Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About "Forced Perspective"

Admit it: We've all pondered the question of whether fate is some kind of unstoppable, unavoidable juggernaut, or whether we have control over our destinies at one point or another... but as this week's Fringe made clear, that question has a little more urgency to it when someone has told you that your fate is that you have to die in order for everything else to survive. Five questions about "Forced Perspective," anyone?

What Is Massive Dynamic Up To?

I know, I know, I've asked that before. But yet, discovering that Massive Dynamic is apparently rounding up children with superhuman abilities, as was heavily suggested in this episode, adds a whole new level to whatever Nina and her cohorts are up to. It's not just messing with Olivia, or dealing with David Robert Jones on the alternate Earth; it's also herding up mutant kids like some rogue Professor Xavier. For some reason, my first thought is that Massive Dynamic is gathering up some kind of army for some reason… Perhaps to invade alternate Earths? Or is that just too ridiculous for words? Possibly, so here's something else to wonder about, as brought on by Olivia telling Nina at the end of the episode that she is the closest thing to a mother than Olivia has: What if Nina is behind Olivia's mother's death, so that she got to control Olivia…?

I can't tell if that idea is going too far down the rabbit hole or not. Don't worry, I'm going to get much further before this column is done.

Why Did Peter Tell Olivia That The Observers Couldn't Be Wrong?

We know that the Observers can be wrong, if only because there was a schism when one of them saved (our) Peter's life earlier (If they can disagree, then doesn't it follow that they can be wrong? If they were all infallible, why would they have different ideas about what to do?), and we also know that Peter knows this… So why did he tell Olivia that the Observers couldn't be wrong when predicting the future? (My guess, genuinely, is forgetful writers and wanting to underscore the potential threat of Olivia's death.) Also, more to the point, why is no one apparently considering the (at this point, perfectly reasonable from their point of view) idea that the Observer that told Olivia that she had to die was lying…? There's a lot of surrendering to the idea of predestination going on this week, weirdly enough considering the outcome of this episode's A plot.

Was The Girl An Observer Yet To Happen?

Here's another crazy theory: What if the girl who could see the future died because her vision didn't come true? I mean, yes, I heard that explanation about the stroke and everything, but I couldn't help but wonder… would she still have died if everything had happened as she foresaw it? But that death scene also made me think Hmm. She's looking awful pale, there. And her eyes are looking odd, too (Yes, I know it's the blood from the stroke, in retrospect) In fact, she kind of looks like an Observer, a bit… Which, if you think about the fact that the Observers have some strange relationship with time (They exist at all points simultaneously, like Peter said? I remain unconvinced, if only because we've seen them interact and be shot, which would imply some linear progression), so… what if the Observers' origin is that they have a similar reaction to the ripples of events as this girl did?

Told you I'd have some weird theories this week. Which reminds me...

Is Olivia Peter's Way Home?

This Olivia doesn't know that she has the ability to cross into alternate Earths just yet, thanks to the nefarious dealings of Nina and Massive Dynamic, but those "migraines" are definitely getting stronger. Is this because of what's happening when she's being experimented on, or the result of Peter's presence? Is Peter going to somehow (unknowingly?) jumpstart Olivia's abilities, resulting in both her death and Peter's return to his own timeline?

So, About That Whole Fate or Free Will Thing…?

…And, of course, the big question from "Forced Perspective": Do we get to choose our futures, or are we locked into a fate decided by some cosmic, unknowable force? The episode itself tried to have it both ways: The destruction of the courthouse was averted (We have some control!), but Olivia's death can't be avoided (We have no control!). What was curiously absent from the episode was any discussion about the fact that, because we know that Fringe takes place in a multiverse filled with infinite Earths as described by Walter way back when, it's an entirely moot question, because every possibility will happen somewhere - The idea of a particular "fate" is ridiculous, because in some other Earth, that fate won't occur, but at the same time, the idea of free will is also an illusion, because any decision made on that particular Earth may be voluntary to the person making the decision, but will also be happening because that's the Earth that it happens on, with other decisions already happening on other Earths. If that makes sense.

Which is to say: In the Fringe universe, there is fate and free will, because there's also no fate or free will; everyone gets to choose their own adventure, but the choices they make will be fated, if only because ultimately fate has allowed for every single possibility in one of an infinite number of realities.

…You know, if I keep this train of thought up, there's a chance that I might end up having a particularly Walter Bishop view of reality. Perhaps I should just skip the middle of the process and buy myself a a cow right now...

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