Fringe season 4 episode 15 review: A Short Story About Love

Fringe returns from hiatus with an episode all about love, although that's not the emotion it evoked in Billy. Read his review here…


This review contains spoilers.

4.15 A Short Story About Love

When a show comes back from hiatus it’s generally good form to get your regular viewers excited about the return, perhaps by delivering something special. The writers of Fringe didn’t get that memo, because very little in A Short Story About Love was special, from my perspective.

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I mean, how many crazy scientists are there in the world of Fringe? An infinite number it seems, because whenever they’re stuck for an idea they fall back on them, adding increasingly bizarre ways to kill people, inevitably for a greater good…or a lost love.

The lack of interest in this week’s nutty professor was highlighted by the lack of detail they gave to the case. He was burned, but I don’t recall they ever explained what happened to him or his wife. Perhaps we’ve seen so many Mr Freeze/Doc Ock copies we’re supposed to fill in the blanks ourselves by now?

But then I guess the who point of this story was the relationship between Peter and Olivia, which on occasion made honey seem as sweet as lime chutney in comparison.

I can’t recall when I really started to reject the notion that Walter proposed, that Peter was influencing Olivia to have his memories, I think it was in A Better Human Being (Ep.13), but it made no sense from the outset.

And now, two stories later, the writers turn around to us and admit it was dumb, like we hadn’t worked that out already! My annoyance with this was only amplified by the fact that Fringe has an excellent track record of treating its viewers like grown-ups, and yet here did the complete opposite.

The idea that love conquers everything, even the spaghetti knotted timelines of this show must be a relief to those writing it, who’d clearly completely run dry on how to unravel the byzantine plot they’d created. But this reviewer had actually expected more, given the complexity of how we got here.

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OK, I accept that there are some issues still to resolve, most notably the prediction of Olivia’s death and the errant Dr Jones, but the whole issue of ‘going home’ appears to have vaporised in a warm embrace. Along with Agent Lincoln Lee’s ambitions to get closer to Olivia, it seems. Will his love for Olivia be the undoing of her relationship with Peter ultimately, or is my brain in soap-opera mode now?

The more I think about it the more irritated I’m getting, so let me talk about other things, most importantly the ultimate destination of this show. I’d assumed for some time that season 4 would be the final outing for Fringe. But according to an interview that Jeff Pinkner, Executive Producer, gave The Hollywood Reporter, it’s a distinct possibility. He was reported as saying, “There are conversations with both the studio and the network”, to keep the show alive for another season. But given the viewing figures and the cost of the show, the budget for season 5 is going to take a battering, one might imagine. And, both Anna Torv and John Noble have both indicated that they think season 5 is as far as Fringe should go, concerned that they’ll run the show entirely into the ground if they try to go further.

I’m with them on this. Putting aside my disdain for this episode, Fringe is a show that I’ve enjoyed on a regular basis, and I don’t want it to end up emulating utterly The X-Files in outstaying its welcome.

Read our review of episode 14, The End of All Things, here.

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