Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Fringe" Season 3

Watching “Fringe” is more challenging than an average science fiction show because, where most fantastic fiction asks the audience to suspend disbelief, here one simply has to try to ignore it. If time travel stories induce headaches, alternate universe ones produce knock-you-off-your-feet migraines when you try to understand the plot mechanics. With season three, “Fringe” commits to being a show entirely about AU.

Problems abound trying to accept that anything in this show is happening. If you allow the conceit that every single decision everyone makes creates a new and slightly different reality: (1) how could anyone ever travel between these realities, let alone always between two specific ones amongst an ever exponentially increasing number of them? (2) How could things occurring in one reality affect another reality once they had diverged?

If you ignore those problems, there are interesting ideas being explored. Here are a couple worth highlighting:

“The Firefly”

This quirky episode illustrates the impact and potential importance that each of our decisions has. It is also the only episode influenced by “the observers” this season. They appear to be some sort of agent regulating the outcome of our decisions so that they will fulfill some greater plan. There is an interesting way that the writers are developing a “theology of story” of sorts. The tension between choice and destiny may be a paradox, but it is somehow being managed.


In “Stowaway” we get the awkwardness of Anna Torv aping Leonard Nimoy, but we also get the mystery of why a woman can’t die. In the end Dr. Bell, speaking from Olivia’s body, offers up the explanation that it might have all been due to some greater purpose. She had to accomplish something. Once again, we have the idea of people and their actions in life being important as well as having meaning in some master plan.

"What if, Peter, this isn’t about biology or physics? What if what we witnessed was the very reason that Dana Grey couldn’t die?”
“Because she needed to be here to save those people’s lives.”
“You think it was her destiny?”
“Well, destiny, fate. Jung called it synchronicity, the interconnectedness of apparently unrelated events… As a scientist, I like to believe that nothing just happens. That every event has some meaning, some sort of message. You just have to be able to listen closely enough to hear it."
[a church bell rings]

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