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.
AND THEY DON’T FIX IT!!!
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.