With the premiere of Fringe’s fifth and final season almost here, Fox is launching a new promotional campaign that sets the tone for the sci-fi saga’s last hurrah. If you’ve been keeping up with the intel coming out of the Fringe camp since Comic-Con and through the Fall TV preview season, then you know that the show’s climactic chapter will take place in the year 2036, when/where The Observers rule the Earth as uppity overlords, and the former agents of Fringe division are freedom fighters questing to sweep away their powdery-skinned time traveling oppressors, perhaps back to the environmentally wrecked far future epoch from which those damn fedora’d fascists hail.
Fox’s key art speaks to that premise, via an image that also slyly symbolizes Fringe itself, a cult fave that could never quite connect with the masses, that got exiled to the rough streets of Friday night and yet survived, that found a dedicated audience and a compelling identity by being as Fringe-y as possible.
Or maybe I read too much into things. You be the judge:
Analysis: Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Walter (John Noble) are fight-the-power, counter-culture heroes — icons of an underground movement that expresses itself via Banksy-esque street art. (“A wall is a very big weapon. It’s one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with.”) Of course, The Observers see Team Fringe as wanted criminals — terrorists, insurgents, rebel scum.
That said, the dapper storm troopers strolling the streets in this image don’t seem to be too flustered by the ill communication blighting their conquered cities. Are they really that unflappable and cocksure?
Or could it be that inspiring an activist, protest culture is all part of their master plan?
Yes! Got it! THEORY!
The Observers are running a sly and strange salvation game on humanity — and by “game” I mean The Game, the underrated David Fincher-directed conspiracy noir head-spinner from 1997 starring Michael Douglas celebrating its 15th anniversary this month. Basically, The Observers are just playing the part of ‘The Man.’ This whole hostile takeover thing is an elaborate drama designed to reignite the idealistic, progressive fire of a cynical, dispirited people, and The Observers have cast themselves as the Big Bad. They seized the Earth so mankind would reclaim it; they colonized the broken past as part of a mad gambit to save an irreparable future. Something like that.
Or maybe The Observers are just trying to cultivate a street art utopia.
Or… Or! Maybe we’ve been totally misled about the true nature of Fringe 5.0, and this promo — which to me evokes the feel of a late seventies/early eighties glam-rockers-trying-too-hard-to-look-gritty album cover — gives us our first hint of the real story. Hence, in the swan song season of TV’s second most ‘expect the unexpected’ show (right after Big Brother, of course), Peter, Olivia and John quit the FBI to pursue their dream of starting a band. The sound: folkie-psychedelic indie rock meets Dubstep power pop. Think: Peter Bjorn and John meets deadmau$. They’ll call themselves Fringe, their first album, released by Massive Dynamic Records, will be entitled The Final Season (today’s young rock stars — so ironic!), and their first single will be “Fight For The Future.” The Observers are the group’s street team, Broyles is the manager, Astrid, a roadie. Despite Olivia’s sultry vocals, Peter’s brawny guitar riffs, and Walter’s inventive synths and hilariously outrageous lyrics, mainstream success will prove elusive … but they will develop a big following among teenagers in Eastern Canada.
OR AM I?!
All to say: Let the Fringe geeking — and yes, grieving — begin.
Your thoughts on the art? Opine below, or tweet me at @EWDocJensen.