Monday, October 24, 2011

Walter, You old Smoothie!

One of the more under appreciated aspects of the TV show Fringe is its take on humanity.  We're always so  busy dissecting the intricate plots and unearthing the clever Easter eggs that we often lose sight of the more genuine aspects of the show.  Its not that we don't know Fringe puts a premium on humanity it just gets lost in the shuffle sometimes.

I'd like to bring attention to one of the sweeter vignettes we've seen in a long time.  The scene is where Walter and Olivia search the apartment of "Subject 9".  Walter is in one of his usual preoccupied states when he takes notice of another voice in the room.

He turns and immediately extends his hand like quite the gentleman and introduces himself.  The landlady, played by Glynis Davies of SGU Stargate Universe and X-Files fame, looks a bit bemused at first.

It's not long before that bemusement softens and the landlady notices that spark of the generosity of feelings we all know Walter has deep inside.

The incredible John Noble brings such compassionate grace with just a look.  As Walter, he knows he has found a kindred spirit.  Walter feels the sins of his past and is weighed down by them.  The landlady for her part deals with the transients of her clientele and has little time to bond with the people shuttered in their rooms.

All that changes with just a look.  The reserve is dropped and the cynicism of the everyday grind vanishes.  We're left with two people where time has stopped for a moment and the flame of hope is kindled in two lonely hearts.

What's terrific is the people at Fringe know they have a real gem on their hands with this scene and write in the reaction of Olivia as she sees Walter in a different light.  Remember this is the man that spent three years cloistered in his lab distrustful of people and society in general.  Olivia also stands in for us, the viewing audience, in that moment of discovery.

So I ask you to remember this little scene when you hear people criticize this season of Fringe for starting slowly, spinning its wheels waiting for Peter or just being a little "meh".  We may not get a season five but what we have here and now are those little things that makes Fringe so special.  A TV show with a soul.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nina's War Room

In the last episode of Fringe, "Subject 9" (4.04) we got a our first look at Nina Sharp as she presided over a meeting at Massive Dynamic where she ominously declared, "We create technology, how it is used is not our concern, we just own the patents."  Before I get to that forbidding statement; I'd like to speak of the set design itself where the speech is made.

To me this a homage to the classic war room setting featured in one of the great dark comedies of the 1960's, "Dr. Strangelove".  Like the Stragelove setting, Nina holds court beneath a circle of light and not coincidentally both rooms are filled with iniquitous characters equally bent on their nefarious plans for the world.

Like Dr. Strangelove, Nina is not concerned with the collateral damage her plans might produce.  The good Doctor (a left over from the Nazi era) didn't mind a little thing like Armageddon that his doomsday device would bring.  For her part, Nina relishes in her creations while dismissing the consequences and savoring the reward the dividends of her patents will bring.  This is what I alluded to above when I spoke of her "Forbidding statement".

The theme of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster has been consistent in the early part of this new season of Fringe.  In her book, "Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus" Mary Shelley warned of the penalties of not staying responsible towards your inventions.  It seems as though Nina has not heeded the advice of this classic book and like Dr. Stangelove only bad things can come of this.

For fun I thought I'd also take another look at the "War room" setting as it appeared in the recent movie, "Watchmen".  For those who saw that movie we know nothing good came of that little meeting also.  Armageddon anyone?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fringe and the Return of the Geodesic Dome

In many, if not all, of the early season promotions for the new season of Fringe we see our intrepid band of inter-dimensional warriors set against a geodesic dome.  The dome has become symbolic of "pocket" or "bubble" universes.  Whether together or alone the dome was prominently featured with each character.  None was more telling than the dome associated with the character of Peter Bishop.

It seem to me that the dome represented Peter's isolation from the rest of the group.  As if he was in a world of his own.  I even theorized he created his own universe of which he was the population of one until he could find his way back to join his friends.  See that post here.

Even in the third season of Fringe the dome was part of episode 20, "6:02 AM EST as pictured below.

The Geodesic dome has once more made an appearance on Fringe and this time it was in the the most recent episode, "Subject 9".  It was very subtle and much less obvious.  But it was in relation to Peter's return and situated with the one person who may hold the key to Peter's re-intergration with the new timeline, Walter.  Here is the picture.

This time the Geodesic dome is shown in miniature form as it sits on the work table directly in front of Walter. To read more about Bucky Balls and Geodesic domes follow the link here.

The Dome or Bucky Ball may well become a constant theme for the entire season.  It could represent isolation, pocket Earths, existential crises, bubble universes or anything that sets Peter and the group apart.  It could also mean there is more than one of everything, you just have to know where to look!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Raven

Here's the trailer for "The Raven" starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. It is something that I have been eagerly anticipating.  Yet, after viewing it I feel a bit underwhelmed.

It seems sufficiently gruesome with the right touch of the macabre but if I am going to put my finger on what's bothering me with it I would have to say it is John Cusack as Poe.  At face value (literally) he looks perfect for the role.  Maybe a little too good looking but this is Hollywood after all.

I think what is bothering me is Cusack's Poe doesn't seem damaged enough.   I expected a portrayal of Poe to reflect someone that is withdrawn, skittish and, yes, overtly damaged.  Hopefully I am wrong.  Perhaps this movie will outline the reasons for Poe's withdrawal and his bitterness.  Maybe the movie will conclude with Poe's real life fate where he was found sickly and delirious and soon succumbed to a mysterious death.

One can only hope!

In the meantime I will sit beneath my bust of Pallas and wait for the answers that will come gently rapping at my chamber door.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Imprints on our souls

"I've always thought there are people who leave an indelible mark on your soul, ..."

Those were the words spoken by Agent Broyles to Olivia Dunham at the end of the Fringe episode, "One Night in October".  He was referring to the character, John McClennan, and how the lessons learned from his childhood experience with Marjorie left a mark on his soul despite his now short term memory loss.

What I would really like to speak to is how the director of that episode, Brad Anderson, handled that childhood memory that was experienced by the Red-verse McClennan.

In the flash back experience, Anderson chose to show this moment by revealing only the shadows of John and Marjorie.  This works on so many levels.  Its as if the Red-verse John is looking over the shoulder of his counterpart or, perhaps, its the view of Blue-verse John as he turns his head and looks down at his own shadow as he feels the healing embrace of his savior Marjorie.

This particular scene resonates emotionally more-so because of the shadows themselves.  When Broyles uses the words, "indelible mark" you can see the metaphorical allusion the shadows provide for those words.  The dark outlines the shadows provide look like an actual imprint.  Only this time instead of mark they leave on the ground, the shadows act like an imprint left on the parchment of John McClennans soul.

It was a terrific piece of work by Anderson and it left an indelible impression on the episode as a whole.  Anderson is responsible for many of my favorite episodes of Fringe and I look forward to more of his work.

The Face of Eve?

How do I follow one wild and wacky theory about Fringe?  By expanding on it of course!  After the first episode of Fringe this season I theorized that the Translucent Shape-shifters were the evolutionary antecedents to what we now know are the Observers. 

But how do they perpetuate their kind?  In the lab with test tubes or a petri-dish?  Well, they could of course, but I would like to think they would seek to expand upon the more evolved progeny through more natural methods.  Hence my nomination of "Eve" as pictured above from episode one, "Neither Here Nor There".

In the episode her name was Nadine Park.  As of last night's episode, "Alone in the World" she is till out there somewhere.  (Hey, like my theory!)  We were allowed to see her escape at the end of episode 4.1 so there must be a reason.  I am sure we will see her again and hopefully it will be in the company of her "Adam".  

Will "Adam" be the new Observer also from episode one of this year?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Should we color Fringe green?

Just throwing this out there but it seems to me we have been seeing an extra dose of green used thematically in this new season of Fringe.  A subtle hint that the resolved universe with Peter returned will be the so called "green universe" with a whole new timeline?  We'll find out by the intro sequence once Peter is finally back.

Below are a few of the examples of the usage of green.  If we see "Green Eggs and Ham" we know it is a done deal!

Walter's vials transitioning from amber/orange to green.

Lincoln Lee framed in green.

Olivia and Broyles bathed in green during a transition to the bridge room.

And finally a distorted Walter also framed in green.

Green eggs and ham anyone?