From a show known for its mindbending episodes came the most mindbending episode of all. “The Day We Died,” the third season finale of Fringe, not only reinvigorated the show’s fantastic (but inevitably aging) premise, but gave the show a breath of life that has me waiting — no, begging — for the show’s fourth season. I can’t imagine the outrage if this show hadn’t been renewed.
Am I going to call “The Day We Died” the best episode of Fringe ever? No, I’m not (I still have a fond place in my heart for “White Tulip”). I will say, though, that season three was the absolute best season of Fringe, and further more, probably the best season of television that’s aired in recent years — and “The Day We Died” is certainly an important factor in season three’s overall direction. I’m pretty sure that when we look back on Fringe, we’ll say that this finale was the point that the old show ended and the new show began. This episode certainly seems like the turning point.
At times it was at risk of becoming “A Christmas Carol,” but the episode managed to dodge cliches at a much better rate that future Olivia dodged bullets (too soon?), especially at the end. The fact that Peter simply stopped existing — in fact, he never existed — will of course have major ramifications on season four (“Imagine the Repercussions,” remember?), but I’m pretty sure that any way the writers solve it, it will be satisfying. Will Joshua Jackson return as Peter? I’d say it’s almost a certainty, though how is beyond me. With the introduction of time travel — remember, the First People will probably come about next season — so I’m not really worried about seeing Joshua Jackson again. “He served his purpose,” is a pretty cold way to lose a character, Observers. That’s doubly so when you consider the dramatic potential for Olivia’s now-inevitable discovery of Altlivia’s baby.
While Peter’s nonexistence certainly is a cliffhanger, I’m actually more interested to see the dynamic of the alternates being introduced next season. Olivia and Altlivia now seem to be on the same side with the potential to be friends (but can you really be friends with yourself?) and Walter and Walternate are probably going to be hateful toward each other for a while, though I’d really like to see a fun, Walter/Belly-esque dynamic happen once those tensions resolve themselves.
Was “The Day We Died” worth the entire season’s build-up? Certainly — though season four will only continue that momentum. Fringe is a a giant, interdimensional ball rolling down a hill: it can’t do anything but get faster, and better. A