The Lunatic Fringe

Both Sila’s and my household have been following J.J. Abram’s brand new TV series Fringe. As per Alias and Lost, I had a feeling it’s not what it advertised itself to be, which would have been about international spies and counterspies, and surviving a plane crash on a deserted island.

Warning: SPOILERS, and I’m serious. SPOILERS!

[[image:fringe01-feb2009.jpg:Is the tank an application of the alt universe tech?:center:0]] 

What Fringe advertised itself was about a department within the Department of Homeland Security, with agents on secondment from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which deal with fringe science to solve their cases. Naturally this caused a lot of people to draw similarities between it and The X-Files. (And having Darin “Flukeman” Morgan as a producer helped accentuate this fact.)

The story starts with a pair of FBI Agents Olivia Dunham and John Scott, who gets involved in a case concerning bio-terrorism aboard an airliner. An airborne agent was released on the plane, which caused the skin of everyone on board to melt away from their bones. Agent Scott gets gravely injured during the investigation, causing Agent Dunham to get help from someone one Dr. Walter Bishop, a researcher who did work into fringe science for the government in the 70s and 80s but was locked away in a mental institution on manslaughter charges. To release Dr. Bishop, Agent Dunham needed the help of Peter Bishop, his estranged son with an IQ of 190, a high school dropout and a con artist with a lot of “weird connections”. In some instances, Peter is the only person who is able to translate Walter’s semi-lucid statements.

John Noble’s perfomance as Walter Bishop is one of the highlights of this series.

[[image:fringe02-feb2009.jpg:This is definitely not “The Butterfly Effect”:center:0]]Like Alias and Lost the first episode ends with a twist, which sets the tone for the entire series: to investigate a series of strange events involving fringe science that might be connected together, known as The Pattern. And there is more to The Pattern than meets the eye.

I planned to write this entry after I saw the fourth episode of the series “The Arrival”, but I insisted on working hard to procrastinate on it. Since then, there has been some more revelations that reinforced my original theory about Fringe.

The Hishgraphics Blog Theory Uneducated Guess to What in God’s Name Might Be Going On in the Fringe Universe.

Although these are conjectures based on what’s come before – with several references to things I will not explain who or what they are, there will be SPOILERS. Oh, yes. There will be SPOILERS.

What is the Pattern?

To use a computer analogy, if our universe has a kernel, how everything is run is determined via some sort of operating system native to that kernel. The operating system sets up constants that is observable using science and mathematics, like 1+1=2, blue+yellow=green, what the values of G, c, π, h and tP are, or even why marshmallows tastes like marshmallow, and not like a telephone, or green mouse. Another universe might have another kernel working with a native operating system which might cause certain scientific constant to be slightly different.

When technology from one universe is used in another universe – non-native tech such as teleportation and phasing through solid matter – the local universe’s kernel becomes corrupted, thus scientific constants become skewed, unnoticeable at first, but ultimately will cause breakdown in local scientific processes which will manifest as biological mutations and the breaking of the law of physics among others. These symptoms of the breakdown of our reality’s operating system is what is known as the Pattern.

“The Arrival” episode was the first hint as to people who travel between universes, such as The Observer, who shows up at every site where an instance of the Pattern occurs.

Who is Walter Bishop?

[[image:fringe03-feb2009.jpg:”No talking!!!”:right:0]]Walter Bishop is the first man to breach the barrier into an alternate universe during his tenure as a top secret government researcher working on fringe science projects. Perhaps he even travelled there and brought back things from the other reality, starting a chain reaction which develops into the Pattern.

Who is William Bell?

William Bell is Walter Bishop from an alternate universe. They both worked together using alternate scientific methods and technology provided by Bell.

During this time, Bishop becomes mad with power and attempts to get rich by commercialising the alt universe tech. Bell becomes more aware of the danger of the so-called fringe sciences and writes the book Zerstörung durch Forschritte der Technologie.

Bishop causes the accident that kills the lab assistant blaming Bell, and gives Bell amnesia before the authorities charges him with manslaughter and dumps him in the loony bin St. Claire. Bishop takes Bell’s identity and sets up Massive Dynamics, which ultimately develops and commercialises alt universe tech in this universe.

Why does the Walter Bishop we see remember things about Peter that Peter doesn’t remember? Is he remembering events with the alternate Peter from his universe? Why is there another Walter Bishop at St. Claire mental institution? It was implied that it was a hallucination, but what if it was the real Walter Bishop visiting the real William Bell?

If this is true, what will happen if the real Bell remembers his identity? Has he remembered already? Will his endgame involve the mentions of one or more types of food every episode… and the cow? 

Who are the Followers of ZFT?

During the real William Bell’s incarceration at St. Claire, ZFT is reproduced and circulated clandestinely all over the world. The book accumulates followers such as David Robert Jones who tracks down the real Bell’s technology hidden in our reality to fight the forces of Massive Dynamics which they believe will bring about the total breakdown of reality if they maintain using and selling alt universe tech.

Who is the Observer?

[[image:fringe04-feb2009.jpg:Soon the Anti-Observer will arive with his shadow demons.:left:0]]I originally thought the Observer is the being from another universe, I now think that he exists outside the multiverse orrery (to use a similar term from another media) altogether. He is able to transcend space-time and can read the operating system of each universe and act upon it, allowing him to perform tasks like appearing anywhere there is an instance of the Pattern or tell what Peter was going to say before he says it. He seems to take interest in and observing the effects of the Pattern. What he will do with the results of his observation, I can’t guess.

There are a lot of other elements which I can’t even begin to guess at, such as the purpose of the probe. When they eventually reveal the whole truth, I’ll probably find out I guessed nothing correctly in the essay above (I hope at least I get 10% right), but I guess the guessing is the fun in following a J.J Abrams series.

Posted in Misc Sci-Fi, TV and tagged .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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