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.

6 Responses to “Fringe: Advanced Eugenics”

Anonymous said...

lovely review! I love how insightful you are with your usually takes me longer to get my thoughts together with shows, but I've got you to do that for me now with Fringe, lol.

I loved the points you made about Walter's mention of a P/O marriage. Honestly, why was he so gun-ho about the whole thing! some of the people and I on FanForum today were wondering he somehow knew something, just because of comments like "it may come sooner than you think." I really don't know what to believe though on why he is pushing them he just being crazy cute Walter or does he know something or want something or did he watch them as children together and think that they needed to form a union? I mean even Bell said Olivia needed Peter by her side. Those two are in cohoots I tell ya!

And it's definitely going to bother me how that guy managed to survive so long without aging...did Jacob make him that way too? LMAO.

I love the insights about Walter being very much like his father and loving the books because it gave him his life's work. I can hardly blame Peter for resenting Walter for that, and I am glad that Peter is not following in the Bishop footsteps per say. He at least is doing what his grandfather could not, using fringe science for soley good purposes and trying to stop the bad.

anyways, I've rambled enough, lol. But I'm just so giddy about this show right now!

Anonymous said...

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michael said...

I can hardly blame Peter for resenting Walter for that, and I am glad that Peter is not following in the Bishop footsteps per say. Mothers Day Messages He at least is doing what his grandfather could not, using fringe science for soley good purposes and trying to stop the bad.

Neal said...

I really like the ideas about Wally being very much like his dad and adoring the guides because it provided him his lifetimes perform.

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