Entertainment Magazine

Review #3918: Fringe 5.12: “Liberty”

Posted on the 21 January 2013 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

Written by Alison Schapker
Directed by P. J. Pesce

Of all the elements from previous seasons that felt missing during this final arc, it was the Alt-Fringe universe. Tying off that part of the story made sense when there was the potential that the series would end with the fourth season, but the loss was keenly felt, however excellent this final season might have been. So when it was clear that this episode would mean a sojourn into the Alt-Fringe universe, complete with a visit with old friends, I couldn’t help but be pleased.

Review #3918: Fringe 5.12: “Liberty”

I was glad that this episode also tackled the question of Michael’s motivations head-on. There’s a bit of convenience involved in the notion, but given that Michael is supposed to be more mentally advanced than the Observers, it makes sense. Peter’s arc earlier in the season demonstrated that the Observers are capable of projecting potential future timelines with remarkable accuracy. One can imagine that Michael is far more advanced, and could predict that the likely resolution to his capture would be roughly what took place in this episode.

Similarly, the struggles of the team thus far this season have been pointing to the need for Olivia’s cortexiphan abilities. I thought that was foreshadowed with Olivia’s encounter with Simone (the oracle), and sure enough, that’s what is required. It also presented a strong case for why Walter needed to be restored and tested, in terms of his knowledge of the past and his hard-earned empathy.

The trip into Alt-Fringe was a nice reminder that a lot of time has passed, something that is easy to forget, despite Nina and Broyles showing their age. Granted, Lincoln and Fauxlivia didn’t look nearly as old as they could have, but if Walternate is still working in his 90’s, then one can safely assume that Alt-Fringe, being ahead of the game technologically, would have advancements in life extension. Life in Alt-Fringe seems to be pretty good, and most (if not all) of the damage done during the conflict appears to be resolved.

The cross-universe travels by Olivia, combined with the grueling jump-start process itself, made for some of the best action of the season. The constant shifts in perception brought added tension to the struggle with the Observer, as did the unfortunate reminder that they can shift between universes. Another highlight was Windmark’s silent battle with Michael. What better way to communicate Michael’s inherent superiority than to have Windmark’s mental powers backfire on him?

This made some of the other necessary elements of the story, such as September’s work on the device for the plan, a lot more palatable. As much as it makes sense for September to know the parts of the plan that Walter had forgotten, it does make the fetch quest of the rest of the season feel a bit moot. On the other hand, the progression of the season to this point makes it rather clear that the writers decided on a set of conditions for the finale and mapped back to the end of “Letters of Transit” to work out the beats of the fifth season arc.

Nostalgia may be playing a role in my strong enjoyment of this episode, but I also felt that the return to the Alt-Fringe universe was a smart way to overcome the natural weaknesses of the middle part of any trilogy. The key to making the “complication” phase of a trilogy work is distracting the audience from the notion that the character aren’t getting anywhere. Ideally, the “complication” phase introduces elements that are thematically or constructively necessary for the resolution, and in this case, that requirement was more than adequately met.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Final Score: 9/10

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