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The Pattern of All Patience: Some Thoughts Ahead of Tonight's Season Finale of "Fringe"

Throughout its freshman season, Fringe has been a study in the battle between serialized versus self-contained storytelling.

When the series has embraced its mythology roots and given us some taut episodes that pushed the overarching story, Fringe has soared, offering us a complex plot about the insidious nature of technology and scientific advancement, the danger of allowing multi-national companies to control society, and a paranoid plot about soldiers preparing for a secret war taking place in the shadows. And while many of its X-Files-esque weekly plots have been good, scary fun, it's the mythology episodes that have reeled me in and made me think about the series in more complex terms.

I'm hoping that tonight's season finale of Fringe ("There's More Than One of Everything") pays off some of the plot threads that have been slowly building throughout the season. We've been teased with Walter Bishop and William Bell's involvement with bioterrorist group Z.F.T., the nature of the former partners' Cortexiphan experiments on children such as the young Olivia Dunham, the possible involvement of Massive Dynamic in The Pattern, the relevance of The Observer, the strange disappearance of David Robert Jones, and a host of other mysteries.

Will tonight's installment advance some of these stories and perhaps give Broyles and Astrid something to do? That remains to be seen. But with only a few hours to go before Fringe wraps its first season tonight, I thought I'd offer up some theories (not based on any spoilers) about where the storyline might be going.

We seemingly got a glimpse into the possible origin story of The Observer a few weeks back in the episode "Inner Child," when the Fringe Division investigated the bizarre case of a child living underneath a derelict building, a child with empathic abilities and a visage rather like The Observer himself. Was the child kept down there as not an experiment but a means to an end, the way to create a creature just like The Observer himself? The connection between the two is made all the more clear by the look they share through the car window as the child is driven by The Observer. Could it be that the title of tonight's episode ("There's More than One of Everything") could refer to The Observer himself? Will we learn that there are in fact an entire army of these beings whose mission seems tangled up in The Pattern itself?

Just what does The Observer want and where is he taking Walter? That's an interesting question. The two are no strangers to each other and The Observer directly intervened when Walter and Peter's car crashed into the frozen lake when Peter was a boy. So why did he save them? And, more importantly, how did he know to be there in the first place? It seems clear that The Observer either has precognitive abilities (in addition to the telepathic abilities he's previously displayed) or he has a knowledge of future events, so easily is he able to maneuver himself into the correct place and time just as Pattern-related incidents are occurring. As for where he's taking Walter, hmmm...

Throughout Fringe's first season, the specter of William Bell has hovered over the proceedings yet we've never seen so much as hair or hide of this enigmatic former partner of Walter Bishop. It's clear that both Bell and Bishop are connected to The Pattern and recent evidence has directly implicated Bell in a number of illegal scientific experiments conducted on the population. So why hasn't Olivia or the FBI been able to directly interview Bell? For one, Nina Sharp is a tough gatekeeper and she keeps concocting reasons why Bell can't be questioned: he's away, he's unreachable, etc.

I'll say he's away and unreachable. In fact, my theory is that William Bell isn't there to be questioned or interviewed as he's been in an alternate dimension this entire time. We know that the existence of alternate dimensions is key to the ZFT manifesto and that it's possible to breach the walls between dimensions. Hell, Olivia did it quite easily in last week's episode ("The Road Not Taken"), drifting consciously and several times unwillingly into an alternate reality, likely the result of the Cortexiphan trials she participated in as a child. So what if Bell was also able to make this leap and Nina has been covering for his absence in this reality?

We know that the coming war will be fought on several battlegrounds, in several dimensions, as prophesied by the ZFT manifesto. My belief is that Bell slid over to an alternate dimension before the events of the pilot episode and has been maneuvering things from over there, setting things into motion that will result in him finally coming face to face with Olivia herself.

So where is The Observer taking Walter? Why is it "time to go"? I believe he's following orders of a higher power and talking Walter to the other side of the dimensional breach, bringing him to where William Bell is waiting.

(In fact, I can't help but wonder if by Season Two, we'll find our leads in a world that's slightly different than the one they've been living in.)

Just why was Bell administering Cortexiphan to these children, all of whom have now reached adulthood at the precise time as The Pattern has become more and more frequent? Are they foot soldiers in the coming war, prepared for the imminent battle with paranormal gifts beyond that of normal human beings? And which side--good or evil--is William Bell actually on?

As for Nina Sharp, it's clear she's a believer in Bell's cause. She's given her life to stand at his side and last week paid a steep price for her loyalty to her employer. Shot at point blank range, it seems as though Nina is clinging to life. But who orchestrated the attack on her and why? The signs point to the elusive David Robert Jones, who also has an interest in Olivia and likely the other Cortexiphan-positive subjects. Was he working with Harris in the kidnapping of Nancy Lewis last week? After all, the presence of the light box in the holding cell would indicate a strong knowledge in Cortexiphan-derived abilities. So is David Robert Jones the flip side of the coin to William Bell? Are the two adversaries drawing the battle lines while everyone else remains mere pawns on the chess board?

What do you think? Any predictions on what might happen in tonight's season finale of Fringe and beyond? Discuss.

On tonight's season finale of Fringe ("There's More Than One of Everything"), Olivia and the Fringe Division find themselves reeling when after Nina Sharp is attacked, bio-terrorist David Robert Jones returns, and Walter disappears.

Comments

Bella Spruce said…
Honestly, I have no idea what's going to happen but I'm very excited to see how this season ends. The show got off to a very slow start but the last handful of episodes have been really good and I think that next season has a lot of potential.

I kind of like the idea of next season taking place in an alternate reality that is similar to our own. Good theory!

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