Fringe Review: 6B ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: 6B

      Email Post       2/20/2011 03:55:00 AM      

“What if this is not about physics, but about people?”

That quote? The rules of the game. How should we understand those rules? That is still up for grabs. This episode had me anguished at first, but it is nonetheless a vital clue to larger goals of the show. Are those goals in line with my expectations? Only time will tell.

I’ve written before about the Lost finale. I was uncomfortable with what I felt was a sudden shift from the mysteries of the island to the characters who peopled it. Specifically, I was resistant to being told repeatedly by the writers that it had really been a character-centric story all along. I felt like I was being ineffectively ret-conned, and wound up rather “meh” about the finale. (For me, “meh” is an emotion.)

Olivia’s quotation above seemed to me, at first, to be a similar assertion—just spoken by a character rather than a creator. Especially in light of Peter’s emotional role in the machine of destruction and Fauxlivia’s pregnancy, the events of this episode felt like a cop-out—as though the writers were systematically dismissing the scientific background that has been so compelling and wonderfully wacky for all these years. So it all comes down to the power of love? So human desire can influence physics? The fate of the world hangs on emotional connections? That’s it? I said last week that I love the character interactions on this show, but Walter’s line seemed a bridge too far. I liked character interactions against the backdrop of fringe science. Fringe science being reduced to character interactions? Not so much.

That was my first reaction. Then I started to give it some thought. Really, this is the fringiest idea Fringe has had. It’s like the bizarreness of the observer effect, but with heart. If a person watching an atom zip around can change the atom’s path, why can’t a person feeling something change the course of history? Once I started to see the connection between the emotional emphasis and the still-strange science this show was built on, I started to feel more comfortable. This isn’t really a shift from science to soap opera. It’s yet another development in the ever-increasing complexity of the forces at work in the salvation and destruction of the universe. As Walter said earlier on: “The laws of physics are being disrupted.” They’re just being disrupted by something unexpected: the human element. “Some form of emotional quantum entanglement,” indeed: the entangling of the laws of physics and the laws of the heart.

Setting up those new (or revised) rules made this episode rather uneven, though. I was not enamored of Mrs. Merchant (or Marchant?) and her situation, although Peter’s speech to her—with his emphasis on photographs and ticket stubs, the detritus of his relationship with Fauxlivia—was incredibly touching. Walter’s struggle with where to draw the line, and his possible parallels with Walternate, was wonderfully done. Rarely does a show allow a character quite that much time to think things through on-screen. And such results! He looked almost resigned to losing Peter and Olivia to the amber.

Above all, though, I was entranced by Olivia’s transformation. Once she made up her mind to forgive—or forget—Peter’s time with Fauxlivia, she started to smile more, to joke more, to hold herself in a more relaxed way. But what I can’t determine is whether she was doing it on purpose. Did she want to appeal to what she thought Peter wanted? Or did she really let go of some of that patented Olivia-angst? Either way, it looks like Olivia and Peter are finally, officially, hooking up. I hope she, at least, has some sort of birth control, since Peter’s condoms don’t seem to be very effective.

It’s Kinda Funny:

• Peter: “I’ve seen what the two of us look like together, and it’s beautiful.”

• Walter: “Perhaps I should have made a frittata.”

• Walter: “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
Peter: “That’s where you draw the line? Ghosts?
Walter: “Belly and I used to argue about this constantly—what happens to the body after death. William theorized we should be able to capture that energy, using what he called ‘soul magnets.’”
Peter: “Catchy name.”
Walter: “He said if we were right, he’d contact me from the great beyond. I haven’t gotten the call.”

• Walter: “That nervous fellow, Brandon.”

• The Guildenstern Building feels like it should mean something, but all I’ve got is Hamlet and Stoppard. Oh—Hamlet had a hell of a time deciding on a course of action. Is that it? (Edited to add: Somehow I screwed this up. It's the Rosencrantz according to every single other person who watched the episode. But I swear my TV said Guildenstern...)

• The coin flip was a great resonant trope throughout the episode.

• It was great to see that creepy goo from so long ago pop up again.

• So, the deciding moment came for Mrs. Merchant when she found out that OtherHusband had children. Parallelism, anyone?

The past three episodes have all contained huge revelations. First, that Peter’s choice between Faux/Olivia would determine which world survived. Then, that Fauxlivia was pregnant. Now, that powerful emotions can make the physically impossible, possible. Along the way, Fringe has gotten quite a bit of flack from the fans. I’m still keeping the faith. What about you?

Three out of four frittatas.


Xerophytes said...

I was also shocked when I heard that line.

I said to myself... is Fringe going down the Lost route?

I hope not. Fringe should stick where it should be... to answer their mystery using logic and science. But I also can't deny that we have characters in the show with feelings and that is where I draw the line of realism.

Anonymous said...

I also wondered if Olivia smiled to appeal Peter.
I received the three past episodes revelations as bombs, there is so much I can imagine for the final episode. I can't wait to see what comes next and in what direction the show goes.

Anonymous said...

I believe you mean the Rosencrantz building, unless you are joking then ignore this.

Anonymous said...

Emotions and the human element have always been present on Fringe and a part of the Fringe-science. Olivia's 'powers' are connected with emotion and her humanity. The 'machine' requires a human element. The concept isn't new in my opinion.
Lots of quotes that reflect where I think the season is leading. Olivia saying "you have to let him go" to Mrs Merchant reminded me of the test the Observer did on Walter to see if he would let Peter go. As it's said above, Peter's speech where he talked about doing anything to get the dream/ the love back once it's gone - is he doing 'anything' to get the Olivia dream back?
Love the show, happy to ride with the writers wherever the lead!

Katie said...

I agree with everything the above poster said. To me, Fringe has always used Science Fiction as a vehicle to convey human emotion, and I think 6B summed that up wonderfully. Loved it.

Katie said...

Oh! And since I was looking into it, I got this from the Sparknotes page for 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.'

Rosencrantz is decidedly the more easygoing of the two, happy to continue flipping coins with little concern about the possible implications of their pattern of landing heads up

So there you have it :)

Francisco Solares-Larrave said...

I like the almost romantic suggestion that emotions rule over physics. It's the part that separates this show from a documentary about weird events. Heck, if the X-Files and even Star Trek showed human emotions as valuable and powerful, why not Fringe?

Anonymous said...

George from Mexicali,Mexico:
Not sure if it was my imagination but seems they played part of the melody of "SCHINDLERST LIST" movie when the old lady came up. Was it?

Rebecca said...

In regards to Olivia smiling: I've noticed that she's been a little bit looser in her emotions as of late. As for the reason why: could it be Peter? I don't think so- at least, not for the reasons mentioned. I don't see Olive changing her personality for one person, especially when she so desperately wants him to love her for HER, not as a replacement for Fauxlivia. However, the Barry White references and her smiling do make me wonder how much of Bolivia's memory she still has. Will her mind attempt to sort through the memories as it did with John Scott's, or will she be stuck with them the rest of her life, since they were delivered via B-lymphocyte? Regardless, I'm loving the pace of the show, especially the tie ins with previous seasons, and will keep watching, as all Fringe fans should:)

Anonymous said...

I think Olivia smiling is more about seeing a future with Peter now. People forget that Olivia smiled when in the presence of Peter before like the bar scene when they were having shots and playing card tricks so I think Olivia is just being herself

Anonymous said...

George from Mexicali,Mexico:
Not sure if it was my imagination but seems they played part of the melody of "SCHINDLERST LIST" movie when the old lady came up. Was it?

Anonymous said...

Valken from Conn:
Loved loved loved this episode. I for one trust the writers, and rely on the immense talent of our stars to pull this off. I think the core reason why Peter loves and trusts our Olivia is that he resonates with her emotional trauma, deep down: he was abducted as a child, experimented on by Walter (as was revealed in the first season) -- and Olivia grew up with a step-father so abusive she had to SHOOT HIM to save her mother's life -- not exactly conducive to a sense of safety around men -- and on top of that she was experimented on around the same age (8) when Walter took Peter from the Red Universe. I think we begin to see the early roots of this emotional bonding between the two in the next upcoming episode, "Subject 13".
As for the future of FRINGE, I hope there will be the same kind of partnership between Bad Robot and Fox Studios as there was during the wind-down phase for LOST -- namely, how to balance best the need to fulfill the storyline with the amount of "run time" still floating the series. On the LOST model, FRINGE has hopefully 2 to 3 seasons left to go.....

Anonymous said...

fantastic episode,great acting,the emotions were running high in this episode,

Anonymous said...

Peter seems to have big gaps in his memory of both Here and There? Has this been explained before?

Anonymous said...

complete faith, love it, go fringe!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if the man and women being able to communicate between universes is some kind of foreshadowing for Olivia and Peter in the future. If she goes back to AU, they would both know of a way to communicate if they both go to the same place. Their emotions should be able to influence physics and connect them in some way.

Dennis said...

Maybe Peter will start seeing Fauxlivia, or Fauxlivia will start seeing Peter, now that they're emotionally connected by the baby.

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