Fringe: Review: Season 4 Episode 22

Fox, 13 May 2012

William Bell’s plot to merge the universes together proceeds, and the only way to maintain the status quo is for Olivia to die!

After a run of great episodes, the season finale for Fringe was rather underwhelming, perhaps due to the last minute renewal of the show and the need to string out the narrative for another year.

As it stands, ‘Brave New World, Part 2’ ended a rather variable season with a whimper rather than a bang. While Leonard Nimoy was great as Bell and John Noble always delivers as Walter, some of the set pieces left rather a lot to be desired. All that nonsense about jumping from the helicopter into the other universe came across as rather desperate and very poorly realised.

The predicted ‘death’ of Olivia and shooting of the Observer ‘September’ were nicely paid off, although the get-out-of-jail-free card played by Walter to bring Olivia back was rather too pat and touched on Star Trek level technobabble or simply magic. The assumption has to be that Olivia’s cortexiphen-derived ‘super powers’ somehow lead to the emergence of the Observers in the future of 2036 that we saw a few episodes ago. The producers have already promised that this future is central to the next (and final) season of the show.

While this season dramatically improved as it went along after a rather slow start, it collapsed in the end in a rather incoherent conclusion. The David Robert Jones arc was great, except for the fact that he didn’t turn out to be the uber-villain he seemed to be, but simply a henchman of William Bell (a development that looks like last minute re-writing to accommodate Nimoy). The various universes and alternate histories of the characters were impossible to keep straight if you were anything less than an obsessive fan of the show, and that probably harmed the series in the long run.

It has to be hoped that the welcome renewal for a run of a final 13 episodes leads to the show going out on a high, as this season failed to.

Verdict: An underwhelming end to a better-than-average season.

Episode 22 ‘Brave New World, Part 2’: 6/10

Brian J. Robb

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