Monday, May 9, 2011

Death not Death in Fringe

Michael Ausiello lists Olivia in Fringe as a death already aired or broadcast in his May sweeps scorecard.  Really?

The excellent Season 3 finale of Fringe that I saw had Olivia killed in 2026 by Walternate all right, but, shortly after, Peter travels back to 2011, for the purpose of preventing that killing from ever happening, and, according to the Eternal Bald Observers, that worked (see my review of the finale).

So, is a death which can be undone - in this case, by time travel - really a death?   Is a death than can be reversed by any method really a death?  Let's say, in V, that Erica is shot dead at point blank range, but the Visitors bring her back to life.  Is what happened to her a "death"?

The reliable meanings of words are essential in all aspects of human life.   Some words are inherently ambiguous - love has different meanings to different people, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But death?

Death carries the narrative wallop that it does because we assume that it means permanently gone.   If it means less than that, that it is misleading to simply list it on a scorecard as a "death".

Jeff Pinkner, one of producers of Fringe, did a little better in his description of the finale than
Ausiello, saying that Olivia died "in the course of the episode".  This is at least technically true - she did - and it's more accurate that just a listing her as a dead on a scorecard.

The remedy for this: complex, superb stories such as Fringe require more sophisticated and less misleading treatments than simple listings on a scorecard.  Memo to Ausiello:  create a new category for such metaphysical complexities, or just use an asterisk to note the complication.

And coming this August ... my essay The Return of 1950s Science Fiction in Fringe in this new anthology ...

See also Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia ... Fringe 3.2: Bad Olivia and Peter ... Fringe 3.3: Our/Their Olivia on the Other Side ... Fringe 3.5: Back from Hiatus, Back from the Amber ... Fringe 3.7: Two Universes Still Nearing Collision ... Fringe 3.8: Long Voyages Home ... Fringe 3.10: The Return of the Eternal Bald Observers ... Flowers for Fringenon in Fringe 3.11 ... Fringe 3.12: The Wrong Coffee  ... Fringe 3.13: Alternate Fringe ... Fringe 3.14: Amber Here ... Fringe 3.15: Young Peter and Olivia ... Fringe 3.16: Walter and Yoko ... Fringe 3.17: Bell, Olivia, Lee, and the Cow ... Fringe 3.18: Clever Walternate ... Fringe 3.19 meets Inception, The Walking Dead, Tron ... Fringe 3.20: Countdown to Season 3 Finale 1 of 3 ... Fringe 3.21:  Ben Frankin, Rimbaldi, and the Future ... Fringe Season 3 Finale: Here's What Happened
See also reviews of Season 2: Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best

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The Plot to Save Socrates

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