As most of you have probably noticed, I enjoy a good sci-fi show, which has led, most recently, to a rewatch of the Fringe series. Which, by the way, if you haven’t had a chance to watch it, you absolutely should. The thing is cleverly written with fantastic characters and ridiculously convoluted plots and brilliant relationship dynamics, and the thing happily bears multiple re-watches. Granted, I may be biased, as it’s one of my favorite shows ever, but what can I say? There’s a reason for that.
It’s also, as anyone who’s watched it can tell you, a spiritual descendant of the X-Files. I mean, heck, just look at the opening sequences of both shows. And, you know, the premises in general: FBI agents, weird events, extensive lore…
But the different lore of the different shows is also one of the things that separates the two, and part of why I actually prefer Fringe to the X-Files (sorry, not sorry!). Most people who are familiar with the X-Files will admit, grudgingly or otherwise, that the show’s lore episodes are some of the weakest. They tended to be overly complicated, and over the course of the entire show, rather short on answers and fulfilling story arcs. Don’t get me wrong! The X-Files is still great! The characters, Mulder and Scully’s interactions, the interesting ideas played with in several of the episodes; I remember one in particular that had me in hysterics the entire time because seeing the same story (with vampires, no less) told from both Mulder and Scully’s perspectives and with all the over-the-top caricatures that came with was brilliant, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.
But while I can’t immediately think of any singular Fringe episodes that stand out in the same way, the overarching lore is so much stronger. Maybe it’s just for the simple fact that the series does actually answer the questions that it raises. In fact, the writers did a fantastic job of going back to the beginning of the show and tying in all sorts of things that would have been plenty easy to just forget. Plus, it has one of my favorite love stories ever, and that never hurts. (Peter and Olivia forever!)
I think, simply put, the thing that I like best about the lore from Fringe is that it’s all part of a bigger story that the writers want to and do tell. And then, when those stories are finished, they move on to new ones. For the X-Files, it always felt more like the writers chose to add more twists and to dive deeper down the rabbit hole instead of developing a true conclusion, which unfortunately resulted in the show feeling like it was avoiding finishing the story.
As a writer, I think that’s something important to keep in mind. Stories end. They have a shape to them, a rhythm. And a good writer knows that. In fact, if I wanted to be melodramatic about it, I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a promise that each author makes their audience: I’m going to tell you a story, and I’m going to get it to the end. And I’m going to give it closure.
Too bad that’s easier said than done!