Of brains and prophylactics on Fringe

Posted by CB Droege

While the recent episodes of Fringe have been great, there is a bit missing. That bit is portions of the characters brains.

And I don’t mean in the way that Walter really is missing small pieces of his brain. I mean that some of the characters are acting in pretty dumb ways. I understand that plot blindness is an essential part of narrative fiction, depending upon the plot line, but a couple of examples go beyond that.

Faux-livia’s pregnancy, for example, is an obvious plot device, designed to pull at emotional strings, which would be fine if it made any sense, but it makes none.

Now, I know that pregnancies happen sometimes by accident, and I don’t want to disparage anyone to whom this has happened, but the chances that two of the most intelligent people on the planet, who are almost supernaturally deductive and cautious, should somehow both become dumb enough to forget about protected sex at the same time is preposterous.

Look at these characters: Peter’s background is as a globe-trotting mercenary, who has surely had to develop safe habits in strange cities, and Faux-livia isn’t even from that universe.

She knows that the assignment is temporary and that she has a boyfriend to go home to. This would be like a cop going undercover into a crime ring and allowing herself to get knocked up.

I mean: if you know that your mission will require getting emotionally close to your target, which you know may require some sexual contact, safe sex contingencies would not just be smart, it would be part of your mission planning.

We then see another sort of blindness in the next episode when we get some flashback. It’s nice to see a bit of origin story, and the revelation at the end was satisfying, but it’s perplexing that Peter and Olivia met as children, and had such a deep connection then, but don’t remember it as adults. Sure, they’ve explained how Olivia’s memory may have been affected by the experiments.

In fact, when first introduced, she doesn’t even remember that there were any experiments, but then why has peter forgotten? One does not soon forget the girl one ran off into the night to rescue after she nearly burned down one’s father’s laboratory.

The story could have been adequately told without either of these intrusions, and I think they are a sign that the writers are becoming overly dependent on unverisimilar devices.

The show is striving to create drama where drama wouldn’t sensically exist between the characters, which works in the short-term, but in the long run will cause the story to unravel, as the characters which have already been established and developed turn in on themselves.

We’ll just have to hope this doesn’t happen to Fringe, as it’s currently one of the most engaging sci-fi shows on television.