As with Sanctuary, I find that Fringe is often a frustrating show to watch, although for different reasons. While Sanctuary is occasionally weighed down by goofy plots, lame leading characters and often forced slapstick level humor, it rarely tries takes itself too seriously. There’s no real attempt by the show and it’s writing to put itself in our world.
Fringe on the other hand, while it often engages in similar levels of sci-fi mind expansion, it tends to take itself very seriously (Despite the awesome presence of John Noble to help put things in perspective.) The acting is generally of high caliber, the storylines engaging, the threat as outlined in the series, convincinly terrifyling. But still, there are moments that throw me out of episodes on a regular basis. And season 3 was no exception (the most egregious will be noted in “low points*)
Whereas this season started with the engaging regular flip between both worlds, it’s solidified in the run to the end with Peter and his doomsday machine. Peter, or as I call him ‘Perry Mason Jr.’ (Joshua Jackson is more and more turning into a dead ringer for Raymond Burr), has always been a weakness in the show. The shows writers have flailed around in obvious attempts to develop him as a character, yet failing, then falling back to using him to support the development of the series two true narratives, that of Olivia and that of Walter. So I found the whole doomsday machine arc to fit poorly with the flow of the season. It felt like a square peg fitting into a round hole. And his character couldn’t support it.
So when he just disappeared, all of the emotion that should have been engaged, simply fell flat. I was more affected by the images of the two Walters and the two Olivia’s about to interact. Weird.
It felt like a red herring, really, just to get us to that point, both anti-climactic and a cliffhanger at the same time.
Although while not a really game changing ending like Sanctuary’s or Primeval’s or Supernatural’s, it did succeed in getting me ready to see what’s coming next year, hoping they still manage to hang onto it’s gradually dropping audience.
Low Points: Ridiculous plot point: every single sheep have died off on the alternate Earth. Anna Torv’s dreadful ‘old man voice’ to show she’s possessed by William Bell. Goofy mythology around the doomsday machine. Bad drug science (seriously, you die in a LSD trip and you wake up?!), the ‘Reanimator’ episode.
High Points: sequence of episodes around Olivia’s escape from the alternate Earth, episode ‘ The Plateau’ evoking M.A. Foster’s Morphodite Trilogy’s ideas, retro Fringe ‘Subject 13′ both touching, unsettling and important turning point.
Rating: 4 out of 5