To celebrate the release of Fringe Season 4 on DVD (£30) and Blu-ray (£37.99) on 24 September 2012, and the forthcoming fifth and final season of sci-fi’s coolest show (check out SciFiNow issue 71 for exclusive interviews on this very subject), like the freewheeling, taffy-munching Walter Bishop, we’ve dared to do the impossible and pare a show with a shockingly high number of amazing episodes down to a list of 10…
10. WELCOME TO WESTFIELD
(Season 4, Episode 12)
Best Walterism: “Oh, I’m not allowed to drive. I haven’t renewed my license since I got out of the mental institution.”
Geeky references: Brigadoon, The Wizard Of Oz
OMFG moment: The first glimpse of the woman with two rows of teeth. Ick.
Everyone’s undisputed first choice from Season 4, a harrowing, claustrophobic small town tale part Silent Hill, part George Romero’s The Crazies and all Fringe.
9. WHITE TULIP
(Season 2, Episode 18)
Best Walterism: “I, too, attempted the unimaginable, and I succeeded…”
Geeky references: Guest starring RoboCop‘s Peter Weller!
OMFG moment: The full reveal of just what Peck has done to himself in order to achieve his dream is pretty gruesome.
One of the show’s best ‘mythalone’ episodes – a cool sci-fi concept that can be enjoyed in its own right as Peter Weller’s driven, heartbroken scientist Alistair Peck modifies himself and bends time to be reunited with his fiance, but one full of resonance and foreshadowing for the big reveal and story arc to come.
8. LETTERS OF TRANSIT
(Season 4, Episode 19)
Best Walterism: “I’ve eaten it once. It was sweeter than you’d think.” “Feces?” “God, no. Brains. And LSD. I love LSD.” Walter to Simon.
Geeky references: Blade Runner, The Prisoner, Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope
OMFG moment: The opening scroll is pretty chilling, like a snowman slapping you in the face.
A brilliantly evocative and shocking vision of a dystopian future that will have deeper resonance as we enter Season Five.
(Season 2, Episode 15)
Best Walterism: “No, we were trying to help you. We were trying to make you more than you were.”
Geeky references: Raiders Of The Lost Ark
OMFG scene: The sole survivor’s bodies fused together was alright for these hardened stomachs, but as soon as the second face revealed itself…
A key turning point for Olivia and Walter’s relationship, where they must knock everything down to build it back up, ‘Jacksonville’ gets right to the heart of Olivia Dunham, giving Anna Torv’s acting chops a real workout.
(Season 3, Episode 9)
Best Walterism: “Whoever did this was trained. These incisions have been made with precision. This is beautiful work. Definitely not a Viking. They were ruthless.”
Geeky references: The Wizard Of Oz, Frankenstein
OMFG scene: Seeing the marionette first lurch into life will give you cause to pause over the light switch at night.
Strangely scheduled as the Season 3 mid-season finale after ‘Entrada’, which not-so neatly wrapped up the first half of the season’s major arc, this fairly effective, seemingly standalone graverobbing chiller is oozing tension. Every scene with Olivia and Peter is thick with it, and even knowing it’s coming, that final exchange will break your heart.
5. THE DAY WE DIED
(Season 3, Episode 21)
Best Walterism: “I didn’t realise how much I missed swivel chairs. I also missed swivelling.”
Geeky references: Genre favourite Brad Dourif guest stars.
OMFG scene: Peter’s eulogy will have you choking back tears.
A complete jaw-agape shocker that proved just how much potential was being held in the Fringe universe, and just how little we’d really touched on it. All of the season’s relationships and possibilities come to a head, and Peter makes the ultimate sacrifice…
4. THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF EVERYTHING
(Season 1, Episode 20)
Best Walterism: “What else aren’t you telling me, Walter?” “Lots, I’m sure.” Peter to Walter
Geeky references: ARGH! IT’S LEONARD NIMOY!
OMFG scene: You can’t help but let out a bit of dribble when you see the Twin Towers.
The closing scenes of Season 1 took all of those lazy X-Files comparisons, screwed them up into a little ball and threw them through a portal into another dimension. ‘There’s More Than One Of Everything’ is where Fringe went from being a fairly enjoyable stock procedural cruising largely on the infectious Peter-Olivia-Walter dynamic, and became fantastic sci-fi.
(Season 2, Episode 16)
Best Walterism: N/A, he’s still sane, sadly :(
Geeky references: Back To The Future
OMFG moment: The whole episode is one big defining OMFG moment, upon which so much of Fringe now rests.
Flashing back to 1985 (complete with opening credits musing on cutting edge future tech like ‘virtual reality’), Peter’s secret origins finally become clear and we learn the lengths that Walter will go to – emotionally and scientifically – for his son. Another example of what it is that makes Fringe great – emotionally compelling drama and intellectually compelling ideas.
(Season 3, Episode 8)
Best Walterism: “In the Seventies I innocently wandered in the wrong home and it was three days before I realised my mistake. And unlike Olivia, the woman I was sharing a bed with didn’t look like my wife at all.”
Geeky references: Guest star Stefan Arngrim started his career as the kid in Irwin Allen’s Land Of The Giants.
OMFG moment: This whole episode is one back-to-back OH NO SHE DIDN’T
The truth about Olivia finally comes out – and she’s not our Olivia. Peter’s sense of betrayal is palpable, but while it’s not the emotional match of ‘Peter’ or ‘Marionette’, it’s a brilliant action-romp with a tense final, Bourne-style shoot-out/stand-off in a railway station.
1. OVER THERE PART 1 & 2
( Season 2, Episodes 22 & 23)
Best Walterism: “Walter, can you walk?” “I can dance if you like. They have absolutely fabulous drugs here, Olivia.” Olivia to Walter
Geeky references: Aside from Leonard Nimoy, you mean? Well there’s the awesome alternate universe versions of DC comics!
OMFG moment: That shock ending. You know the one.
A fantastic, sprawling thrill-ride across the alternate universe as our heroes punch between worlds to recover Peter, Olivia to profess her love and Walter to make amends for his dark secret.
Honourable mentions: ‘Northwest Passage’ (2.23), ‘Betty Brown’ (2.20), ‘Olivia’ (3.01), ‘Lysergic Acid Diethylamide’ (3.19), ‘Subject 13’ (3.15), ‘Grey Matters’ (2.10), ‘Momentum Deferred’ (2.04) – oh, most of them really. Fringe is really bloody good!
Available to buy from 24 September 2012, the Fringe Season 1-4 box set is the ideal place to start, pick that up for £53 on DVD, or £57.29 on Blu-ray. Fringe Season 4 can also be picked up on DVD for £30 and on Blu-ray for £37.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
Last but not least, there’s a huge Fringe Season 5 feature in issue 71 of SciFiNow, which is available in all good newsagents, as well as digitally from GreatDigitalMags.com and contains exclusive interviews with Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, and Lance Reddick, as well as current and former executive producers JH Wyman and Jeff Pinkner.