Cliffhanger or closure?
It's fun to finally get to the end of a story, because hopefully the payoff is as good as the journey to get there. But it also means that a great story has ended, and there's no more to enjoy.
The choice for "Fringe" has yet to be announced. But just to be ready, especially since all the episodes for this season are already in the can ahead of any such decision, the producers have filmed two endings for the fourth season. One would be a cliffhanger so big that star Lance Reddick says it would need a whole season to itself. The other would be an ending so big, that it would send the series to the television program retirement home in the sky with a bang.
"Something happens at the very, very end of the season finale," Reddick told Zap2it. "It may or may not stay, I don't know. It could open up an entire new season."
No matter what Fox decides to do with "Fringe" when fall rolls around, the season finale that's coming up in just a few weeks will provide answers to many questions. But not all of them.
"It could be a cliffhanger, but the thing that's beautiful about the way that the season ends is that it seems to answer almost all the questions that started in Season 1, except for that one story," Reddick said.
The return of "Fringe" is a huge question mark for next season, but then again, the same was true last year. However, this time around, the audience is down nearly 28 percent from the year before (although that still includes some of its Thursday numbers), and it's Fox's lowest-rated show, coming in at No. 102 overall. Through the end of March, it had a smaller audience than even "Breaking In," which lost more than 52 percent of its audience the year before, and has already been pulled from Fox's current schedule heading into May sweeps.
"Fringe" is averaging a 1.9 rating/3 share in Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co. However, it also boasts one of network television's highest Audience Loyalty Index Ratings with a 92.7. That means of all the people who have tuned in for at least one episode of "Fringe" this season, nearly 93 percent come back each and every week to watch more. (See our full story on our sister site, Inside Blip.)
That ranks it No. 4 among the most stable shows on television with at least 14 episodes aired behind "NCIS" (93.7), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (93.0) and "Big Bang Theory" (93.0). The difference is those CBS shows have five times the audience size that "Fringe" currently attracts.
Yet, it does seem that Fox might be leaning toward a shortened season to wrap up the series next year. It's possible that Fox could pick up at least a 13-episode order of "Alcatraz" to take its place on Fridays, despite finishing off its freshman run with weak ratings. Chances are, however, the network will try to keep J.J. Abrams around, especially with his "Star Trek" sequel on its way to theaters by 2013.
"Fringe" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
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