Fringe – the show I love and the way it’s tearing me apart

Initially I stayed away from Fringe, the show brought me no interest when I first heard about it, but then I should know that these things have a habit of entering my personal sphere.  This time it was thanks to my wonderful best friend, E.  The first season was fun, it brought endearing characters and science.  Real science.  As the seasons progressed, my love of the characters increased and the fact the show brings challenges with it makes it even better.  I like being able to theorise and not having a predictable plot.  Stick me in front of a crime show or murder mystery and I can tell you way before the characters find out the answers who did it and how. Actually, that used to annoy E a lot as well.  Sitting in the cinema for The Da Vinci Code movie, having never read the book, I had it solved pretty quickly (read about 25 minutes in), so sat and enjoyed the cinematography rather than the plot.

But Fringe, Fringe challenges me, allows me to think along various different routes, gives me a chance to flex the old grey matter and makes me so happy to face that challenge.  My only issue is that now we’re in the final season, I’m being made more and more uncomfortable.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my birthplace was occupied during WWII.  We islanders tend to call the War, the Occupation.  We grow up with tales of life under those times and watching Fringe is pretty much like listening to those tales.

The totalitarian environment of the dictatorship that the Observers have over Earth is familiar and yet surprisingly different.  The relationships between collaborating humans and the invaders are reminiscent of those tales I heard as a child.  The torture, the experiments, all reminiscent of the treatments those of us who have studied WWII are so very familiar with.  But WWII was orchestrated by humans.  The Nazi invasion was orchestrated by humans.  Humans who had ideas that went against freedom and wanted to purify humanity.  The Observers want to eradicate humanity.

Our introduction to the Observers was September.  September was the most human or should that be the most humane, of the Observers.  He was the one who helped, the one with a conscience.  We grew to love him, we grew to look forward to his entry into an episode.  Then he died at the hands of his people because he reached out.  They have no concept of human emotion, as witnessed by the latest episode.  Wyndham does not understand the concept of love.  He has never felt it and cannot understand it.  Perhaps that will be their downfall.  September was coming close to understanding it.  Perhaps that was his downfall.

The latest episode gave not only the characters a jolt, but the audience too.  So far this season, JJ Abrams and the crew have taken us on an emotional rollercoaster that outdoes all other seasons.  The torture of Walter, the reuniting of Etta and Olivia.  In the latest episode, Etta’s apparent death and the passing back of the bullet from daughter to mother.  Also the Broyles reunion.  That struck home so hard that I sat and sobbed as I watched from the moment Olivia looked at him, right through to when they were attacked.  It’s a powerful group of actors delivering a powerful script that is stopping me from refusing to watch further.  I need to know the outcome of this story, for better or worse.

There are very few shows out there that give us a look at the world that makes us uncomfortable but compel us to keep watching.  The last time I felt that way was the newer Battlestar Galactica.  Both shows have put me in mind of historic and present events on Earth and the way in which humanity has dealt with/is dealing with them.  Social commentaries that paint a picture that’s hard to avoid.  My only issue with this is that they don’t reach a wider audience.  They are relegated to the ‘Sci-Fi’ section of the media catalogue and those of us they reach are the ones who are already thinking about those things.  So many people are caught up in reality shows and soap operas that deal with the smaller picture without looking at the bigger picture.  Science Fiction has a way of looking at both and it captivates the audience watching so that they in turn talk and discuss it at length.

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