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Refresher Course: Fringe 101

March 25th, 2010 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Next Thursday, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and her crackerjack team — mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his level-headed son, Peter (Joshua Jackson) — return to explain the unexplained on Fox’s Fringe. As the Fringe Division comes together to explain a string of mysterious events and prevent an unprecedented clash of the worlds, here’s a little primer to bring you up to speed and fill you in on “the Pattern,” “the Observer” and this alternate world that keeps coming up.

At the start of “Fringe,” Agent Dunham assembled an unlikely panel of paranormal detectives to uncover the truth behind a plane full of dead passengers. The surprising source for her lead scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop? The insane asylum, naturally. To help keep the mad doctor in check, she turns to his estranged son, an initially reluctant participant in their investigation.

The reason for Walter’s madness is complicated, but he’s one doctor with a sordid past: besides dabbling in hallucinogens himself, he and his longtime lab partner, William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), conducted a series of illegal experiments on children — including none other than a young “Olive” Dunham. Now out of the madhouse, Walter’s always at the ready to perform a good scientific experiment, human test subject or not.

So far, the Fringe Division has investigated ghost networks, engineered parasites, man-made chimera, shape shifters and time travelers. Linking all of these events together appears to be Massive Dynamic, a global megacorporation founded by none other than Walter’s old lab buddy, William Bell. For much of season 1, Bell remained a mystery — even Massive Dynamic’s Chief Operating Officer, Nina Sharp, hadn’t seen him for months — but we soon learn that, years ago, the two scientists opened a hole into an alternate universe, discovering that there is more than one of everything. After much searching last season, Olivia finally found herself face-to-face with the enigmatic scientist.

Walter and Bell’s journeys into the alternate universe didn’t come without consequence. Their actions, it seems, inadvertently started what is known as “the Pattern,” a series of disturbing unexplained events happening around the world. They appear to be experiments set forth by beings from the other universe, treating the whole world around us as their lab. The plan, it appears, is for machine-human hybrids to carry out a war between the worlds.

Watching “the Pattern” unfold are mysterious figures, Observers (recognized by their dark suits and bald heads), who always seem to be lurking around when the unexplained takes place. Little does Peter know that he has a past with an Observer who once saved his and his father’s lives — and this benevolent watcher takes it upon himself to help Walter retrieve an essential missing device.

A little backstory: It turns out that Walter once lost something dear to him, and he had to retrieve it from the other reality — but he found a way to seal the portal so that beings from the alternate universe couldn’t follow him into this world. After Walter recounts this story, a giant clue tells us what he once lost and traveled through worlds to bring back: Peter, who apparently died in this world in 1985. But this was kept a closely guarded a secret until Olivia discovers her own long-lost special gift: as a result of the experiments once performed on her by Walter himself, she can detect things that hail from the alternate universe. In Olivia’s eyes, they have energy, a glimmer — and now she can see Walter’s secret.

Rebecca Harper ()

Last comment: Mar 26th 2010 1 Comment