Monday, December 24, 2012

Nina's Moment of Triumph

As we inch closer to the resolution of the great mysteries of Fringe let's take pause to remember the passing of Nina Sharp.  I titled this blog post as Nina's moment of triumph for that is what it really amounted to.  Yes, she had to sacrifice herself; but she did in a moment of the utmost courage.

Before we continue along that line, we must also consider this episode as a triumph for the actress Blair Brown.  When Nina recieved the news that she had been comprimised there was that moment of shock followed by sad resignation.

Blair Brown took this short but dramatic interlude to reveal the heartbreak that Nina was feeling.  The look of deep sorrow was painted across the canvas of her face and no words were needed for us to know that the end was near.

Astonishingly enough, Blair Brown as Nina, turned that moment of the deepest pain to put on a brave face for Michael.  The half smile, despite the red rimmed eyes, emoted hope for Michael that everything would be all right.  It was a tour-de-force by Blair Brown no doubt to go unrecognized by the Emmy Awards as is their custom.  But to the fandom of Fringe it marks one of the great moments of courage we've seen repeatedly this season.

Nina was rewarded for her bravery by Michael as he reached out and touched Nina and shared the innermost thoughts that were no doubt shared with Walter at the end of the episode.  At this moment, Nina became aware of events that encompassed the entire history of Fringe and perhaps the love and importance she meant to everyone.  It was a just reward as it no doubt emboldened her in her upcoming face off with Windmark.

Windmark had Nina trapped in the "Black Lab" and as he discovered the experimentation on his fellow Observers he remarked to Nina, "You animals".  If I can take a brief moment here, this was a revelatory moment in Fringe mythology.  It was either Peter or Walter that had asked Windmark much earlier in the season what he had done to draw such a lousy assignment of policing humanity.  He answered, "I like animals."  Simply put, it would take one to know one.  If Windmark considers Nina and her team as animals then perhaps it is because he's been through similar circumstances.  I'm thinking that the Observers would transport people to the future where they would experiment on them and quite possibly re-engineer them to the Observer race we know today.  I'm guessing Windmark was in charge of the re-engineering or at least the part of capturing and herding the people to the future for their genetic manipulation.

"I like animals" takes on a sadistic tone.

Here is where Nina had her moment of triumph.  Not only was she emboldened to stand face to face with Windmark but to turn the tables on his supposed superiority.  Nina expertly threw Windmark's callous accusations by explaining the "head tilt" the Observers are known for as one of their quirks.

She noted that it was a basic instinct by animals such as the Lizard to enhance their hearing capabilities by focusing the sound waves to the focal point of their ears.   Lizards have been around for thousands of years and their brains have barely progressed in that time they can't even dream.  In that swift stroke Nina had revealed to Windmark how much less than human he and the Observers had become .  It was masterful.

It only bought Nina so much time however.  But in that valued time she successfully parried all of Windmarks accusations and managed to keep secret the location of Michael.  Another superb moment for Nina.  Sadly, she had to end that moment there as time was running out before Windmark could dig deeper. Nina had bought the Fringe team and the resistance the time they needed to fight on and to reveal the biggest secret of this season so far, the identity of Donald as I had spelled out in my blog post, "The Variable".

In a heart wrenching moment, the first to discover Nina was Olivia.  It was if if Olivia could sense Nina's fate much like she seemed to sense where Michael was hiding later.  This moment of sad realization was reflected in a pool of blood as Olivia approached the lifeless body of the person who was once a mother figure to her.  This was a truly outstanding cinematic touch by director Jeffery Hunt and it may go down as the best.

This ending also acts as a coda for Nina Sharp.   We can now look back at Nina's role in Fringe as a good one.  There were many times we all wondered if Nina was truly good or selfish and mercenary.  The answer is Nina's heart has always been in the right place.  This she proved with her final act.

Rest in peace Nina Sharp your sacrifice will not go unavenged.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Fringe; Going on a Trip with Walter

There was a lot to like about this past episode of Fringe.  Did we learn a lot?  No, but this season seems to be about the journey.  The answers will have to wait till the end.  (If ever.)  What we got was another examination into the family dynamic of Fringe and how important they are to each other.  It was good to see that Astrid is an integral part of this dynamic and as much a part of the family as Peter, Walter and Olivia.  They may not be related by blood shared but instead by shed for each other.

The purpose of this blog post is to examine this dynamic from the perspective of Walter Bishop.  Specifically, a Walter Bishop that is high as a kite.  Walter takes a unique view of his immediate world and those important to him and we get to see this in a Monty Pythonesque animated extraveganza.  Anyone that loves Monty Python got a real kick out of this (I did!)

We start our trip with the befuddled Walter as he is seemingly grabbed by the hand of God, carried across the globe and unceremoniously dropped onto the back of Gene the cow.  God has always been a driving force with Walter.  Either out of resentment or out of respect.  Here God has the upper hand.

Walter sails by significant structures from our world.  Chinese like buildings reminiscent perhaps of his adventures in Chinatown and those of others in Fringe.  The Capitol building, symbolic of our seat of government, something Walter does not always trust.  We get a religious figure that seems to be of Italian origin judging by the hat.  Walter has always had difficulty with the strictures of organized religion.  The figure burps up some birds as Walter and Gene trot past Mount Rushmore.  Another symbol of big government perhaps or is it they are just as "stoned" as Walter is?

 I should also mention Walter goes by New York City.  Not Boston where Fringe is set.  New York has been quite significant for Fringe.  Its where we first glimpse the "other side" or Red Universe and it also seems to be the seat of power of the Observers and where they are building one of their CO2 devices.

Where we head next is significant.  A machine.

 Machines and devices are very important to Walter.  Who could forget the role of the Machine in many season of Fringe.  Walter tried so hard to fix everything he'd done with The Machine only to have it cause more problems.  No wonder it haunts his hallucinogenic state.  A machine transported Walter to the other side to rescue Peter and Walter seeks the aid of a machine or device to rid the world of the Observers.  No wonder Walter finds himself swallowed by a machine.  Just like Jonah and his Whale.  (Hmmm, an obsession like a white whale?)

The Machine also kindly provides Walter with some new traveling companions.  A frog, a "Toto" dog and a seahorse.

The Frog and the Seahorse are familiar to as as Fringe glyphs.  I've always seen the Frog as symbolic of Peter, as Peter, like an amphibian, could survive in two different worlds.  The symbol of Phi is on the back of the Frog glyph mathematically representing the Fibonacci sequence.  Something of significance to Walter and Fringe after all these years.

The Seahorse has a Fibonacci sequence represented in it which is the visual representation of the Golden Spiral.  So if Peter is the Frog then who is the Seahorse?  I'm betting it is Olivia.  The Golden Spiral is also closely related to our twisted strands of DNA and I would say that saving the universe has always been in Olivia's DNA.  Perhaps this is a clue to her role in the finale.

That would leave Astrid taking on the role of Toto the dog.  Sorry Aspirin, I'm sure Walter means no slight by it.  You are his trusted companion and you are always there to safeguard him  (even though she lost him in Chinatown).  In the Wizard of Oz, Toto served the crucial role as to exposing the real Wizard in the movie.  That "Man behind the Curtain" that had built a house of lies.  Astrid is always there to remind Walter of his mortality and humanity.

The Machine also provides Walter with a green Tinkerbell as they move on together.  We saw "Greenie" early on in the episode and she seems to represent Walters better Angel.  Perhaps Greenie is a manifestation of Dr. Warren, who, in this episode, was the guilty conscience of Walter.  She tragically died in the fire of Walter's hubris.

After exiting the Machine (a useful purpose this time) our traveling companions go "A wandering" over hill and dale much like the song that serves as a musical backdrop to this dream state.   "The Happy Wanderer" is a fanciful song and is perfect for the Monty Pythonesque nature of this dream trip.  It's light, fun and eminently singable.  And truly Walter is a wanderer even when he is lucid.  Why the hands?  Palm trees?  (Get it?) No?  The hand of Fate then, as our band expertly dodges them?   Yes.

Walter finally confronts his "bete noir" a Black Knight of sorts that represents Walter's dark side and the person he wishes not to become.  Unfortunately this Black Knight holds the key to their salvation and Walter must win it from him. 

I suppose we must all confront the Black Knight that lives inside us all.  How can we expect to move on in life and continue its adventure if we don't face what haunts us the most.  After doing so, we learn a lot about ourselves and its not as painful as we had feared.  When we realize this we can confidently exclaim. "Tis but a scratch!"

Even though Walter successfully confronts his darker side it is Peter the Frog that rescues Walter.  As you remember, Walter has pleaded with Peter to save him from the man he could become.  Peter fulfills his end of the bargain and Walter is saved from himself.  Good job Peter.

What happens next is a bit strange.  In true Monty Python style, the "Foot of Cupid" descends upon Walters companions completely squashing them with the appropriate sound of flatulence.  I guess they aren't needed anymore and it is up to Walter to carry on without them.

Walter unlocks the "Tree of Knowledge" only to find it crowded with children.  I think these waifs are symbolic of the Cortexiphan Kids.  Walter reaches deep inside them to produce the solution to this conundrum in Connecticut just as he used the kids in his experiments to further his science.  Guilt is a powerful thing.

Walter produces a black umbrella and is lustily blown away by God.

It doesn't seem to be a Christian like God and certainly not like the one portrayed in the tales of Monty Python.

But close enough!  God always played a major role in the Monty Python mythology and always resided in the clouds.  (Oh, stop all that groveling!)  God is important To Walter so it is no wonder we see him again.

Walter manages to escape from his drug induced stupor with the words, "Black Umbrella".  Purportedly, Black Umbrella was a very high grade marijuana produced by the US Army and introduced to its foes in the Horn of Africa in order to render them incapacitated due to their amazing high.  Figures Walter would know about it.

Black Umbella does serve to be the magic code word that drops the guard of the Inner Child's protectors.  We also learn that he's been named Michael.

Do you think this is a hint as to the real identity of the Inner Child as the young September as in Michael Cerveris!!!  I'm still convinced Donald is September but maybe September hid his younger self in the past so he can be of good use in the future.

Or maybe I'm tripping.

Sounds like fun.  Pass the Black Umbrella Walter!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Past Is Past, Right Peter?

We're nearly there, another Fringe episode is right around the corner!  In the meantime I've been musing about the last episode of Fringe and the state of Peter Bishop.  We all know Peter is becoming follicly challenged and is in danger of losing his humanity.  Since we've seen him apparate at will and his pre-cognitive powers are getting stronger every day, we'd have to ask ourselves, what's next?

It would have to be time travel right?

It's what any decent Observer type would do.  So what's his motivation?

Right, the return of his beloved daughter Etta. Peter is not in his right state of mind.  He is hellbent on taking out his revenge on Windmark.  It's only a matter of time before the two face off and while Peter may not be able to defeat Windmark he may learn a thing or two from him.

Peter is now in possession of one of the beacons.  What better way to travel through time than to have something that could anchor you to a certain period and ensure your return.   That's if he wants to return.

I originally thought that Walter would be the one to fix time and defeat the Observers therefore negating Etta's death.  But this is a new angle.  Peter may attempt his own course correction.   But what are the ramifications?

  • Despite going back in time and saving Etta would that fix Peter also or would he still be "tech oriented"?
  • Would he really change time or is Etta fated to die and Peter just delays her end?
  • Would Peters time travel ruin Walter's plan?  Walter may be on the right track and Peter may have changed that path.
  • Does this play into Windmark's plans?

Just some musings to kill time (gulp).  What are your thoughts?  Will Peter try time travel?  Is that why he kept the beacon?

Will this all end in tears?

How far would you go to save the one you love?