Let's talk about a show on FOX and a duo with intense sexual tension solving crimes of a mysterious and unexplained manner. No, I'm not talking about The X-Files (although we have a guide for that too). This time, we're talking about Fringe -- and more specifically, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv).
Fringe has it all: creepy sci-fi cases, alternate universes, time jumps, a cow, and multiple versions of pretty much every character. The show aired for five seasons on Fox from 2008 to 2013 and 100% filled the X-shaped hole in our hearts left by The X-Files. And while Fringe had plenty of ups and downs, our love of Peter and Olivia (and their ultimate coupling) never faded.
The most mysterious case on Fringe was whether these two could ever make it work. Every. single. time. they got close, something seemed to send them veering off course. But all of the "almosts" made the ultimate ending worth the trouble. So here's a list of the most Polivia (Peter + Olivia, get it?)-centric Fringe episodes to get your shipper heart beating.
"Pilot" (Season 1, Episode 1)
Spoiler: Peter and Olivia don't start out loving each other, but their tough beginnings make it even sweeter when they start to care. In the two-parter, Olivia forces Peter to return to Boston and speak with his estranged father, Walter Bishop (played by the superb John Noble), in order to save her boyfriend. But by the end of the episode, Olivia discovers her partner and the man she loved has betrayed her. This is the first of many heartbreaking moments for Olivia over the course of the show. She isn't ready for another relationship yet, but Peter is certainly a supportive friend to have around.
"Jacksonville" (Season 2, Episode 15)
In "Jacksonville," Olivia remembers her time as a child test subject in order to bring back her ability (through the use of a substance known as Cortexiphan) to distinguish between the two universes. Yes, there are two universes, just accept it. Of course, this whole ordeal freaks her out, giving Peter the chance to comfort her. *sigh* And just when they finally make a move to go out on a date, Olivia discovers one of the biggest reveals of the entire show -- Peter is from the other universe. Only he doesn't know it.
**BTW, starting a relationship with a GIGANTIC secret such as "You're from another universe" is not advised.**
“Over There” (Season 2, Episode 22)
After two entire seasons and several just misses, Olivia and Peter finally seem to be on the same page, and ... eh, universe. Peter ran away to the other universe, but Olivia romantically went after him. She even dyed her hair to blend in with the other world (a style decision that comes back to haunt her). And now, with Peter unsure about his return, Olivia lays it all on the line and the couple are able to come to the realization that they belong together in the same universe. And finally, they kiss. Now, if only the happiness could've lasted.
“Marionette” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Okay, hear me out. This episode has perhaps the most heartbreaking Polivia scenes ever. After Peter returns from the other universe with THE WRONG OLIVIA (Fauxlivia, as you might call her) and it takes months for them to realize it, real Olivia is pretty pissed. Let's be honest, if the man you love slept with the alternate version of you, wouldn't you be? So she tells Peter they can't be together. It's difficult to watch but is also proof of their connection when she's able to be so brutally honest with him.
"6B" (Season 3, Episode 14)
Just a few weeks after Olivia tells Peter she doesn't want to be with him, Walter tries to play matchmaker, but Olivia isn't falling for it. The team then takes on a case where an old woman sees visions of her husband. It turns out that the other universe has melded with theirs at that specific building, and thus the other version of her husband is in this woman's apartment. The case brings up a lot of feels, and although Olivia is trying to get over what she sees as Peter's betrayal, she's having a tough time. Between the romantic "quantum entanglement" of the older couple and Peter's impassioned speech about sharing a life with someone you love, Olivia decides she's ready for them to be together. [Insert John Legend's "All of Me" here]
"A Better Human Being" (Season 4, Episode 13)
Peter sacrificed himself at the end of Season 3 by jumping in the Machine and erasing himself from existence. Again, just accept it. At the beginning of Season 4, Peter is absent and no one seems to notice. Once he resurfaces, it's heartbreaking to watch him realize that Olivia has no idea who he is. Remember, they had those few episodes of happiness? All gone. But over the course of the season, Olivia starts to remember their life together, culminating in this episode, where she recounts all of their important moments (aka the episodes listed above) and they reunite. But because of Peter's past mistake choosing Fauxlivia, he's unsure if this is truly his Olivia. Alas, we'll have to wait a bit longer for a happy ending ... again.
“A Short Story About Love” (Season 4, Episode 15)
Olivia has now remembered everything from her previous years spent with Peter (i.e. Seasons 1 through 3), but in this reality she's only known him for a few weeks. That totally messes with her mind, so she does what every girl would do and has brunch to talk it out. She admits to her mother figure Nina that she's in love with Peter but isn't sure if she can trust her feelings. Is Peter putting false memories in her brain? What's real and what isn't? (We're all asking these same questions too.) Ultimately, Olivia realizes the feelings are true, and the Observer tells Peter he's been home all along. How? Because #truelove conquers all, obvi. Olivia's love for Peter (and his for her) allowed him to exist despite logic, and isn't that just THE DREAM.
"Brave New World (Parts 1 & 2)" (Season 4, Episodes 21 & 22)
Finally, it seems like all is right for Polivia fans. Peter and Olivia remember each other, are in the same universe, and have admitted their feelings. The two-part Season 4 finale was shot as a potential series finale and thus wraps up plenty of Fringe storylines. Plus, we see Peter and Olivia in bed together discussing finding a place of their own, and by the end, Olivia finds out she's pregnant. For a couple who have so very few happy moments, these might be some of the best on record. It's hard to imagine the story ending this happily, TBH. So luckily, we got Season 5.
"Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" (Season 5, Episode 1)
Season 5 is a whole. new. world. Literally. After being frozen in amber for 20 years, the Fringe team is in 2036 and ready to save the world from the Observers, who have taken over. But more importantly, Peter and Olivia are reunited with their daughter Etta, who went missing as a child when the Observers arrived to take over Earth. The couple themselves aren't in perfect harmony, but Olivia finally getting to hug her daughter is one of the most touching moments of the season. Meeting Etta, aka the physical embodiment of Peter and Oliva's love, makes the rest of this episode seem less bleak.
"An Enemy of Fate" (Season 5, Episode 13)
Here lies the final episode of Fringe. After spending most of the season trying to thwart the Observers' plans, Peter and Olivia grieve the loss of their daughter Etta, who died during their mission. But in this final episode, Walter reveals a way to go back and prevent the Observers from invading at all, thus saving Etta's life. So while life in 2036 is dire and not at all joyful, Walter sacrifices himself to give Peter and Olivia a happy life with Etta. Ultimately, Fringe is a show about love, so it's fitting to end the series full of it.
And they lived happily ever after in at least one universe somewhere.