By Jeff Jensen
Updated September 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM EDT


  • TV Show

Fringe will bring five years of brainy-bizarre and emotionally engaging storytelling to a close this season with an epic yarn that can be summed up in a word: Observageddon. Joshua Jackson couldn’t be more psyched. “The last great untold story we have is the Observers’ story,” says the actor, who plays the temporally displaced alt-reality orphan Peter Bishop on Fox’s Friday night cult fave. “Just from a geek standpoint, going into the future and telling their tale is super-cool. … There’s going to be some knock-your-socks-off revelations.”

For anyone who read that last paragraph and felt lost… well, where’ve you been the past four years?! (“Sealed in amber” is the only acceptable response.) If you’re a lapsed fan or just plain curious, or if you’re a Fringe lifer but need a “previously on…” refresher, the good news is that you don’t have to do a lot of homework to catch-up: Just watch season 4’s nutty number 19 “Letters of Transit” (or read our recap here). A compelling stand-alone outing, the episode took viewers to the year 2036, and a world ruled by time-traveling tyrants, refugees from a far-future era wrecked by environmental catastrophe. These quantum-leaping conquerors: the Observers, bald and dapper mystery men who for the past four seasons have been content to lurk in the background. But no more. Opposing them: the former agents of Fringe division, awakened from a 20-year cryogenic nap. There’s Peter, his psyche-scrambled egghead father Walter (John Noble) and Walter’s plucky and put-upon FBI handler Astrid (Jasika Nicole). Fringe division now functions to police the “natives” and quell dissent — Broyles (Lance Reddick) remains the unit’s leader, albeit reluctantly — but one of these jackbooted badges is really a rebel looking for a way to rid the planet of Observers: Etta (Georgina Haig), the adult daughter of Peter and Olivia, whose fate is not yet known.

The season 5 set-up brings with it a change to the drama’s storytelling structure. No more stand-alone creature features intermixed with “mythology episodes” that advance a year-long Big Picture saga (although in recent seasons, Fringe hasn’t been so neatly bifurcated, finding ways to make most episodes a synthesis of both approaches, stories which exec producer Joel Wyman likes to call “myth-alones”). Instead, the cast and producers characterize season 5 as one continuous, quick-moving, serialized movie. The season premiere is called “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11.” What does it mean? [For those spoiler averse, we suggest skipping the rest of this graph.] Well, we can tell you that the cryptic jargon doesn’t describe a time machine, as we speculated earlier this summer when news of the title broke. But it does refer to a machine of some sort, and we can also tell you that the pursuit of this perplexing piece of tech will lead Walter to “an incident” that will complicate his already very complex mental condition and hinder his ability to apply his crazy brand of genius to the heroic task of usurping their parch-skinned usurpers. “It’s really f—ing complicated,” says the actor of playing Walter’s plight. “I’m so glad I didn’t try doing this without sleep!” [Note: In August, Noble sought treatment for a sleep disorder that had been bothering him for years, causing a brief delay in production.]

Music plays a significant part in tonight’s premiere. In that spirit, we offer five additional teases for the episode, presented via a trip mix of pop songs.

  1. “Dandelion” by The Rolling Stones
  2. “Lee Van Cleef” by Primus
  3. “Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring
  4. “In My Head” by Queens of the Stone Age
  5. “Only You” by Yazoo (or Yaz, if you prefer)

Bonus Tease/SPOILER! One of these songs is actually in the episode itself. (See? Not too off topic.)

And so the end begins. Will it start with a bang or whimper? Tune in tonight at 9 p.m. to observe, then report back to tomorrow and express yourself in the message boards.

Until then: What do you want, dear Fringe fan, from the final season? What would leave you satisfied – and what would leave you disappointed? Discuss!

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

Read more:

7 new ‘Fringe’ character portraits

Episode Recaps


Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble star in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi drama
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