There are few shows braver than Fringe, and this final season proves it.
Set in the dystopian, post-Observer invasion future we saw in Season 4’s ‘Letters Of Transit’, Season 5 is a sprint of a final run that takes in old characters, new ideas and flat-out classics.
The new setting – the year 2036 – gives the show runners a chance to shake things up, and they relish it, beginning with three generations of the Bishop family fighting side by side. Georgina Haig’s turn as Etta is beautifully realised, incorporating Jackson and Torv’s mannerisms in a way which feels completely natural and grounds the character instead of making her a gimmick.
Her appearances change drastically after ‘The Bullet That Saved The World’, but she’s a presence throughout the show. and one that elevates each scene she’s in. Likewise, Michael Kopsa as Windmark, the Observer officer, balances blank civility with real menace effortlessly.
Our regulars get their chance to shine, with Jackson bringing Peter’s harder edge back to great effect, Torv revisiting one of the previous versions of Olivia, Noble continuing to be the best thing about the show and Nikole still gluing them all together. This is one of the strongest casts in years, and it’s an absolute pleasure to see them work together one more time.
Season 5 isn’t perfect, however. There’s the sneaking feeling a full season would have worked better, especially with the interesting Peter sub-plot that finishes as soon as it starts, and the Observers as cheerfully inept planet-rulers.
That said, a couple of the show’s finest hours arrive this season. ‘Black Blotter’ is an LSD-drenched trip through Walter’s mind, while ‘Liberty’ and ‘An Enemy Of Fate’ – the two part finale – are crammed with callbacks to previous episodes and timelines.
We’ve spent four years running headlong to keep up with Fringe, and it’s a pleasure to be able to do so one last time.
A great victory lap for a great show.