Reality, and the perception of it, has always been a theme close to the heart of Fringe. It underscores almost every aspect of the story because ‘perception’, by its very nature, controls, contains, and shapes the connections that our characters have, and the way they relate to their external and internal worlds.
The third season has brought more of these connections out into the open, and we seem to be heading towards something big that may well change the way we, the audience, perceive the story. With that in mind, we take a look at 5 Fringe episodes in which ‘reality’ is most in question.
What I mean by ‘most in question’, is not to necessarily question the existence or non-existence of a particular reality (we know there are two realities in the story, if not more, but we’re also open to looking at reality in different ways), but instead to identify episodes where the writers may be seeding larger hints about the nature of ‘reality’ in Fringe. See what you make of my choices below the jump.
1.20 “There’s More Than One Of Everything”
William Bell pulled Olivia into the alternate universe, but we momentarily lose our bearings as she appears to skip through several time-frames, or universes, before finally meeting her re-creator.
Whether she actually went through various universes during the elevator ride, or suffered some kind of intra universe time-skip. Something happened to place a question mark over exactly where Olivia went during this time.
2.17 “White Tulip”
This episode plays with time and thematics in a way that makes me question the mechanics at work. Walter’s white tulip of forgiveness and Peck’s “epiphany balloon” seem almost too well constructed, as if a signpost for something larger.
2.19 “Brown Betty”
Large chunks of “Brown Betty” take place in the mind of Walter Bishop. Enough said.
Seriously though, since this episode foreshadows a lot of the show’s third season (in a very surface-level fashion) it raises the question of narrative reliability. Depending on how seriously you want to take this episode, it could imply that the ‘reality’ of Fringe is part of a more personal narration, rather than a subjective account of events.
2.20 “Northwest Passage”
One of the most unusual Fringe episodes. In truth, not much happens in “Northwest Passage”, at least on the surface. But it’s filled with odd events and a sleepy tint that bring into question the perspective of Peter Bishop. And since Peter is in charge of the Boom-Boom-Machine..
3.15 “Subject 13”
An episode straight from the Magic Box, placing large focus on imagination and memory. There are several moments in this one that make me suspicious. Does this episode take place in more than two realities? Is the fabric of reality actually comprised of spliced memory? Do we see evidence that reality is in fact amenable to the point where new realities can be birthed from creative minds?
Side note: If I had six slots, I’d fit “Momentum Deferred” or “Bad Dreams” in there somewhere, if only because it deals heavily with memory and I have a feeling that memory and dreams may become even bigger players further down the line.
What do you make of it all – agree? disagree? Have an opinion on the ‘realities’ of Fringe? Feel free to share your views in the comments.