The most recent episode of FRINGE, Immortality, left me disgruntled and started me thinking. Days later, it is still on my mind so here I spew another long post on FRINGE. Cue the offbeat and ominous music track…
*****Warning! Spoilers ahead. If you are a FRINGE fan and have not seen the latest episode, you might need to stop reading now. *****
OK, so they went THERE with the plot. I’m not happy about it, but hey, I can live with a plot twist that isn’t to my liking. What I really want to rant ..er, take a moment to talk about is building characters over time, making realistic villains, and building viewer sympathy.
I simply can’t accept the blatant attempts to make Fauxlivia and Walternate sympathetic characters. Clearly, the show creators want fans to be fond of both universes, to make it harder for us to choose when the universes are in jeopardy at some point in the future. That’s fine. Investing the viewers in two sides of a struggle can make for great drama. I have no problem with that. But…
We can be invested in Fauxlivia and Walternate’s universe without liking those two characters. I actually like Lincoln, Charlie, Frank, Broyles’ family, Henry, just about every innocent person on that side. Why oh why would they think we need to think Fauxlivia and Walternate are not so bad? What’s next? Are they going to try to make us like let’s-cut-out-her-brain Brandon? Arg! So not happening. Yes, it is more realistic and powerful to have villains with relatable motivations. They already had that. Walternate lost a child. Fauxlivia is trying to save her universe. We don’t need more than that to understand that they might have started out good or have a few god motives for their dastardly deeds. There is no doubt that they are the bad guys in the piece. Not just opponents, but really…bad…guys.
Let’s pause and look at what we saw in Immortality and see if it really shows the characters in a new light or if this is just shenanigans.
Poor Fauxlivia is in love with Peter who claims to hate her and now she is losing her fiancé.
Does this build sympathy? Not if you look at her actions over the long term and how she got into her situation. Has she behaved ethically? Should we forget that she cheated on Frank with the unsuspecting Peter? I’m not buying the ‘in the line of duty’ argument when she could have accomplished her mission without doing that. Besides she admits loving Peter. I daresay she shouldn’t have accepted Frank’s marriage proposal in the first place. At least, not without confessing a little first. She’s just getting her comeuppance in my opinion, but that isn’t how the episode was played. I call shenanigans on this one.
Poor Fauxlivia in danger of an icky bug death.
This episode also put her in physical peril. Did I care? No, I did not. The bugs could have her, for all I care. Harsh? Again, you have to look at the character over time. She isn’t just another gal doing her job. Are we supposed to forget the harmless deaf boy she killed in Olivia’s kitchen? How she then seduced Peter on the sofa to distract him from the blood on the floor? What about the woman in the bathroom at the train station? An innocent woman walks into the bathroom and Fauxlivia and the shapeshifter kill her to facilitate their escape. Couldn’t they have just made a run for it? Or really used her as a shield? Fauxlivia takes the easy way. She might not start her day asking what evil thing she can do that day, but she has no problem doing evil when the opportunity presents. Asking me to care about her is just too much.
Walternate goes ooey-gooey.
We also see Walternate having some fear, anxiety, and self doubt for the first time. For me it just made him a little more pitiful, not more sympathetic. And please note that he was confessing his doubts to his MISTRESS.
Walternate says no to hurting kids.
On to Walternate, who we see draw the line at experimenting on children—something the good Walter did in his past. Did this change how anyone saw the character? He won’t experiment on children, glad to hear it. It is a good line to draw in the sand. But he has killed countless innocent people for his science and in his attacks on the other universe. Count-less! Are we supposed to forget that he sent Fauxlivia over to deceive and manipulate his son? That he turned brutally on Broyles for his perceived disloyalty? That he ordered Olivia’s brain cut out? I can see why you might argue that he is just ruthless about trying to save the world. But I say, he is not just misguided he is maniacal. His line in the sand is way too far into the bad guy territory.
What do you think? Can a few positive character traits or a moment of hurt or weakness be enough to influence the way you view a character? Are some things too evil to forgive or too good to overlook?