Science & Redemption – Singles Together

Two singles together. When I think about it, it’s a pretty apt description of the theme running through episode 1.18 “Midnight”.

The best moments from the episode featured two of these ‘singles’ together in the Lab – Walter Bishop, a man of science separated from his memories, and Nicholas Boone, a fellow scientist who no-longer recognises the spinal-juice sucking vampiress that used to be his wife. Quite a fall for both men. As is often the case, there’s a kind of symmetry in that both men have been punished for their scientific explorations. Whilst Boone was punished for being a ZFT dissenter, Walter also received punishment for the death of his former lab assistant. One also wonders whether Walter’s punishment was ‘engineered’. As I touched at the end of the previous episode, I think there’s more to Walter’s St. Claire’s incarceration than meets the eye. I suspect that he either intentionally sacrificed 17 years of his life, or someone punished him for not being fully committed to the cause. But that’s speculation for another day.

Nicholas’ fall from grace was literal. Deprived of his legs in his bid to save the love of his life – made to pay the ultimate sacrifice, both in losing his wife, and ultimately in losing his life. Yes, ZFT are quite the twisted show-offs. It would have been far to easy to get retribution against Nicholas himself when they could demonstrate Boone’s own contagent on his own wife. This is the kind of fortitude that truly makes ZFT a terrifying outfit. On the surface, they seem to have no ethics, no altruistic purpose..they commit acts of scientific chaos, yet their manifesto warns of technology and science going out of control. They inflict so much pain on the innocent and on their own, and yet they say the war on the visitors is not one of anger? I’d hate to see ZFT angry if this is just them showing off!

David Jones

Though I am beginning to suspect that either they are schizophrenic, or they themselves are not entirely ‘singles together’. Could there be a division in the ZFT ranks? Hmm..

Most intriguing though was Boone and Walter’s talk of redemption. Two men of science speaking of judgement and God. Their little conversation was quite interesting:

Boone “Do you believe there is such a thing..the soul?”

Walter: “There are days when I wish I did. There are days when I wish I didn’t.”

Science & RedemptionAs a man of science, Walter’s mixed feelings about accepting the existence of the soul is quite understandable. Accepting the existence of the soul can be rewarding and comforting..the human soul is perhaps the one thing that science cannot fabricate or recreate – our connection to God, if we seek it. But on the other hand, the soul offers a tantalizing chance for redemption, an opportunity to put right the wrongs. For a man like Walter this must be quite a dilemma, to know that there’s still time to change. Because change is probably the most difficult thing to do, especially once you’ve discovered things that man shouldn’t know. Do you sacrifice that pursuit over something so intangible? For Walter, and those like him, to make that sacrifice must be like sleeping with the light on – choosing the close one’s eyes to the possibilities that lay ahead.

And how about the other part of this equation – Walter’s soul mate, William Bell. Two men who once shared a lab – singles together, perhaps in more ways than one if you believe that Walter’s mind isn’t completely his own. Walter equates the different paths that their lives have taken as being “quite a fall”. He said it with such sincerity that I couldn’t help feel sorry for him. Success is often measured by superficial results – money, power, etc. But I don’t think Walter needs to feel inferior to Belly. Walter has surely taken the long way round but his journey isn’t over just yet. He still has the opportunity to redeem himself, to put right past wrongs, to reinvent himself and perhaps most importantly, to rebuild his relationship with his son. Walter is at a cross-roads and it’s now up to him to choose which path he wants to go down.

Science & RedemptionAs I mentioned previously, redemption has to be a personal choice, and it will boil down to what Walter wants out of life. He’s clearly open to concepts beyond science, otherwise he wouldn’t have carried around a Bible in 1.08, nor would he even be talking about redemption and things of that nature with such sincerity. I do wonder though, where does Belly stand in relation to all of this, and why did he not take Walter out of St. Clare’s during those 17 years? The richest man in the world, whose power possibly transcends worlds, let alone borders, would surely have the ability to pluck his old chum from the gates of hell if he so chose. Did Belly prefer to be a man apart? As for Boone’s redeeming act – telling Olivia the truth about William Bell’s involvement in ZFT before he died. Was this enough? Can science and redemption go together? Only God knows.


  1. says

    What an excellent post. Very well written. The redemption theme is one that intrigues me quite a bit. When I think about the title for tonight’s episode, “The Road Not Taken”, it makes me think about choices that have brought one to a certain place in life. As Walter and Dr. Boone (and maybe Belly) reach moments of reflection regarding their lives and their work, I imagine that redemption must be a recurring thought. Perhaps not for Belly. Hopefully we’ll find out.

    I think that it is very likely that Belly and Walter traveled the road together for some time until it diverged in a way that brought them apart. They each took a different road and that has made the difference in their current state.

    I wonder which path each will take from here. I can’t wait to see tonight’s episode and the finale next week.

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  2. Elliot says

    Well said. This is a beautiful theme in Fringe, isn’t it, nicely understated but underlaying much of the show.
    Walter’s reprieve is giving him a chance at earning his way back into his son’s life, and into that society that has other people in it. And it has been great to see his journey; first dismissive of Peter’s questioning his ethics, now he is questioning them himself. Noble really makes Walter believable in these scenes. It will be intersting to see if Bell has any such epiphanies.

    I’ve wondered if Walter was damaged & “stashed” at St. Clare’s to prevent him continuing with, or interfering with others using, his former work, but not killed so whoever did that could still have access to him later. Sumner’s creepy interest in having him back underscored that for me. He seems ethics-free enough to be ZFT.

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  3. Bob from Cape Cod says

    Interesting post. I had previously thought that Singles Together referred to the quantum effect called entanglement.

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