In its four seasons, Fringe has never disappointed. Like the previous three, season four was gripping, touching, creepy, and downright weird. It took us to some very weird places, and asked us to believe in multiple universes, time travel, shape shifters, and all manner of gooey creatures (they were always slimy). What was most impressive was that it was totally believable.
Well, believable in the Fringe universe(s). I don't believe in time travel, but in Fringe, it not only seemed feasible, it was a concept that was easy to grasp. What was particularly interesting about season four was that there were no big "twists." Everything was "predictable." Obviously Peter was going to come back. Obviously he was in his own universe, but a version that existed without him until the moment of his return. Obviously William Bell was going to return. Obviously the other Lincoln had to die so our Lincoln could go to the other side (thereby returning our universe to order). But all of these "obvious" plot points did nothing to diminish the enjoyment of the season. If anything, I think it made the season run more smoothly. It followed a progression that was natural to the characters and natural to the story. With TV shows, it is often difficult to keep the quality and consistency over the years. Cast and crew come and go, get bored, want to "try something new," go for a different audience, have changes to the budget, that kind of thing. But even into the fourth season, Fringe has managed to stay true to the characters, even while they change drastically.
Despite consistent dips in the ratings, Fringe gets a fifth and final season (well, half-season). Naysayers said it wouldn't be back for a fifth season, but that is just not Fox's style. NBC would have canned it, but Fox has always been surprisingly nurturing towards their shows - especially sci-fi. The Simpsons and Married... With Children kept Fox in business when it barged into territory that had been dominated by the three major networks for decades. But it was The X-Files that put Fox on the map, showing the network was more than just saucy sitcoms. Fox has stood behind sci-fi and high-concept programming ever since.
So where do you think the final thirteen episodes will take us? I suspect that we will spend the bulk of the final season in the future, dealing with the world we saw a few episodes ago. I didn't particularly like that episode (a whole episode that was a set up for the "oh my gosh, that's Peter and Olivia's kid" moment) but when the end is barreling down on you, where else do you have to go but forward?