The Perfect Day, Proposal For A Bishop Family Genealogy, and The Importance Of Being Markham ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

The Perfect Day, Proposal For A Bishop Family Genealogy, and The Importance Of Being Markham

      Email Post       1/03/2012 01:29:00 PM      

‘The child is father to the man.’
How can he be? The words are wild.
Suck any sense from that who can:
‘The child is father to the man.’

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

I'm my own grandpa
I'm my own grandpa
It sounds funny I know
but it really is so
Oh, I'm my own grandpa.

- "I’m My Own Grandpa” (popular song)

I keep coming back to The Dream.

OLIVIA: I thought I'd gotten rid of you.

We see Olivia’s face first, shot in a way that suggests the way she looks when she’s in Walter’s sensory deprivation tank. Then, Peter’s hand slowly comes into frame and rests on her face, as if to bring her back from wherever she is.

It can hardly be a coincidence that this mimics the famous shot from Altered States where we see Emily Jessup (Blair Brown) reach into the cosmic maelstrom created by Eddie Jessup’s (William Hurt) sensory deprivation tank. In a last ditch attempt to somehow gather together the human remnants of Eddie out of the primordial soup his experiments have led to, she reaches into a whirlpool of nothing and slowly, slowly, the man she loves begins to recreate himself and eventually reappears in human form.

This is, of course, exactly how Olivia has brought Peter back, but here the identities have switched: Peter has brought Olivia back. But why, and which Olivia? Some have also suggested that the entire sequence itself seems to have literally been flipped, creating the mirror image of what the camera actually filmed. Why?

OLIVIA: Where'd you disappear to?

PETER: I was checking up on Walter. He found the swing set, and you know how he feels about Newtonian Mechanics.

And as Olivia and Peter watch Walter on the swing in the manner of doting parents, I started wondering all over again about just which Bishop is which. Who is the child and who the man?

It’s a theory that’s been mentioned before, but I wonder if we haven’t been given a few new reasons to reexamine it recently: namely, that the Bishop family genealogy is much more complicated than it looks. Is Peter Walter’s father, Robert Bischoff? Is Walter somehow Bischoff, insofar as the one picture we’ve seen of him strikingly resembles a young Walter Bishop?

If Robert Bischoff’s tombstone is to be believed, he died in 1944, living only to the age of 32. Walter, his son and Peter’s father, was born, however, in 1946. Since that doesn’t seem possible, the question of just who Walter Bishop is becomes very complicated indeed. Is the tombstone a fake and, if so, why?

If Nazi scientist Alfred Hoffman, who worked with Bischoff, was still walking the streets in the 21st century (The Bishop Revival), it stands to reason that Bischoff himself would have access to whatever seems to have preserved Hoffman, whether it’s an element that retards the aging process or whether it’s the ability to time travel.

If Bischoff wanted or needed to disappear, is it feasible that he could fake his own death with a phony headstone and then proceed to pass himself off as his own son Walter? Then who, or what, is Peter? It’s been hinted often enough that he could be some sort of construct. It would explain his connectedness to a machine and his easy understanding of shapeshifters. If so, who built him and when? Do we have any evidence that “Peter” existed between the ages we’ve seen him at? December says that “They can never know the boy lived to be a man,” not “grew to be a man.” Or could Bischoff have found a way to place his consciousness into his own grandson, as Peter was able to place his current consciousness into his future self? It might go some ways towards explaining how Peter seemed to have access to what Walter knew when John Mosley searched his brain. It could hint that the Bishops somehow share a single consciousness or that there aren’t as many Bishops as we think there are.

I noticed something interesting as I was watching the credits for Wallflower. There, towards the end, was a name I hadn’t seen in years: Monte Markham. I wasn’t even aware that he was still acting, in fact. The show that I remembered him for the best ran in 1967-1968 and was called The Second Hundred Years. Its premise was a rather bizarre gimmick that seemed to come straight from the song I quoted at the top:

The concept here was that one Lucius "Luke" Carpenter had left for Alaska in 1900 as part of a gold rush, but soon after his arrival was buried in a glacial avalanche. His burial was evidently so complete and so rapid that he survived in a state of suspended animation for 67 years. He was then thawed out and soon brought to the home of his now-elderly son, Edwin, a land developer in Woodland Oaks, California.

The humor centered around how Luke was younger, both in appearance and attitude, than both his son, who was 67, but also his grandson Ken, who at 33 was the exact age at which Luke had disappeared and been preserved, and who was a near double for his grandfather (not surprising, as both characters were portrayed by Markham). Difficulty adjusting to all of the technology of the modern era aside, Luke, who was an affable, light-hearted sort, was in some ways more at home in his new world than his more buttoned down, conservative grandson.

- Wikipedia

And that’s how we spelled hilarity in the late 1960’s.

Still, it was a fascinating, if cornball, idea that allowed Markham to play the roles of both grandfather and grandson, both of them the age (give or take a year) that Robert Bischoff was when he “died.” Now I sat very patiently through Wallflower waiting for Markham to appear and the show was nearly over when I decided I must have missed him. But then in the last few minutes, two strange unidentified agents appear who, in an overt homage to The Prisoner, pump gas into Olivia’s apartment causing her to pass out. And there, finally, as one of the agents removes his mask, is Monte Markham as (according to IMDB) Dr. Blair West, presumably the doctor from Massive Dynamic who had stolen Eugene Bryant away as an infant (Interestingly, there was also a Dr. West in Grey Matter, an episode that was top-heavy with other H.P. Lovecraft references as well).

Now I don’t know what the show’s plans are for Mr. Markham, but why on earth would you go to the trouble of getting Monte Markham to play a small role unless you really wanted to throw a clue and/or red herring out to the audience? (Not that he doesn’t have other sci-fi credits: those with human shapeshifter theories may be interested to know that he also played a more sophisticated model of the mechanically improved Six Million Dollar Man on the show of the same name.)

Here’s another question:

Why has there been a mysterious character on the show from the beginning whose name is…Markham? And not just any character.

We’ve only met him a handful of times, but consider what he’s been responsible for providing:

The ZFT manuscript. The First People and, by extension, the location of the pieces of The Vacuum. He’s also been the temporary curator of the books of Robert Bischoff. So, for a moment, let’s drop the idea that he’s a convenient plot device. Let’s consider the possibility that he’s one of the most important characters on the show. Surely it’s more than mere coincidence that one individual is able to provide copies of what we’re told are extraordinarily rare manuscripts and put them into the hands of Peter Bishop at extraordinarily convenient moments.

What if, as in The Wizard of Oz, the slightly less than impressive Edward Markham is the man behind the curtain? What is he’s there to keep an eye on Peter’s progress and to help him find his way and fulfill his destiny by giving him the clues he needs at the right times? One thing I know: he’s coming back.

OLIVIA: You know what this is?

PETER: The perfect day.

And, indeed, there is something positively Edenic about the scene in the dream: a man and woman talking happily and intimately in a pastoral setting.

PETER: By "First People," what are we talking about? Adam and Eve?

MARKHAM: No, before dinosaurs, before all of it, there were the first people... the first humans to evolve on this planet.

Or what if we are talking about Adam and Eve?

If Peter and Olivia’s love story is an “epic” one, is there one that could be more epic? Did the moment in The Day We Died when Olivia gazes at the wormhole in Central Park strike anyone else as more than a moment but, rather, as the prelude to a chunk of story we’ve never been told?

Olivia is an author who can type with her mind. What has she written or rewritten?

OLIVIA: I thought I'd gotten rid of you.

It’s a line that hints at the power of a writer, able to create or dispose of characters at will. And she has been partly responsible for getting rid of Peter, via a machine that Walter describes in a very interesting way:

WALTER: Don’t worry. Just think of it as a giant typewriter.

Could she have written the ZFT manuscript on Walter’s typewriter with her mind? Or The First People, for that matter? Has she written the world? Who is Olivia Dunham? And did she use the wormhole the same way that Peter presumably did? Could they have met up at the Dawn of Time and had the world’s first date?

OLIVIA: It's too bad it has to end.

PETER: And why would it have to end?

OLIVIA: We can't ignore the problem, Peter. Ignoring it won't make it go away.

PETER: I don't understand. What's the problem? What's wrong, Olivia?

OLIVIA: You, Peter. You're the problem.

And Peter wakes up with a start as we’ve seen him do so often, like something newly alive.

PETER: So you're telling me...what? My father was Dr. Frankenstein?

In dreams, it is said that we are feeling and experiencing real truths that we might be unable or unwilling to admit to ourselves otherwise. There’s something unnervingly real about this one and I get the feeling that it contains nothing but truth, if we know how to interpret it. And so I have to believe that Peter is a very big problem indeed.

What kind of problem depends on what timeline you believe is the real one, which one you think The Observers are working to preserve, and whether you think they’re all on the same side. I had at one point decided that the two Walters were intentionally split so as to protect humanity from the horrifying future a “collective” Walter would otherwise have brought about. Now I’m wondering if it isn’t Peter we should be worried about.

If Peter is somehow fated to be the undoing of Mankind (in a Terminator sense), how do we interpret September’s actions? The conclusion of Neither Here Nor There seemed straightforward enough: we assume that after being told his mistake (original sin?) has still not been corrected, September is prepared to erase Peter from existence, but relents at the last moment, presumably out of some unexpected emotional connection.

What if that isn’t the case at all?

What if it’s the rank and file Observers who have gone rogue by insisting that Peter be eliminated? Let’s presume that his existence wreaks havoc with the future. What if The Observers simply cannot bear to allow the fate they foresee for Mankind to come to pass if Peter lives? And what if September is the by-the-book hold out who insists that “the boy must live” because he believes they are forbidden to interfere, regardless of the consequences to Humanity?

That’s a little convoluted, I suppose, and probably a little too hard a twist on the emotional development of the characters. But let’s go this far, at least:

There is definitely someone behind the curtain.

All is not what it appears to be. A show of sorts is being performed by some puppeteer and we’ve yet to figure out the purpose of the marionettes. I think it’s significant that our characters traveled back and forth between universes on a theater stage. What or whose show are we watching? Has someone gained control of reality in the way that The Control Voice would tell us The Outer Limits was about to for the next 60 minutes? Why did September need television parts to erase Peter? Is it all a television show?

Is it called FRINGE?

There is much in FRINGE that seems to hover around beginnings and endings, Adam and Eve, Genesis and Revelation. An Edenic paradise and the means to blow it all up.

Does that strike anyone else as looking like a mushroom cloud?

Oh, there was a Saint Clair, by the way. She was the patron saint of Television.


Matthew M said...

Man you people are really over reaching aren't you? Why bother speculating as you are going to be wrong anyway? You are probably giving yourself a brain tumor. Just sit back, relax and let the story unfold. hopefully they will do it right this time and not screw it up like they did "LOST".

Dennis said...

"What do you mean, you people?" - Kirk Lazarus

Zepp said...

For my part, in general, I liked that his essay on Fringe, Count Screwloose. For the parameters of my understanding, the content of what we have uncovered here, seemed to be "heard" from someone else's thoughts. See also, very personal in their placements. And these thoughts at one point, seemed like phrases "loose" without a proper sense - to me - in relation to that which I also postulate about the Fringe. But overall, I liked it, and your text, inspires me to infer, to reflect on Fringe, too. Thank you for this, his peculiar post.

Xindilini said...

OMG. I see the Seven Million Dollar Man now. He has certainly aged far better than one would imagine.

Count Screwloose said...

"your text, inspires me to infer, to reflect on Fringe..."
That's exactly what I'm hoping to do, no more, no less, so thank you!

I see what you did there...


Count Screwloose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn David said...

I've long said that the best thing about FRINGE is that it causes its fanbase to think well beyond the screening of the show. I think you've provided items here which should well be kept in mind in viewing upcoming episodes.

Of course, that September-Olivia encounter that is teased for the next ep (but I think is of itself a tease for the ep after that) could blow all our collective theories out of the water. My own theory that seems to draw universal scorn is that the S4 timeline represents true linear time which I dubbed "Rational Reality" and S1-3 and all such paradoxical loops represent "Irrational Reality." The twist being that Irrational Reality was 'spawned' as a quantum-entangled 'bubble-verse' when Walternate turned on his machine with the intent of destroying the Bluverse in Rational Reality (S4 timeline) and quantum entanglement caused the Bluverse machine to engage (again still in Rational Reality/S4 timeline). And then all of Irrational Reality happens in that time in Rational Reality that the machines there are engaged. This necessarily must mean that the machines in Rational Reality must have a rational/non-First People source.

This 'bubble-verse' of Irrational Reality would be quantum entangled with Rational Reality and thus all persons extant in S4's Rational Reality are 'translated into Irrational Reality. But as far as Peter goes, as Irrational Reality is spawned by the machines in Rational Reality, so to is Peter 'born' in the Bluverse machine of Irrational Reality. He is then a construct of the machines of Rational Reality which appears within the Bluverse machine of Irrational Reality. I consider this to be a consequence of the 'Walter Bishop natural law of balance.' Walternate in the Redverse of Rational Reality attempts to destroy that reality's Bluverse and reflexively he destroys his own Redverse in Irrational Reality. And this may have even set up the wormhole and eventual paradox as a way to restore balance to Rational Reality via events in Irrational Reality. It seems from what Astrid has said that they do not know what caused the bridge to come into being. Thus it was that when the correct resolution - the correct decision in the machine was made by Peter - that the 'bubble-verse' of Irrational Reality began to collapse and everyone - save the construct of Irrational Reality, Peter - was translated back into Rational Reality. Well, except for a bit of latency that allowed Peter to expound on what happened before he disappeared.

I fully expect this idea to fall by the wayside though once they get around to finally telling us what the origin of the machine is in the S4 timeline (still due to First People?). But who knows.

cortexifan said...

Count Screwloose
That was awesome! Can't wait to find out how much of your theories will come true. I'm so glad I don't have to do much of the deep thinking but enjoy others thoughts.
Can't wait for next Friday.
Fringe Rocks!

fringeobsessed said...

Count Screwloose,
Lovely commentary (as usual for you).
That pic above of Liv lying there evoked in me the scene in "Bad Dreams" when Peter brought her back to peace
but that time by holding her hands instead of stroking her face.

"And so I have to believe that Peter is a very big problem indeed." I totally agree with this.
We got a whopping dose of dual Peter in "Reciprocity." We watched the good professor appeal to his evil alter in "One Night In October."
And I keep hearing "Brown Betty"s Nina Sharp telling Liv "Be careful of Peter Bishop. He's dangerous,' more than once. All coincidence?
No way! As I said before in my "One Night In October" commentary I believe we have lovely foreshadowing of a character vs. character's alt showdown coming up. (A newly released episode title supports this-see Fringe Spoilers) But will it just be ONE character ie, Walter/Walternate? Or Peter/Dark Peter? Or possibly more than 1 set?

Count Screwloose said...


Your theory is dizzying, but certainly if we're to believe what we've been told it's the current timeline that's supposed to be the true (or, as you would have it, rational) version of reality. The bubble-verse business is interesting, too, especially as you make it the reason for PB being a possible construct: they've certainly hinted that there may have been one universe at some point, but something caused them to duplicate and split off. I had one theory where the current "Amberverse" is literally that - a stop-gap created by Peter: he's frozen the true timeline with both its universes and created this one until he figures out what to do. Too simple, probably: far more important is the fact that our Peter wasn't aware that he was attempting to contact Walter. That probably points to another Peter (somehow, someway!).


Thanks for refreshing my memory concerning those other references. Very interesting, indeed...

Also, neglected to mention that the picture of Olivia is also a real life version of the drawing in The Crowbar: eyes closed, hair flowing. Is Peter just translating the drawing into his dream? Or is there more to it?

Jennifer (obsessed Josh Jackson fan) said...

Count Screwloose....Great commentary! I love your in depth thoughts.

Lynn David....I totally agree with you on why the Fringe fanbase stays so intrigued & obsessed with this show & my ideas & thoughts are close to yours.

Fringeobsessed....I like your ideas too but I hope if your Peter theory is close to being right, that in fact there are 2 Peters so that our Olivia will still end up with "our" Peter we fell in love with. (hopeless romantic like Peter ;) )

TeamCoco said...

I actually enjoyed this, nice job! But there was one thing that really caught my eye when you were talking about the Perfect Day.

"Some have also suggested that the entire sequence itself seems to have literally been flipped, creating the mirror image of what the camera actually filmed"

Maybe I just missed the conversation but I haven't heard this theory before so I was just hoping someone could let me in on what fans were thinking here and why.

Fringie6989 said...

Wow...I'm speechless. This is beyond awesome Count Screwloose. I can't even begin to describe my feelings after reading this. What a perfect prelude to the Winter premiere in a week. There was obviously a TON of thought and research put in to it. Thank you soooo much for sharing. I am amazed.

Count Screwloose said...

Thanks, Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed it!

TeamCoco, I seem to recall some talk about how Peter's ring is on the wrong hand if you look closely, thus the possible image flip. It wouldn't be the first time: most recently the picture flipped during the Peter/Observer chase in The Firefly.

Fringie6989, So pleased you liked it! Your comments are exactly what anyone who tries to put two sentences together hopes they'll hear! Thank you!

Jennifer (obsessed Josh Jackson fan) said...

Fringeobsessed...also about your theory you have to remember that at the end of season 1 (1st episode of season 2) that William Bell told Olivia that she would need Peter by her can't forget that too.

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