Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 2 Season 5 In Absentia
Posted by Karl Withakay on October 5, 2012
A Dreary Blue Episode
As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent
Angels and the Devil in the Details
Speaking about the angel device Etta says,
“It stirs up and destabilizes every atom in his body. A full charge steals around 25, 30 years.”
She also says that it is based on Observer tech designed to prepare them for time travel, but that the loyalists adapted it to use against the resistance as an interrogation/torture device.
First, let’s be clear, the device can’t be actually aging people by making time pass faster for them than the rest of the world, because the victim would die of dehydration (or boredom) after only a few days passed for them, long before they visibly aged.
Second, and I’ve dealt with this before, more than once or twice, existing hair does not turn white from age, fright, stress, etc. Dig up a corpse that’s been dead for decades, and the hair won’t have turned white or gray.
Third, we have a word to describe what happens to atoms when they become unstable, it’s called radioactivity and it will do worse than visibly age you; if every atom in your body were destabilized, you’d die fairly quickly.* You could make a semi-decent argument that Etta meant chemically unstable since she referred to atoms and not nuclei, even though simple searches for the term unstable atom yield results where all the top hits are referring to radioactivity and not chemical instability. The word she probably should have used if that’s what she meant was molecules.
Also, I’m not sure why destabilizing atoms (chemically or otherwise) would give the victim the appearance of visibly aging and shorten their remaining lifespan to correspond with their aged appearance. The effects of aging are the result of processes that occur over time and how the body and its systems function due to those effects. You likely wouldn’t see effects like instant white hair (already covered) or wrinkled skin; it’s unlikely any fast chemical process or damage would so closely mimic the effects of aging in such short a short time span.
The Eyes Have It
In case you were thinking that maybe the writers got it wrong and were getting retina scanning wrong and mistakenly changing it into iris scanning, iris identification is another method of biometric identification. Though Wikipedia notes that the the iris identification article does not supply sufficient sources for the shortcomings section, that section notes that many commercial iris scanners today are able to be fooled with a high quality image in lieu of an actual eye. If this is true, then apparently the technology does not improve enough by the year 2036 to be truly secure, at least not when Walter’s around.
The gun Peter was carrying was an FN P90.
*Unless Proton Decay turns out to be real, in which case every atom in the entire universe is already unstable, just with a very, very, very, very, very long half life, like 10^34+ years long.