September 19, 2008 Fringe
“The Pattern.” I’ve often looked for patterns in fiction and in my own life. It is interesting that the new J.J. Abrams show Fringe uses the concept of patterns. Like “The Covenant” or “Prophet Five” or even “The Others” the label is purposefully vague. It is a broad umbrella that his a wide range of possibilities.
Fringe premiered on September 9, 2008. I watched with interest. A couple of things I noticed right away—like the plane was flight 627. This is J.J. Abrams’s birthday as well as mine. Coincidence? The number 108 was mentioned in passing and 108 is the magic number in Lost if you remember. Before the commercial breaks they flashed a number of images on the screen. Next to a glowing dot appears a butterfly, a leaf, a hand-print, an apple with a fetus inside instead of seeds and a frog with a Greek letter on its back.
The butterfly could be a symbol of transformation. The leaf is one of biology and growth. The hand-print is a symbol of identity and human biology—perhaps genetics. The apple is a symbol of temptation, sexuality and fertility. The fetus in the apple could represent a person being grown form a seed. A test tube baby so to speak. The frog is a symbol of biology again, but could be seen as sign of pestilence or plague. Frogs are seen as ancient creatures of evolution.
I recognized the symbol on its back as a Greek letter. I thought it may be Theta as Theta does have some relevance. But it is Phi and Phi fits better. Phi is the golden ratio in math—no to be confused with Pi. Phi is 1.618. This symmetrical proportion appears in nature. It has been duplicated in architecture, mathematics and art. It is an identifiable pattern. Phi is also used in electronics, physics and thermodynamics. Phi is very relevant to the theme of the show.
Fringe Science is considered to be pseudoscience or fake science. It is in the realm of Science Fiction mostly. Although today’s Science Fiction may be tomorrow Science Fact. Things like teleportation, time travel, cloning, talking corpses and other such wild ideas are the basis of the show.
Abrams touched on these subjects in Alias. Sydney’s trip to the tripped out doctor in season 3 to recall her memories comes to mind. Instead of the CIA and Espionage being the central plot, Fringe centers on the FBI and the United States. Fringe definitely has a very X-Files feel to it, but Abrams departs from the X-Files on some very key points. The X-Files centered on Aliens and a possible Alien invasion. In some of the side stories, Chris Carter did explore Fringe Science. Abrams side steps the Alien Mythology in favor of a more terrestrial terror.
The company Massive Dynamic is at the heat of the Fringe Conspiracy. Interestingly the paranoid distrust of the government has been replaced by a paranoid distrust of the corporation. Times have changed for the cold war era. Capitalism has overrun most of the world and become more powerful than many governments. In fact, one could argue that the Bush Administration has been controlled by corporate interests and that is why the economy has gone to hell in a hand-basket. In any case, Massive Dynamic is an enigma. It is a vague title that could mean anything. It is too soon to tell if Massive Dynamic is like SD-6 or the Hanso Foundation. Are they good or evil? As usual, the company appears to exist in a gray area. Only time will tell.
Certainly Fringe has the potential to be a hit. One can only wonder where Abrams will take us on this thrill ride. Whatever the case may be, I am there!