Category Archives: Fringe

Halloween on Sahar’s Blog: Fans’ Real Love for The X-Files, Fringe, and Supernatural

Let’s be honest: while fans love the scare factor in The X-Files, the real reason that they keep coming has nothing to do with the paranormal.  The keep coming for the same two reasons fans of Fringe and Supernatural return: the relationship between the main characters and the deeper concepts each show touches on.

In The X-Files, one only has to look at Dana Scully’s journey from Season 1 through Season 9 to generate some pretty heated conversations.  Did she end up vulnerable and broken?  Or on the contrary, is she stronger than before by the end of Season 9?

There is also the quality of the relationship between her and Fox Mulder; while the budding romance was one thing that kept fans going, the respect they gave each other’s opinions and views–even when eye rolling seemed imminent–is a vital lesson we should all learn in an increasingly multi-cultural world.  There is also a lot to be learned in the major obstacle the two agents faced: the perceived dichotomy between their points of view.

Fringe was mostly about the theme of perception–i.e. how you perceive the world can greatly influence the way you live in it–which in turn influences the way we understand the concept of good versus evil, another theme that was touched upon throughout the series’ five seasons.  But there are a great many other themes that are discussed, one of my favorites being grief and detachment.

One of the main themes in Supernatural of course is that of family, both biological and chosen.  Another one is the underhanded criticism of the hypocrisy in our society.  And, of course, there are the ongoing discussions about good versus evil, as well as the real meaning of religious icons and lore.  And you thought it was just about two pretty faces.

I’ll let you mull on all of this as you watch The X-Files, Fringe, and/or Supernatural on this the official “scare-fest” day of the year.

Book Review: Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, and Mad Scientists, edited by Kevin Grazier

From Sahar’s Reviews’ Vault

During seasonal breaks, fans of shows can be seen doing many things to get over the emptiness of their weekly television slot.  And while many fans hate them, I for one love hiatuses because they give me a chance to touch base with fellow fans to discuss in more depth than usual the different themes, concepts, storylines and, of course, theories. And hiatuses are usually when I get the time to catch up on reading, some of which has to do with the shows I watch.

Sahar's Reviews: Fringe ScienceAfter finishing Welcome to Wisteria Lane: On America’s Favorite Desperate Housewives (you can find the review here), I immediately picked up Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, and Mad Scientists. I only had one review of Fringe left (episode seven of season four) and I think it hit me, that it was the hiatus, and due to hectic, 60-hour work weeks, I had not had the time to geek out as much as I would have wanted to with the likes of Lola, Ana and Bastian. For shame!

Thanks to this book, which should grace the shelves of all Fringe fans, I caught up somewhat with my geeking out. Despite the weight of the geek factor, a chorus of light and often entertaining voices meticulously yet not overwhelmingly deconstruct the scientific aspects of the show, such as time travelling, parallel universes, neurotechnology, infectious diseases and so on.

Although every single chapter was a wonderful source of information I poured over, no chapter could beat that of Amy Berner, entitled “Moo”. Just the introduction itself was worthy of a good laugh: “…before we stampede headlong into the next serious topic… Amy has an important moosage she’d like to ensure doesn’t slip pasture attention, one regarding Walter Bishop’s brown-eyed assistant. Not Astrid, the udder one: Gene the cow! I’d lay steak that you, too, will find her essay udderly delightful.” Don’t get me wrong; the essay is not a strictly humourous one, as it focused on the many reasons why Gene plays such an important role in Fringe. Rather, it is the one that, in my mind, struck the balance between tongue-in-cheek humour and scientific inquiry the best. In fact, it reflected beautifully some of the subtly hilarious scenes from the show which fans still quote years later.

Being a huge, unabashed X-Files fan, it will come to no surprise that my second favourite chapter was David Dylan Thomas’ “Paranormal is the new normal”, which included a comparison of Fringe and The X-Files. Actually, it’s more of a comparison of spooky story telling in 1993 and in 2008, which in turn reflects how much society has changed in the last 15 years (oh wow, has it really been that long?).

Before, as Thomas explains it, monsters were monsters, whereas now, monsters such as vampires and zombies are part of regular pop culture. In fact, they are so much part of regular pop culture that some of these characters have become sought after, adulated heroes of shows like Vampire Diaries and movies such as, yes, Twilight. How did they reach this status? By being humanized, which makes them a lot less frightening. There is also the fact that fear of monsters was related to fear of the unknown other.

As the world has been relatively decreasing in size, with the emergence of new telecommunication and transportation methods, the other has become less mysterious, and we are understanding the other as being just as human as we are. And, as this awareness increases, we have also come to understand that things are not as black and white as we used to think they were. And this translates in storytelling by an exploration of the reasons why a so-called monster came to be thus, and the imagining of possibilities that make them so much more human than before. The sequel to Dracula, although not nearly as acclaimed as the original, is an interesting reflection of the advances humanity has made since 1897.

As these fears slowly fall away, what scares us is something new, something that, ironically enough perhaps, played an important role in alleviating our previous collective fear of the unknown other. Thomas explains that the explosion in technological advances witnessed in recent years has increased the speed of new technology integrated in our day to day lives to dizzying speeds. Consequently, our relationship with technology is both one of awe and discomfort.

Furthermore, the fact that the world is smaller now (ready for more irony? Thanks to these new technologies!) makes us more vulnerable to threats that before, were far away. The spread of diseases, both benign or not, and both natural or not, is one of them. And of course, nothing scares us more than a lack of security, i.e. knowing that the enemy might just be next door. You thought Fox Mulder was paranoid? Fringe’s shapeshifters are the perfect infiltrators, making our innermost sanctums where we used to seek safety impossible to keep safe.

Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, and Mad Scientists was a fascinating read. So much so that I just might be looking forward to the next hiatus to crack it open again. I certainly hope that, as Fringe delves into other various fringe sciences, we will be treated by a second edition to this book by Smart Pop Books (hint, hint).

Article first published as Book Review: Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, and Mad Scientists, edited by Kevin Grazier on Blogcritics.

First published on 29 January 2012.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 5, Episode 9: Black Blotter

Fringe The Final SeasonFellow Fringe fan and my dear friend Monica was right; reviewing this episode was quite the trippy experience, for lack of a better word. Most of this episode was enhanced by Walter taking LSD giving this exploration of his guilt and fears a very unique taste typical of this sort of ‘special’ episode Fringe is known to produce each season.

The episode is named after a type of acid Walter took in the hopes of remembering his plan to defeat the Observers. Time is running out, as Walter’s old self is piercing through, tempting him to reach out to the Observers, where his intellect will be respected. The biggest irony perhaps is that while Peter, Olivia and Astrid were doing exactly that, i.e. finding yet another of the missing pieces of the plan to defeat the Observers, Walter, who had hoped to aid this process, was instead stroking the fire of his old self, through the persona of Carla Warren, his lab assistant who died in a fire in his lab in the late 1980s.

I have been a little mean with Walter in my recent reviews, as his self-absorption has been driving me up the wall. I have been having a lot of trouble accepting that someone supposedly so intent on saving the world could be so self-centered. I was expecting, after reading the preview, that this episode would yet again stroke the fire of my annoyance. But in a rather brilliant literary coup, the Fringe writers managed not only to portray the clash in Walter’s mind but also the terrifying consequences of Walter’s old self winning the confrontation. So a big kudos to Walter for fighting himself off for so long.

On a side note, the last scene, in which Walter relives the events portrayed in Season 2’s “Peter”, is visually stunning. I also loved the part where Walter was watching the rest of the Fringe team through a television screen, although they were right behind him. A big kudos must be given to the writers, to the director, Tommy Gormley, and, of course, to John Noble.

That the “ghost” of Carla helped Walter find the very reason why she died in the first place, i.e. the journal she had come back to the lab to burn on the night she died, was very symbolic. It also made the battle between “Old Walter” and “New Walter” a lot more interesting. No doubt, following the conversation between her and Walter we witnessed in Season 2’s episode “Peter”, the imagery of Carla represents Walter’s guilt (hence the glyphs spelling out G-U-I-L-T, the same that probably contributed to sending him to Ste-Clair’s. No doubt also that the imagery of Carla also represents that of his ego, the same kind as the one that made Bell choose his work over Nina, the woman he loved.

This is perhaps why this “stand-out” episode was a lot darker than those of previous seasons. And perhaps this is also part of the reason why the “bad” voice, i.e. Carla’s, was wearing white, whereas the “good” voice, i.e. that of Nina, was wear black. Perhaps it was also a hint as to Nina’s position; that while she might not always seem to be on their side, she is, ultimately, on the right side of the battle.

Her promise to Walter to remove the pieces of his brain seems to be another sign that Nina is on the right side of the battle. Her promise to Walter to remove the pieces of his brain seems to be another sign that Nina is on the right side of the battle. That she is willing to lose such an important asset as Walter’s mind, and one of her last links to the man she loved, Bell, is quite telling.

While I am more understanding of Walter’s battle, it doesn’t mean that I do not think that he isn’t self-centered. Quite the contrary. However well-intentioned both his request to Nina and his ingestion of Black Blotter, he once again made the decision on his own, without consulting the team he is supposedly a part of. I firmly believe that unless and until he truly reaches out to Peter, Olivia and Astrid, and even to Nina, he will not be able to fight his old self that is currently making an appearance.

After all, Walter says that he wants to get rid of the devil, and the devil is his ego that has kept him apart from those who could help him. I feel like Walter’s expectation, to be able to solve his dilemmas on his own, with such interventions as taking some Black Blotter, reflect a typical, modern day society attitude of wanting to solve every problem and treat every disease immediately and quickly, with a quick, magical pill. We often forget that these things take time, and do not want to put the effort into treatments. Getting rid of the ego is a long process, and Walter has both the volition to do so, and the support to do so (in the form of Peter, Olivia and Astrid). While there definitely is a bit of a crunch for time in the context of the team’s battle against the Observers, this is yet another reason for Walter to accept the help of those closest to him.

Another person went down that path already, perhaps the only person we can compare Walter to, is, of course, William Bell. This comparison is becoming all the more palatable as we find out jut how much of what was attributed to Bell, was directly related to, or even attributable to Walter himself. In this episode, that the idea of creating his own universe and start from scratch was Walter’s is confirmed.

While Carla’s assertions that “you’ve been him longer than you’ve been you… I represent all of the things you are trying to keep buried,” that “it was a surgical procedure that made you the Walter you are clinging to. But you can’t hide from who you are,” are indeed scary realisations for a Walter desperate to rid himself of his old self, it does not mean that the real Walter is, indeed, the Walter that he was for the largest part of his life. For true identity is not who we are, but who we can be, who we have the potential to be, and, most importantly perhaps, who we strive hardest to be. And to a certain extent, Walter knows this, asking “Nina” to back him up in proving “Carla” wrong.

That Walter is giving his old self a chance to resurface, by wanting to take a “quick peek” and, ultimately, not burning it, is frightening indeed. Can he be trusted, in the context of a war against the Observers, and the fact that he holds something very precious indeed to them, that is, his own intellect? Even more frightening is that he listened to the impulses related to his old self, to his ego: he did take a quick peek at the journal, and he didn’t burn it in the end.

Does this mean that he is tempted by Carla’s assertion that the “Walter [of yore] would think nothing of going off on his own to New York on his own right now. He’d share all his secrets with the Observers, demonstrate his unequalled brilliance… A man of your staggering intellect and vision would be recognized by the Observers, valued, revered even. Grab your coat and hat”?

I am tempted to say that because he cracked and kept the journal, Walter cannot be trusted. But then again, maybe he can be trusted now more than ever, because of the strength of the battle he waged against himself in this episode, and the fact that despite the temptation, he still has not cracked.

The turn in Walter’s internal battle makes it all the more timely to have Peter back. But while it does seem like Olivia managed to touch him in a very deep way, removing the tech has not necessarily removed the anger that made Peter self-inject the Observer tech. Peter’s remorse and his appreciation for Olivia was touching, and make me hope that things are falling into place for them to work on their relationship. It was also nice to see a little bit more of the old Olivia, the active, clear-minded investigator. Her giving Michael hot cocoa just like she did with Etta when she was young was a beautiful, touching moment. Hopefully we will see more of the old Olivia in the upcoming episodes.

The search and retrieval of what turns out to be the Observer child, Michael, turned up some interesting information and moments. We find out that Sam Weiss, in this timeline, was as involved in the lives of the Fringe team as he was in the previous timeline. There is a good chance that he and Donald were working closely together. We find out that Donald has not contacted the couple that adopted Michael in years, which means either he is in deep hiding, or dead.

Now that we know what the technology that make an Observer such, I can’t help but wonder if Michael has it, and what would removing it do to him. I also wonder if the Loyalists who were at the waterfront, who intercepted the Fringe team as they were trying to get to the island where the signal was coming from, were there out of coincidence, or if they were told that the fugitives would be at that location.

Of course Walter’s LSD trip made way for some funny moment, such as his opening line, addressed to Astrid: “Your hair. Your hair is beautiful.” The animated sequence that jogged Walter’s memory at the end of the episode was out of the blue, artistically amazing and no doubt filled with clues and hints. Particularly noteworthy is the umpteenth Wizard of Oz image in the series. There was also one particularly creepy moment, when Carla tells Walter that “You’re burning up – and I know how that feels.”

There are only four episodes left, and things seem to be shaping up pretty well for a pretty amazing show finale, which leaves me both looking forward to and dreading 18 January.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 5, Episode 10: Anomaly XB-6783746

Fringe The Final SeasonMore frustrating than looking for the pieces of a puzzle is having the pieces and not knowing what to do with them. This pretty much sums up the 10th episode of the fifth and final season of Fringe, as the team, having found the child Observer now known as Michael, tries to figure out how to communicate with him in order to find out what he knows about the plan – which hopefully will be more than what Walter remembers. Thankfully, Nina Sharp has more than one trick up her sleeve and is able to provide the team with more high tech gadgets. Unfortunately, this proved to be her last one… Although death never kept William Bell from playing some of his own tricks.

Nina sealed once and for all her allegiance by making the ultimate sacrifice, but not before delivering a stinging insult directed at Windmark himself, an insult that hit straight home, one that only a person with her scientific expertise could deliver. Blair Brown yet again portrayed Nina as a strong yet sensitive woman, and brought to life a quality script courtesy of the Fringe writing team.

Walter’s reaction when he, Olivia and Peter found Nina dead in her wheelchair was heartbreaking thanks again in part to the writers, who kept the script uncluttered by unnecessary conversation or painfully cheesy one-liners. No doubt the script was left so in order to allow for John Noble’s acting skill to tell us everything we need to know: that his character is devastated. There is a chance that Walter did think, at least in part, about how Nina’ was now going to keep her promise to him, but the largest part of him looks shattered at this newest loss. This episode has yet again demonstrated where Fringe got its reputation for excellent writing from, and how emotionally charged moments become even more perfect for the acting skills the individuals portraying the characters infuse in it.

Nina’s death was much more difficult on fans than Etta’s death. The latter was difficult in the effects it had on Peter, Olivia and the rest of the team. The former is difficult because we have lost a character in whom we have invested so much during the last five years. No doubt the rocky beginning of fans’ relationship with this fiery redhead further cemented her in their hearts. I hope Broyles will be back in the next three episodes, and I hope that he is not going to die – that would just be too much for my Fringie-heart to handle.

The above-mentioned final insult did work on making the loss bittersweet. Windmark’s reaction at finding the dead Observers in the Resistance-led, Nina-supported Black Lab was the height of double standards; how can such a thing be considered the act of animals, in light of what he and his do? Nina’s final diatribe before she pulled the trigger was a wonderful bit of writing and acting. I know that more than one Fringe fan felt the intense satisfaction of Nina going down in a blaze of glory.

Of course the entire reason why Nina was in that Black Lab in the first place was to figure out how to communicate with Michael. The technology she provided the Fringe team with was of course reminiscent of the much more primitive neural stimulator used on him in Season 1’s fifteenth episode, “Inner Child”.

While the technology proves futile, we thankfully do find out much more about Michael in this episode. Some of it comes courtesy of Windmark, who calls him an anomaly meant to be destroyed. Coupled with the knowledge that Michael doesn’t have any technology implanted in him, one can’t help but wonder what the Observers were trying to accomplish. A chilling through is that they were trying to biologically alter humans so that they become Observer-like without the help of technology. Another bout of great writing was how, with a simple tear, we are shown what that anomaly is: that while Michael might have the high number of ridges characteristic of Observers, but he can still feel emotion.

The second biggest thing about this episode, after Nina’s death, is of course that we find out Donald’s identity: he is none other than September. We knew from before that September has helped Walter with developing the plan, so his involvement doesn’t come as a surprise. What does of course come as a surprise is the fact that he is a human in the memory Michael shares with Walter. How could that have happened? Perhaps September, curious about the feeling of love that humans feel, requested of Walter that he remove the tech that makes him an Observer. Or perhaps Donald was human before he became September the Observer. Of these two options, I would tend to think the former is more probable.

Another question is of course Michael’s relationship with September, and to that, I have no clue. Could Michael be September? Could he be September’s clone? And, again, what part is he going to play in Walter’s plan?

Fringe fans might have the experience of losing beloved characters (Charlie Francis, Alter-Broyles, Alter-Lee and Etta), but Nina’s death is much more jarring. Granted, the first two deaths were from a previous timelines, and the fourth we only knew for a short while, but each of them mark the increasing distance between how the show began, i.e. an investigation into fringe events, and what it looks like today, i.e a war.

This also marks yet another resemblance between Fringe and The X-Files. As all X-Philes know, the latter concluded after a bevy of central characters were killed off, leaving its main two protagonists alone to fight against an upcoming alien invasion. Is this how Fringe will end, with Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid left all alone to fight the Observers in a series of movies? There are only three episodes left before we figure that out, and the momentum was built in this episode, which did not do as much for the overall plot as the previous ones, helps increase my anticipation and look forward to the next episode with more gusto than throughout most of the last couple of months. I’m glad I hung in for the ride.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 5, Episode 11: The Boy Must Live

Fringe The Final SeasonOne of the benefits of having only one last, shortened season is that a lot is condensed. Unlike Season 2 when for example, the storyline about Peter’s his true origin stretched out for four incredibly stressful episodes. That story began with Olivia seeing  him glimmer, and ended with Peter, figuring it all out.

In this season, the cards are being laid on the table faster than ever before, but it does sacrifice character development, an aspect of the show I relish. Thankfully, a lot can be inferred both from what is going on and from what we have found out in the last four years, so it’s turning out to not be as bad as I thought it might be. I especially appreciated the brief and horrifying look into the future of humanity should the Observers prevail.

All the pieces are coming together as September reminds Walter of  his original plan. It seems little too simple, and a little too easy, and I can’t help but wonder if there is anything else Walter had in mind about which he’d never told September.

It was interesting to find out more about the Observers, horrifyingly so. The maturation process of an Observer from embryo to adult was well done, and the concept was, for lack of a better word, horrifying. It might have given us our strongest clue as to what happened to all the women. I have a feeling (ha!) that they were considered too emotional, and, as soon as there was the technology to ‘make’ humans, all the women were, well, disposed of. Again, a clear parallel is made between Fringe and The Matrix.

Previously, Michael Cerveris did not have too much emotional range to play with when he was portraying September, and he did a great job reflecting the Observer’s puzzlement at rediscovering emotion. His talent comes out in this episode, as he balances out the human traits of Donald with the Observer traits and movements of September in a very believable way. A very human Donald still carries certain aspects in his movements and speech that have a faint Observer bouquet to them.

It is also great to see Michael Cerveris again as September, instrumental both in reminding Walter about his plan to defeat the Observers and in giving the team the last of the pieces needed to implement it. Although it does make for good storytelling, it seems to me that this plan is a little too simple. Couldn’t September have allied himself years ago with the Resistance, re-implanted the Observer-making tech in his neck, and taken Michael through time as planned? Anel does mention that the Resistance had some; and one of them should still be in Walter’s lab. Even now, however much Walter wants to sacrifice himself for the plan, fact is that it would be much easier for September to take Michael with him through time.

While the plot has me puzzled, the exploration of September’s whole-hearted acceptance of his humanity, however brief, is fascinating. Most interesting to me is how he and Windmark have a lot in common, but are also worlds apart. September discovers emotions in a positive way, through love, and it turns into an obsession with helping the Fringe team. Windmark is discovering emotions through hatred, and an obsession with destroying the Fringe team. This could have given way to a lot of exploration of the themes of light and darkness, and I am sure that future re-watches of this episode are going to yield at least one more post!

I do wish we had more time to explore in-depth the emotions that Windmark is grappling with, which is turning out to be one of the most intriguing aspects of Season 5. It would also be nice to have a couple of September versus Windmark moments where the both come to realise how similar they are.

The arrogance of the intellectually superior, a recurring theme in Fringe, comes through again in this episode, when Windmark’s superior does not take his concerns about the team seriously, telling him that the Observers chose 2036 in the first place because it presented a 99.9999% probability of success, dismissing the ever so slight but still present chance of failure. This explains, in my opinion, the fact that there is so ridiculously little monitoring by the Observers of the humans. On the other hand, it also begs the question: what are the Observers hoping to achieve? And does it have anything to do with Michael walking straight into Windmark’s hands?

Poor Windmark. He seems so satisfied that Michael is in his hands. Little does he know! I am more worried about him than the boy. Not only does Michael have superior intellect and can feel emotions in what I assume is a healthy way, but Windmark is caught in the maelstrom of discovery, battling with feelings of anger and obsession, which are unpleasant even to us mere humans who are used to dealing with emotions.

Most probably because of Back to the Future, but also because I am such a nerd, I love stories that include time travel and am fascinated by all the convolutions that could potentially happen. However, I am not particularly well versed in this matter, and would appreciate any reader helping me iron this out. One of my main sources of confusion in this episode is the plan itself.

If Michael goes forward in time to 21 February 2167 and explains to human scientists where they are moving towards and what that would entail, it is hoped that these scientists would not choose to go down that path again. However, this means that the Observers will never have existed. So Michael travelling through time would create a grandfather paradox, defined on Wikipedia, as: “the time traveller went back in time to the time when his or her grandfather had not married yet. At that time, the time traveller kills his or her grandfather, and therefore, the time traveller is never born when he or she was meant to be.” So if Michael goes forward in time, he (hopefully) prevents the creation of the Observers. But that means that the future would change and (hopefully) Observers would never exist, and Michael would never have been created, and thus could not be sent forward in time to prevent the Observers from being created…

This is giving me a bit of a headache!

One of the many great things about this season were the various tools and technologies from previous seasons that are making a reappearance. It is quite à propos that in this, the last regular episode of the show before it’s two hour finale, the tool that helped start it all reappeared: the sensory deprivation tank. Of course, Walter taking off his underwear and Olivia’s acute embarrassment just made it even better.

Another thing made its return: the statement that “The Boy Must Live”. However, instead of a nice blast from the past, it became a source of confusion, as we found out that it is not attributed to Peter after all, but to Michael. I am quite curious to know if it is a nice piece of retcon, or if this was the intention of the writers from the very beginning of the show.

This episode, and this potential retcon, helped me confirm what has been bothering me about Season 5; it feels like an entirely new show. As a standalone season, it is amazing. But as the culmination of the last four years, it has been a little frustrating, to say the least. But then again, Fringe makes the most sense when one takes it as an exploration into the personality of Walter Bishop. With September’s revelation that Walter’s plan requires him sacrificing himself, it does feel like the circle might be coming to a close, and fans will be satisfied with the upcoming two-hour finale.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 3, Episode 15: Subject 13 – Part II

Although we have long ago guessed it and even described it (sometimes at length…), it’s interesting to finally see how Walter’s guilt developed and where it stemmed from. By the same token, it’s interesting to see where Walternate’s current determination and drive stem from.

While Season 2’s episode “Peter” showed Walter’s real intentions – i.e. to heal Peter 2.0, not kidnap him – this episode showed the real reasons why Peter was never taken back: although he tried, Walter couldn’t figure out how to take Peter back to the Other Side.  This makes the ongoing discussion of good and evil in Fringe all the more interesting, as it makes Walter seem even less ‘evil’ than he seemed initially in Season 1.

This subplot underlines a related interesting concept in that often, lies that in Walter’s words, are “supposed to be a temporary measure” can easily become a way of life, causing immeasurable suffering and harm. When you “consider that the worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation of all evil, is lying”, then one can understand how Walter went from the loving father in the episode “Peter” to the father he was described by Peter as having been, back in Season 1. Once again we realise just how the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Then again, perhaps Walter couldn’t find a solution to the problem because deep down, he didn’t really want to return Peter 2.0 to the other side. If this is the case, then subconsciously he might have spent many years self-sabotaging his work so as not to solve the problem of travelling to the other side, until he performed the ultimate act of self-sabotage: the fire that killed the lab assistant and sent him to St-Claire’s.

This episode helps clarify some of the complex reasons why Elizabeth started drinking. It was partly to numb the burden of the guilt at the lie she had to tell Peter, and partly to numb the pain of making him suffer because of said lie. We can only imagine what Elizabeth went through before she finally committed suicide; imagine how unnerving it must have been for her to look into the eyes of the boy that looks exactly like her dead son and lie to him throughout all these years, and to withhold the words “You’re from another Universe” which could have alleviated so much of his pain.

I’m waxing philosophical for this review, but the episode really lends itself to it; just think of how unnerving it must have been for Peter to look into the eyes of a woman who looks exactly like his mother and, although knowing she isn’t his real mother, to call her that and try to accept it.

While Elizabeth does have a point, in that “Sometimes the world we have is not the world that we want”, the process of becoming content about the world that we do have is a hard one, and involves honesty – something Peter lacked because of her. And so, watching Peter feeling out of place his entire life but not understanding why, watching him become more and more angry and withdrawn, going from the adorable little boy he was in “Peter” and even in “Subject 13” to become the Peter Bishop we met in Season 1 – how can any mother not feel the anguish of knowing their part in this unravelling of a life?

Another reason why it is actually good to see what happened to Elizabeth is that it will push to storytelling forward, most of all in relation to AlterElizabeth. For I don’t think it is much of a stretch that the woman who opinion of the situation is: “I spend every waking moment imagining where he is, what he’s doing, and I pray that wherever he is, he’s safe, that someone’s taking good care of him and that someday, by some miracle, I will get to see him again”, that this woman might become a unifying force, bringing Walter and Walternate together in solving the situation rather than fighting it out.

Another one of the many interesting parallels between our universe and the alternate one is the Bishops’ marriages. In our universe, Elizabeth is an emotionally fragile woman who breaks slowly apart after adopting the alternate version of her son before finally killing herself out of grief, guilt and the weight of the lie, not having the support of a husband who brought this situation upon her and who deals with his guilt by burying himself in his work.

In the Alternate Universe, AlterElizabeth is a strong woman who remains married, be it in name only, to a man who isn’t her husband anymore but rather a companion, if at all. In both universes, the marriages are in their own way destroyed by Peter’s crossover, and in both universes, the father immerses himself into his work, absent from the home, one avoiding Peter’s presence and the other, Peter’s absence.

The combination of both Walter’s avoidance by burying himself into his work and Elizabeth’s unravelling also seem to be at the root of Peter’s anger towards Walter as expressed in Season 1, when one considers Peter’s comment to Elizabeth: “He makes you say that, doesn’t he” as a potential seed being sown. It only makes sense that, seeing, year and after year, Elizabeth’s suffering, and barely seeing Walter around the house, that Peter would have directed the bulk of his anger and displacement issues toward him.

And this is why we come back for more: because as oft mentioned, Fringe is a show about relationships. The ongoing, careful exploration of the various relationships that define the show adds new depths and layers to each character as well as to the overall plot. This episode particularly deepened the complexity of the character of Olivia, as well as her relationship with Walter. It also deepened the relationship of Walter with Polivia; after all, if Walter still remembers those tender moments between a young Peter and a young Olivia, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see why, on top of everything else, he has been the penultimate Polivia fan.

It does seem that the episode might only be about character development, as it doesn’t seem to add to the overall mythology. However, it is extremely satisfying for long time fans to see what they have been theorising about for so long. “Subject 13” was, typical of Fringe, about confirming what fans had mostly correctly guessed. However, there is the fact that in previous seasons, episodes such as this one which clarified theories of the past were composed of information vital for paving the way for the rest of the season. In a way, it’s as if, although before we could theorize, the Fringe production team knows that fans have to know the truth for the plot to continue. And just like with the Season 2 episode “Peter”, we had already guessed big parts of what happened in “Subject 13” and now are free to start theorising about other things.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 3, Episode 16: Os – Part III

While it doesn’t answer any question about the overarching mythology, I still loved the case that drove the Fringe episode “Os”. From the amazing opening scene to the climatic confrontation in the prison cell between father and son, it reeked of the human element that makes the series fantastic.

The opening scene is brilliant; the way it was filmed makes it quite confusing, thus adding to the weirdness of a scene that has come to be accepted as normal in this show. This confusion has an added effect in the episode that I much appreciated. After all, as a regular viewer, I know that “weird” is the norm, and as such, not much surprises me in this show.

The episode features a couple of recurrent themes. One is the mistreatment of test subjects. Straight on the heels of “Subject 13” (Season 3, episode 15), it puts the focus yet again that subject mistreatment isn’t only about the test themselves, but the emotional manipulation of the subjects that can happen, deliberately or not. And so, while the way Dr. Krick treats his treatment subjects is a sharp contrast with the loving way Walter treated young Olivia in “Subject 13”, neither situation is acceptable in the realm of ethics, however much both Dr. Krick and Walter’s intentions were good.

With regards to the way Dr. Krick had identified his test subjects, Peter sums it up quite well: “Well they would be eager volunteers. They were confined to wheelchairs for years. How could they pass up an opportunity to fly? It’s a deal with the devil nobody would pass on.” Of course he doesn’t quite go into the underlying reasons why someone would resort to killing at least half a dozen humans, which includes ego.

The part ego plays as events unfold in “Os” is very interesting and quite relevant, albeit in an indirect way, to the overarching mythology of Fringe. A father can’t accept that his son is paralysed; just like Michael mentiones at the end of the episode, it implies that his father thinks he needs to be fixed. To be attached to one’s limited idea of perfection rather than to deferring to the larger definition of the word reeks of ego and touches on arrogance. By the same token, it’s about a father wanting to find a way to ‘fix’ his son, whatever the cost, hiding his experiments away like a dirty magazine because he knows that what he is doing is wrong, and yet he keeps doing it partly because of his ego.

The ego is also something Dr. Krick seems to have used to convince his subjects to keep doing the experiment, however hard the side effects (and ultimately of course killing them). Dr. Krick at first preys on their vulnerability, uses false hope to stoke said vulnerability into a fire that makes of them thieves (“I don’t have the stuff to make another batch”), and keeps them in a state of acceptance by telling them things such as: “You are a pioneer. Men like you – your participation in this experiment will help me discover a way to eliminate side effects.”

This matter of the ego is likewise related to Walter’s previously mentioned unraveling. Remember his reactions previously when faced with fringe events? Walter’s reactions included excitement and childlike wonder. Contrast that with:

Olivia: How would injecting someone with the heaviest compound in the world make them float?
Walter: It shouldn’t have. It runs contrary to the laws of nature.
Peter: So how is that possible?
Walter: I don’t know! Do I look like I have answers?

The theme of good versus evil often comes up in Fringe, and it struck me that Dr. Krick has been one of the most evil characters we have yet to meet. To tell someone vulnerable who has for the first time in a long while (if not ever) ‘walked’ that: “I don’t have the stuff to make another batch” ­– if that’s not evil, I don’t know what is.

The scene with Michael and his father in the prison is completely different than any we have seen, but struck a chord of familiarity with regards to Peter and Walter’s relationship. The way Dr. Krick addresses Michael (“I hurt some people, Michael”) is as if he sees him as a child, just like Walter won’t accept that perhaps Peter is the best person to involve in investigating the machine. Interestingly enough, while both fathers had the right intentions, they end up hurting their sons. It’s only afterwards, when the fathers realise that all their sons wanted was a father, that they realise the depth of their folly:

Dr. Krick: I was trying to fix them. They were I wheelchairs, like you. (…) I did it for you Michael. When it was perfected, I was going to give it to you.
Michael: Is that how you see me? Something that you need to fix?
Dr. Krick: Of course not. I just wanted you to be happy.
Michael: I was happy. I went to bed at night knowing I had a father that loved me.

This also relates somewhat to the previous episode, “Subject 13”; in that episode, children are underestimated, while in this one, a teenager is underestimated.

The story of Icarus, narrated (very) briefly by Walter to Dr. Krick, was both quite relevant and rather sanctimonious, coming from him, as was this exchange:

Walter: The wings he gave him wound up killing his son.
Dr. Krick: I suppose that makes me a lucky man then.
Walter: Other parents weren’t so fortunate.

Of course it could also be that Walter is somehow also being self-recriminatory, in that the life that Walter gives back to Peter might make him end up in hell in the form of burning up in that machine.

All in all, this was yet another great episode of Fringe. While the story has little to do with the mytharc (only in that the reason why the mixture of elements made the subjects fly), the underlying themes provide yet another layer of perspective and complexity to the human drama unfolding.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 3, Episode 16: Os – Part II

In the first part of this review, I touched on Walter’s current state of mind, how he is coming apart at the seams and how he is choosing to blame it on Bell’s absence and the surgical removal of his brain tissue rather than to look at all the resources he has at hand, namely, because of his position as CEO of Massive Dynamic. Walter is so stuck on his unhealthy dependency on Bell that at the first possibility of bringing him back, he jumps on it without thinking much of the potential consequences.

This arrogant streak in Walter is reflected in Bell, who deviously planted the harmonic rods in Olivia when she was taken to the other side by him for a ‘visit’ at the end of Season 1, beginning of Season 2. This negative trait of character, which also is making Walter very condescending towards the poor Astrid, makes me think it is much better to have them separated than ever having them together. Knowing that Bell is back, albeit in Olivia’s body, makes me extremely uncomfortable and not just because of the creep factor.

The parallel between the mytharc and the plotline in this episode is striking; for just like Bell is using Olivia without her knowledge, putting a brilliant individual in danger of death for the sake of his own purposes, Dr. Krick is using individuals who might have been just as brilliant in a non-crossing-universes-at-will kind of way to ‘fix’ his son. This is all the more ironic that Michael doesn’t even consider himself as needing to be fixed, and that ultimately, this act of a loving father ends up wounding the son quite deeply.

By the same token, Walter ringing the bell that Bell (ha ha) left to Nina without thinking of the consequences of his actions was rather irresponsible and, again, a sign both of the arrogance of the man and his increasing desperation to find a solution to the collision of the universes, however high the costs.

Thankfully, there are counter-balances to these characters, notably in the form of Astrid and Nina. I wrote at length last season about how Astrid was one of the least appreciated characters in Fringe. This season, the award for leave appreciated character should go to the previously-suspicious Nina. After all, it is becoming quite clear that she is more friend than foe, despite her still rather shady dealings, and that she is slowly but surely heading to become the glue that is holding things together (except, of course, for the universes, which are still on a collision course).

I wonder what else Nina has uncovered in the last couple of weeks, while Walter was busy sinking in his despair and Polivia were flirting away. When Walter barges into her office, pushing a cart with Bell’s folders in them, she is studying the First People books. I know that one of the upcoming episodes has, as title, “The Last Sam Weiss”; knowing that Nina and Sam had quite the relationship makes me hope that said episode will shed some light on both him and her.

The one relationship we could bask in during this episode was, of course, that of Peter and Olivia. Oh, how happy Fringe fans are that these two are together. The escalation from being forced to work together to close coworkers to friends to lovers makes it all the sweeter for those like me who dream of having as a spouse their best friend. The flirting is of course totally adorable and must have melted at least a couple of millions Fringies’ hearts:

Olivia: I thought you were going to sleep in!
Peter: I thought you were going to let me sleep in!

And, of course, Olivia’s: “I love a good street fair. And you’re not so bad yourself.”

I love the lightheartedness their relationship is bringing to the other characters in the show. The smiles that Astrid and Walter exchanged when Peter immediately decided to go with Olivia to check out the key card were adorable, as was the follow-up:

Peter, looking at both Walter and Astrid: What’s up?
Walter
: Nothing! When your mother and I were courting, we used to take long walks in the park but I can see that for your generation, a drive to a warehouse will be just as enchanting.

It is quite probable that some of the light-heartedness relates to the fact that, having chosen our Olivia, Peter ensured that our universe will survive (or so says Sam Weiss). But even if the danger of two universes colliding wasn’t looming, fact is that some relationships are like that, in that they bring joy to those who spend time in the company of the couple. I have the impression that, since marriage is about establishing a family (with or without children) which is the fundamental building block of society, such a relationship has a sort of power in that brings joy and happiness to others, infusing positively the community-building process.

Of course this light-heartedness cannot remain if the trust disappears, all the more that Olivia has, understandably enough, trust issues. Trust has to be worked on, and Peter is doing a brilliant job. While he had held something big from Olivia before, this time he chose to tell her the truth about his involvement with the shapeshifter killing spree (Season 3, Episode 11, “Reciprocity”).

I have to admit that, although he was truthful, I did worry about Olivia’s reaction, which William Bell unfortunately (or conveniently?) interrupted. While his effort to be completely honest is laudable, it’s still a pretty big deal to have lied about something like this. On top of that, killing a bunch of shapeshifters is in itself a pretty big deal, too. On a side note, Peter has been working on the data stored in the discs he recovered from said shapeshifters; according to Bell, the decoder is in his office, which means that once the Bell-in-Olivia issue is resolved, we are going to potentially have a lot of information handy, some of which is (hopefully) bound to come in quite handy in the future.

On a lighter note, Walter and the rest of the team continue to provide us with some great moments, some amusing, some just impressive.

Some of the cutest moments were related to Olivia and Peter. One was Olivia’s: “Is this why you asked to meet me halfway across campus and not at the lab so that we could make out in front of college students and not in front of your dad?”

Another one was the couple being caught holding hands in the hallway outside the lab, only to be caught by Nina.

Speaking of which, how very sophisticated is Nina turning out to be, combining happiness at the turn of events with a simple:

Nina: Please do not let go of a beautiful woman’s hand on my account.
Peter: Walter told you didn’t he
Nina: Yes and he’s very pleased. As am I. (…) I must say I think you have made a very wise decision in going forward. You deserve to be happy, both of you.

Even Walter’s quirkiness, while testing her patience, doesn’t seem to frazzle the dapper Nina, although it did give us this gem of a moment:

Walter, looking into Nina’s eyes after ringing the bell: Belly?
Nina: No, Walter, it’s still me.
Walter, disappointed: Of course;
Nina: Well, what now?
Walter: If I’m right, wherever Belly is, he will find us.
Both Walter and Nina turned their heads to look at the door

Speaking of quirkiness, we find out amongst other things that Bell was just as quirky as Walter when it came to some of his research:

Walter: It could be from that period when Belly was searching for a perfect bowel movement.
Astrid: Charming.
Walter: Everybody poops, dear.

Poor Astrid didn’t really get it easy this episode. Not only was Walter quite condescending with her at times, but she ended up with quite a wallop of a task (disposing of the victim’s blood, stored in gallon measure bottles too numerous to count), instructions to which she responded with what I am going to now refer to as The Most Epic Astrid Eye Roll.

TV Review: Fringe, Season 3, Episode 17: Os – Part I

While this episode in itself was one of those Fringe episode that future fans of the show, in a hurry to find out what is going to happen at the end of Season 3, might be told to skip, I found it fascinating because of the oft mentioned storytelling prouesse of the production team.

The plot was simple enough: by fluke, a scientist discovers that he can make people fly by injecting them with a mixture of two of the world’s densest elements. Having a son who doesn’t have the use of his legs, he immediately realises how he can help him, and starts secretly testing on other paralysed individuals, using their emotional vulnerability at being in wheelchairs to get them to accept. Of course this leads to many deaths and, as the end of the episode, leads to a very disappointed son who realises that his father thinks of him as something that needs “fixing.”

The title of this episode is “Os”, which of course refers to one of the elements at the heart of the episode, i.e. osmium. The glyphs spell out EARTH; is this related to the osmium, or to something else? I don’t quite know. As for the Observer, he is standing amongst curious onlookers outside the Massachusetts Metal Depository.

One of the stars of this episode was Anna Torv, whose portrayal of the transformation, at the end of the episode, from Olivia to Bell, was rather amazing. But more on that later, as we focus on another star in the show was John Noble, whose portrayal of a mad scientist slowly coming apart at the seams is just as brilliant.

In very typical Walter fashion, our he turns once again to drugs to numb his pain. While is always gives way for some amazing moments, such as the one at the beginning of the episode where he is hanging out with the night security guard at Massive Dynamic and smoking marijuana, it also underlies part of what seems to me the increasingly quick progression of Walter into Walternate.

One of the reasons I loved the following exchange is because it underlies the fact that dissatisfaction and discontent are extremely dangerous:

Walter: This is wonderful, Kevin. You get to sit here all night looking at these monitors. What a magnificent job.
Kevin: CEO of Massive Dynamic isn’t that bad either. Must be nice, to have all that power.

Perhaps part of Walter’s dissatisfaction and discontent has to do with the fact that he knows that, despite being CEO of Massive Dynamic, he doesn’t really have real power.

The parallel between this plotline and what is going on in the world currently is very interesting. While the fabric between our universe and potential parallel ones is not tearing (well, as far as we know…), the fact remains that the world as we know it is slowly crumbling apart, as the institutions and patterns of society developed in the previous decades, centuries and even millennia have yet to catch up with the extraordinary developments of the last couple of decades.

One thing that happens is that individuals, empowered to believe in themselves, are arising to make a difference; but because they are either focused on only one of the two mouvements towards progress (i.e. the individual or society), or they are only treating the symptoms and not the disease (i.e. child labour instead of a lack of justice permeating the system), the effect of their contribution doesn’t seem to reflect the amount of time and effort they put into it. Either they become dissatisfied and discontent, and their increasing helplessness slowly grinds their contributions to society to a stop; either they become angry and start doing what they think will contribute to the betterment of society — whatever the cost might be.

Eerie, how this sounds like Walter and Walternate, no?

Walter’s discontent and dissatisfaction has contributed, in the last couple of episodes, to contribute to him starting to grind to a stop. His thinking is irrational, even for him, and he has decided to blame this not on his inability make the most of the amazing resources he has at hand, but rather, on the fact that William Bell isn’t there anymore.

On a related side note, I found it really interesting how Walter had never — up to this episode — been to Bell’s office.  I would have thought that, as soon as the thought of “I need William” crossed Walter’s mind, he would have immediately headed there, looking for ways to “tap into” Bell’s thought process.

Which is, basically, what happened in this episode: Walter finally goes into Bell’s office and finds his personal files, which he sifts through to find a connection to Bell’s thought process so as to guide his own. In retrospect, it is quite interesting to see this dynamic of dependence and power, as it not only fed into their life-long relationship, but significantly contributed to the events that happened in 1985, events that Bell, as expressed in Season 2’s finale (Episode 23, “Over There, Part 2”), does not realise he, too, is responsible for.

One of the dangers of Walter’s attitude at the moment is that while now, he is taking refuge in the thought that, if he were to somehow get Bell back, he might be able to be “whole” again, this might change into something else. And yes, I’m thinking that, because of the slow movement towards taking on Walternate’s identity (especially in the scene where he was talking to Nina with the block of amber sitting before him on the table in episode 14, “6B” (Season 3), Walter just might take refuge in anger and, using his ‘power’ at Massive Dynamic, start doing what he thinks is going to contribute to stopping the collision, whatever the cost might be.

The guilt that Walter has carried with him since 1985, portrayed in the episode “Subject 13” (Season 3, Episode 15), significantly contributes to this process of unravelling, all the more that Walter is now intent on figuring things out that Peter is now happy:

Walter: If Belly were here, he wouldn’t let everyone down…William would have worked out what the machine does and how it relates to Peter and to make matters worse, for the first time since we have been reunited, Peter is truly happy.
Nina: How so?
Walter (with a smile): Peter and Olivia. I thought you knew. They are a couple now.

Interestingly enough, Bell wasn’t around back in 1985, either.

Going back to being CEO of Massive Dynamic, while I can understand and appreciate the fact that working for years with another brilliant mind can make you somewhat dependent on them to figure things out, and the fact that Walter’s brain is quite literally missing a couple of pieces, it frightens me (just as much probably as it frightens Nina) that Walter has been consistently blaming not being able to figure things out on Bell’s non-presence, or even to his brain capacity.

After all, isn’t he the CEO of Massive Dynamic? Doesn’t have hundreds of the top brains in the world working for him? Doesn’t he have his son, with whom he works extremely well? And doesn’t he have Fringe division? What underlying arrogance is contributing in maintaining the status quo, that Bell has to be present for Walter to be able to function, and what terrible thing is that going to make Bell do to Olivia, whose body is, at the end of the episode, containing Bell’s soul?

TV Review: Fringe, Season 3, Episode 18: Bloodline – Part I

The third explosive season of Fringe continues and, because of the vagaries of life, I am quite behind on the show. Others are ranting and raving about the season finale, and I am only at episode 18. On the one hand, I am dying to know what is going to happen and what everyone has been talking about. I am also looking forward to catching up so that I can start scouring the web for other people’s opinions on the season, as well as start writing for The Fringe Report again. But that’s another story altogether. On the other hand, another painful summer hiatus has started and having only another five episodes to watch makes me want to take my sweet time.

Such is the life of a writer.

The episode “Bloodline” is the 18th of the season, set in the universe parallel to ours. Altivia deals with the until-now unknown potential heartbreaking consequences of her pregnancy. She has an 80 percent chance of carrying an infection that killed her sister and her unborn niece.

She is kidnapped and her pregnancy is forced, within the span of hours, from approximately six to eight weeks to full term. In the course of their investigation to find where Altivia was taken, Scarlie and Lee find out that they can’t quite trust Walternate, a hunch that proves correct when, in one of the final scenes of the episodes, we are given proof as to his involvement in the plot to kidnap Altivia and force the pregnancy along. But in one of those twists of life, the accelerated pregnancy ends up saving both Altivia and the unborn child, a son whom Altivia names “Henry”, after the cab driver who delivers her son.

The production quality of this episode of Fringe is, as always, quite impressive, with a tight script giving a lot of information and details in sometimes subtle ways we don’t catch on the first watch. One particularly well-filmed moment that scared the living daylights out of me comes near the beginning of the episode. Altivia is in her apartment; she gazes for a few moments at the screen of her tablet, flips the screen down, turns around and out of the blue, is tazered. I have watched this episode thrice, I know what’s going to happen, and each time, I jumped. Being someone that doesn’t often get scared watching movies, this is saying a lot.

The Observer doesn’t for once, make it hard for us to find him. Quite the contrary; he makes two obvious appearances in this episode. The first time we see him, he is watching Altivia enter her apartment building at the beginning of the episode. The second time we see him, he ‘observes’ the mysterious doctor giving Brandonate Baby Henry’s blood sample. This makes it quite obvious that the events in this episode, namely, the birth of Baby Henry, is not only potentially very important to the overarching mythology, but is actually so.

The only potential Easter Egg I saw – and there is a reason I am referring to it only as potential – is the butterfly Altivia is watching in the animated painting inside the doctor’s office.  There are two symbolic meanings for butterflies that can apply here. On the one hand, it could simply be the symbol of a buttefly as long life, which ties in well with the title “Bloodline”, by we can, in a way, “live forever”.

On the other hand, a butterfly is also a symbol for reinvention and transformation; the increasing suspicions of Altivia, Scarlie and Lincoln Lee could lead them to transform for the single-minded obedient soldiers to the kind of people who would find a way to team up with our Fringe division, seeing, just like Alter-Broyles did, that there are a lot of shades of grey, and that we might not be as bad as they have been told we are.

The glyphs spell out “FATED”, which ties in with Peter’s journey to discovering if his demise as drawn in the mysterious drawing left behind by September is actually his fate or something that can be changed. The implications for Baby Henry are, unfortunately for such an innocent soul, quite chilling.

One of the ethical questions I wondered at while watching this episode concerns the acceptability of Walternate’s actions. After all, Baby Henry is alive because of them. VPE, or Viral Propagated Eclampsia, is a condition similar to the real life condition of eclampsia. In our universe, eclampsia is neither viral nor propagated. Women rarely die from it in countries like the United States and Canada, where there are great prevention and treatment tools in place.

However, on the Other Side, there seems to be both a viral aspect to eclampsia as well as a genetic component, and we find out that this is the condition that killed Alter-Rachel and the unborn Alter-Ella. It’s quite a sad condition to have, actually. Not only does it have ridiculously high maternal and foetal mortality rates, but it also has a very strong genetic component. It’s nowonder that the usually light hearted Altivia was so glum and negative during the blood test that kicked off this episode.

Interestingly enough, it gives the character another dimension to enjoy as a viewer. After all, we have been all this time discussing how Altivia is so positive and light hearted and Olivia is so serious, but in the last couple of episodes once again were conceptions spun on their heads, as we have been seeing a much lighter side of Olivia and a darker side of Altivia. It’s just like Walter and Walternate, who started as diametrically opposed people with nothing in common only to slowly but inevitably overlap in personality more than either of them would ever care to admit.

The introduction of Viral Propagated Eclampsia puts the focus again on the fact that the two universes are so different from each other. Again we are struck by how the Other Side, so much more advanced that ours on the technological front, isn’t as advanced in other areas, namely, in all things virus-control related. It could be that the viruses on the Other Side are stronger than those on our side; whatever the case, it reflects the same sort of parallel between Walter-Walternate as well as Olivia-Altivia previously mentioned. It will be interesting to see how the lines between the two universes will be further blurred in upcoming episodes, as both struggle to find a way to survive the destruction of the fabric separating them.