“It’s not that I can’t remember. It’s that I can’t forget.”
One of the most memorable scenes in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t involve book-burning at all, but rather book-remembering. Wandering intellectuals have taken it upon themselves to remember the best books, the most important books, so that not all will be lost, and there will be some hope for humanity.
That scene has always stuck with me: the choices the men had to make in terms of what to remember and what to dismiss; the conviction it must take to remember everything; and the simplicity of the act: remembering and recording are, in their own way, revolutionary activities. Anyone who has read 1984 knows that. Knowledge is power; memory is understanding.
Because those are ideals I believe in, I wound up getting angry at Edwin for choosing to sacrifice himself and dig out the quartz crystals. Don’t get me wrong: I understand what he did, why he did it, and how his act of heroism can mean possible victory for humanity. But the selfish part of me wanted to shout, “Ask someone else to do it! Your role is important, too! Surely there’s a lay-about who hangs around camp, sponging off everyone else?”
But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? Fringe doesn’t make it easy. Heroism often means loss, and all losses are equally bad. No one person is lose-able, and the best we can do it hope that a death has meaning beyond that of loss. Edwin’s will, I hope: unless Fringe decides to end on a really, really depressing note, our team will succeed. There will be losses, there will be death, but there will—I hope—be victory, too.
It’s not as simple as a quest, though. River, Edwin’s son, showed us just how much the world has “moved on,” to steal a phrase from Stephen King. For him, the return of the Fringe Division is like the return of Arthur to Britain—heroes from another age come to put things right. But defeating the Observers and re-taking the planet won’t be enough. People must fix all the problems that have occurred since the invasion: the lack of coffee and real apples, the fungus growth, the development of small communities attempting to operate outside of the government-run cities. How does humanity rebuild after something like that?
Part of that question is its smaller corollary: how does one human rebuild after destruction? Olivia’s conversation with Peter about her conviction that Etta was dead shows us just how painful loss can be. Olivia was certain Etta was dead, and now she can’t bear to remember that time of lost hope. The fungus is a sort of metaphor for the residual effects of loss—it’s removable, until it isn’t. Then the loss is just a part of who we are, because we can’t forget it. And forgetting it would be losing a piece of who we are.
It Was Medicinal:
• Olivia: “When we lost her, it felt like that was my punishment. My punishment, for being too conflicted to appreciate her when we had her.”
• Walter: “Now this is a ride.”
• I wish the Astrid/Walter mime/mine conversation had taken a bit longer. Really, I wish there had been some actual miming going on. Because every dystopia needs a good mime scene.
• Speaking of apples…wait, we weren’t speaking of apples? Well, we are now. It’s honeycrisp season, and if your area has access to honeycrisp apples, please go find and eat one right now. They’re the best apples in the entire world. They’re the platonic ideal of apples. They’re the apples other apples want to be. And the Observers have taken them away from us.
• The Resistance is well-connected, isn’t it? They seem to be an active organization with many members. I’m excited to learn more about them.
Four out of four wicked tree dwarfs.
(Josie Kafka reviews Fringe, The Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com. She likes apples.)