Home Action Grandiose sci-fi thriller questions reality for 100 episodes: let doppelgangers and parallel worlds tie your brain in knots

Grandiose sci-fi thriller questions reality for 100 episodes: let doppelgangers and parallel worlds tie your brain in knots

by Dennis

For sci-fi fans, sometimes it’s worth looking back in time to enjoy their favorite future genre. One series that still deserves attention here, even more than ten years after it ended, is Fringe

We at the Moviepilot editorial team have chosen the 50 best sci-fi series since 2000. Fringe – Borderline Cases of the FBI landed in 10th place and, as a network series that aired weekly from 2008 to 2013, came out on top against countless other representatives of the genre. Why? That doesn’t have to remain one of the mysteries that the series itself was so keen to open up.

What makes Fringe so extraordinary as a sci-fi series?

In Fringe, FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is assigned to work with the mentally unstable scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his sceptical son Peter (Joshua Jackson). The task of their unusual department is to investigate crimes related to unexplained phenomena: incidents that take place in the fringes of reality.

(Fringe: Peter, Olivia, Walter)

(Fringe: Peter, Olivia, Walter)

After 5 seasons with exactly 100 episodes, Fringe came to an end eleven years ago. The series by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci initially appealed to fans who were looking for new mystery entertainment to puzzle over after The X-Files and Lost. However, we were whisked away into a world that, excitingly, only gradually took on stronger science fiction traits. It was precisely this reinvention within the series that made Fringe stand out from the crowd, because it developed its concept further instead of treading water and perhaps boring us at some point.

While the first season of Fringe established the tone, the series later began to carve out its sci-fi identity more and more. This development only made the long-running narrative all the more exciting because it gently took us by the hand into the unknown. Alongside the characters, we discovered a larger universe and found a well thought-out mythology.

Experimental sci-fi thriller: Fringe impresses with a successful concept and strong characters

There was an overarching narrative in Fringe that framed pale men as “observers” in world history and set up a mysterious company (Massive Dynamic) led by Leonard Nimoy as an antagonist. Despite this, the sci-fi format mostly stuck to an easily consumable case-of-the-week, with the series rolling out new thrilling crime mysteries from episode to episode. This provided an anchor in the narrative that made us increasingly doubt reality.

(Fringe Amber Gas)

(Fringe Amber Gas)

The sci-fi series’ strange to eerie discoveries included human experiments gone wrong as well as spontaneous combustion and dangerously hardening amber gas. Fringe also enjoyed experimenting with the occasional animated LSD episode.

The sci-fi escapades were always held together by the strong cast. While John Noble’s scientist skillfully oscillated between the image of the forgetful grandpa and the megalomaniac scientist, Anna Torv (Mindhunter, The Last of Us) in particular grounded the sometimes outlandish narrative with her down-to-earth manner.

Fringe found its sci-fi niche between wonderfully pseudo-scientific explanations and successful thought experiments that prepared us for parallel dimensions with doppelgangers and breached world walls long before Marvel introduced its multiverse in the cinema.

While you were able to stream Fringe for free until recently, the sci-fi series is unfortunately currently only available to rent or buy, e.g. from Amazon.

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