And the rest of my long-winded review of Season 4...
Episode 419 brings me to the Observers and how they were handled this year. At the end of Season 3, the Observers suddenly became the most important guys in the room. They were, arguably, Fringe's last big mystery (unless you count the ever-lurking William Bell). And in "The End of All Things," the crucial moment of revelation could have fallen flat - but it absolutely didn't, and I think a lot of other reviewers felt mostly the same. To actually provide an explanation of the Observers - simple and direct: advanced human scientists - shows how mature these writers are, because they could have just kicked that can down the road indefinitely and kept playing them as dea ex machina of the plot, as indefinable angels or gods. Instead, they answered the fucking question
. As someone who adores the scientific aspects of Fringe, I was thrilled that the Observers were scientists, and that September, December and the gang were part of what could be thought of as their "Fringe Division."
This is why I found the Observer-dystopia of "Letters of Transit" to not be jarring to the imagination at all. "How did the Observers become like this?" is indeed the unanswered question. As for the episode itself, I found it more interesting as a Season 5 sketch than as an actual hour of TV (although I did enjoy it a lot) - and a very gutsy bold move on the part of the writers, almost a Hail Mary play at a time when a Season 5 was in doubt. I might not have been the only viewer who immediately felt like skipping ahead to Season 5. "Oh, hm, we have this DRJ storyline to wrap up now..."
As for the end of the merged-universe storyline, which was delightful in all ways (to me), the conclusion of "Worlds Apart" had the very special gravitas that Fringe has at its very best. Well done.
Tying up loose ends in this review, I would be remiss if I didn't talk frankly about things I didn't like. Astrid was seriously underused this year; almost irrelevant. If we almost lost Olivia this season, and had to adjust to a slightly different Walter, I'm not sure where "the real Astrid" went to or if she ever really came back. "Making Angels" made up for a good deal of the pushing-aside of Astrid, but she was the character who got pushed aside by making room for an extra person (Lincoln Lee). Her relationship with Peter was totally gone; and her relationship with Walter was kind of dour - she didn't seem to be enjoying herself at all.
There was, also, a slight but worrying tendency for the writers to sacrifice logic and/or continuity for the purpose of creating a moving scene - a tendency I didn't notice last year. Without explaining how Olivia would forget her relationship with Nina, or at least no longer feel the emotional connection of lived memories, we got a very powerful scene between her and Nina which unfortunately was built a little bit on shifting logical sands. There was a touching scene between Walter and Peter involving birthday gifts; but how Walter, stashed away in St Claire's managed to buy some of these gifts remained unexplained. :-)
All in all, though, I truly felt this season was laid out and written with a surer hand than last season was (I thought the back half of Season 3 was all over the place).
And yes, I am looking forward to Season 5, as long as it has September in it. :-)
Edited by Money Magnet, May 7, 2012 @ 7:53 PM.