Thursday, September 27, 2012


By Erin Jackson

Science fiction is an odd genre, one that lends itself to melodrama, ridiculous concepts and silliness. Fans of sci-fi are also odd little folks who gather at conventions. I was at DragonCon recently and amidst all the cosplayers dressed as monsters and aliens and villains, there was a man in a suit, wearing a hat and sitting on the floor, looking at an iPad.

An observer. 
My first thought was, "Oh, yay! Fringe!" but, then, as I stared and gawked and marveled, I started to feel a bit unsettled. In Fringe, Observers are us, in the future. They appear in the past at important events. And important events are usually deadly, deadly ones.

The line moved slowly on that crowded skybridge between convention hotels, and I remembered all the episodes that started out like this. He could just be wearing a suit and a hat, I reasoned.

But, what if? We are starting to advance technology to scary levels. There are Hadron colliders, laser-blasting rovers on Mars, and quantum computing. We can grow organs, clone animals and genetically engineer just about anything. Are we on the precipice of entering The Future, the one where our humanity is swallowed up in technology and pure reason?

The beauty of Fringe is that the world it builds is just a few tweaks away from ours.

Well, one of the beautiful things about Fringe. In its five seasons, it also managed to establish some of the best characters on TV. Walter (Willy Wonka meets Dr. Frankenstein meets Jerry Garcia meets J. Robert Oppenheimer), Olivia (a no-nonsense FBI agent with a big heart and a psychic mind) and Peter (a charming autodidact with a shady past who just happens to be the most important dude in two universes) form the core of the show. JJ Abrams doesn't mess around when it comes to creating fantastic, fascinating and flawed characters that draw you into worlds.

The plot will sound convoluted and complex, but trust: it makes sense. Unlike a lot of JJ Abrams shows, there isn't a lot of suspension of belief required. There isn't any metaphysical, mystical or even malicious engine driving the events. It's all about a father and son, both reaching out to each other. Walter screwed up his relationship with Peter. Walter loses Peter. Walter invents a method of crossing over to a new universe to get his son back. Walter has to dissect his brain in order to forget how he did it so he can keep Peter. Peter sacrifices himself in order to make up for Walter's technological transgressions.

The final season of Fringe begins this Friday September 28th and you can step in right now. Honest. I began watching in the third season after some prodding and I was able to pick it up easily since it does serial entertainment right. This season will begin in the future, where the Observers have run amok, and the Fringe crew are brought out of suspended animation to perhaps once and for all save the universe. Though I hate to say goodbye to Olivia, Peter, Walter and Astro Astrid, the writers get to send them off on their own terms, which means that we are in for some fantastic television this Fall.

Erin Jackson didn't die in some sort of quantum morphing or mass liquidification. She did, however, meet Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek, whose former co-star Leonard Nemoy is a frequent guest star of Fringe. When she is not improving her Bacon number by meeting celebrities at conventions, she blogs at

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