Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Hopes for the final season of “Fringe”


Updated October 25, 2012:
-Photo and description added.
-After consulting the Fringenuity website, I have added scandalous speculation to my previous predictions about the Fringers' fates. (below)

Aw Shucks 2012
Acrylic on canvas #painting.

The humanoid figure is based on a common "pictograph" of the Canadian-Shield/Boreal-Forest suite of prehistoric rock-art paintings of Northern Ontario, Minnesota, Manitoba, Northern Quebec and adjacent regions.

The upturned hands with splayed fingers (often just three) has been interpreted as "someone seeking knowledge/power". The horns on some figures has been interpreted as "someone of knowledge/power", a shaman.

Big Hopes for the final season of “Fringe”. [SPOILERS ahead.]

I had not kept the FOX network show, Fringe, on my “must-see” list last year, but after watching the first episode of the final season, I am hooked, again. As a story segment, it is actually the second of this final series; episode 19 of season 04 being the actual first episode in this time sequence, jumping ahead some 24 years to the adult lifetime of Peter and Olivia's “lost” child. I had not seen episode 19 last year and was able to see it right before this year's premiere; “in sequence”. The credits no longer focus on the “weird science” aspect of the show, but on the dystopian tone of a future under a humourless, unappealable, all-consuming authority and a population forced to destroy their world for the benefit of that authority. This episode had the brass of BattleStar Galactica's insurgency on New Caprica, a soundtrack reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's darker atmosphericals and an omnipresent grayness.

The last 2 minutes, alone, still choke me up. It has mythology-resonant imagery (perhaps story hints) and strong music choice. The silent acting performance of John Noble (Walter) in a wrecked taxi broke my heart and then filled it with joy; busted eye, ratty houserobe, “miserable future” and all. It's that good.
Walter is lying down on the sofa. He is defeated and wounded from his brutal interrogation at the hands of “WindMark”, a bloodless “observer” with some status in the occupying force.

Again; he sees tinkling lights tinged with rainbow playing upon the wall. He follows them to their source; a mobile of old, broken cd's catching the sun, next to an abandoned taxicab.

Walter finds a bag at the base of the mobile containing another cd, labeled “Trip Mix 6”. He puts it into the taxi's cd player and it begins to play! WTF?

A spectrum of emotion plays over Walter's face, as he listens to the 80's one-hit wonder “Only You” (recorded by Yazoo) and sees a dandelion breaking through the pavement, immediately in front of the car's window. Musics soars... and cut to black.

Wow. That was trippy. I think that there is much more going on here, than is readily apparent. What is the significance of the Dandelion? There is a small seahorse hanging from the visor of the cab, reiniscent of one of the enigmatic “graphic dividers” that separate the acts of a Fringe teleplay. Does it have a significance, beyond its familiarity? What about the other knickknacks on the dash: dice, chicago skyline snowglobe, a baseball, huluskirt bobledoll, pinetree freshener, random chain necklaces and pendants?

Clearly, there is a breadcrumb trail (confirmed in the rather boring S05 Ep02) implied by the sequence, but it's not apparent yet, if the cab and song have more significance. Walter has been thinking about music throughout the episode and may just be happy to have found any.

The dandelion (as pointed out in another review, by Tim Surette) is metaphorically tied to “Etta”, the lost and found daughter of Peter and Olivia, whom is now a hardened resistance-fighter. She was “lost” during an observer attack, while playing with ripened dandelion heads. (Tim reminds us that...) Etta thinks that she was four when she was separated from her parents, but Olivia remembers that she was “3 years, 1 month and 5 days” old since the dandelion/observer-attack episode, in the park. Is that significant?

My hypothesis:

Potential spoilers ahead.

I am beginning to think that “September's plan” has already been tripped.

So, what is the trap? Or, more appropriately, when and where would it have been sprung? I'm hoping that Season 05 actually represents some sort of simulation that the observers have been baited into and diverted from the actual Earth. I'm thinking that it probably occurred at the time of the Observer “invasion”, when all of the future-humanoids were mobilised for the action. My guess is an extrapolated scenario, not necessarily correct, based on the imagery of the first three episodes of Season 05 and S04E19, but especially Episode S05E01.
In no particular order, yet:

a) Walter's trail to “the plan”, mythic overtones and his musical need. The breadcrumb trail is a granddaddy of archetypal narrative (Collecting energy stones! How 8-bit.), a simple storyline for a simulated cultural-battle architecture. It has been removed from Walter's mind, yet remains embedded in his personal environment and historyscape.

b) The taxicab of wonders and the thought unifier. Is it more likely that a broken and abandoned taxi with a working stereo system would be handy to bring a small comfort to Walter in his recuperation, or that someone left it there for him to find, when needed. Walter hints at music's power to bring new perspective, during his interrogation.

c) The desolate and empty urban landscapes and crowded familiar cultural detritus in an oppressed, dystopian future. The better to not strain an AI or a young “ 'verse ”, with too much character-useable detail, while providing base-level stimulation and shelter for the “sims”. That and just enough psychological ground to stand on for our "real" villains and heroes.

d) The “ambering” process, “amber-gypsies” and our experience of Etta's missing childhood. We only have Etta's reassurance that 20-some years have passed. It may have, in her perception and recollection. (How did she survive the Observer attack in the park?) Anyways, it has been long enough for the sims to develop a subculture and economy related to trade in a materiel used for “hiding from the Observers” (... infiltration of a synthetic timeline by outside uploads?).

e) The Observer WindMark's inability to retrieve “the plan” from Walter's brain, physics “beyond Walter's comprehension” and the apparent ability to hide from the Observers for 20-some years in “amber”. Story devices, or meaningful backdoors to an all-seeing rule of Earth?

f) The dandelion. The dandelion of the Observer attack is finished, gone to seed. The dandelion of Walter's taxi is bright and yellow, poking up through the concrete. It is reminiscent of Stephen King's rose in the "Dark Tower" mythos; representing the protagonist's imperiled universe, growing in an abandoned lot of another world.

Alright. That's my guess about this season. I hope the brooding, epic tone of the first episode is recaptured during the rest of the season.


After being contacted and encouraged by the Fringenuity website, I've decided to embolden my prediction and have determined that the trap was actually sprung when Peter stepped into "the machine" at the end of Season 03. Everything that has happened since is part of the simulation (running in Peter's brain, assisted by "the machine"). It is essentially a dream and explains how he was coerced from oblivion in Season 04.