Until the Last Word, Part 7 ~ A Journey of Thousands of Words


...begins with a single comment. Much of this seems pointless now, but I spent a lot of time writing it earlier this year and even more time editing it down to a manageable size over the last few days. I hate to throw away words, so here goes.

Finally, we come to the reason I started this post a year ago over at FringeTelevision.com: complaints about the fourth season when it was only seven episodes in. Fringe was about to return from winter break, so I was reading some articles. My day was then ruined by some very annoying comments about the show not living up to the standards it set in the past. Even though the season was young, complaints were being thrown about as if it were a habit for the show to string viewers along and be anything less than a highlight of the television landscape. This nonsense was along the lines of the show not being as emotional as previous seasons, that it wasn't the same without Peter (even after he reappeared in a world where he wasn't supposed to exist!) and that he never had enough to do, that it was better when it was monster of the week, and all other kinds of baseless whining you see from those who have no patience to wait for a story to unfold in its own time.

There had been only seven episodes this season when I started writing this. That is no time at all for Fringe, always utilizing a season-long arc, to get started, yet someone complained that Fringe has too many questions and not enough answers. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a viewer with no attention span. This show does have answers all the time. It just chooses to hold a few important revelations back. Without them there would be no point in watching. Fringe does not just drop things to never be revisited. The fact that there are unanswered questions is a beautiful thing, because it has so much material it could go on for a very long time in other forms, such as comic books, which have already been published, and a couple upcoming novels. It's not a simple task to resolve everything, but I'm confident the writers know what the most important pieces are. No one is perfect, but this show, with its astounding performances and emotionally true writing is as close to that ideal as possible even if some smaller details don't come together. Some mysteries can remain so, because the bigger picture has been revealed. It's a complicated narrative with many branches, written by flawed but beautiful people. In the end what you remember is how it makes you feel.

One person said she wished Fringe was cancelled and the rest of the actors "are out of a job, just the way Josh is." I can't even begin to fathom the stupidity, selfishness, complete ignorance, and lack of respect on display. To wish good people lose their jobs (not to mention the entire crew) because one may have a reduced role for a while is pathetic. She somehow missed the fact that the season was obviously going to be an emotional journey for Peter about what makes the people you love who they are and to find a way back to that. She seemed to truly believe that Peter was gone for good and decided that she wasn't going to watch anymore, ignoring every clue that he was returning, such as teasers and trailers, the voice that Walter kept hearing, and the apparition that Walter and Olivia were both seeing. I really hope she did stop watching, because Fringe deserves a far better audience.

That third season finale took my breath away, and I loved it because I knew they had to have something amazing planned. I have a hard time believing how anyone needed more evidence that the following September would start an incredible journey for Peter. What taking Peter out of the world did was give Jackson even more weighty material. Peter was never relegated to the background. Without him there is no Fringe. But some believed that Josh should always have all of the best lines, and his character should never have to struggle in any way, no matter the detriment to the story.

It's sad that some "fans" think their opinion is all that matters and will try picking apart every bit of the show they think needs fixing and will lash out at anyone who disagrees. Do you tell an author how they should write their novel? No, it's not a collaboration. You read it and love it, hate it, thought it was slow to start but turned out to be great, liked the idea but not the execution, et cetera. You can tell them where you thought they screwed up, but you can't expect them to follow your advice on a character or story direction in mid-tale. The creators need to follow their vision. But no matter how well-written there are always those few with a problem that are the loudest, at least in forums and blog comments. Not that they can influence anything, but they're just damn annoying and can make a fandom look insane. Luckily, Fringe fans are some of the nicest and most supportive I've ever had the pleasure to meet, so it's easier to ignore those others.

I also read some more rational complaints (by a few different people, I think) about how the story was progressing in its fourth year, even going so far as to say they didn't care for the new timeline at all until Olivia's original timeline memories started bleeding through, because they obviously forgot everything that came before and that Fringe had never let us down. They accused the show of changing for the worse, a show they professed to be a fan of, when they didn't get all the answers immediately. It shocked Wyman and Pinkner, and I couldn't believe people would turn on them so quickly. This is a journey they took us on each season, resolving problems at a natural pace and asking a new set of questions at the finales, so the short-sightedness baffled me. They demonstrated with every episode that they knew what they're doing and that they respected the story and the audience. Yes, Peter was stuck in a world where the relationships he built over the last three years were seemingly erased, a powerful loss. But Peter remembered. We remembered. It would have to come into play and it did in a huge way, and we felt every bit of it with him.

Watch only if you've seen up to season 4, episode 5, "Novation."

There was half of a valid point in there somewhere, though. Fans do talk endlessly about Noble and Torv's performances. Josh Jackson having fewer chances to show his range (until the final season) was due to the nature of the story not his ability or importance. It's not about the number of lines or screen time but about how effective the actors are with what they are given, how the characters are utilized, and how they affect those around them. All the people in this show have their moments and Jackson, with an understated quiet sadness, is no exception. He certainly holds his own in this notewothy cast. Peter is inextricable from the story and never a secondary character. He is unique, the reason behind one father's grief and another's rage, an innocent tied to the fate of two words and two timelines. There is only one of him, but that does not mean Jackson is relegated to the background or that true fans think less of him. He is essential and part of what makes the heart of Fringe beat so strong.

So, how was season four not the same old Fringe we fell in love with? It may change, but it stays the same in the message of love and family , through trials like death, time, and realities. There is no stagnation, no feeling that this has all been done before. The writers know the relationships are why the show works, why the fans are so devoted. They demonstrate that in every poignant exchange... 

Watch this beautiful example only if you've seen up to season 4, episode 9, "Enemy of My Enemy."

By the way, I learned soon after that the posts that got me so riled up were the work of one nutjob, as I suspected, but it was too late; the writing was already well underway. I'm going to try to ignore this bull from now on. People like this really don't deserve to be acknowledged, but instead to be banned and have their idiotic comments removed. 

No matter, since this applies to anyone who thinks the world revolves around them and grew far beyond just a response to complaints. I'm fine with people having their opinions, except when they clearly aren't paying attention. The creators' vision is their own and you need to take the path they have laid out. If you think Fringe didn't go the way it should have, if you think Jackson doesn't have enough screen time, and if you're tired of hearing how affecting Torv's and Noble's performances are then maybe this just isn't the right show for you. But just know, you're behind and complaining to the past, because Jackson has more than enough to do in this final season, and I've never seen anyone saying he was not as good as the rest of the cast. They are all superb. That's why it works so well. Seeing as this is one of my favorite shows ever my favorite show ever, I know what I'm talking about. I have to say that it's going the way it should, consistent with how it's always been: intelligent, surprising, fun, humorous, achingly poignant, and beautiful. Speaking of beautiful, you will hear that word quite a lot in connection with Fringe if you spend any time at all reading interviews or watching the actors' videos, like those above.

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