Fringe: Of Human Action   Rewatch 
October 15, 2014 10:27 PM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

A boy is kidnapped, and three police officers kill each other. Two more people grievously injure themselves, and the team is dispatched to Massive Dynamic for answers. Pharmaceutical enhancements get popped like candy. Walter stretches a metaphor, and Peter gets handed the deadlier weapon.

More fathers and sons.
posted by the man of twists and turns (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Man, that kid is even creepier than the Molly Shannon boy-terror from a few episodes ago. He's got a fully-formed I WANT IT urge that there's absolutely no reasoning with and no stopping when paired with his ability. Sort..... sort of like Walter.

Are there other shows that hit their themes this consistently, exploring the various permutations of a basic relationship like father/son? I feel like Fringe works hard to show us the shape of the meaning of that relationship, or the shape of the ideal father/son relationship (Walter/Peter) by drawing tangents all around its edges with these plots. It blends Monster OTW with Father and/or Son OTW. Or is that just coincidence and I'm reading meaning into something that's not there?
posted by carsonb at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or is that just coincidence and I'm reading meaning into something that's not there?

I try to explicitly note it in the post (which I make after watching). It's the promary relationship of the show, and is reflected in the episodes. Broyles and this-family that disintegrated, that-son alterna-Broyles is desperate to protect. Walter's relationship with his own father. Fathers making sacrifices for, and of, their sons. All of it is branches from one tree.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Man, whereas last night I was obsessing about all the Big Lebowski references in this season of Fringe, tonight I can't stop seeing the X Files parallels. In this episode, it's Eve, with its evil genetically engineered murderous twins. It's the twenty-first century now, though, so we only get one homicidal child freak in this episode. Austerity, you see.

Has anyone else noticed that hapless genetic experiment Dad looks like an older, more bloated version of Edward Snowden?

Bald muscle guy there shows us the reason why you should ideally have your first cup of coffee before 9 am to prevent you from resorting to more desperate measures later in the day. Also that really wasn't a particularly efficient mode of caffeine delivery there.

Walter's inability to let go of Peter's long-past childhood, exemplified here by the jarringly inappropriate use of Peter's teddy bear in the stake out, is excruciating. But it's so deeply in character and redolent of the guilt and previously buried memories that are clearly bubbling up in Walter's mind. The parallels, of course, are driven home by the awkward Tyler/Peter road trip that unfolds in the second half of this episode.

The kid kidnapped himself (man). Big Lebowski reference. Told you.

Nina: "New information has come to light." How deep does this Big Lebowski rabbit hole go? And no, BAKERSFIELD! It would not have been in character for Nina to say "new shit has come to light." She translates the quote into a more Nina-specific vernacular.

Olivia's ponytail is, again, very pullable in this episode. Wish I'd started a Tumblr about this like three years ago.

Actual tinfoil hats. This is just brilliant.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me it's the conversation between Walter and Peter at the end that really hits home. It taps into that resentment we all have when our parents insist on going over and over and over dimly remembered stories from our childhoods. Anecdotes we must endure rather than participate in, as we can't recall what really happened. Only in Peter's case he really doesn't remember because it often wasn't even him. And a part of him knows this. This makes him very angry. I sometimes forget Walter is actually clinging to someone who is not really this Peter.

So the reveal at the end explains why this kid is such an intolerable dick, otherwise it was just senseless cruelty. He reminds me more of the little Hitlers in The Boys from Brazil though, than the Eves from the X-files. But I do take your point.

The fact Nina would never say that proves my point these universes have no overlap.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah that kid was creepy all right. It's the (no pun intended) fringe. You gotta have a good fringe to glower from under. Whatever grammar that is. And how come this kid has no need to sleep? Or pee? Does he just mind control it away?

I think the other interesting recurring theme, apart from the father/son thing, is the whole experimentation issue. What's justified in the pursuit of knowledge? At what point do you realise that doing things - frequently to children - without their consent winds up in disaster? I guess by definition we're seeing the stuff-ups; presumably Massive Dynamic keeps their success stories a little closer. But there's that strong Frankenstein theme here: be careful about science for the sake of science, unmediated by morality or ethics.

What I like about this theme is the way science is also the solution. And the little glimpses we get of mere mortals being touched by the god of What If.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:29 AM on October 26, 2014

The experimentation on people, and particularly children, comes up a lot in JJ shows, I'm thinking Alias, Lost and Fringe. But I notice children of scientists seem to cop it the most. What troubles me is that brilliance is sometimes offered as an explanation for this behaviour, but sometimes quickly becomes an excuse.

Just one more thought, how much is Massive Dynamic implicated here in the world we see in S5?

I agree with you point that science is the answer, but our understanding of science shifts the goal posts constantly so we may never touch the face of God. Every solution takes us deeper into the question.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 5:37 AM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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