Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Fringe and Star Trek and now it all makes sense. Two stray lines in the Wired review of Star Trek and my befuddlement at the season finale of Fringe ("There's One More Of Everything") disappeared: Abrams, with his go-to writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Fringe, Mission: Impossible III), came up with a clever enough solution. Using the well-worn Star Trek gimmick of time travel, they would establish a new universe for the old characters to play in—while preserving the adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s original series in their own time line. Orci and Kurtzman wrote Star Trek and the season finale and the season finale of Fringe. Not only did both feature a Leonard Nimoy cameo, both relied on the same narrative device to introduce him into the plot: contiguous universes and the ability to travel between them. (Here there be spoilers.) Brief synopsis: Two Harvard lab partners (John Noble's Walter Bishop and Leonard Nimoy's before-this-episode unseen-but-frequently-mentioned William Bell) experiment on children and give them the ability to locate the weak points between contiguous universes. They also devise a means of traveling between these universes. Walter Bishop accidentally kills an assistant and loses his mind. Couple of decades of institutionalization follow. His son Peter (Joshua Jackson) eventually coaxes him out of the asylum and into the employ of the FBI. By this time William Bell has become the CEO of a very successful company called Massive Dynamic. The Bishops wrestle with events ranging from improbable and impossible. These events are directly and indirectly connected to Massive Dynamic. The season finale revisits a character with the ability to teleport (Jared Harris' chilling David Robert Jones), only now he seems to be able to throw open the barn door between continguous universes. Looks like this: As the episode opens he drives a truck through one of those and shoots people. The Bishops and the FBI track Jones to a lake house they once visited before Walter's institutionalization. They are told that Walter once lost some precious thing there that is crucial to stopping Jones from popping back and forth between realities. Walter cannot remember what that is but makes an offhand remark that the last time he and Peter were in that lake house Peter was very sick. Peter responds, "I don't remember being very sick." Why not? Because as we learn when Walter goes to the cemetary Peter died when he was seven years old. That would be the precious thing Walter lost the last time he went to the lake house. Then who is the Peter Bishop who hasn't been dead the past quarter century? Best I can figure, he is a Peter Bishop from a contiguous universe who was kidnapped by Walter sometime after his Peter died. (Thus answering in the oddest way possible the eternal custodial question of whether you can kidnap your own children.) How can I be sure? Because we finally get a glimpse of another America when the Bishops' FBI liaison Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is stood up by William Bell. As she leaves the...

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