Walter once said that mankind’s oldest ambition was the power to murder with the mind. Whilst this is probably more true that we’d care to admit, I disagree with him. Mankind’s biggest ambition is the ability to change the past, to undo what has been done, to re-write what is written.
Which is why the season finale — “There’s More Than One Of Everything” ended with a message of hope, of possibility. A fresh take on what life would be like if the history of our world was not set in stone, if things were different. Not only is Obama also President in the alternate reality, but the Twin Towers still stand — 9/11 seemingly didn’t happen in this sun-kissed world filled with orangey goodness.
At the start of the year I wrote about Fringe being a hopeful message in difficult global times. As the camera pulled back on the alter-reality Twin Towers I felt that sense of hope that the writers were trying to convey. It may not have been our world they were illustrating, but it was a reflection of possibility. The ‘there’s more than one of everything’ philosophy gives us all the opportunity to contemplate that no matter what, good or bad, we live it all – ‘we’, in some cosmic fashion, experience all that reality has to offer. What is fairer than that? To be one with everything and to be more than one at the same time.
It’s no wonder William Bell has been staying in the multiverse hotel – although we only saw a glimpse of this world, the intention [of the creators] was to make it seem more hopeful, exuberant and positive than either the main world of the show or the alternate reality that Olivia glimpsed in “The Road Not Taken”. It’s even less wonder that Belly was smiling from ear to ear – you see, it’s “such a lovely place”.
But there’s an old saying that holds true – “the grass is not always greener on the other side”. Although the Twin Towers stand proud and tall with the Statue of Liberty and the sun-kissed skies adding confidence to the scene, I’m left asking myself..why – why is Obama moving in to a “new” White House? What happened to the old one? I can only assume that much like our world, freewill is a tool that man also abuses in this alternate reality, causing in an alternative attack on the White House.
Is it better on the other side? Maybe, but in reality we’re all playing the Mutliverse Lotto.
The most touching aspect of the ‘more than one’ theme was the human element, and the confirmation that Walter had snatched Peter from another world after his original Peter died in 1985. This gave the multiverse concept a more balanced perspective. Because that’s the other side to the wishing well of reality – it springs eternal but resisting temptation was never mankind’s strong suit. The rights and wrongs over what Walter did by replacing his dead son with an copy from another world cannot be answered in a simple context – it boils down to perspective..and there’s always more than one of those too.
On the one hand Walter did it out of selfish reasons – he shattered the looking glass in an attempt to mend his broken heart. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but when fate wrongs you in this world, it must be hard not to cheat the system.
And what of Replacement Peter? — he has no memory of his love for collecting coins because it is not his own..neither is this world. It’s no wonder he’s a wanderer..a nomad, the poor guy is searching for his rightful place in our world.
But can we really blame Walter? The loss of a loved one, and a child at that, is probably the worst pain one could suffer. There’s no hiding place for such cutting grief, not in this world or an other. This series has made us question reality – it’s made us reconsider what is real and what is just a construct. So to lose the person who is the glue of that reality, the person who makes the blindfold worth wearing – well, it must be soul destroying. I cannot blame Walter for what led him to snatching Replacement Peter from another world, but I hate the idea, it doesn’t sit well with me. It’s kidnapping, it’s holding on to someone under false pretenses, it’s falsifying Peter’s reality. And now that Walter knows what he did, he has to own up to it. The loss of memory might have offered him comfort, but not now that he’s now fully aware of what he did.
There’s no easy answer though, how could there be? As Nicholas Boone said, “How far would you go for someone you love?” Probably the most sincere words in the entire season. Because, if we’re honest, most of us would go as far as it takes – it’s more a case of ‘what wouldn’t we do’.
Speaking of which, David Robert Jones was a man who was prepared to take advantage of there being more than one of everything:
“..These are the wrong co-ordinates. Try again please”
Indeed, Jones’ need to be THE ONE was never satisfied by William Bell. Because one is never enough, not when you know there’s better out there.
But this need to be special, this vengeance, this rivalry also illustrates the wider question – would the existence of other worlds with other versions of ourselves reduce mankind’s importance..its specialness? Would it make us question our faith, our spirituality, our science? What would it mean to be one of many and why is one not enough?
It’s these kind of questions that will hasten the “inevitable”, as the ZFT manifesto calls it – an us vs them conflict. “Them” being “us” – other versions of ourselves. Sure, the confrontation may be necessary due to the deterioration of the walls between realities, but when did mankind need an excuse to be the one and only?
That’s the thing, a lot of the time one is never enough, often it’s one too many..but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s all we need.