Fox's television show "Fringe" had its season finale a little over a week ago. A few posts back, I went on a little rant on how I was disappointed with the way the show was going. However, curious to see if "Fringe" would redeem itself by the end of the season, I continued to watch it, even though I skipped over a few of the episodes. With the season finale, I am disappointed to say that "Fringe" season 3 was not redeemed in my eyes.
Disclaimer: The following views are not fully mine, as other "Fringe" fans have also voiced their own opinions, which I happen to agree with; so I am restating what other fans have said.
Comparing "Fringe" season 3 to its previous seasons, season 3 has fallen extremely short of what it used to be. One of these is in the plots and how the story is becoming weak and poorly written. In seasons 1 and 2, the writing remained consistent, and it was clear that the writers were making their way towards something cohesive and towards a larger picture. In season 3, this was not the case. Even though the machine seemed to be the underlying theme of the entire season, there were other side plots that seemed important and then were dropped and never resolved. For example, as a fan pointed out, Walternate's attempt to figure out how Olivia could cross between universes was never explained; another one would be Bolivia's rapid pregnancy, for which a reason was never given, and I would think there would be easier ways for Walternate and his minions to get Peter's DNA. Peter's vigilante activities against the shapeshifters were never explained, his more aggressive behavior, and the whole affair were quickly dropped after only one episode and never brought back.
Not only that, but looking back over the rest of the season, it became clear to me that the writers were not working with a unified plot anymore. An example is the First People. When the First People were first introduced in the episode "6955 kHz," they seemed like an interesting addition, as they had a different calender, invented the vacuum, and other things. However, by the season 3 finale, this perception changed with the rather weird statement that the First People were actually future Walter, Peter, Olivia, Ella, etc... Everything about that scenario completely contradicted the original information, and it almost looks like the writers had one idea in place and then abruptly changed their minds at the season's finale. This lack of a unified plot only led to further problems and story arcs that looked as if they were just thrown in for fun. I have no idea what the whole Belliva arc was about, as fans speculated that perhaps there was something more to Bell's motives, but in the end the storyline didn't make sense and added nothing to the season. This is very sloppy writing and is not at all what I expected from the writers from previous seasons.
Another problem this season was the pacing. The season started off strong, but as it went along, it felt like it was dragging its feet and not going anywhere. The whole Olivia/ Bolivia switch lasted too long and should have only been for a few episodes. After that arc was resolved, the middle of the season went limp. The episodes at that point became boring and added nothing to the overall plot, and the cases were nothing interesting, compared to those from seasons 1 and 2. Beginning with "6:02 AM," the build-up to the finale took way too long and seemed pointless. I felt as if the events of those three episodes could have been resolved in one episode and that the writers were just dragging out the plot. Not only that, but the entire finale buildup was disappointing; after a season finale, I generally get all excited in looking forward to the next season, but this time I did not feel that way.
Another problem this season was the characters. Because I am re-watching "Fringe" and am working on season 2 at the moment, I was struck by the difference in the characters between seasons 1 and 2 and then season 3. Olivia used to be a strong character, but this season she felt limp and not very interesting. Peter lost his cynic, humorous touch, and I lost respect for him when he did not recognize Bolivia's infiltration. Walter had a few memorable moments, but he was not as funny as he has been in the past. None of the other characters were memorable or deep either.
Given the poor quality of season 3 and how the writing is getting sour, I do not have high hopes for season 4. If Abrams took the reins of the show again, I could see some redemption, but currently I'm only expecting further decline. It is a great shame because "Fringe" started off as something that had great promise and that would not end up turning into "Lost," but now it looks like the original touch has been lost, most likely permanently. I may watch season 4 to see if the show is redeemed, but in the meantime I shall focus on seasons 1 and 2 for my dose of "Fringe."
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