find their dynamic as they geared up against David Robert Jones.

Wouldn't it have been interesting to see BlueOlivia build a real relationship with an Alt!Liv who hadn't slept with Peter and gotten pregnant with Henry? To watch her struggle not to blame this Alt!Liv for things she didn't do and to somehow come to peace with the pain of S3 by understanding and forgiving this Alt!Liv?

Wouldn't it have been interesting to see Peter build independent relationships with the Walters and actually struggle to make a real choice between the them? Since neither shared memories with him and both felt that sense of loss/wonder/appreciation at the sudden appearance of Peter in their lives, for the first time, the Walters would be on equal emotional playing fields.

Wouldn't it have been interesting to see how Amber Walter, Astrid, Broyles and Nina reacted to Peter and Blue Olivia developing relationships with the Alt!verse characters? After all, these Alternate never hurt Peter and Olivia but they did hurt the Amber team, and there'd already be hurt because BlueOlivia erased Amber Olivia in their minds. Would they feel a further sense of betrayal/resentment, complicating Peter and BlueOlivia's re-integration into the team?

And as the ultimate insider/outsider, wouldn’t Lincoln have been a LOT more interesting if he was the wild card who sometimes sided with the Amber team because of empathy over the loss of Amber Olivia but sometimes sided with Peter and Olivia because a need to work with them and the Alternates to find the shapeshifters?

Watching our Peter and Olivia deal with the internal problem of fitting in as part of the Amber team while they collectively try to build external relationships with the Alternates would have been a better interconnected story because it would have tied in thematically with the physical Bridge healing the worlds.

Lincoln would be the bridge between Peter/Olivia and the rest of the Amber team. Peter and Olivia would be like a bridge between the Amber and Alternate teams because they don't have the baggage of that timeline. At the same time, there's a bit of healing and closure of our Olivia as she puts the pain of Red!verse AltLiv behind her for good AND we'd get a whole season of our Peter and Olivia rebuilding their relationship as each other's touchstones as the sole survivors of the Blueverse.

IDK. I just feel like if they had brought Peter back at least one episode earlier and introduced Mean Nina's endgame sooner to fastrack the transition from Amber Olivia to Blue Olivia, all the good-byes would have meant so much more because the relationships would have been much more fleshed out and deep.

Which is not to say the show failed as a whole. Fringe is still one of the best shows out there, IMO, and the latest episode shows that. My level of excitement has just been lowered this season from an OMGWTFBBQ MUST SEE THE NEXT EPISODE NOW level to "Eh, I still like the show but it tracks better in chunks, so I'll DVR and mainline it later." Which is a shame because it started out so promisingly.

TLDR: This past episode that focused on the dyamics of teams is this kind of FRINGE I wish S4 had more of, not the Peter Tries to Find His Love and Get Home Show. That story has been done a thousand times. The story of two people trying to build a home in a place with a family who should feel like home (but don't) while simultaneously building relationships with people their family hates (and they themselves are ambivalent towards) to save their world? Not so common.

From: [identity profile]

"But with the latest episode, I feel like I have a grasp on how I feel about this season now."

And herein is much of my problem with S4. We're only able to make that statement when we're *20 episodes in*

More thoughts from me on this later.

From: [identity profile]

Yeah, I think that they lost me a little because of the utter lack of Olivia in the season. I felt like because they kept telling us that she wasn't ours (and then summarily dismissed her and had Amber Olivia fade away without even having the characters mourn her), it didn't feel like my show.

I love Peter, but he alone is not enough to sustain my interest in the show, especially since S1-S3 have Olivia as the definite lead of the story. Walter has a huge role in the fact that he indirectly set up the framework that everyone is operating under, and Peter is doubly important because he is the object around which many of the characters operate, but the end of the day, S1-S3 was Olivia's story and she was the hero.

Until the S3 finale and most of S4, and suddenly it became Peter's story and Peter was our hero that we identified with. That change didn't sit well with me because I signed up for the Olivia Dunham Kicks Ass show, feature the Bishop boys and her Fringe team, as they fight to save both worlds.

So I felt that as the season lost touch with Olivia, it lost me too. I enjoyed the Astrid episode though.

From: [identity profile]

Heh. I wonder what you'd get if someone were to count all the eps in S3 and 4, and take note of how many Olivia (the original Blueverse Olivia) was actually present in. We know Anna could probably play 389 characters convincingly, but did we really *need* another version this time around? Especially since Amber!Liv is basically just a sad sack, watered-down, lite-beer version of Olivia v 1.0? It just feels a bit self indulgent, or at least like they'd played that trick one too many times and didn't realize it.

Yeah, Peter is my fav, but I love Olivia and Walter too, and more importantly its the dynamics between the three of them that I love the most. Take one or more of the characters away or radically change them and it just doesn't work the way it did. Even's still fucked up, because Walter is never going to get his old memories back. All the development of Peter and Walter's relationship, from the starting point where Peter downright hated the man in the pilot to the conversation they had sharing a drink just before Peter first tried to enter the Machine in S3 is...permanently lost to Walter.

Yes, this Walter now loves and accepts Peter, but it's not the same, and like you said, it's some bizarro-land situation where Peter and Olivia are in a sense, totally isolated from everyone around them, and the relationship of the main three is a weird, unequal triangle now with this sort of barrier between Walter and the other two.

I get what you're saying about Olivia being the original lead, and even though I love Peter, I didn't have a problem with that. Yours isn't an uncommon sentiment, though sadly some ardent Olivia fans (NOT you, by any means!) seem to take out their disappointment and anger on Peter the character, rather than the writers of the show - and that's why you see me arguing so long and loud and hard in his defense. I guess I just don't see awesomeness as a zero sum game where building up one character must necessarily diminish another. But this Team Peter vs Team Olivia (or Team Anna vs Team Josh) thing I see in so many places is one big dealbreaker for me being more active in the fandom.

From: [identity profile]

If we're talking fully present, no going back and forth and wondering which Olivia she is, in S4 I'd argue that she's present starting ONLY in 4x15. So that makes exactly 4 episodes so far. FOUR. (4x17 doesn't count because she and Peter weren't really in it.) And in one, she wasn't even allowed to work on the case because they were still evaluating her.

UGH. Yes. The fact that we'll never get BlueWalter back and that no one seems to CARE about that is so painful to me. All those memories live only in Peter and Olivia's heads. It makes me so, so sad.

Ah yes. That. I think it's misplaced anger as well, because I do love Peter dearly. However I can understand it because Olivia- she's special. And I don't mean just in the show, I mean in the grander context of women representation in the media in general. Not many female characters are allowed to be the sole bearer of the badge and gun, to take on the traditionally male role of the hero, to wear practical shoes and simple hair tied back and not be ultra-feminized, AND at the same time be pushed to the other side of the spectrum of being super butch and an emotional-less hero.

Olivia is allowed to be seen as desirable, undeniably feminine, even when she's wearing slacks, boots and her hair in a pony tail. She's allowed to have emotions and that's never seen as a bad thing. That speech in 1x05 remains my favorite speech of hers, where she talks about how her emotions make her strong, because I felt it embodied everything she is.

There aren't many shows that allow their female lead to do that, let alone be the primary, if not sole, leader. Peter and Walter serve as support networks to that end, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with Olivia...or at least it did until S3.

So I can understand why they're upset at Peter. They'd get mad at anyone who took her spot as the center. The difference is, I don't blame the character. I blame the writers.

If anything, my biggest complaint for his character is that Peter has been so mopey this season because he's been without Olivia, and DAMNIT can't all the characters just be happy? Part of the reason why I don't want Olivia to be damaged or missing or dead in S5 in the future is because I refuse to watch another season of depressed Peter again. He is my comic relief! He should make everything happy and light! Blah.

From: [identity profile]

I also thought season 4 felt a little unsettled up to this point. but I wasn't able to express my thoughts as clearly as you just did here. But the last three episodes have been Fantastic.

From: [identity profile]

Yeah, I just wish the rest of the season had been as good. There were some great standalones (the second ep that had the Olivias working together, the Astrid episode, and the ramp up to DRJ) but a large part of the season was missing a driving plot for the rest of the characters and a sense of urgency. They really lost sight of the lead this season, so the rest of the story suffered.

From: [identity profile]

Now that the series has a specific end point, perhaps the pacing will be more even. OTOH, those endpoints didn't help Lost or certain seasons of 24.

Still, that's a quibble. Fringe is a fantastic show and I am grateful it will get the run it deserves.

From: [identity profile]

TBH, Letters in Transit felt a lot like a backdoor pilot. Almost like a reboot of the series that has focused so heavily on the war between two worlds and healing that rift. The fifth season, assuming it focuses on the Observers, seems almost like an extra chapter because we weren't done with the characters yet, sort of like the Serenity movie to Firefly or the way some shows live on in comic form. Worlds Apart closed the book on the Alternate verse so well and so firmly that I actually think I would have been okay with it, provided the ending with DRJ doesn't suck.

It will of course, end on a cliffhanger, which will probably shoot us to the future using the Amber as our time machine. But I suspect S5 will be firmly in the not-so-distant future, as that is where the majority of the unresolved conflict seems to lie (all that's left of the season is to isolate DRJ on this side and stop him from ripping more holes in the universe/trying to merge them together).

They have it in them to give the show a great ending. I just have a feeling that it will end in the future and not be so rooted in the present, which I think will be...not the show I signed up for, if that is the case.

From: [identity profile]

To me, Letters of Transit felt like part one of a two-parter.

Fringe in general isn't the show it was in the pilot-it has gone beyond the wannabee X-Files reboot I thought it was. And that's a good thing.

I think no series ending will ever surpass Six Feet Under but I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

From: [identity profile]

I think in the pilot, it had no inkling that it was going to be about parallel universes until the reveal about Peter in S1. The pilot started out, yes, as a wannabe X-Files, but they took a thread from it (the pattern) and extrapolated on that and anchored it in the multi-verse mythology, thus becoming something different.

The multi-verse premise dominated all four seasons, evolving from "oops, Peter's not from here" to "oh and that's causing a war between worlds" to "oh hey we should probably stop the war and heal it." Even DRJ's main objective is around the two universes.

The future timeline though seems like a completely different show entirely, because we have no indication that the Alt-verse (any of them). The Us vs Them is more along the lines of warring with our future selves rather than variations within our actual selves.

And I don't mean to say that it won't be good. I'm both excited and nervous as to how that will play out. But it does feel different if only because we'll be losing the familiarity of present and live in the not-so-distant future.

From: [identity profile]

LoT would have been a better episode had they not wasted so much time fixing Walter.

From: [identity profile]

WORD. And the implication that Asshole Walter is back is kinda not so great either. I love my slightly broken, lovable Walter.


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