Friday, January 29, 2010

Fringe: Advanced Eugenics

Last night we learned that a Robert Bischoff worked within the Nazi regime as a double agent who helped them with experiments and advancements in genetics while slipping information to the allies. During his time there he worked with a man named Alfred Hoffman on the idea of a heat activated poison gas that could target specific genetic traits – an attempted to succeed at Hitler's dream of a pure blooded Aryan race – but his work was hidden away in old German books, presumably kept safe when Robert immigrated to the United States and the Nazi rule was brought to an end.

So when only the Jewish members of a wedding party perish from asphyxiation with no apparent cause, Peter discovers a cinnamon scented candle that, when examined, leads Walter to a chemical formula marked with his father's Seahorse signature.

Of course the story is simple: a man seeks to complete the life (and by life, I mean LONG life) work he'd dedicated himself to – destroying anyone who did not fall into the Nazi ideal of having blue eyes and blonde hair – thus fulfilling the dreams of his leader. It would be curious to know how exactly Alfred stopped his aging, or rather, the appearance of aging as Walter was able to determine that he was at least one hundred years old from his DNA, but I doubt they'll return to that particular subject.

Alfred tested his poison on a Jewish family first, a sort of payback to the people he first sought to destroy, before taking the project to a larger scale that would involve killing possibly hundreds at a conference that promoted unity in the world. Of course, having seen Walter and identifying him as the son of Robert, Alfred created a side project – a poison that would specifically target Walter, and in this personal vengeance he laid the path for his own execution. After unsuccessfully murdering Walter, using his own lab, and his own notes, Walter was able to create a poison that would specifically target Alfred and killed him during the conference while Peter located the source of the toxins before they were ignited.

It's the implications of the story that are more complex. Peter's grandfather once worked with Nazi soldiers, and while his intentions in the end were to help the allies defeat them, he still created the formula to be able to do the things they wanted and willingly went through any number of other experiments in the name of science. His work, their goal, to create a better race of people through selectively studying and even killing others is not that far off from Walter's.

The Cortexiphan trials in Boston, Massachusetts (and its smaller cell study in Jacksonville, Florida) in the early 80's were essentially continuations of the experiments started in Robert's era. Walter selected groups of children because of specific genetic traits, secluding them in 'camps', and issued them an experimental drug in order to progress latent abilities – to create a more advanced race of people able to fend off enemies, the results of which we've seen bits and pieces of, generally consisting of adults with varied psychic powers, but most prominently with Olivia Dunham – the full extent of her abilities yet unknown.

So it's curious that the first conversational piece for our main characters in 'The Bishop Revival' was Walter speaking of Peter's marriage… specifically, to Olivia. As someone from the other dimension that Walter has eluded to, that Olivia has travelled to, and that William Bell is now a member of, Peter has seemed to possess some type of special abilities himself.

With an IQ of 190, being from the other dimension, and Walter's experimentation on him as a child, it wouldn't take a leap to wonder whether Peter, paired up with Olivia, would make some kind of super-Romeo-and-Juliet-couple. Many have made mention of the fact that Olivia was able to start turning off the lights in 'Ability' only after Peter returned and stood behind her, and many had also noticed in 'Bad Dreams', his knack for instantly calming her with just a touch.

It's also questionable whether, in 'August', Peter was able to use the special gun that the Observer was using because he was from the other side, or possessed some psychic ability similar to the Observers, and to Olivia. Or whether his aptitude for empathizing with others, allowing himself to become a sort of bridge between the human emotions a subject is feeling and the tactical questions Olivia and the FBI have to ask, is akin to the empathetic abilities of the small boy in 'Inner Child'.

Speaking to the future of the show, or the future of this idea (and possibly pandering, in a creative and logical way, to the shipper faction of the audience), it also wouldn't take a leap to wonder whether Walter, subconsciously, would want Peter and Olivia to pair up in order to breed a more perfect child. Not a child that had a specific hair color, or eye color, or skin color, but a certain set of abilities that would make them, essentially, evolved – the best that both universes have to offer.

We got a glimpse into the Walter of old a few weeks ago in 'Grey Matters', a methodical scientist with a lack of compassion and a mind fully invested in his experimentation. Knowing that his father was probably the same type of person, and that Walter's relationship with his father might have been similar to the one Walter had with his own young son, Peter, is curious. Walter's current explanation for the genetic secrets held within the German books is "protection" from the information landing in evil hands – but Peter admitted that as a child, Walter LOVED those books, probably more so than his him (the inherent jealousy of that fact the very emotion that lead Peter to sell the books later).

Was Walter protecting the books, or learning from them for his own experiments with the Cortexiphan trials, his own attempt at fulfilling his own dreams, deeming them superior than his father's faux leader's, to create a super human race. Delving deeper into his past, into those past motivations that have driven all of the events in the still-occurring Pattern of activity could yield some interesting answers into not only Walter, but Peter and Olivia, as separate entities and as partners, however you choose to perceive that notion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

When Romance Goes Right

Long time no see! I'm back from my self-imposed srs bsns time hiatus, yayy... ok, it's still srs bsns time. Shipping is not for suckers, people. I want to take a moment away from lamenting about ships gone wrong (which happens way too often) and worrying about ships that might go wrong (we all know which one that is) to talk a bit about three television romances that went well in 2009. While none of the shows are over yet and the table might yet turn, for now my ships actually worked out as I wished they would; the triangles tilted the right way, and the joy I felt at each realization was overwhelming... it's amazing how these shows touch us!

1. Cappie and Casey, Greek.

This isn't a particularly mainstream show, and it might not mean much to a lot of you, but trust me when I say that the love triangle in this show is highly engaging, and ambiguous enough to have shippers on both sides (although I daresay the Cappie/Casey shippers largely outnumber the Evan/Casey shippers) clamouring for their ship to come out on top, because it's "clearly" the right choice. In my case I saw on one hand Casey's true, first love, the good guy who always did the right thing despite being labeled a failure and a flake, who through the series displayed unwavering affection for Casey, and only hesitated to be with her because of fears of letting her down again, and on another hand who Casey thought more societally acceptable; the rich, proper guy who she could make herself love because she needed security, despite the fact that he cheated on her in the first episode of the show. The choice was clear, and if she ended up with Evan, if such a type was validated by mainstream media, I might have to move to Mars. But in the mid-season finale last year, Cappie and Casey finally, finally overcame the obstacles and admitted how they felt. Casey had actually realized it at the end of last season, but the writers decided to prolong the suspense a little further… causing the big moment to be slightly anticlimactic in retrospect, but no less beautiful and emotional. I cried, in my living room, sitting under a blanket and feeling generally sorry for myself anyway, and it was great.

2. Lucas and Peyton, One Tree Hill.

Unless they pull a 90210 and mess with Happily Ever After-sealed classic pairings in crappy spin-offs, Lucas and Peyton sealed their bond with their departure from the show at the end of season 6 last year: married, with baby girl Sawyer Brooke (Albus Severus, you have a competitor for the most-awkward-double-name-ever title), Lucas and Peyton defied all odds. I know a lot of diehard Lucas/Brooke shippers and I'm not going to say that wasn't sometimes the clearer choice... when Lucas threw the basketball through the hoop with closed eyes, when he was so fixated on being with Brooke... it was a bit random how they suddenly turned it around to Lucas/Peyton (no doubt real life played a part in this), but I was happy none the less because Leyton was the first and original pairing; whatever Brooke later became she was first and foremost an obstacle to be overcome in order for Lucas and Peyton to be together... and like with most shows I always think that the producers want us to believe in the couple first introduced as the "right", point of view, sympathetic option, and when the romance suddenly goes in a different direction I always feel a little betrayed, so Leyton as endgame was extremely gratifying for me, and come on, after everything poor Peyton went through it was only fair that she got her prince – as indecisive and fluffy as that prince was at times, cough-Lindsay-cough. Brooke is way too awesome for Luke anyway.

3. Will and Emma, Glee.

Ahhhh Glee. I want to write lots of lots about the epicness of this show, but it seems to be a common theme so I'll stick to this little gem of a pairing. There was little doubt that their epic romance would eventually take off, yet the worrier in me still feared that Will's integrity and denial or Terri's persistence would get in the way (and it still might, according to Jessalyn Gilsig in a recent interview). It was so obvious that Terri was selfish, manipulative and decidedly not good enough for our singing sensation, yet Will seemed so fully devoted to her that I worried that perhaps she would get pregnant after all. But she didn't, and he's leaving her, and Will/Emma finally got their show-stopping musical finale. It's not the end though, and who knows what will happen – the producers seem way too keen on trying to live up to what they think the fans want that they might turn around tomorrow and change their minds – but for now, can I just say PAYOFF! How about a round of applause? Standing ovation? Take A Bow writers, you deserve it!

So that's it guys, let's hope more romances go our way in 2010.......!

(*credit for the picture is: