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Friday Favorites: Fringe Episodes

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I’m quite sad that Fringe is now over. Five seasons was a good run and it was a good place to end but I’m still sad. Friday nights will be quite empty from now on (or at least until Grimm returns in March! Hey, I can’t grieve forever.)

Now, I do have to confess I often strongly disagreed with choices made by the writers and was a little disappointed in the final season. It was well-written, the characters behaved like themselves, the Donald reveal was fabulous and the white tulip was the perfect ending. And, yet, I was still a little disappointed.

The reason being that Fringe was always about the effect of one person on the world, the relationships between fathers and sons, the ethics and boundaries of science and the concept of one choice or act changing a life or even society at large. And although all of those things were present in the final season, the overarching theme was escaping the Observers (another point of contention – “alien invasion” of any sort was never the point of Fringe. Rather, it was usually about the idea that we don’t need life forms from another planet or time to ruin our world but that we are perfectly capable of that destruction ourselves.)

There were major plot and character decisions in seasons four and five that just felt wrong to me: the decision to give Olivia back the memories of the first three seasons, for example and most importantly, the decision to rewrite season three to begin with. I still firmly believe it makes more sense stylistically for Peter and Olivia (whichever Olivia it may be) to have a son, though Etta certainly made a lovely addition to the season five cast. I absolutely hated the endgame idea of Walter and Bell trying to make their own universe; sure, it reinforced the ethics/boundaries theme but it felt phony and unnecessary. The alternate universes should always have been foremost in the plot and although almost two seasons was spent on the concept, it was never fleshed out the way it could have been.

All that being said, however, I loved Fringe. Even in its corniest and most unnecessary moments, it had a brightness, a sense of creative blossoming, that is all-too rare in network tv shows. At its worst, it was at least unique and out-of-the-box. At its best, it was darkly beautiful, poignant and introspective. It offered thought-provoking commentary on humanity by placing us in a world where the selfish choices of one man lead to the destruction of entire universes.

Rarely does entertaining television coincide with philosophical discussion and meaningful ideas. So, yes, I will dearly miss Fringe. And I will no doubt be rewatching the following episodes to quell my withdrawal symptoms any Friday night now…

  1. White Tulip (Season 2)
    This was the first episode I ever really watched and I was hooked. It really embodied all the philosophical ideas that Fringe was so great at and it was a fabulous (if rather confusing) episode to start with.
  2. Firefly (Season 3)
    First of all, Christopher Lloyd is fantastic. That aside, everything about this episode was as perfect as it could be. It was heartbreaking and thought-provoking and incredibly poignant. Hands down one of the absolute best Fringe episodes of all time.
  3. Brown Betty (Season 2)
    Fringe doesn’t have fun romps all that often (unless you count the occasional cartoon character) so Brown Betty was a breath of fresh air. The retro vibe suited Peter and Olivia to a T and although it had its share of tragedy, it was all around a fun, unexpected episode.
  4. The Bishop Revival (Season 2)
    By far, the creepiest episode of Fringe and that is really saying something. This episode really stuck with me because, although it didn’t have terrifying monsters or evil doppelgangers, this episode came closest to reality than any other. With German scientists working on the inside of the Nazi government and WWII experiments in genocide, it’s sure to give anybody chills.
  5. Over There (Season 2)
    I’m a shipper at heart so Olivia professing her love for Peter makes this just a given favorite. Plus, of course, Olivia seeing Charlie for the first time since he died on her side, meeting Lincoln for the first time, not to mention the switcheroo cliffhanger.
  6. The Abducted (Season 3)
    Although the core cast stayed the same through alternate universes and rebooted timelines, recurring guests like Henry the taxi driver gave Fringe so much life and realism. Plus, it was great to see a different side of Broyles and to see Olivia figuring out how to survive in a world not her own.
  7. Reciprocity (Season 3)
    This episode made for fabulous tension between the characters and served to keep us from forgetting what transpired in the first half of the season, that Peter and Olivia may never get a chance to really fall in love. That’s one of the things that made Fringe so great, that the writers rarely allowed any complacency in the realism of emotions.
  8. 6B (Season 3)
    I’m a sucker for romance and this episode was chock full of heartbreaking moments between Peter and Olivia and the old man and woman in apartment 6B. It was a knife point of an episode, the blue universe teetering on the edge of going down the same path the red universe did by using amber to keep the problems from getting worse not to mention Walter teetering on the edge of finally being able to give up Peter.
  9. Bloodline (Season 3)
    This was the episode that made me fall in love with Lincoln and Olivia as a couple and I was very upset to see everything that happened between them here be lost once Peter entered the machine and rebooted the timeline. It was beautifully done and helped to bring much of the season full-circle, with Lincoln and Charlie finally putting some of the pieces together about their Olivia, her baby and what she went through.
  10. Everything In Its Right Place (Season 4)
    The blue!Lincoln was a major highlight of Season 4 and although so much of this episode was tragic and unexpected, his newfound footing with red!Olivia made it a game changer. (As a runner up, it was so wonderful to see the two of them at the end of season five!

What are your favorite Fringe episodes?