I never imagined I would have to defend Fringe and its showrunner, Joel Wyman, after it ended, especially since I loved it more than any other show and it amazes me when someone doesn't get it or has something disparaging to say about the acting. That just proves that they don't know a flawless performance when they see one (i.e. John Noble as Walter Bishop). It also had the best finale I've ever seen. Sadly, that amazing, finely-crafted episode created a rift between those who were dedicated to the show and those who were only obsessive fans of Anna Torv. Those obsessives vehemently attacked Wyman for weeks following the finale, decrying what they saw as a reduced role for Olivia. They couldn't understand the creative decisions that made for a beautifully told final season and had nothing but complaints. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about everyone who was disappointed with the end, only those few who inundated Joel with messages of hate.
I tried to ignore them, but they were just so nasty that I eventually had to do something, anything. I've taken to blocking them and reporting the worst ones for spam, as have some others I know, though I can still see their unwanted and unwarranted tweets when I look through Joel's mentions. It got to the point that one of these pieces of trash even told Joel to go to Hell, and something even worse that I don't feel like repeating again. If these were normal, level-headed, emotionally stable human beings who really liked Joel as a person in the first place, then no decision he made for a work of fiction would have affected them so much that they would turn so vile. They act like the events and characters in Fringe were real and Joel was a vindictive God. These people need some mental help. They claim he broke their hearts, so it seems they tried to do the same to him, even though he's been nothing but kind and appreciative. These people are just cruel, their harassment inexcusable. They seem to have quieted down a bit in the past couple of weeks, but they are back the minute he gets on. That means they have notifications set for someone they no longer like so they don't miss a chance to show him their dissatisfaction. Joel already apologized a number of times to these vindictive piranhas, but still they don't relent and just demand more flesh.
We all have opinions and you can't please everyone, but people who relentlessly badger someone for their creative direction should have their Internet privileges taken away for a year. They think everyone who loved the Fringe finale, and all of season 5 for that matter, are sheep, brown-nosers, or unintelligent, when it is they who are proving they're not all that bright by spending so much time being generally awful people and railing against a show that didn't fail in any way. (Those who are still fans could argue that last point, but let's not. Every moment was perfect for me.) They seem to not understand loss or how a series like this needs to be dynamic to hold interest. They seem to want characters to be unrealistically steady and unchanging, as in the most formulaic and unimaginative of procedurals. If the formula is messed with then they become irate. From the beginning, Fringe was always trying new things, so it should have come as no surprise when things changed.
Complaining to the showrunner more than two months after the end is pathetic. They just want attention even if it's negative. One of them said talking to Joel was like talking to a brick wall that's allergic to criticism. All he was trying to do was be civil. All they were trying to do was start a fight. Is Joel supposed to embrace unconstructive criticism? They seem to feel like the story was theirs to do with as they pleased and that Joel took something away from them. Even though he's busy with a new show and has barely been on Twitter since Fringe ended, they continue to try making him feel terrible for the decisions he thought were right for the show. And he WAS right. That's the thing that gets me. I wouldn't change a frame. All I would do is add more if there had been more time.
According to the arguments of the unsatisfied and uncommonly rude, Olivia wasn't the same, just a shell of her former self. How was that a bad thing to explore? Some viewers apparently preferred she not be a vulnerable, fallible, three-dimensional person. An unchanging character would be unengaging indeed. Olivia was not weakened as a character by falling in love with Peter or becoming a mother. She was strengthened by being relatable and real, and she is most certainly the same person we fell in love with, just with more depth. She was distraught after losing her daughter so suddenly and so soon after getting her back, but she stepped up when Peter was losing himself. Olivia eventually found solace in Etta's memory and the hope of changing the past, which gave her the will to go on, to survive, and to win. This was a journey she had to take to save the world and her family. Without sacrifice, it wouldn't feel like much of a fight. It would feel false and there would be no suspense. Life is not predictable or controllable, and that point was driven home this season, making for an epic end to a beautiful story.
Despite the fact that a handful of former fans think she was reduced, Olivia was grieving and the show gave her time to do so. Anyone who's gone through an emotional roller coaster like this will be able to relate and will recognize it for the authentic depiction it was for every character. If you've been fortunate enough to not have lost someone and you're wondering why Olivia didn't just snap out of it, think of the person you love most. Now imagine that tomorrow they don't come home. They will never come home again. They will never smile at you again. You will never hug them again. Their laughter will never fill the house again. Their chair will be forever empty at the dinner table. Your every waking moment for weeks will be filled with tears, for months will be filled with what-ifs, for years will be filled with longing to see them one more time. Can you understand that? It's horrible. Now think about Olivia's journey (and everyone's) in season 5 with that in mind. Is it a little clearer? Fringe was about a family, not the quantity of one actor's lines, and it was depicted throughout not at the expense of any character.
Yet still the goblins (don't want to sully the good name of trolls) want Joel to admit he made a mistake. Why would he do that when he doesn't believe he did? Most fans are on his side. He is proud of what he and the entire cast and crew accomplished with Fringe. This final season genuinely came from Joel's heart and they are berating him for it. They are not using constructive criticism. They are downright bullying. They are angry with him for daring to turn Olivia into a mother while also complaining that she didn't get enough time with her child. What kind of schizophrenic argument is that? They complain that the final moments were with Peter and Etta instead of Olivia and Etta, though Olivia was in the last few minutes. She wasn't ignored. The season started with that scene between Peter and Etta at the beginning of the invasion, so it ended artfully with Etta finally reaching her father and Olivia looking content: a rare moment. And the final minute with only Peter was exactly right. It was the reveal of where Walter's white tulip had gone, a simply and beautifully done quiet moment between father and son separated by time.
But it was not all about fathers and sons, as the detractors keep trying to spin it. It just happened that there were three fathers and two sons compared to one mother and one daughter. Most of the final season was about the devastation of losing a daughter, so there's half of the argument torn to shreds right there. And it's not even about gender, but about parents losing a child. From the pilot episode we knew something had happened to Peter as a child because of Walter's concern, but we never had a clue how sad and epic it would turn out to be. Of course there was often going to be a focus on Walter and Peter, because Peter's sickness started this whole thing in motion. As I've reiterated time and again for the persistently wrong, Fringe may have started with Olivia, but it was soon revealed to be about three interwoven lives, three people who would become a family. Without Walter losing Peter, there would have been no reason for him to cross over, to put both universes in jeopardy. That's an important piece they seem to forget when making their argument, but it could have had the dame emotional impact had it been a mother crossing universes to save her daughter. Though, I can't imagine anyone taking John Noble's place and being as amazing. If the story was different in that way, would the complaints of the final season then be that it was only about mothers? I wonder. Those obsessed with Anna Torv would probably still find something. Only the Red Universe knows.
If you're one of the people who didn't get it, I'm sorry Fringe didn't live up to your ideal of what the final season should have been, but you have to recognize that most don't agree with you. Joel Wyman's direction for the final season was perfectly realized, and his writing on the episodes he wrote (this is a big collaborative effort after all) was beautiful, the dialogue true to life. If you try to argue your baseless points with rudeness, you need to think about your behavior. Talk to others that felt the same, but it's time to leave Joel alone. No matter what, Fringe is a work of fiction and you're just clamoring for attention. Find a new show that won't disappoint, something not serialized and without character development. That way you can never be disappointed with character changes or story direction precisely because there are none. Grow up a bit and you may find that you understand better the choices made for your former favorite show.
You know what I hate even more than the complaints? I had to take time out of reading September's Notebook this last week to write this. Drawing the altered Twitter bird was fun, though.