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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 11 Season 5 The Boy Must Live

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 11, 2013

A Dreary Blue Episode

There won’t be a plot synopsis of this episode over at Polite Dissent this week.  The odds of there ever being one for this episode are asymptotically approaching the odds of winning the lottery, getting hit by lightning, or being bitten by a shark.

Are Those Hebrew Instruments?

Did anybody else notice that the readouts on the heart rate and other vitals on the setup monitoring Walter were going from right to left instead of left to right?

Can you Hear Me Now?

Technically, talking to someone in a sensory deprivation tank kind of defeats the whole sensory deprivation thing since you’re not depriving them of the sensation of hearing.

Person of Interest

Seeing as September was known to have previously sympathized with Walter and the Fringe team and was banished for it, you would think they might keep an eye on him with Walter at learge.

Possible Justification For Lax Effort of Observers and Loyalists?

Windmark’s superior told him that the anomaly and the Fringe team were inconsequential and that The Observers chose this time (2036) because it presented a 99.9999% probability of success.  Perhaps this is the explanation for not monitoring wireless communications, having no satellite or airborne surveillance, and all the other things I have been complaining about regarding their inept handling of the Fringe team being at large.  Windmark’s superior considers the odds of failure so remote that he is not approving sufficient resources for Windmark to properly run the occupation.

For the Search Engines

Feb 20, 2167 in Oslo Norway is the day of a discovery that eventually leads to the creation of The Observers.  A researcher discovered how to improve cognitive function by rewiring the part of the brain responsible for jealousy, sacrificing emotion for improved intelligence.

Retcon Point One

It is implied in this episode that the reason the Observers were observing the various points in Earth’s history was to determine the point in time in which their plan was most likely to succeed.  I actually think this was nicely done.

The Vulcans Would Be Jealous If They Expressed Emotions

Donald/September tells the Fringe team that emotions like passion and love were considered messy distractions and were machined out of the human race.  Without romantic love, other technologies for reproduction had to be developed.  I’m guessing the Vulcans would prefer the Observers’ method of reproduction to the embarrassment of having to endure Pon Farr.

Excelsior !

Donald/September’s son isn’t really a hybrid.  Hybrids are the result of sexual reproduction between different species, subspecies, or populations/ breeds/ cultivars.  His son is either mutant, if the changes are genetic and can be passed on to his progeny, or he is the result of a congenital abnormality, if the change is developmental and not genetic.  Technically, The Observers might consider him a regressive mutant, having recovered or re-developed features they previously intentionally eliminated form their species.

Setting Up the Grandfather Paradox

If they send The Boy forward in time to Feb 20, 2167 to prevent the eventual creation of the Observers, thus eliminating the invasion of the present, then the future will change, The Boy won’t be sent back in time, and can’t be sent forward in time to prevent The Observers from developing, thus ensuring The Observers will develop.

Tag, You’re It

If The Observers have the ability to tag someone so that they can track them, shouldn’t the first thing they do when taking someone prisoner (like they did Walter in a previous episode) be to tag them?

Booby Traps by ACME

Always make sure to put blinking lights on your booby traps to be fair to your enemy and give them a chance to survive.

Brilliant!

Wait a minute, they have traffic cameras and only now have started checking them to see if they can find any sign of the resistance?

Retcon Point Two

Walter now realizes that September was speaking (totally out of context*) about his own son and not Peter when he told Walter, “The boy is important, he must live.”  Sorry, but I don’t buy it; this is clearly (in my opinion) a retcon.  There are at least one or two other times where Peter is specifically mentioned by Observers as being special.

* That could be forgiven as anyone who is in the habit of not experiencing time lineally could be forgiven for mentioning things out of context.

Quote of the Show

Peter:

“Is that it?”

September/Donald:

“You say that as if we’re not carrying technology that can bend space and time into a Möbius strip.”

Olivia Dunham: Super Genius

Olivia mentions that a woman and her son shouldn’t draw too much attention when trying to slip past the blockade and check points.  Sure Olivia, unless they’re looking for a young boy, in which case that’s exactly what would draw the most attention.

6 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 11 Season 5 The Boy Must Live”

  1. Codisc said

    Exactly: Wyman said that Peter’s importance to the Observers would be SPECIFICALLY addressed in this season. I wish maybe they had taken the easy way out and made Peter the first Observer…the retcon is clearly Wyman going back on his promise…

  2. Michael Blank said

    With the grandfather paradox, Peter is from a different universe and timeline and Olivia remembers the other timeline now too, so perhaps that would bypass the paradox.

  3. Karl Withakay said

    Yep, the many worlds hypothesis comes to the rescue.

  4. djdaedalus said

    Nice little note on the series wind-down at the New York Times today: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/01/17/arts/ap-us-tv-fringe-finale.html?hp

  5. djdaedalus said

    Given that this is one of the last chances to do so, I just want to say that however much we enjoy stories that put the same people in different universes with different histories, even if they have different personalities, it is in fact infinitely (nay, exponentially!) more likely that, if alternate universes exist, we would find that they contain different, but oddly similar people even if their histories are identical.

    The prime reason is the random process of genetic shuffling at conception, but it also involves the chance of any conception actually taking place, the chance of the result being born (50% of conceptions fail to go to term) and last but not least, the chance that the parents involved do the deed at the given time and place. And that’s not even counting histories where the parents never meet etc. etc. etc.

    Few writers of alternate universe stories featuring alternate versions of characters even consider this. A prime example would be Laumer’s “Worlds of the Imperium” where both the hero and the actor David Niven exist in more than one universe despite radically different histories. Fred Pohl’s “The Coming of the Quantum Cats” goes even further in having Stalin rob a bank and flee to the US in several different universe histories, so that his grandson Lavrenti/Laurence/Larry can take part in the plot as all these universes intersect. But it is a fun read.

  6. Karl Withakay said

    Nice article, thanks for the link!

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