“The Equation” provided yet more evidence of technology hybridizing realities and dreams, hopes and fears, obsessions and possessions. In a poignant scene, Dashiell tells Walter “it was all a bad dream!”, when referring to the experiences the ‘woman’ (Joanne Ostler) implanted into his mind. Throughout the episode we see the same thing happen to young Ben, tantalizing images of his mother fed into his brain, only they weren’t real. It was all fake to get him to crack the equation. Earlier in the episode we hear Walter singing “Row your boat” – a song which ends “life is but a dream”.This is the same song he referenced and sang at the end of episode 1.02 “The Same Old Story”, the very episode in which Olivia experienced a disturbing dream where Broyles suggested she might be pregnant with John Scott’s child.
The underlying theme – dreams, or rather, the intermingling of states, be it dream states, waking states, reality. Like a kayak, it seems that Fringe is sailing through these different states with purpose. It’s becoming clear that to truly understand Fringe, we might have to reconsider how we perceive reality in terms of the show. After all, what is true reality? Is it the perceived norms or is it experiencing the perceived impossibilities? Fringe is set in a world not too dissimilar from our own, where communication is not restricted by a bullet to the brain, where the consciousness can be shared even with the dead, where simply observing red and greed lights can result in a person observing too closely, yet not closely enough, as time jumps before their eyes.
With that said, it brings into question, who is the real Walter – is it the one we’ve come to know, or the “visitor” who appears to be a fragmentation of the original Dr. Bishop? Who are the real Observers, are they represented by the creepy bald guy, or by our Fringe team, ever altering the patterns that they come across? What is the real Pattern, is it the ruthless trail of scientific endeavour, or natures way of purging mankind by elevating our capabilities above our station?