Performer of the Week: John Noble

Fringe Series Finale SpoilersA new feature in which we spotlight the past week’s shining star


THE SHOW | Fringe (Fox)

THE EPISODE | “Liberty”/”An Enemy of Fate”

THE AIRDATE | January 18, 2013

RELATED | The Fringe Series Finale: What Grade Do You Give It?

THE PERFORMANCE | Simply said, Fringe‘s two-hour finale event aka the Walter Bishop Goodbye Tour rocked our worlds (including the alternate one). And though we knew it was coming from the moment September confirmed the sacrifice Walter would need to make, not one fewer tear was shed because of it.

Over the course of these final two hours, Noble was able to revisit every emotion Walter ever displayed, from an inventor’s giddiness over toys new and old (Anti-gravity bullets, simply because they are “cool”! The universe window!) to the cocksure determination of the formerly mad scientist who created Cortexiphan, thankyouverymuch. But it was the heartfelt moments where the actor transcends. Like, Walter’s conflicted early reaction to Peter noting the sacrifices he has made. And the lab boss noting that Astrid — yes, Astrid — is “a beautiful name.”

The scene that drove home Fringe‘s five-year theme, however, started with the playing of the ambered VHS tape in which Walter spoke of his and Peter’s “stolen” time together and ended with a father/son hug that was so tight, you almost felt your own chest compress. “You are my favorite thing, Peter,” Noble’s noble character shared, as Joshua Jackson expelled tears on the other side of the embrace. “My very favorite thing.” (What a way we’ve come from “I thought you’d be fatter.”)

Noble’s performance carried through to the finale’s antepenultimate scene. As Peter mouthed, “I love you, Dad,” Walter’s lips slightly parted but closed again, knowing full well that nothing could build on what he expressed before. Instead, he went about saving another boy — and a whole universe, to boot.

The Emmys seldom even glance in the direction of genre-TV fare, let alone that which will have faded to black months before ballots go out. But sometimes it’s enough to know that we, as an audience, have been witness to brilliance.

RELATED | Fringe‘s John Noble Touts ‘Remarkable’ Walter/Peter Scenes and a Perfect Series Finale

Which performance knocked your socks off this past week?

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  1. D. says:

    I was starting to cry again just reading this.

  2. Kellan says:

    Dead on!

  3. Scott says:

    Surely this year the Emmy must go to John Noble?

    • Ella says:

      He is absolutely deserving of an Emmy! Honorable mention must go to Joshua Jackson – also amazing in the Fringe finale. Already miss Walter, Peter & the rest if the Fringe team!

      • Oconnellaboo says:

        Totally agree. The chemistry between the two actors is extraordinary. John and Joshua created one of the most complicated, nuanced, real portrayals of the father-son dynamic ever on TV. And they maintained it even through their more limited screentime together in seasons 3 and 4; they created so much with relatively little.

        • Guest says:

          Part of me was disappointed with this season (more like a concluding mini-series, but that’s another contention) because they de-emphasized Olivia as the heart of the show and moved it more towards Walter/Peter in closing the “primacy of family” motif. But man were these scenes so pure and redeeming.

          • Nicholas says:

            I’ve gotta disagree. I thought the the fourth season went way too far in the Peter direction. To me, Olivia has always been the character with whom we’ve experienced virtually everything. She IS the show. Suddenly it became The Peter Show. They got back to where it’s supposed to be by the end, but had me worried for a little bit.

            Season 5 was an ensemble work. There were definitely Olivia episodes and Peter and Walter episodes but, overall, it felt like they did a great job balancing who got to do what in the main three. All three of the leads got to do some of their best work (if not their best) this season, and I will forever love it the most of all. It was, by far, the most character-driven, dynamic, and moving run the show had.

            My only real complaint is that Astrid was still somewhat in the background. I was hoping that, since they’re no longer affiliated with the Government, there would be less of a formal hierarchy but it wasn’t to happen I guess. Still, Jasika is just as wonderful as Anna, John and Josh. Astrid’s farewell scene with Walter was absolutely beautiful.

          • Sam says:

            To me Walter and Peter were always the heart of the show. Olivia was the muscle.

          • coil says:

            Nicholas and Guest i wholeheartedly agree with you. :)

          • Jolene says:

            I disagree. Sure Olivia since S01E01 is the character through which we follow the show, she’s the engine that drives each episode forward. But the central character of the Fringe universe has always been WALTER and by extension Peter.

            Most will feel as you do that Olivia WAS the show because, as a partially serialized TV series, she was the one solving the riddles and she was the audience’s pov in those numerous stand alone episodes. But, in a similar manner as LOST, years of episodes later, when needing to finish such a show, the only true strong narrative is Walter & Peter’s.

            Their relationship but most importantly Walter’s crippling god-complex (which could only lead to redemption thru sacrifice or fatal hubris through total destruction. i.e:when he considers to join the observers) is the reason for every single case, every single obstacle every single plot point.

            Without Walter there are no fringe events etc… It’s beyond all else, the story of a man who lost everything (including himself) trying to get his son back.

            To sum it up rashly, season 4 we thought we lost Olivia. I didn’t shed a single tear. Season 5, Walter sacrifices the only thing that ever really mattered to him (he put two worlds in geopardy without hesitation for Peter!), being with his son, in order to reset his mistakes. Bellagio waterworks ladies and gentlemen.

            I find John Noble has always been a fantastically under-used actor. Which, thanks to this injustice, gave us the chance to know Walter Bishop on the small screen.

            An uneven show that created one of the best TV characters ever. How rare is that?

            My thoughts and sentiments to you other Fringies.

      • Sam says:

        I agree. All the awards to John Noble and Joshua Jackson!

    • coil says:

      Yes, i really hope so.

  4. MM says:

    What a phenomenal actor. Absolutely brilliant.

  5. celine says:

    John noble should have the tittle of performer of the century. Period.

  6. Cheryl says:

    How the mainstream awards ignore the treasure John Noble is as an actor and his extraordinary portrayal of Walter Bishop in “Fringe” for 5 seasons is just wrong!

  7. Steph says:

    John Noble is brilliant, just brilliant. Even more, there was one hell of a talented cast that helped create this one of a kind series. All of the awards.

  8. Noble should have earned an emmy years ago for Walter Bishop and Walternate. He is amazing.

    • 4thjet says:

      Absolutely Bravo!!!
      No other performance I’ve seen in the last YEAR let alone week touched this scene!
      I played it again and cried again too….
      Geeze I will miss FRINGE the cast and the writers did a phenomenal job in the last 2 shows!

  9. laffers18 says:

    John Noble should win ALL THINGS.

    An amazing performance over 5 years, yet somehow he even managed to up his game for the Finale.

    Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  10. Lyn says:

    John Noble was brilliant as usual. I can never understand why he has never been nominated for an Emmy for this role. Will miss Fringe and Walter

  11. Bob says:

    An absolutely great actor!!!!

  12. nikki says:

    He is the performer of the decade. John Noble and Walter Bishop are two of my favourite things.

  13. TVDIVA says:

    I love John Noble and every version of Walter Bishop. Let’s all give him an Emmy made of white tulips – since the Emmy people seem to forget him every year.

  14. Mel says:

    My vote: Michael Weatherly’s subtle,layered,sensitive yet rock solid turn in this week’s NCIS.

    • Erin says:

      I loved michael’s Tony last week too, as well as cote’s Ziva and rocky’s Vance but obviously you havent watched fringe – they pale in comparison to all of fringe’s main cast lead by the excellent John noble, the Emmy voters should be sucked into a timeline full of observers cause they clearly can’t see a good thing when they see it!

      The tears… those heart strings!

  15. Kevin says:

    The last episode of Fringe was rock solid John Noble was astounding, As he hugged he son for the last time one could almost feel the embrace. I will miss Fringe It was a fantastic show and it will be greatly missed

  16. Lauren says:

    Love this pick, TVline! John was sublime this week, will miss him and the Walters so much.

  17. Raymond says:

    John Noble is constantly overlooked for his superb performance as Walter Bishop on Fringe. He should have won an oscar or emmy…

  18. wmcc520 says:

    Hell yeah!!! This man deserves an Emmy and so much more. Hope he continues to act in America.

  19. jenn says:

    Preach. Amazing actor. Amazing show. Will miss it dearly.

  20. rayng86 says:

    I guess the emmy’s don’t watch fringe… :(

  21. Amanda says:

    Thank You for this. Saying goodbye to the amazing character that is Walter Bishop is so hard for us viewers but seeing acknowledgement of John Noble’s exceptional acting is wonderful. As for the Emmy’s, the lack of at least nomination for Noble has made me realize how very little truth this awards hold.

  22. Lyns says:

    Totally agree! He was brilliant in the last episode. But yet he always is.

  23. ivaddj says:


  24. Sarabi says:

    Kudos, Mr. Noble. Kudos!

  25. Kimberly says:

    I haven’t watched the last three episodes yet bc I’m dreading them to be over. Just reading this article made me tear up. I must admit to having started watching the series of “pacey” a.k.a. Joshua Jackson; however, I continue to watch bc of John noble. Love him.

  26. Dawn Uk says:

    Truly fantastic tv, agreed reading the blog had me in tears Again!!. Miss ya Fringe already.

  27. raeven says:

    Unless you’re talking about the article, the airdate was actually Jan.18th. But yes, John Noble is utterly brilliant and it is about time people recognize that.

  28. Em says:

    Amazing! :)

  29. Mike says:

    Perfect choice, the fact that Noble isn’t recognized more often is a disgrace.

  30. John Noble never getting an Emmy is nothing short of a travesty.

    Emmys? You owe him one.

  31. omabin says:

    It is very much deserved, although I wish anna torv could have gotten it also

  32. violet hour says:

    that scene opened up the waterworks for me, i kept looking at the time thinking its over soon noooo, it took me a whole day of procrastinating before i watched the finale because i kept thinking if i look at it then that’s it! no more!
    the finale was beautiful , emotionally satisfying and yeah i guess i must say thank you fox for not taking the rug out from under our feet too early!
    that scene should get john noble an emmy, how can anyone watch it and not agree its an awardworthy performance and he’s been consistent for 5yrs!
    i just don’t know where i’m suppose to get my scifi premium fix from,will be buying the boxset when it comes out, i have my Lost, BSG,farscape,firefly boxsets waiting for it….

  33. Mindy says:

    When I saw “Performer of the Week” and the link on Twitter, I clicked it absolutely knowing that it would be John Noble. It had to be. He was amazing. He has been nothing short of phenomenal on Fringe.

    When Walter hugged Peter and said, “You’re my favorite thing” I started to cry. John Noble’s performance in these episodes was sublime!

    I, too, hope he continues to act in America after this.

  34. I reAlly mean this… Since we fans were partly reap for getting fifty season… Can we organize a campaign to get John noble on the Emmy ballot maybe w help fr ari margolis?

  35. snazzy says:

    I thought all the actors’ performances were stellar but the scenes that grabbed me the most were the father-son scenes between Walter and Peter. Fringe has been one of my favourite shows from the beginning. I will miss watching Fringe and look forward to seeing all the actors on other shows.

  36. Muriel says:

    Such a beautiful scene! Joshua is often overlooked as an actor but the emotions he convey in just one look are amazing. They are the best father-son duo. I already miss Fringe!

  37. McBlargh says:

    I tried so hard not to cry, but the weird thing was it happened for me when he was talking to Astrid. They really excelled at closure in these last two episodes. I hope these actors get some sort of supreme professional recognition at some point in their careers.

  38. Tuur says:

    Can’t believe that I won’t be seeing this show next week or next season, it was trully one of the best ending I could ever imagine for Fringe ;(

  39. chantal says:

    I hope I can see a movie!!!

  40. rachelle says:

    I think Tony Goldwyn should have at least gotten an honorable mention for Scandal 2×11. His acting was just phenomenal. He’s been doing pretty amazing work on this show and I HOPE he can win Performer of the Week at least once this season!

  41. carole kelly says:

    John noble deserves an Emmy.Should have had one a long time ago.

  42. Such an emotional, wonderful performance

  43. Elaine says:

    Brava, to John Noble’s performance, to the writers of this review, and to the all of Fringe. A Brilliant show, it’s absence will be greatly felt. Yes, I cried again. Fond Farewell.

  44. Kay says:

    Emmy winners come and go – I don’t even recall who won last year! But I’ll always remember John Noble as Walter Bishop, and indeed the entire Fringe team. In this case, John Noble has clearly been much bigger than the Emmys and their judges.

    “You are my favorite thing, my very favorite thing” and to Astrid “beautiful name” were pitch perfect writing too and what an actor to deliver them – John Noble.

  45. Cate53 says:

    Not to be picky, but that was no VHS tape, it was pure Betamax!!
    Agree John Noble was fab and the episode quite the tearjerker.

  46. Liana in San Diego says:

    Still weeping over here…. I’ve been furious for years that John Noble has been overlooked. And no, it’s not enough that the Fringe die-hard fans know what phenomenal actors they all are, particularly Noble and Jackson excelling in their father-son interchanges. It has been one of the few shows over the years of garbage on TV that I will consistently return to, enjoy, and scratch my head in wonder that others never caught on to the brilliance of Fringe.

    • DLB says:

      I quit watching the Emmys a few years ago when they would not even nominate John Noble. The man is as good as Bryan Cranston and the guys from Mad Men. Actually he shows more emotion than any of the guys from Mad Men have to show. I saw him in a western and he said one line to a woman, full of menace, and he was “scary.” I say all Fringe fans should boycott Emmys and let them know why.

  47. of the week ?? of the century you mean, this guy is the best actor i have ever seen…