Fringe‘s first season premiered in September 2008, created by masterminds J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. Often compared to The X-Files, Altered States, and The Twilight Zone, this sci-fi semi-procedural drama managed to combine great acting, lovable characters, and a plot that manages to be easy enough for avid fans to follow, yet complex enough to blow those same fans’ minds.
The Main Characters
Olivia Dunham: played by the amazing Anna Torv, is an FBI agent who takes it upon herself to help discover the cause for the unknown, oftentimes freaky and disturbing occurrences, fondly referred to as The Pattern.
Walter Bishop: award-winning John Noble takes on the formidable task of playing a genius who has spent the last 17 years of his life in a mental institution. His brilliance is often overshadowed by his scattered memories, quirky habits, including cravings for strawberry milkshakes, rhubarb pie, and redvines at the most inopportune times (often in the middle of examining a corpse). It is believed that some his past experiments with partner William Bell at their Harvard University Lab have been expanded and adapted by those behind The Pattern.
Peter Bishop: charming Joshua Jackson portrays Walter Bishop’s rogue son. With an IQ level of 190, Peter has spent most of his life conning people with his charm and brilliance, including forging an M.I.T degree in chemistry, after which he published several papers before being caught. His relationship with Walter can be considered tenuous at best.
The Observers: mysterious men who have appeared at important events in Earth’s history. They appear to have the power of telepathy. Not much is known about these fedora-wearing, hairless men.
Most of season one is filled with “monsters of the week.” Sightings of an unidentifiable animal or human with supernatural powers–often due to intentional DNA alteration–means a call to Olivia and her partner–first John Scott, then Charlie Francis–Walter, Peter, and Astrid, an FBI agent who acts as Walter’s lab assistant. It soon becomes clear that these monsters are not freak accidents, as they originally thought–someone is behind all of these attacks. However, altering DNA is nothing compared to what Walter is capable of doing. From “talking” to the dead, to shared dreams, this man can do it all. Except make the perfect strawberry milkshake.
The Pattern can often be traced back to Walter’s old lab partner, William Bell. Bell owns Massive Dynamic, the largest and most advanced biotechnology company ever (Imagine Apple, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds as one company… then multiply their power times a billion). As Bell is often out of the country, Massive Dynamic is run by his right-hand woman, Nina Sharp, played by Blair Brown.
Eventually, The Pattern leads them to David Robert Jones, a biochemist stuck in a German jail. He teleports his way out–with the help of his followers–and discovers the adverse side-effects to rearranging one’s cells. Desperate for help, he goes to The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, led by Agent Phillip Broyles–Olivia’s boss. At the same time, the Fringe team finds a manuscript believed to Jones’ “Bible.” Called ZFT (Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie), or the Destruction by Advancement of Technology in English, it speaks of a parallel universe–a world exactly like ours, but a little bit different–and the conflict between the two universes.
Jones claims that Olivia has the power of teleportation, which he proves by setting off a bomb which she must disable with her mind. It is later discovered that Olivia has these powers because she was drugged with Cortexiphan a child. Others who were part of the same drug tests as Olivia are soon discovered–among them siblings with pyrokinetic powers and Nick, a young man who can control other’s emotions. Walter finds a tape of himself and Bell with Olivia as a child, implying that he and Bell were the ones who had given them Cortexiphan. Walter also remembers that Bell wrote the ZFT.
Fringe fans eagerly anticipate–and dread–Fringe‘s season finale cliffhangers, as they are always big, unexpected, and tease enough information that we will be thinking about for months. Season one is no exception. Jones has stolen an energy cell, which he believes can open the doorway to the parallel universe. He succeeds in doing so–however, Peter manages to close the doorway with Jones halfway through, cutting him in half. Walter is seen tearfully visiting Peter’s grave, which states that he died as a child in 1985.
And after months of trying to get ahold of Bell, Olivia finally receives a call from Nina. She is to meet Bell in Manhattan. One her drive there, she is in an accident, but is uninjured. Bell welcomes Olivia into his office, where she reads the New York Times’ headline news: that Obama’s family is moving into the “New Whitehouse.” Bell then tells her to look outside his window. The camera pans out and…they’re standing in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Emily enjoys all mediums of speculative fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi–especially reading, writing, and watching them. A Fringe fanatic, she is convinced that one day she will meet her parallel self, aptly nicknamed Femily (Fake Emily), and save both worlds from their inevitable destruction.