Monday, October 15, 2012

Fringe Fries - The Recordist

Fringe Fries, those tasty morsels, Easter eggs, clues and homages that make Fringe so great.

Even though the theme of "The Recordist" was nearly identical as the week previously there was still some nuggets we could mine if we dig deep enough.  Let's start with the sense of humor exhibited by the Fringe writing team.

  • "Formerly Harvard University"  If only the gave it a Prince like spin and called it "The University Formerly known as Harvard".
  • Walter's bong hit on tape.  We're trusting this guy to save the world?  Paging The Avengers, we have an invasion problem!

  • "Shocker" exclaims Astrid to Walter for leaving the tapes out of order.  Nice comeback Astro.  BTW, don't you love her hair this season?
  • Walter jonesing for more herb when there is a world to be saved.  Again, yikes!
  • The "Wicked Tree Dwarf" from Walter  I've been known to define things "Hobbit" style also and Walter had that playful grin.  Awesome.
  • Walter's mime joke "Marcel Marceau".  Wait, it wasn't a joke.  Maybe he did a toke or two before they left Formerly Harvard University.

We've seen a lot of subterranean scenes this short season haven't we?  Do you suppose its analogous to the fact that they are operating as the "underground" or Resistance?

O2 levels are low because the Observers prefer it that way.  The last time we saw a universe that had problems with O2 levels was the damaged Red universe.  A connection?

Edwin tell the Fringe team that the Libraries we're all burned to the ground.  They use Libraries in the future?  What happened to the internet?  I'm kidding.  Isn't it odd that a race such as the Observers that watched every single historical era would now choose to erase it all?  Is there a clue in the past to defeating them?

Edwin tells the team they were refugees from the cities.  A lot of the cities were laid waste yet the countryside remains virtually unscathed.  More O2 in the country versus the cities?  Bad for the Observers? Cities are densely populated centers so, duh, it figures they would hit them.  William Bell went after Westfield as an experiment. A clue there?

So the Ice Queen melts?  Olivia spills to Peter she is not as strong as he, or we, thought she was.  Now that's a reversal.  Peter was the one that stayed focused while Olivia lost herself in the mission so she wouldn't have to face the hard truth.  Remember Walter accused Peter of abandoning them when that was hardly the truth.  Plus, aside to Walter, you wanted to stay behind to get high this time around.  Focus Walter!

Good for Olivia for opening up.   She's regaining trust in Peter and confiding in him.  The "Shippers" should be happy.  I've always worried about Olivia's repression.  She buries a lot of emotion and when you do that it resurfaces at the worst times.  She admits to being conflicted with her self.  That's good Olivia let it out.  Hugs! (I wish.)  BTW, that's an awesome jacket Olivia, can I get one for my wife?

Even though this episode was remarkably similar to last week's "In Absentia" we did get a heartfelt and succinct definition of what is to be a coward from Edwin Massey.

A coward is, "If you know what needs to be done and you don't do it."  That scene with Edwin's son River was pretty powerful. It's hard to say goodbye so sometimes you just don't do it.  At least not in so many words.  Massey knew what he had to do so he explained to his son the historical significance of action.  Instead of recording history this time he became part of it.  Now his son is the Recordist.

Tasty Morsel.

The return of the geodesic dome!  See that, the Fringe writers really are reading this blog.  Last week I got my Trojan Horse and this week some Dome love.  I still need my Green universe though!  C'mon Fringe writing staff, don't let me down.

Barring that I'll still take a hug from Olivia.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fringe Fries Episodes 1 and 2.

 Welcome back fellow Fringe fans, its the last glorious season of Fringe and its time to look at all those delicious cookies, Easter eggs, homages and inspirational eye candy!  This week is going to be a two for one affair as I couldn't find time to post a Fringe Fries last week.  Sooooo busy!

As in  the first episode of Fringe, "In Absentia" starts with a flashback to the day the Observers invaded.  (I wonder if the people of that time have a name for that fateful day?  "Bad Baldy Day"? Uh, nope.)  Olivia's recollection of the day is played back slightly different than Peter's.  This time around we get a clear audio of what people were saying as opposed to the muted cries of Peters flashback.  Is there significance to that?

 Olivia's spider sense must have been tingling that day as she seemed to sense something was wrong.  If I remember correctly, Peter reacted to the building vanishing (anti-matter as in Letters of Transit?) while Olivia looked for Etta.  She called to Etta but it was Peter, again, that reached her first.  The significance of which is Peter is the one her lost her also.  Its going to be a while for him to live that one down.

The above capture is our first clue as to who raised Henrietta in the absence of her real parents.  Who are these people.  Why are they so happy?  Would you be happy in a post Observer invasion from the future?  I think not.  I suspect Henrietta raised by Loyalists.  You don't get that kind of stability as pictured above unless you've kowtowed to your new masters.  Gael Manfretti has told us as much.  Henrietta keeps the pictures so she obviously harbors an affection for them.  So where are they now?  Dead I suspect.  Etta may have gotten her job with the Fringe Division because of her Loyalist upbringings but she's with the resistance because of what the Observers did to her surrogate parents.  We'll see how this plays out.

This is an easy catch for all Fringe bloggers and fans alike.  Walter remarks he's been "looking for you" when he spots the red dragon on the post.   He played Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, right?  Right.  But if we look a little deeper the Red Dragon takes on a more sinister meaning.  JJ Abrams loves all his literary references, see the series Lost, so what could be the significance here?  Red Dragon is also the name of a novel by Thomas Harris dealing with the character Hannibal Lecter.  The book is a prequel to "Silence of the Lambs".  The writers may have not been overtly referencing this work but part of the theme of the show dealt with bondage and torture which was the steak and potatoes to Lechter.  OK, throw in a little fava beans also.  Yum.

 Lets move on to Gael Manfretti.  A self professed liar and an admitted coward.  But despite his Observer leanings and Loyalist affiliation he does retain a measure of humanity and compassion?  The answer is yes.  This is evidenced not just by his proclamation to fight with the Resistance by the end of the episode but by his name and actions.  The Gaels were the speaker of the old Celtic language that was used by the early Irish and Scots of the northern UK.  If there is any people that have felt the oppression of occupation it is those two peoples.  Both  have a long history of resistance and if want a movie reference or two see "Braveheart" and "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" for some fine examples. As for Gaels actions, he only went to the lab to feed the birds.  Care to guess what Walt Disney's favorite song was from his movies?  "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins.  Its a sad and lovely song and it speaks to Manfetti's buried humanity.

Walter yields the hammer of Hephaestus!

Indeed Walter is the modern day blacksmith of the gods.  Hephaestus was the Greek god of metallurgy, volcanoes, fire and technology.  His Roman equivalent was Vulcan.  From his hands sprang the weapons of the gods and his symbols were the hammer, anvil and tongs.  Interesting that tongs also appeared in this scene when Astrid wielded them to fetch eyeballs for Walter.  (Yum, again.)

As this modern day god Walter is tasked with inventing the improbable but no hurdle is insurmountable for this son of Zeus.  Witness as he brings destruction to his laser disc player only to bring forth the volcanic fury in a single beam of fiery light.  All hail Walter!

I've always been a big fan of Greek mythology and it dates back to my early childhood.  I'd like to think there is a fan amongst the writing team for Fringe.


  I was sitting at work thinking I was so bored I could shoot myself when I remembered the brief "bullet" scene between Walter and Etta.

Walter was in the early stages of his DIY laser when he approached Henrietta about her necklace.  "Don't you wear a necklace?" he said (or something to that effect).  (Walter needed the silver for his contraption.)  Henrietta claimed the was something wrong with the chain or the clasp and produced it out of her pocket.  I've noticed that she has stopped wearing the bullet necklace now that Olivia is around.  She had been fondling it madly but now it is secreted away in her pocket.

I'm thinking this was the bullet that Olivia was shot with at the end of last season and Henrietta's kept it as a  keepsake of sorts .  Now that her mother is back she may think that Olivia would find the whole thing creepy so Etta has hidden it.  But there may be more to it than that.  I blogged extensively on that bullet at the end of last season claiming it had some special properties thanks to William Bell.   Specifically that it was infused with Nanites.  (You can read the end of those posts starting here.)  Also the fourth episode to this season is titled, "The Bullet That Saved the World" so there may be something more to this slug than just a morbid keepsake.  We'll have to keep an eye on this.

Speaking of Astrid.  Walter called her "Astral" at one point.  Earlier, Walter had claimed getting into Harvard was easy for someone who took drugs and since the music of this episode was provided by the Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin) it reminded me of the Moody's song, "Timothy Leary's Dead".  Leary was a Harvard professor that promoted the use of LSD (a favorite of Walter's) and in the song's lyrics Leary was known to "fly his astral plane".  And for all this time I thought getting into Harvard required a big brain and a bigger checkbook.  Maybe I should expand my mind a little.  This was a nice tie in to previous episodes and memes.

So what was the  Star Wars reference in this episode?  Walter watches himself on the Betamax video and hears his voice from the past tell him that, "You are humanities only hope."  Kind of like Princess Leia beseeching Obi Wan Kenobi, "Help us - you are only hope."  Only Walter follows this with, "It is your destiny."  Whoa.  Those words were spoken by none other than Darth Vader himself and he was telling Luke that the Emperor had foreseen his downfall by Luke's hands.  "Join me and we will rule the empire together!"

So is Walter both Luke and Darth Vader or is he Darth Vader and Darth Vader?  It must have been strange to see himself and then hear his past self tell him it's his destiny to save humanity and overthrow the Emperor, I mean the Observers.  Was this part of the plan?  I mean really, who else would Walter entrust to save the world but himself.  He just didn't know it.  Or did he?  Is the hand of September evident here?  Part of the plan may have been to make sure Walter was steered by Walter into finding Walter.  September is a time traveler.  September may have known that the plan would have been lost so there had to be a plan B.  And Plan B is the alternate way of putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

OK this is getting a little long so just two more points.

The Trojan horse lives!!

Thank you Fringe for throwing me a bone.  The screencap above is from episode one of this season wherein the team is discussing how to get into the Observer facility to rescue Walter.  Peter has to pharmaceutically feign death and he knows they can only do it once.  Hence the above quote.

Do you know how long I've pursued the Trojan Horse angle?  How about all of last season.  My sister had pushed me to follow all the horse clues and there were plenty of them.  So where does the Trojan Horse pop up?  This year!  That's OK!  I'll take it.  Thank you Fringe.

Lastly, I hope many of you Fringe fans are watching the other Bad Robot show out there, Person of Interest.  In the last episode the rescued Finch was greeted by his new companion, "Bear".  Bear had dutifully brought forth a rare first edition by Isaac Asimov and had nearly consumed it.  Finch was horrified.  Do you know how rare those books are???!!!

Walter does!

In the first episode of this season Walter spies an Asimov and asks Markham if he can keep it.  Markham glumly replies yes before the Observers burst in.  Take care of that book Walter!  Don't let the Observers keep it and don't let the dog chew it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Grand Unified Field Theory of Fringe.

The Grand Unified Theory of physics is the holy grail of modern science.  In it, the principles of General Relativity are brought together with those of electromagnetism or Quantum Mechanics.  Scientists are seemingly close to bringing these  principles together but on Fringe what was so far apart are now united in several different ways.

It seems "unification" was one of the major themes of this fifth season opener of Fringe.  On one hand hand, we have Olivia being reunited with the Fringe division and her family.  On the other we have the Borg like unification of the Observers where "resistance is futile".  We also have the disunity of Walter's mind that was purposely partitioned in order to foil the Observers.  The irony there is both Walter and Windmark seek it's re-unification.

Let's start with one the more enjoyable aspects of Fringe and that is their references to pop culture.  Who'd of thought the Observers were fans of Star Trek?  Actually, they are probably more fans of the Borg than they are of the uplifting message of Star Fleet and their optimistic future.  The Borg were all about the homogeniziation of various cultures into one single minded superior race.  Their take on unification was one by force something they have in common with the Observers.  Certainly the Observers consider themselves the superior to our present class of humanity.  Although, according to Windmark, they do tolerate music.  I'm not so sure the Borg would be so tolerant.  But at least the Borg offered their catch phrase as a warning before you were assimilated the Observers just march right in.

I was going to save this "observation" for my next post but since the tie in to the Borg was so notable I thought I'd mention it here.  Pictured above is the Alice Krige version of the Borg Queen.  In the Star Trek movie "First Contact" She referred to Data as "hearing her song" or at least when a Borg unit died she could no longer her their song.  I'm sure its a reference to the telepathic harmonic of the Borg and their single mind.  It's a bit ironic that the Observers have no need for music and merely tolerate it.  The Borg on the other hand relish in their common song and use it as a greater symphony of communication.  For his part Walter Bishop imparted the importance of music and how it helps you alter your perspective.  Something Windmark and the Observers fail to appreciate.  One wonders if the Borg would bypass the Observers for this lack of appreciation.

The theme of unification continued with the Olivia being re-united with her daughter Henrietta.  It was a poignant scene that stood in stark contrast with Peter being re-united with Olivia. There was no physicality to that reunion.  I think I picked up a vibe of remorse between Peter and Olivia but it was obvious that damage had been done.  Walter referred to the aforementioned "damage" when he accused Peter of abandoning the team in time of crisis. It's apparent this is a different Walter as the old avuncular version would have realized the sacrifice needed to protect a love one.  Wasn't that the theme of several seasons of Fringe?  How far would you go to save a loved one?  Has Olivia changed?  She and Walter stayed on mission while Peter separated himself from the group in order to save Henrietta.  Its possible these fissures will persist and they may effect the outcome of the battle to defeat the Observers.  I'm thinking the divide might be so great that a sacrifice will have to be made in order to set things right.  This does not bode well.

Lastly, the re-unification of Walters memory is at issue.   Its been indicated that these memories are lost forever (specifically, the plan to defeat the Observers) and that hope is lost.  Walter mentioned to Windmark during his interrogation that music helped change your perspective if need be.  During the same conversation Windmark taunted Walter with the loss of "hope".  This may be a leap but I think both subjects were deliberately connected by the Fringe writers.  Witness Walter sitting in the cab listening to the Yaz CD.  To me he was gaining a new perspective to the memories that were lost due to the brutality of his torture.  I think the music will provide Walter with the inspiration to re-connect with his memories and hope is not lost after all.  Bad call Windmark. 

One could also extrapolate from this that Walter may realize that the harmonics from music will provide a clue to re-unite with September.  Perhaps the "Beacon" operates on a certain wavelength that will allow September to harmonically converge with it and restore the plan to Walter and the rest.

Unification may be the key to which our Fringe heroes learn to sing together again.  Lets hope that they reach this conclusion before Windmark does and they can orchestrate a brave new world.

Next up, Fringe Fries and more observations!