Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 14, Season 3, 6B
Posted by Karl Withakay on February 20, 2011
A Blue Episode
As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.
Building and Small Kitchen Appliance Manager
OK, the blender comes on by itself, and they are going to call the building manager.? Um, did the blender come with the apartment? I understand the building had been having other problems, but why would the building manager care about problems with a tenant’s blender? There’s no reason to think electrical problems in the building would cause a blender to turn itself on, unless you’re in the loop on the whole Fringe thing. Call GE or Black & Decker for a defective blender, not the building manager.
Fringe Division, Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work
So let me get this straight, when there are no active Fringe cases, the Fringe division can’t find anything for Walter or Peter (but especially Walter) to work on or research? Is the division in pure reaction mode, doing nothing while waiting for a Fringe event to happen? I guess they’re done researching the doomsday machine. What do Olivia, Astrid, and Broyles do when there are no active cases, work part time jobs? Is this a division of the FBI or a volunteer fire department?
If the Building is a Rockin’, Don’t Come a Knockin’…
Is putting a portable seismograph in a multi-story building in a busy urban are really going to be very useful? The normal motion of the building (yes, buildings move in the wind), the vibration cause by people moving about in the building and using the elevator, and the traffic in the streets below, etc are going to create a lot of background noise on that seismograph.
Walter’s Consistent Position
Peter is surprised that after all the Fringe events that Walter has seen, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but it seems consistent to me. The Fringe events are weird, but scientifically explainable phenomenon (at least in the show they are) and not really paranormal in nature. It appears that Walter believes that the mind is a scientifically explainable, emergent property of the brain, and that there is no soul to survive the death of the body and brain; therefore he doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Proof, You Keep Using that Word, I Do Not Think it Means What You think it Does…
“If her husband had this apartment, then it stands to reason that her husband’s double may have this apartment on the other side.”
Wlater’s OK, so far…
“Which proves I’m right.”
Um, non sequitur. At this point, what Walter had was a reasonable speculation, and the basis of a plausible hypothesis, but he doesn’t have proof of anything, yet.
Quantum Plot Point
Quantum entanglement has been a somewhat popular science fiction device recently, having been used in Flash Forward, Mass Effect 2, and now Fringe, and it’s pretty much always used wrongly. It doesn’t work on the macroscopic level, and the real potential applications aren’t as cool as things like faster than light communication or bridging universes with emotional longing. Quantum teleporting sounds cool, but is mostly of interest to physicists. Quantum computing and cryptography are technically cool, but don’t provide any major new plot devices beyond faster computers and unbreakable codes.
Einstein was not a fan of quantum theory, and was never able to fully accept it. His “spooky action at a distance” and “God does not play dice with the universe” quotes were intended as disparaging remarks about quantum theory.
During the climatic scene in the apartment, I wrote down in my notes that it was a lost opportunity that the writers didn’t make this a parallel episode showing how the teams in each universe dealt with the two different sides of the same Fringe event, beginning to end, especially considering the dilemma that Walter was facing in this episode. At the end of the episode, they did show the Fringe team in the Alterverse investigating the disturbance on that side, but I still think it would have been more interesting to see my version. It will be interesting to see if the disappearing event in the alterverse ever gets questioned further, but I’m not holding my breath.
Location, Location, Location.
Just a couple of notes here about the vortex events in Fringe. First, it’s very convenient that none of them have occurred anywhere not on or very close to the surface of the Earth. If one occurred at the bottom of a deep ocean trench, in the core of the Earth, high in the atmosphere, in or on the Sun, or on the moon, etc, they could be kind of hard to seal in amber. Also, the writers are portraying a geocentric universe. Think about it for a minute. The location of the disturbances and the vortices are fixed positions on the surface of the Earth, but those locations are not fixed in space. The Earth rotates on its axis, so the rips in space are also rotating about the Earth’s axis as well. The Earth, and the rips in space also orbit the sun, which orbits the center on the Milky Way, which is also in motion as well. The rips in space are not fixed points in the fabric of the universe (if such a concept even has any meaning), but they follow the same somewhat chaotic path in the universe that the locations on Earth where they first appeared do. The vortices appear to be dragged along by gravity.