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What happened to "Fringe?"
on November 16, 2011
Before I give my review, I have to say that I am a "Fringe" fan. Even though I started watching during season 2 and then watching season 1, I quickly fell in love with those two seasons. They had excellent writing, good memorable characters, and a fascinating premise. I was so looking forward to season 3, but my hopes were dashed. The writing went downhill; characters stopped being as memorable; story lines were boring or didn't make any sense at all.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
A big letdown for me was the characters. Olivia used to be interesting, but then she got all angsty, especially when she and Peter had their little spat. Walter used to be funny, but some of his actions and conversations came across as being forced and not as humorous as they used to be. Peter used to have that sarcastic likeableness about him, but I stopped liking him when he failed to differentiate between Olivia and Faux-livia. I have to say that Anna Torv did a very good job at portraying two different people; her demeanor and actions clearly made her two characters different.
While the season started off at a good pace, it got bogged down with some of its episodes. The first nine episodes were entertaining, but after that they became rather boring. I recall in seasons 1 and 2 where there were episodes not dealing with the overarching plot, but even then they were interesting. Even "Earthling" from season 2, which many fans dislike, was an interesting episode. The cases from season 3 were largely not interesting and dealt with some braniac or psycho trying to do something for good or for revenge. I miss season 1 episodes where several of them dealt with either the Pattern or a psycho experimenting on genetics or weapons who had a connection to the Pattern. Even season 2 had episodes with Newton and the shape-shifters, which were good. These episodes of just random braniacs in season 3 are not very interesting and not very gripping to me. The episode "Subject 13" looked like it was meant to be like season 2's "Peter," but it failed to that standard. And "LSD" was bizarre and did not really seem to have any point, compared to "Brown Betty" which was a little weird but seemed to have a definite purpose in season 2.
Another disappointment were the story arcs of season 3. The season 2 finale promised an amazing storyline for season 3, especially with Peter and the doomsday machine and Walternate wanting to destroy the Blue Universe. The story arc, however, I was thought was a good concept but very poorly executed. It moved along at a pace that was way too slow, and too much was left unanswered. The season 3 finale did not tie up the loose ends very well, and I finished the episode thinking to myself "what the heck just happened? You spent an entire season building up to something, and we get this?" It was very poor writing, and I was not impressed, which was a shocker for me because I've loved "Fringe's" previous season finales. Then there were other minor story arcs that had no point or went on for way too long. The whole Faux-livia infiltrating Blue Universe and falling for Peter while our Olivia is brainwashed in Red Universe was too long and too drawn out; it should have ended earlier. The arc with Olivia hating Peter for sleeping with Faux-livia was rather overdramatic, and I did not sympathize with either side; it also became too dominant in the season where it should have been a more minor side plot. The arc with Bell possessing Olivia was stupid and did not seem to have any point; there was potential for Bell to help Fringe team with his knowledge of the Red Universe, but it was never used. The whole Faux-livia pregnancy arc was very predictable and ultimately did not have much of a point either, except serving as a rather complicated and unnecessary way to get Peter's DNA, Then there was the finale, which was drawn out too long over too many episodes; season 2 finale was much better in that each episode was independent but built up to an amazing finale- not so with season 3.
Another problem with the writing was how many threads were dropped. Peter's whole thing with killing the shape-shifters lasted only one episode and was never touched upon again. Alternate Charlie and Lincoln Lee becoming suspicious of Walternate was also brief. Faux-livia's kidnapping was never fully solved and the reasons for it were never given. There were others throughout season 3, but the dropped storylines really bothered me.
I had very high hopes for season 2, but I was rather underwhelmed by it. It started off strong, but after a few episodes, I got bored and disappointed with the season.