TV Review: Fringe, Season 2: Hiatus Reflections of a Deprived Fan, part II

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It’s the second week of the hiatus, and I have to admit – I’m kind of glad. On the one hand, the pressure of making too many episodes without any breaks could have an effect on the quality of said episodes, and since the quality in Fringe’s episodes has been steadily going up, I want everything to be on the side of an ever-increasing hike.

And perhaps it’s a great time to admit that I feel anything but Fringe-deprived at the moment.

In any case, the other reason I’m kind of glad for the hiatus is that it has given me extra time to get to know some of the other people out there who have been blogging/podcasting about Fringe. Last week, I referred to The Fringe Report (and I have a feeling it will be happening more often than not). This week, I finally had the time to catch up on the podcast from The Sci-Fi Party Line, which, if you love sci-fi and follow any of the episodes covered, you should definitely add to your list of blogs to follow. In any case, both the Sci-Fi Party Line and The Fringe Report have greatly contributed – be it unintentionally – to the soup of thoughts that had been slowly cooking in my brain, and here are some thoughts for you guys to mull on this week.

Another site I finally had the chance to check out was Wormhole Riders, and, more specifically, Naddy’s latest post about Fringe. She has some great insights into the promo to Peter (seriously, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of information she managed to glean albeit mildly frustrated at the questions she raises; so if you haven’t had the time to overanalyze the promo, don’t check out her post!), some of which has spurred my own reflections below.

Topic 1: The Observers

Theories abound on said characters, all the more that we now have proof that they are biological entities that eat and can die (although it’s rather difficult to do so by shooting at them, as August clearly demonstrated à la Matrix). However, they do seem to lack in emotional range, and can be puzzled at feelings such as love (again, thanks to August, this time because of his puzzlement over his feelings for Christine).

The question remains: where do they come from? Many seem convinced that The Observers come from alt-universe, but I’m not convinced of this. I have the impression that they are within a realm of their own, à la Star Trek’s Q (albeit in a much more serious and purposeful kind of way), and that they follow their own version of the Prime Directive. I don’t know if this realm is necessarily a higher one though. Perhaps the realm of The Observers has reached the peak of technological advancement but, since their senses and emotions are somehow limited, they are now observing humans in order to overcome this obstacle in their growth.

I also am not convinced that they time-travel. The details that I remember are that September has been spotted in various works of art throughout history. But perhaps his people don’t grow old as fast as we do, and so, he has been going through time normally, observing humanity?

The other vague indication of time traveling was in the episode ‘August’, when, while watching Olivia and Ella at the amusement park, December mentions how hard things are going to become for Olivia. While this hints that December can see the future, it doesn’t mean in itself that he can either time travel or actually see the future. He should be making a very educated guess as to what is going to happen.

I also wonder if their names are clues in themselves, or just something random. I think it’s most probably the former. Ideas?

I have the inkling that they are probably observing both universes, perhaps studying the different ways that different emotions in different social settings affect the decision making process and the outcome of these decisions, so as to learn how to develop emotions and, eventually, to use them most wisely. That would mean that they have to keep jumping in and out because of the whole ‘mass between universes balancing out’ thing. Although if The Observers are in a realm of their own, I suspect that their mass has to be balanced in a parallel yet unique way. Perhaps they have more time during each crossover? And weird question perhaps, but when they eat in our world, does it mean they have to, erm, defecate in our world too, so that they don’t carry too much mass with them in their own world?

I know, I’m taking this pretty far, especially since I’m not basing this theory on much. It’s only the one that makes the most sense to me at the moment, based on the details that I remember. I’d love to hear some thoughts on this!

Topic 2: Peter

I was listening to Podcast #42 of the Sci-Fi party line and Eric mentioned a theory of his which I love, and which I think makes perfect sense (Eric, does this mean you see the future, too? Or –gasp – that you are an Observer?).

Let’s look back at one of Walter’s main obsessions: Peter. It really is an obsession, as everything in Walter’s life grinds to a halt when Peter is in danger. While in large part is has to do with the fact that Walter is a father, that he has already lost Peter once and went through a lot to get him back, and that Walter is totally dependent on Peter at this moment in time, it could also mean that this particular obsessiveness is a character trait. This could mean that alt-Walter would also have such a character trait. And we don’t know if alt-Walter also had ‘brain surgery’ – somehow I don’t think so – therefore alt-Walter is still an arrogant man that can’t accept defeat.

So if we have an alt-Walter who is as obsessed with his son as Walter is, and who hasn’t had brain surgery (consequently still being his previous, arrogant self), and whose son mysteriously disappeared when he was a child and whose world is suffering because of The Blight, could it be possible then that alt-Walter turned to ‘the dark side’ after Peter 2.0’s disappearance, and that Newton has been working all this time for alt-Walter Bishop?

This would mean that alt-Walter’s main motivation to opening the door would be the survival of his world, while the loss of his son might have made him turn to ‘the dark side’. And this would have happened in part because alt-Walter comes from a world where it seems ethics are even less respected than here, so while the emotional anguish that Walter felt at Peter 1.0’s death was enough to unlock the mystery of the door, alt-Walter could not feel it and it took him longer to figure it out.

Let me tell you something: this is a lot easier to talk about than to write about!

Eric goes on to write Season 3 of Fringe, and I have to say that it would make for some awesome albeit really frustrating TV. Everything in Fringe seems so deliberate, that we have to be looking out for double entendres all the time. One of them would be when Peter tells Olivia that she doesn’t have to fight alone, that he will always be there for her. Remember that? Well why is that line there? Is it an omen as to what it to come, that once Peter finds out, he is going to choose to go ‘home’, i.e. in alternate universe? Wouldn’t this be the hardest of ‘hard times’ the Observers were referring to when they were watching Olivia with her niece at the amusement park?

This means that next episode, entitled “Peter”, is going to be quite a hinge episode, and that it’s probably going to define the second half of the season, which could end with Peter choosing the alternate universe.

Topic 3: The doorway between our universe and alt-universe

There seems to be various ways of getting to and from the other universe, ranging from the crude to the sophisticated. The variety of words used to describe the connection between the two universes is a reflection of this variety of travel methods: ‘rip’, ‘tear’, ‘door’, ‘portal’ and ‘wormhole’ can all be related to various degrees of sophistication. Perhaps also it can have to do with the number of people that can come through said method; one that ensures that a big number of people can come through at the same time and for a certain period of time would be of obvious strategic importance in a war between our universe and alt-universe.

Since Olive and the other children were experimented on in the early 1980s, it implies that just before then (in the late 1970s or the early 1980s), Bishop and Bell managed to get some objects from alt-universe into ours. Maybe the fact that they only brought over objects implies that, at that point, they had only figured out a crude way of traveling between universes.

Which makes me wonder: had Bell and Bishop managed to get in touch with alt-Bell and alt-Bishop, who were working on the same thing (albeit for different reason)? And did Bell and Bishop communicate with alt-Bell and alt-Bishop using the typewriter method that possessed-Charlie did in “A New Day In the Old Town”? Perhaps it’s while they were doing this that they clued in on an upcoming war because of The Blight? Did the ZFT manifesto, typed on Walter’s typewriter, have anything to do with it? Was it written by alt-Walter and shared with Walter through the typewriter-communication method?

So Walter and William had been working on a way of passing from one world to the other, but because it was still so crude, they never took the risk of sending people in and out – until Peter 1.0 died in 1985. And so, while Peter 1.0 wouldn’t be the impetus for the project, he could definitely have been the impetus for Walter pouring everything he had into developing a safe traveling method to go from our universe to alt-universe to get Peter 2.0.

Walter succeeded, we don’t quite know when (yet), only that it happened somewhere between 1985 and 1991. I would take a guess that it was earlier on, in 1985 or 1986, when Peter was 7 or 8; had it been later, Peter might have better memories of what happened, and also would have been far more suspicious of coming into a world so different from his own (and, namely, where no one speaks of The Blight).

We do know however that in 1991, Walter was charged with manslaughter after an assistant was killed in his lab. What we don’t know is when Walter’s brain tissue removal operation happened. Is it that before 1991, Walter had been ‘normal’, and only after he was charged with manslaughter, Bell and Bishop decided to take the information out of Bishop’s brain for safekeeping while he was under trial and most probably in jail? Or is it that, right after Peter 2.0 was brought over, Bishop and Bell decided to remove the information out of Bishop’s brain and after that, never having fully recovered, Bishop accidentally killed the lab assistant?

It could also be that in 1985, Walter, for the abovementioned reasons, figured out how to open the portal safely for people to pass through. Because Walter managed to go through the portal ahead of time because of Peter, our universe was nowhere near ready to deal with a possible invasion. So to give them enough time to figure things out, William had to remove the information from Walter and store it in a safe place, to make sure that the information about how to do so wouldn’t get into the hands of alt-universe.

I have a couple more theories, but I’ll stop, since we won’t know until we figure out why the information was removed from Walter’s brain. Or until I rewatch Season 2.

Topic 4: Olivia’s Cortexiphan Dream

Walter explained to Olivia that the ‘dream’ she was going to have while under the influence of cortexiphan was something that was unique to her, that would heighten her emotions and make her able to see the glimmer of objects from alt-universe. Therefore the dream itself is quite a source of information on the psyche of Olivia.

So I couldn’t help but check out the symbolic meaning of some of the things she saw in her dream.

The first and most obvious symbol is that of the forest. The most interesting things I found were:

  • To dream of being in a dense forest denotes unhappy home influences and quarrels among families (any link to Olivia’s abused mother and her shooting her stepfather?).
  • To dream that one is in or walking through a forest can signifies a transitional phase, and one must follow their instincts to figure the transition out (a link perhaps to the transition Olivia is trying to make from being ‘normal’ to having abilities?).
  • To dream that one is in or walking through a forest can also mean the dreamer’s desire to escape to a simpler way of life, as he or she is feeling weighed down by the demands of their life (this one speaks for itself).
  • To dream that one is walking through a forest could also mean that the dreamer wishes to return to an aspect of himself or herself that is innocent and spiritual (a link to the fact that Olivia doesn’t remember anything from Jacksonville, during the years she was the most innocent?).
  • To dream of being lost in a forest signifies a search through one’s unconscious for a better understanding of oneself (this fits in perfectly with Olivia’s struggle, throughout this season, with her emotions, especially with fear).
  • To dream of being lost in a forest can also be an expression of anxiety at the thought of leaving behind the familiar and stepping into unknown territory (again, a link to the fact that Olivia is stepping into ‘special ability’ territory?).
  • Woods can symbolize the unknown and unconscious, and might imply that the dreamer needs to be more open-minded to discovering his or her potential and instinctual nature (this one also speaks for itself).

It’s interesting that Olivia didn’t recognize herself as a child, which is an oddity in itself, and which also could affect the usual interpretation of what it means to dream of oneself as a child. But it’s still worth mentioning what it means:

  • a wish to return to one’s childhood innocence (which Olivia doesn’t even recognize, thus making it even harder);
  • certain aspects of one’s childhood are not integrated into one’s adulthood (Olive could feel fear, and Olivia doesn’t);
  • a retreat to a childlike state (like Olivia must have felt like she was doing when she first woke up from her coma and couldn’t even put her gun back together), where the dreamer is longing for the chance to satisfy repressed desires and unfulfilled hopes (perhaps related to Peter?);

Interestingly enough, it’s symbolic to save a child in one’s dream, as it represents an attempt to save a part of oneself from being destroyed.

What does it imply, that Olivia didn’t recognize herself in the dream? Does it have to do with the unusual fact that she remembers nothing about Jacksonville and, by association, who she was and what she looked like while she was there? Or was it so unexpected that she didn’t have time to process that this child was, in fact, her?

The final symbolic presence in the dream is that of the flying creatures in the forest, of which we see only the shadows:

  • Monsters represent things that are totally out of control in the dreamer’s life, either related to the dreamer’s own behaviour, someone else’s behaviour, or a situation that is out of control;
  • To dream of being chased or followed by a monster represents aspects of the dreamer that he or she finds repulsive or ugly; it might indicate that the dreamer possesses fears or repressed emotions (you don’t say).

Going back to the way Walter explained the experiment to her, I can’t help but wonder if the entire dream sequence is symbolic of something relatively simple: what if Olivia being with little Olive in a cold, dark forest simply symbolizes the way she feels about the cortexiphan experiments? A dark demon in a distant past that she can’t seem to remember, despite her amazing memory?

Could the image of Little Olive with the freaky eyes be a symbol of Olivia’s fear of being ‘infected’ because of the cortexiphan experiments she underwent as a child?

One last thought on the subject: Walter knew from the beginning that were the experiment to work, Olivia would be able to see Peter glimmer. And yet, he did nothing to prevent Olivia from saying anything to Peter were she to open her eyes from her dream and be able to ‘see’. Why? Was Walter so doubtful that the experiment would work that he didn’t consider the risk of blowing Peter’s cover? Or is it something he didn’t think about until he saw the look in Olivia’s eyes at the end of the episode?

How many days left until the end of the hiatus?

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0 thoughts on “TV Review: Fringe, Season 2: Hiatus Reflections of a Deprived Fan, part II

  1. Wow, I had no idea I’d get any specific mention in your blog, but I am still very honored. While I have no idea where my thoughts & theories come from it’s still a lot of fun to try and put them together.

    Are you as big a fan of LOST as well? Dare I say I’m even more obsessed with that program at the moment than Fringe.

  2. I always give credit where credit is due. Seriously, your contribution to the above-mentioned podcast was awesome and I really appreciated the flow of ideas it unleashed 🙂

    I have kept away from Lost for the simple reason that I need at least 4 hours of sleep a night 😉 But once this season finishes and it all comes out on DVD, I’m going to borrow someone’s set and watch the whole thing through. Thankfully there are loads of people around me who love it, so I’ll have people to talk to about it 😉

    Are you happy with how the new season of Lost started off?

    1. I’m absolutely happy with how the new season started, over the moon really.

      While I think that’s totally awesome that you’ll eventually catch up with LOST, I only have 1 regret for you. There is something intangible you get from A) Following the story over the course of years & B) Stewing over all the hidden clues & details week in & week out. Including all the insane cliffhangers or closing shocking moments of ‘WTF’ they frequently insert.

      Sure watching it all in succession is better than nothing, as my close friend just got caught up from the beginning to the present in about 2 months, but you miss that whole marination sensation in the process. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

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