The “Should Have Been” Obsession

Have you ever watched a movie or a television or read a book and thought, “They should have…”  Has what “should have been” ever haunted your mind waking and sleeping?  Have you ever been passionate about someone else’s story, only to feel betrayed by a lapse in judgment?

That’s where I am about now.  I’ve been re-watching Fringe and season 4 still bugs me.  A lot!!!  See, they spent three years building up these characters and this series of events in two different universes.  You’re attached to the people they’ve created and the stakes they’ve established.  At least, I am/was.  And then…and then…and then…

They throw it all out.  [SPOILER]

It’s like It’s a Wonderful Life, except without the ending that sets everything right again.

You see, certain events unfold at the end of season 3 which involves erasing one of the characters from the timeline.  They re-write all the characters to be what they would have been without that character and then try to commence the story almost as if nothing happened.  These people are now entirely different people.  The “history” we know is almost completely changed.  They hint at the things that are different without breaking the fourth wall.  And it’s all just a mess.


It pisses me off.

It’s no wonder that season 4 was the worst viewing season of the series.  It started with a 3.48 rating and dropped to a 3.11 rating, and only picked up again in the final season because they’d managed to repair at least some of the damage they’d done by skipping ahead.

Lesson:  Continuity manners.  Yes, I’m more of a stickler about this than most people, but it does matter.  You don’t get people to invest in something and then go ahead and re-write the entire “history” of a world you’ve created.

Except, they did.  And for what?  To prove that there’s consequences?  To test a creative theory?  To complicate the love interests?  Or to prove that they just didn’t care about their audience? 

It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic for good reason.  Experiment with that effect, but don’t leave it like that.  You don’t flush three years of history for anything, because it is a betrayal of trust.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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4 Responses to The “Should Have Been” Obsession

  1. acflory says:

    I don’t know any of those shows or movies but I can empathize with your frustration. I can understand the need to go in a ‘fresh’ direction but it sounds as if this one fell very flat.

    • Yes, it fell flat. But the falling flat was also predictable. Basically, they rewrote the characters to show what they are like without having had that one character in their lives.

      It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas story about a depressed man considering suicide and then an intervening angel shows him what people’s lives would be like without him. He chooses not to die.

      It’s the same sort of thing, but without them restoring the characters. The closest they come is that he brings some of that life into one character and the more supernatural character (scientific explanation for the supernatural abilities) remembers the timeline she never experienced.

      It’s very, very messy. I’m a continuity sort of gal.

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