Until the Last Word, Part 6 ~ The Space Fringe OccupiesFrom an episodic with a looming mystery, to a serial-episodic hybrid, to a episodically-inclined serial, Fringe's structure changes to suit the needs of the story rather than the story being shoehorned into a rigid formula that so many shows follow religiously. Not every question is answered immediately, but there are answers. And it does not start each week with a blank slate that resets or puts aside character development and relationships, as though the only thing that matters is the case at hand. Love, pain, and joy are remembered. Fringe has been surprisingly malleable, and in this last season it is now a completely serialized 13-part "love letter" (in Joel Wyman's always beautiful words) to the fans. There are no longer investigations, but the team's past experiences are being used in a fight for survival in this abbreviated season that has to answer the biggest questions *coughobserverscough* and satisfactorily end the series.
Some people with short attention spans and limited imagination would have you believe that Fringe was a better show when it was procedural. They're completely wrong, of course, as it never was so simple. Even if they didn't have it all figured out, it had an intriguing backstory from day one that was revealed a bit at a time and eventually became prominent through a natural progression. We learned that a number of cases had a connection to Walter's work (not a convenience, as one reviewer disdainfully put it, but a design that was tightly woven into the show) and that there was a secret he was keeping about Peter. Even when it seemed solely monster of the week, there were the relationships that went far deeper than I've ever seen, and it was obvious we were in for a treat. As the mythology grew, so did the format and storytelling skills. Fringe always had the elements it needed for the inevitable transition and it made it seamlessly and it was better for it.
I have never seen a show so willing to change for the sake of telling the story in the most emotionally effective way, and to do it so well every season is just extraordinary. Every year Fringe moved forward in its mystery, solving the problems at hand while revealing others with mind-blowing and perfectly executed cliffhanger finales. It kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat...and upside down, with my stomach doing backflips. In other words, I was a wreck while watching it. Anything could have happened, and everything did. But don't let that scare you off. There are numerous moments of humor and joy, and countless moments to fall in love with the characters, creators, and even TV itself again. It's not often I feel a TV writer or showrunner is wholeheartedly invested in his work. Joel Wyman is one of the few. It made me fall in love with Fringe even more to see how enthusiastic he is about the show and how much he appreciates the fans.
"Like the fans, I think they love the same things I do, which is these incredible people. If I can tell the story honestly and with a degree of depth and make people think and go through things with them this last final season, that would be a great reward because they've invested so much time. So, I kind of just went, 'All right, I got to go with my heart and my gut and tell the story this way.'"
~Joel Wyman // The TV Addict, September 28, 2012