Fringe Season 5 Review “Anomaly XB-6783746”

In this increasingly sophisticated era of television viewership, it has become important for television to really be about something. No longer does it suffice to just truly entertain. To be considered in the upper echelon of television programming, a show has to ask deeper questions of its audience. As a result, we have seen a rise in quality across all genres of television. It creates a richer experience that causes us to contemplate a variety of life’s questions. It’s not hard to find television that doesn’t require you to think, but it’s getting considerably easier to find television that does require you to think. Even considering its various warts, Fringe is a television show that belongs in the latter category.

One of the great things about the series is it continues to ask serious questions while dressed in garb that would make it difficult to take it seriously. Still, the questions surrounding freedom, humanity, and love remain worthwhile questions that the show continues to explore with aplomb. A lot of these issues were put on display in tonight’s episode.

In every worthwhile fight, there comes a point where the particulars involved have to ask themselves what a victory is worth. Is it a certain amount of money? Is it a relationship? In extreme cases, people pay with their lives. For the people that are serious about a struggle, they come to terms with the idea that they could have sacrifice themselves one day for a larger purpose. Tonight, Blair Brown did an excellent job of communicating the horrifying realization that Nina Sharpe came to outside of that black lab. She wasn’t crying because she can’t go back to work, or because she’ll really miss those Target picture frames she just bought. Instead, Nina is crying because she knows the call from Olivia is the beginning of the end of her life. Granted, it would have been nice to have seen more of Nina this season to help establish her devotion to the cause and reestablish her connection with the audience, but what was there was enough to communicate the gravity of the situation. Her last final act is one we have grown accustomed to seeing this season: Someone having to fall on their sword to aid the Fringe team. It was good to see Walter break down at the sight of Nina’s body. Yes, they are old friends, but I think his collapse is more about the accumulation effect of watching these important people die. While the Fringe team has dealt with some horrific circumstances in the past, never have they lost this many close people in such a short period of time. Taken in a vacuum, the wound from the deaths will heal in time. However, when you compound them on top of each other with the stress of fighting people who seem to have all of the game’s cheat codes, it can start to wear you down.

Of course, we know our heroes will eventually prevail. That being said, I hope the show will be able to take a few minutes to consider the worth of their mission. Will final victory of humankind over the Observers be worth the lives of Nina Sharpe, Henrietta Bishop, Simon Foster, and Weird Face Guy? The easy answer for the outside observer is “yes”. Still, I hope it becomes a topic of discussion over these final three hours. However, given all that was laid out for us in the final few moments of tonight’s show, it seems like there is already a lot of ground to cover. Three hours remain, but the amount of story to tell may exceed that time frame. More than anything else, it may be entertaining just to watch the show attempt to navigate the final three episodes. If the Donald/September revelation is to be a big feature going forward, then the writers are really going to have to put the pedal to the metal to wrap up the show in a satisfying fashion. It’s a worrisome consideration, but as long as we wrap up the story of Olivia, Peter, Walter and Astrid, I can’t imagine the show garnering too many complaints from those still watching.

What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?