Sunday, January 22, 2012

Death Comes to Fringe



Death paid a visit to Fringe last Friday night in the episode "Enemy Of My Enemy".  This might sound a little dramatic and if death wasn't pervasive it at least served as an allegory for the episode.

It's been noted that the Fringe glyphs for "Enemy" spelled out "Death".  The first thing I thought of was the above video from the "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" movie.  In this scene the "Rohirrim" are rallied by their King, Theoden.  "Death, Death" he calls, "Death, Death" they reply in unison.  The King is not so much predicting their fate or calling for their doom but instead he is calling for them to accept death, not to fear it but to own it.  That way they can succeed in their mission.


It's probably a coincidence but in the previous episode of Fringe Lincoln Lee made reference to another famous battle when he quoted from the "Charge of the Light Brigade" when he said, "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die".  In this he tells, Peter I think, that he has accepted his fate and is resigned to its outcome no matter what.  It's the mission that counts.

This resignation of Death or at least fate becomes more prevalent in this most recent episode.  We start out by having David Robert Jones (DRJ) accept death as a necessary thing wherein sacrifice is needed to prove a point.  He demonstrates his will by killing his shape-shifter creation in front of Red universe Olivia and Lincoln even though he refers to it as his child.  He looked truly moved by this act but thought it a prudent thing to do.
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Death is used by Peter Bishop next when he tells DRJ that he knew him in a different timeline and was responsible for his demise by cutting him in half by closing the dimensional portal on him.  Peter rattles DRJ by this account and his insight into DRJ's machinations.  Jones gamely counters that he is still in one piece but the point has been made.  Peter is a new variable and perhaps Jones' fate is not what it seems.

Death visits a hospital ER next (symbolic of where lives are meant to be saved) and once again DRJ uses the death of innocents to make his point.  This time the sacrifice is not him but to society a point taken by Walternate.  16 people are murdered by Jones all to gain his release.  Here the death card is played in a different fashion than Lincoln Lee referred to earlier.  But still so the mission can succeed.

Upon his release Jones goes to a crowded public place to ensure his escape.  He affects this escape by handing a young man money and tells him he doesn't have to be, "the richest an in the cemetery".  Is Jones predicting his own death and how close it may be?  Or is he just being glib in his reference to death by handing out the money in such bold fashion.  You may recall, Peter did refer to Jones' scars and the use of DNA grafts instead of tape to hold him together.  Maybe Peter was closer than the truth than he thought.  Jones did seem to wheeze a lot in the interview room.  Will death reach out to Jones sooner than we think.

Sadly, death did reach out to Nadine Park as she was gunned down by Peter in the big quarry shootout.  Another one of my favorite shape-shifters gone.  But is she dead?  (Was she ever alive in this state?)  Shape-shifters can be repaired, and if not, Jones can always make another one!  (47 and counting.)  Is death getting the end around here?  Has it lost its meaning when someone dies only to be reborn in a different fashion?

Let's not forget that Death is constantly invoked by Walternate and his wife Elizabeth.  Over dinner the death of their son and that of the other Peter is a powerful reminder of how it shaped their lives.  When Elizabeth travels to the other side to visit Walter its as if she has come back from the dead to him.  They all know that their loved ones haven't really returned but the their death has collectively propelled their fate forward.

Lastly, Olivia escapes death by heeding the warning of Peter as he screamed into the walkie talkie.  A narrow escape to be sure and one she tells Peter she deeply appreciates.  Ironically, we've been re-introduced to a plot line where Olivia has to die as voiced by September in the previous episode.  Did Peter really save her life or just forestall it?

Sometimes Fringe reminds me of a Shakespearean play, sometimes a tragedy and sometimes a that of a comedy. If the Bard were to characterize Fringe and Death would he see it through the lens of Richard II when he says, "Woe, destruction, ruin and decay; the worst is Death and Death will have his day."  Or would he accept death in a more optimistic tone as in Hamlet's dimension where Death is a sleep where dreams may come or better yet from "Measure for Measure".

"Be absolute for death; either death or life shall thereby be the sweeter."

12 comments:

  1. Great piece as per usual, Dave. Here are my thoughts on 1) Olivia's death and 2) will another character die soon.

    Peter warning Olivia about the portal reminded me of Desmond constantly preventing Charlie's death over and over. In the end, Charlie's death was necessary for vital events to take place to get the Oceanic 6 off the Island AND for Desmond to be reunited with Penny.
    If we place September in the Desmond role of this scenario, this means Olivia HAS to die for something vital to happen... Perhaps for Peter to get back to his universe?

    Unlike Charlie dying in Lost, Olivia is arguably the protagonist or at least a huge portion of a much smaller cast. Killing her off is of detriment to the show (in my opinion). That being said, killing off THIS Olivia could return Peter to HIS Olivia. Though this is unfair to Amber Olivia and sad as well... It keeps an Olivia on the show besides just Fauxlivia who is a bite one-noted for my taste.

    Okay... As for "will someone die soon", I think there are a few possibilities:
    1) Broyles on the Amber-Red side. It's kind of a cop-out because he's died before, but it's clear he's the mole and if he's found out, killing him is a feasibly option.
    2) Olivia. Not only becuase of the reasons stated above, but because at the end of this episode we saw Nina communicating about a phase 2 and I'm willing to bet it involves Olivia.
    3) Walternate. Broyles knows he's onto them. DRJ would be unstoppable if he had Walternate at his control unbeknownst to the others.
    4) Lastly... Lincoln. In an attempt to save Olivia from her fate.

    I hope I made sense!
    Cheers!

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    1. Hi Sarah , thanks for the reply. I'm still a bit confused on why it has suddenly become so important for Olivia to die. Yes I know she predicted her death while munching on toast and musing about Mr. X. But doesn't this show have a lot of other fish to fry before we revisit this?

      I think you are right when you say there is a tie in to Peter's fate and or getting back to where he belongs. By the end of the episode we see evil Nina communicating with DRJ. I think Nina said something like "she's almost ready". She must mean Olivia. Are they going to kill her and sub a shape-shifter for her? Or is the cortexifan manipulated Olivia going to be so dangerous that she has to die?

      You thought of "Lost" and I thought of Dr. Who for the same reasons. Do you follow that show. It's brilliant. The Doctor had to die in this most recent series also. But I won't spoil it for you!

      Can you imagine the "shipper" backlash if Lincoln, Olivia or Peter dies? Thanks again for the response!

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    2. I'm a huge Who fan although I've only seen the last two doctors. I'm hoping Olivia doesn't have to die and this is some sort of red herring or September once again being somewhat mistaken. Maybe tonight's episode will shed some light!

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    3. The Doctor found a clever way to deal with his death. I'm starting to suspect the Fringe people will try something similar. Especially with all the Shape-shifters running around. Yep, more tonight!

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  2. Yay for more Fringe tonight!
    Also... I have a great theory: What if ZFT really is still in existence and David Robert Jones is at the heart? If so, the original "soldiers" were the Cortexiphan kids and it seems as though DRJ's human-shapeshifters are now.
    We've seen Nina's henchmen injecting Olivia with Cortexiphan, and who knows how long this has been going on. What if the "Phase 2" Nina was referring to when typing to DRJ, is creating a Cortexiphan saturated shapeshifter? Perhaps this is the intended fate for Olivia.

    Just a thought! Enjoy the show tonight!

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    1. I hardly know what to think now. Darrell mentioned on the podcast that ZFT was always anti-technology and Jones obviously pro tech. But as Walternate said, "Everything is not as it seems" perhaps this has been switched around. I'm thinking Nina is inhibiting Olivia's powers to pave the way for DRJ's plans. I'd like to see her as a the total B/A she used to be!

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    2. I'd love that too! Olivia (the original) is my favorite Fringe character, and I miss that version of her. I really like my theory and think it's a possibility, but I did hear that podcast and what Darrell had said... However, you are spot on to mention what Walternate said, and I am clinging to that line ha.

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  3. I love it when people say "spot on!" We'll see how it plays out. New Olivia continues to grow suspicious of Nina. One of these days Lincoln is going to pay a midnight visit and interrupt these shenanigans by Nina. Well, I hope anyway.

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  4. A very impressive post, Dave, as usual. Your thoughts on Shakespeare and Death do bring Dr Who to my mind (I've removed Lost from my mental database, the ending - for me - cancelled everything we had experienced with the characters... grrrr...). Anyway. Yes. Death, Fringe and Who.

    Death, I think, is one of the most popular preoccupations in nearly every culture, in every century. What is it? Why is it? I was really sad to see the girl die, and to be honest, I'm not sure it was essential to the story, unless you want to play the destiny card, which is fine but destiny cover multiple universes? I know it sounds like a silly question, but can it?

    Fringe also seems to play with the idea that death is just another... how would one say it... stage, or step, in existence. One form changing to another. This notion tends to be my favorite flavor of kool-aid over the past decade or so.

    The original Fringe timeline/universe seems to have be non-existant now - Peter cannot go back to it because it simply never was, because he died. Except for Peter himself - he is the one link to (probably) any universe that could have contained the possibility that he existed. For the original universe to exist again, Peter has to actually live. (Is he really alive right now?) I don't think Olivia has to die for the original universe to exist again, but perhaps she has to die for something else important to happen. I have no idea what that might be.

    Dr. Who. Just quickly, it is rather worth it to go back and watch Doctor Who from the Eccleston era through the Tennant and then Smith eras... Just because the character's evolution is interesting to watch. (though personally, I wasn't overly fond of Smith's first season).

    Who's viewpoint on death is rather interesting, but of course does tend to be slippery, depending on who the writer is at any given episode. What I find interesting are several of the episode's that portray lifetimes within lifetimes, and the passage of time - depending on what side of the fence you are on in relation to the other person.

    To the question of who should die... Maybe one of the Walters has to give up his life? The show centers on Walter, Oliva and Peter, and what they mean to each other. Can one really exist without the other? Maybe.

    I'm really sorry if I'm not making much sense... Just erase me if necessary!

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  5. Oh, Ingrid, I would never erase anything you would have to say. I always appreciate your feedback.

    Yes, don't get me started on Lost either. I had so much invested in that show and to see the way it ended, double grr!

    I think the cultural preoccupation with death stems from the argument of destiny versus free will. When we shuffle off this mortal coil was it predetermined or can we actually choose our path? As Hamlet pondered we'll never know as no one has ever returned to tell us of that other "existence". His "Undiscovered Country from whose "bourn no traveller returns."

    I think Peter is here to stay also. Do you think he has set the universe out of balance so something has to be eliminated to set it right again? Could that something be Olivia. What did they call when two people were connected across the divide and that is how Peter and Olivia are still connected? I wonder.

    Matt Smith is my Doctor although I have seen some of the Eccleston episodes. I've never seen a Tennant episode. I know, Shock, Horror! Did you see the episode, "The Girl Who Waited"? Powerful I thought.

    I'm starting feel as though Walternate will sacrifice himself by the end of the season. Just a vibe I guess. I prefer him as the bad guy he was so good at it but now we have David R Jones so he will have to do.

    Thanks for the response it made sense to me!

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  6. "The Girl Who Waited" was powerful indeed, and a bit of a shout-out (in my opinion) to "The Girl in The Fireplace" (written by Steven Moffat, I think). A Tennant episode, and another really good Time Travel tale...

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    1. I'll have to catch up with some Tennant episodes. Hello Itunes!

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