Fringe Series Finale Recap: 'My Very Favorite Thing' -- What Grade Do You Give It?

Fringe Series Finale RecapWarning: The following contains massive and dynamic spoilers from the Fringe series finale.

For a moment there, as the Fringe series finale barreled toward a close, you thought it might play out another way.

But it didn’t.

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With Michael back in the team’s custody, Walter, Peter, Olivia et al resumed their plan to assemble a contraption that would transport the “child” Observer to 2167, where he would convince a scientist in Oslo, Norway to reconsider his plan to create what would become the evil invaders. To that end, they needed an “ignition” device, but Windmark’s team beat them to that crucial part, grabbing it from September’s sympathetic (and doomed) cohort December. Cue Astrid’s “shining moment”: the suggestion that they hijack one of the Observers shipping lane, using one of those cool cubes to reverse its flow, allowing Michael to enter, and exit in the future.

But who would lead the boy?

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Walter knew it was his fate, in part because “nature abhors a paradox” — and the solution to this one was “deleting” him and Michael.

“You will never see me again,” he informed his son Peter, “to assure the future of humanity. Your future with Olivia. Your future with Etta.

“I cheated fate to be with you,” he continued, describing their time together as father and son as “stolen.” Even so, and given all they’ve been through, and in light of how it must end, “I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Walter professed. “I don’t want to say goodbye, but I will say, ‘I love you, son.'”

Peter, crestfallen, confirmed: So, a world without Observers means you and Michael have to finish your lives in the future? “I know in my soul this is what I’m supposed to do,” Walter insisted, and they pulled one another into a strong, warm hug, tears welling in all four eyes. “You are my favorite thing, Peter…. My very favorite thing.”

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But as noted above, we were teased with an alternate ending, when Walter discovered that September had used the last time travel-enabling inoculation on himself, so that he could lead Michael to his world-saving destiny. September spoke of the emotions he felt upon being reunited with the boy, and how observing Walter’s interaction with Peter gave clarity to his confusion. “When I saw what Peter meant to you, then I understood why [my feelings] were important,” he said. “When I take his hand and I lead him [to 2167], he’ll know that I love him.” Walter explained, “That’s being a father.”

Reiterating his resolve, September assured Walter, “It’s not about fate, yours or mine. It’s about changing fate. It’s about hope and protecting our children.”

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September’s highly noble gesture, however, was met with a change-of-fate of its own. As the Fringe team Fringe_PeterOliviaParklabored to hold off Windmark’s men as the shipping lane opened — and after the cruel Captain himself was blindsided and crushed (hurrah!) by a telekinetically shoved truck — September was felled by a bullet just shy of the leaping-off point. Michael briefly mourned his father figure with a playing of the “Greensleeves” music box, then was offered a new leading hand. Walter’s. Peter mouthed, “I love you, Dad” as his father escorted Michael to the future. And….

We’re back in the park, from the opening scene of Season 5. Only this time when Peter calls for young Etta, saying it’s time to go home, she makes it into his arms, running. And he twirls her, while mom Olivia beams. Back home, Peter finds in the mail the odd letter that VHS Walter said he’d one day receive — a white tulip card.

It is about hope and protecting our children. It is about changing fate.

UPDATE: Some additional thoughts on the final two hours….

* How awesome was it to see Michael beat Windmark bloody without so much as blinking an eye?

* Great quote, Hour 1: “You can stop checking out my young ass.”

* Great quote, Hour 2: “It’s a beautiful name.” “What?” “Astrid.”

* Many spotted the TV news crawl about Chelsea Clinton running for president in Alt 2036, but did you also see that Warner Bros. (aka the company that produces Fringe) had announced a Harry Potter remake? That Detroit had been ranked the safest U.S. city? And that the valuation of American currency had hit an all-time high?

* Who else winced on their sofa as Olivia howled with the final two Cortexiphan shots?

* Nice touch, intimating that Lincoln felt some guilt being Over There while our side was being run roughshod by the chrome domes.

* Anyone else get a Callum Keith Rennie vibe from Michael Cerveris aka Haired September?

* As for the paradox issue, I’ll seek clarity from Joel Wyman first chance I get. I was on board with the theory that Walter’s plan merely prevented the Evil Observer invasion, until December warned September that with the reset an unqualified “we would cease to exist.”

What did you think of Fringe‘s series finale. Was it, as Joshua Jackson assessed for us, “Correct”?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Katherine says:

    I loved pretty much every second of it. The first hour was Olivia’s, with her being her badass self and bringing us the alt-verse one last time. Loved Broyles being involved and Peter and Olivia saving him. The September/December conversation and mention of August, Gene the cow, the Peter/Walter and Astrid/Walter scenes, the homage/tribute to Fringe monsters, a couple good Peter/Olivia scenes with a happy ending, and a white tulip. It was basically everything I’ve loved about Fringe rolled into two hours – a beautiful love letter to the fans.

  2. ecobfw says:

    One thing that occurs to me, and that I haven’t seen mentioned is that through the course of S4 Walternate became more like Walter, and in “Liberty,” they actually talked about how Walternate was well and still lecturing at Harvard at age 90. A reminder perhaps that not all versions of Walter were lost to the future? (Also, of course, Peter’s real father.) Just tossing that out there, food for thought….

  3. GeoDiva says:

    I’m going to miss the show! The ending with the white tulip was perfect.

  4. 4theloveoffilm says:

    Love this show. Loved the finale. It’s not something you can wrap your brain around in a night. Watch the series again. Analyze and use your imagination. No show or episode is perfect, but FRINGE comes close. The writing and the acting are both phenomenal. And since most of the stuff that happened throughout the show is not yet and perhaps never shall be possible in real life, I accept that in the world(s) they created, the ending makes perfect sense.

    I, too, would have loved to have seen Charlie, but I was ecstatic that we got a glimpse of how our alt-verse friends fair in life. Walter and Peter were heartbreaking. I’ve always been a fan of Peter and Olivia’s relationship. FRINGE has always impressed me with its attention to detail. So many other shows contradict facts delivered in prior seasons.

    Thank you, cast and crew, for an exquisite series. I’m still hooking others on it and will for years to come.

  5. ej says:

    “massive and dynamic” spoilers. Good one, Matt!

    While this probably wasn’t the best series finale of all time, I thought it was satisfying.
    Peter and Walter had great moments (I still lament that Noble didn’t get more recognition for his character on this series). I loved that Fauxlivia and Gabel’s Lincoln got to return along with little-seen Broyles, and the sort-of cameo for the lab’s resident bovine nice too, along with all of the nasties unleashed, but September/Donald was my favorite returning cast member for the final arc; I had wondered what became of the Observer who wasn’t content to just observe and if he would return after being spirited away, and Cerveris portrayed Donald so wonderfully that I got teary-eyed during his monologues.

    Of course some can argue over how the timelines fit together and the sense (or nonsense) of it all, but IMO, it’s useless to try and nit-pick the multiverse paradoxes. Donald summed up the theme of the series well: “It’s about changing fate. It’s about hope and protecting our children.” From the beginning FRINGE was about Walter’s journey toward redemption, which required he learn the selfless love of a parent for a child, and to that end, fate or no fate, he had decided on that destiny as the only way to repair the damage he had caused with his selfishness when he crossed over in 1985.

    The tulip, resurrected from one of the series best episodes, was a touching end. A reminder that redemption is possible and destiny can be changed if you have the will. Walter and Michael are in the future, Etta lives again, the world has been saved, and anything is still possible. Cheers, FRINGE, you will be missed!

    • CC says:

      EJ, I completely agree with you, and this could not be better said. You took the words out of my mouth. I agree that while this series finale may not be the best in some senses, this ending is perfect for me in tying up the emotional parts. I will forever be sad about Fringe ending.

  6. Luli101 says:

    Beautiful, fitting end . Worthy of the characters and stories we have experienced together on this show. Very satisfied, although I will miss it very much!

  7. DarkDefender says:

    Impossibilities are possible. That was FRINGE to me. Loved all 5 seasons…. And will remain hopeful for a movie.. @–>–

  8. Mia says:

    It had everything, I’m so happy :’)

  9. Weed says:

    So was it Olivia that crushed Windmark, or the boy? I was hoping it was Olivia, but when the boy puts his fingers to his lips, I got confused.

    • ecobfw says:

      It seems the consensus here is it was Olivia. She held him in place long enough for that truck to leave a splat, and I for one cheered loudly. I had hoped she might have just a bit of that cortexiphan left….

      • Jules says:

        I never questioned that it was Olivia that did it….until I started to read all of these comments. Going to go back and view the whole thing again for a second time, but I’m still sticking with Olivia killing Windmark. Revenge For killing her daughter.

    • NCSouthernBelle says:

      I thought it was Olivia. That’s when my first tears fell, as she exacted vengeance on her daughter’s murderer.

  10. D. says:

    I don’t care about what some say… this was one of the BEST SERIES FINALES EVER.

  11. Aris says:

    Guys, it makes perfect sense to reset it back to 2015…think about it…the Observers didnt cease to exist… their evolution just changed… they didnt become cold-hearted bastards but empaths like Michael… and if their evolution went on like that dont you think Walter in 2167 would secure an Observer to secure the timeline? Only this time it wouldnt be September and by mistake…it would be an empath (good) Observer who would be happy to go and save the timeline…so everything is as it should be… just the future changed…

  12. gitco says:

    I knew that they will do a reset and I never liked the idea… But they managed to do it right! And the most important thing to me was for Olivia to remember, and she does, so I’m fine with that

  13. you guys are funny. Angry at the ending because you don’t understand it. There are some very comprehensive explanations if you really didn;t get it, but it was magnificent, heart rending and beautifully shot and acted. Thank you Joel. xx

  14. Andrew says:

    Can anyone explain why the letter was still sent to peter even though the timeline was reset? Surely the letter wouldn’t exist in the reset timeline? Also, I can’t wrap my head around why peter wouldn’t know Walter in this timeline? Argh! haha

    • ecobfw says:

      If Alistair Peck could do it (“White Tulip,” S2), then why not Walter?

    • September told Walter about the invasion in 2012. He also knew that stopping it would erase him from existence in 2015. He sent the Tulip and made the goodbye tape prior to that day. So Peter knew Walter. Everything in Season 4 happened. Everything prior to the invasion happened ie Etta being born. Things only changed from the invasion/preventing the invasion on. A new timeline started.

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      He sent it before the day the invasion would have happened. Just like Alistair Peck sent it right before his successful jump.

    • Megan says:

      Andrew, Peter does know Walter in this timeline, so no need to wrap your head around the opposite :-) If you can, watch the scene again when Peter finds the tape and watches it with Walter in 2036. It actually explains a lot!

  15. Polly says:

    i loved it.
    thank you fringe for 5 amazing years.
    now excuse me, i’ll watch the finale again and cry like a little boy. xD

  16. anakl says:

    I loved it… cried all the time (almost)… people, please don’t forget that they only had 13 eps to sum this up… it would feel like a cheat if every answer was condensed in 2eps… I’m grateful for season 5, for having a season 5, and their amazing performance… simply loved it… and olivia did remember, we could sense her holding her breath while Peter called for Etta (because that’s when all Hell broke loose before)… peter remembered when he received the tulip… and the tulip means there’s a chance that Walter would reappear.

    I thank all of them in Fringe for this 5 amazing years… They deserve to be remembered

  17. Patrick Maloney says:

    This is what all genre shows should aspire to be, a show who got to end on it’s term through the sheer love of its fans.

  18. Mel V. says:

    Absolutely loved it! There’s only a couple things that are bothering me. Things that were brought up in Season 5 that have nothing to do with the whole mythology of the show but have been bugging me since they aired. No not the time travel paradox (I have my own opinion on that). One is…Why did Olivia and Peter’s memories of the invasion differ so greatly? From the clothes they were wearing to the color of the blanket they were on. Second is…back the The Recordist, why did Olivia give back the wrong coordinates? On the tape Walter gave a set that was different from what Olivia iterated back to the team…which is weird because Olivia knows numbers. We were told this many times throughout the show…she should not have gotten that wrong. I do not think that these were mistakes on the writers part…this is a show that thrives off of its continuity. If there was a difference in these two points it is because there was supposed to be and I wanna know why!

    Other than that…like I said Loved the ending for reasons that have been said throughout these posts already.

  19. Sam says:

    No matter how many problems I’ve had with the show during its run or in the finale, the scenes between Joshua Jackson and John Noble were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Peter and Walter grabbed me and owned my heart from the very beginning. I will never forget them. Thank you Josh and John for being such perfect actors and for creating those beautiful characters. I will miss you.

  20. Eleven says:

    I loved the show and enjoyed the finale. However, I am unsure why series refuse to embrace what Six Feet Under idid n their series finale. They wrapped up EVERY characters path in a less than five minute video montage without any speaking. It was the most emotional piece of televison I have ever watched and still stays with me today.

    • ecobfw says:

      Me too. If I catch a bar of Sia singing “Breathe Me,” it takes me right back. Something like that could’ve worked really well for the Fringe finale.

  21. Much Much better than the lost series finale that said it didn’t really seem like a series finale more like a mid season finale. And i for one would love a movie or mini series set a few years in the future in which peter and olivia run the fringe team of 2020 and walter runs the team of 2170 with his great great great grand kids.

  22. Sarah says:

    I haven’t watched Fringe since the last season but reading this floored me because… Isn’t Olivia the main character, I mean this review didn’t mention her AT ALL. When did she start getting pushed to the side to further Peter’s storyline, I don’t like it. That’s not the show i loved in the beginning.

  23. onlyakb says:

    I thought the finale was really fitting and seriously good!! cos at some point everybody knew they were working to reset the time, so that had to happen, and they had to bring Etta back but how they got to do those things, wow it was really a roller coaster ride! and what amazing performances + very sweet moments for each one of the characters, and I really liked that Olivia got to see that they actually saved red head world, and that they were happy, it was very nice to see that!
    and I’m not gonna go and get crazy about some detail that might have been left out, cos that would just make me questions things that would ruin my view of the show, since we are probably not get answers in form of episodes.
    and enjoyed and was very happy that Gene was in amber too, quite sweet actually!! and the tulip, I love the meaning of white tulips in the show!!

  24. Kevin D says:

    I enjoyed the finale and I’m interested to hear how the producers explain the paradox. I agree with most of you that The Observers did exist, but with emotions. I also think Walter would have spelled out exactly what the new Observers would need to do in order to “keep history correct” and have Olivia and Peter wind up together.

  25. Lilu says:

    Awesome ending for a awesome series!
    don’t look to deep into your theories, don’t ruin it for yourselfs ppl!

  26. Amanda says:

    My Very Favorite Thing- that was my favorite line from the show and it started the tears flowing

  27. jw says:

    Correct is absolutely on target. It wasn’t an exception from the way they told their stories, but completely in line. Each of the two hours was a stand-alone episode, each followed the typical pattern of identifying a problem, finding a solution and then gauging the outcome. And then there were the interactions between these characters we’ve grown to love, who have grown emotionally themselves and were able to say what they needed to say.

    Another alternate ending popped into my mind….for a moment I thought that maybe they ALL would go through the wormhole into 2167. And didn’t Peter’s final look suggest that he was going to go get Walter?

    Gotta say, this series made me a huge fan of Joshua Jackson. He never really got much glory in the press, what with John Noble and Anna Torv being so exceptional. But he has always been just as strong.

    Matt, only four eyes in tears?

  28. kt007 says:

    A great finale, however three things disturbed me:

    1. What happened to William Bell?
    2. Who is Mr. X from the animee episode?
    3. Who build the machine Peter used and send it back to the blue (and red?) timeline?

    In my opinion the multiple time and timeline switches are not properly resolved at the end.

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      1. William Bell was trapped i the amber with them. Remember they had to cut his hand off?
      2. William Bell is Mr. X
      3. Walter built it and sent it back in time. They didn’t show it.

      • craig says:

        Bellie was un-ambered along with simon, but they neglected to say what the Observers did with him. For someone as intellectual as Walter, it’s a shame they left that thread dangling.

  29. Sianicle. says:

    It was the perfect balance of everything they’ve been doing for the past 5 years. I’ve never been so satisfied with an ending.

  30. Pamela says:

    Loved it. Thought it was beautiful. The best show, cast, & crew. Will miss it terribly.

  31. DN says:

    Anyone else notice the remark about Walternate’s age when Olivia went to the alternate universe? Perhaps a hint dropped that Walter will see them when they reach the future.

    Also, I think it would’ve been both cool and a cause of controversy if the camera cut to black as Peter looked up when Etta hugged him in the park — creating the question of whether the plan did work or not (original timeline had Observers entering park through the trees).

  32. jimbo says:

    Thank you for five wonderful years.

  33. Mari says:

    Fringe was my favorite tv show once. But during season 4 I stopped caring about it but I never gave up on it. And it ended in such a high note that I’m so glad I stuck with it. Thank you Fringe writers for this great great finale. I will never forget.

  34. Definitely cried at several points – it was really emotionally charged even if narratively it was a little predictable. Can’t believe our Fringe crew is done!!!

    In our review we tried to count the callbacks to previous episodes, but we probably missed a few

  35. Sareeta says:

    A+. Perfect finale. I couldn’t be happier. I got everything *I* wanted: happy ending, the plan to work, closure for the characters (aw, I cried so much when Peter learned Walter was leaving and again with Walter and Astrid and again when Walter really did go and Peter mouthed “I love you, Dad”, and again when Peter received the white tulip), the other universe, Olivia returning back to form and using her powers, Broyles being a hero without dying, closure for September, Windmark getting defeated, and classic Fringe events being used. I’m more than satisfied. The time travel stuff went a bit over my head, but reading the comments, I think I sort of grasp it.

    I’m looking forward to a rewatch when it comes to Netflix. Definitely one of the best TV series ever, and perhaps the best finale. PS: I liked the Lost and BSG finales, too.

  36. Terri says:

    The tulip was perfect but I feel that the show has gone off track since they left the idea of FRINGE SCIENCE behind at the end of season 1. Alternate universes and soap opera stuff is not what this show promised. IM a huge sci-fi fan and thought this could be bigger than the XFiles. But it left science and jumped into how can we confuse people with multiple timelines

  37. AJ says:

    When I first watched it, I was confused. I thought, “if the obervers never existed to distract Walter, then how did he cross universes and everything” and “how did Peter live if September never existed to save him?” but then my theory became: Walter would never have been distracted because there was no Observer to to that, so, he would have found the cure and saved the original Peter.. therefore, he wouldn’t have had to cross over and therefore, the Peter we saw at the end was the Original Peter that Walter originally saved… Kinda still confused..

  38. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    91.5% of voters gave it an A or a B. I would say mission accomplished, great finale.

  39. AJ says:

    I forgot to mention it in my previous post but I LOVED the finale!! Perfect ending :)

  40. Can someone explain — did walter die or is he living alone in another universe?? What is the meaning of the white tulip — help please!!

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      It’s a “sign from God” type thing. “I, too, attempted the unimaginable, and I succeeded. I crossed into another universe, and took a son that wasn’t mine. And since then, not a day has passed without me feeling the burden of that act. I’m going to tell you something that I have never told another soul. Until I took my son from the other side, I had never believed in God. But it occurred to me… that my actions had betrayed him and that everything that had happened to me since was God punishing me. So now I’m looking for a sign of forgiveness. I’ve asked God for a sign of forgiveness. A specific one, a white tulip.”. – Walter Bishop (to Alistair Peck, warning of the perils to mankind when good scientists commit unethical acts).

    • NCSouthernBelle says:

      I understood it as he and Michael go on to live out the rest of their days in the future.

  41. Sarah says:

    I cried through the whole da*n thing. Beautifully done and a fitting tribute to characters I have just absolutely fallen in love with over the past 5 years. I already miss them.

  42. But, did Walter die or is he living in some other universe or future timeline??

  43. Mima x says:

    Beautiful Ending to an Epic Show! At least it wasn’t as confusing as the Lost ending… never always did get that? =) Miss and Love you Fringe! And I will miss mostly the amazing acting from certain ‘noble’ actors! Love. Love. Love! =) X

  44. It was Olivia with her cortexiphan powers that kill Windmark not Michael, he doesn’t have the tec in his brain to do that.

  45. NCSouthernBelle says:

    I absolutely thought September was Callum Keith Rennie (or the creepy dad from The Butterfly Effect, as I referred to him). Quite a striking resemblance!

    LOVED the finale, HATE that my favorite show is over. :'(

  46. Best Line Ever... says:

    Still watching on Hulu but gotta say —
    ** SPOILER **

    “It’s a beautiful name…” [Gasp!]
    “What is?”

    [Buckets! Just bawled buckets!!] I think that was the most beautifully written & incredibly delivered line I have ever heard… Jesus christ, I’m gonna miss this show. [snif!]

  47. Had they had more episodes, I imagine that we would have found out what happeend to Ella, or have seen them use the drug to create an army of enhanced soldiers like Olivia to fight the Observers. That would have been cool to see.

  48. Jules says:

    Why all the Lost comparisons? Because it was created by JJ Abrams? They were two totally different shows. As far as I understand, JJ wasn’t involved in the writing of either finale. They were both great as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I think Fringe was the best series finale since Lost. Both were great shows that I will probably re-watch over and over again for years. Can’t wait to buy my Fringe DVDs and watch this show from the beginning.

  49. James says:

    the brilliance of this show can not be described in words. it was ahead of its time in many facets, but at its core was deeply human. it will be sorely, sorely missed. i pray to the gods and hire ups that they turn it into a movie franchise because thier is still story to be told IMO. and selfishly I’m not ready to let these characters go yet.

  50. craig says:

    Good finalé, but something doesn’t quite fit. Wern’t the observers given “a unique oppertunity to study the past, free from consequenses of messing with time”? That would mean absolutly nothing was changed at all. Right?
    And what was with Peters concerned look at the end, as though he suddenly remembered what had happened?