Saturday, April 17, 2010

Time Mismanagement

Who knew when the Fringe team started investigating a case with a man who could time travel and accidently killed people as a by-product that it was all just a love story?  The episode was Groundhog Day-esque as the team found themselves reliving the same few hours several times by the time the outing ended.  We're all fascinated with the concept of time travel (hence the reason why there are so many movies and TV show episodes that tackle it), so I didn't wonder too much about why Dr. Peck was traveling back through time a few hours at a time.  I did wonder why all of the people on the train died by "having their batteries drained" and how the show was going to explain Dr. Peck's ability (simply because I love the way this show takes something that seems completely out of the realm of possibility and makes it completely possible with a reasonable explanation).  But in the end it was the why to Dr. Peck's madness, and not the method, that proved to be the most fascinating.

The people on the train died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Dr. Peck decided to try out his time travel formula and landed on the train (he was from a few hours in the future).  In order to time travel, even that small distance, it takes a lot of energy.  So much energy that he drained the energy out of the car of the train and the people in it.  For the record, he claimed that the people were not dead, but suspended and would return to their normal selves once he time traveled back.  The biggest problem with a time traveling scientist is that he's impossible to catch.  Every time the FBI would get close to him, he would simply use his ability to time travel out of there and the time would reset, meaning that Olivia and co. would be back at square one and unaware that they had already investigated the case they were now beginning to investigate.

Walter had been intrigued by Dr. Peck from the beginning, but became even more so when he learned the reason why Dr. Peck was trying to master the skill of time traveling: he wanted to travel back 10 months to save his fiancee from a deadly car accident.  He felt that if he had not fought with her over their wedding registry, then they would have both been in the car and a different outcome would have occurred.  When he was finally able to go back 10 months (thanks to Walter's input) and find his fiancee before she drove off, a different outcome did occur, but it wasn't the one he wanted.  He got in the car with her and another car t-boned their parked car and killed them both.  Well, at least he didn't have to go on without her.

Walter could relate to Dr. Peck's desire to save someone he loved, but he warned him that the consequences of intervening are great.  He spoke about his own guilt and how his decision to take AltPeter has tormented him ever since.  He even talked about how he has been seeking forgiveness from God and asked for a white tulip to be a sign that God had forgiven him.  I thought this part of the story was especially interesting since we tend to see man of science/man of faith (TM Lost) as two incongruous entities and unable to survive inside one person.  It was refreshing to see that Walter breaks that misconception.  In the end, Walter got his white tulip in the form of a hand-drawn one sent through the mail from the deceased Dr. Peck.  Since he had met Walter before he time traveled back to his wife and reset the clock, he knew about Walter's desire for forgiveness.  In the meantime, Walter made the decision not to tell Peter about where's he's really from.  The truth has a way of coming out, though.

Fringe airs Thursday nights on Fox. If you missed this week's episode, you can watch it for free at


John said...

“When he was finally able to go back 10 months (thanks to Walter's input) and find his fiancée before she drove off, a different outcome did occur, but it wasn't the one he wanted.”

I am not sure about that. I know initially he want to save her, but I think after Walter’s talk he went back in time to get the ending he got. They died in each other’s arms and that was enough.

I am not sure Walter is a man of God. Rather I think, he is a man in need of God, since Walter hopes he can be forgiven and God is big in that field.

Also, there is a typo in paragraph one. You mention Dr. Puck, not Peck.

TVFan said...

Nice catch, John. Thanks for letting me know about the Peck/Puck mix-up. All fixed. ;0)

I thought about whether or not Peck wanted the outcome that he got as well. After all, he did mail that tulip, so it's very possible that he took Walter's advice and chose a different outcome than he had originally planned. Definitely an interesting conclusion.