“The Rules” of Lost and Fringe

The Rules of Lost and Fringe

My two favourite shows came back from their respective hiatuses last week, both great examples of why Bad Robot are so good at what they do. Now, unlike Kirk Acevedo and many others, I don’t necessarily think that the two shows share the same verse. However, I was intrigued by the ominous mention of “The Rules” in last weeks respective episodes.

The rules on “Lost” are well documented to the avid viewer – they state that the past cannot be changed no matter what; Time-travel has laws which cannot be broken, because despite the fact that destiny is a “fickle b*tch”, she’s always got her eye on the ball. Oh, except when Charles Widmore changed those rules last season, when his merc, Martin Christopher Keamy, executed Ben’s beloved daughter, Alex. Brutal.

The “rules” on “Fringe” are far more ambiguous, but they’re becoming more apparent the further we journey down into the rabbit hole. According to “Mitch”, there are rules which explain his recent crooked actions (walking through walls, parasite infliction, teleporting David Jones out from his prison cell, infecting epidemiologists with viral, abducting Olivia – whew! Mitch has been busy!). He goes on to imply that there are “two sides” (hmm, that sounds familiar ;)), and that Olivia – the person whom they “saved” – has blown their one chance.

All very interesting. Generally, the rules thematic seems to signify a broader subtext – fate vs freewill. That’s clearly the case in “Lost”, where despite his claims that the past cannot be changed – “if it didn’t happen, it can’t happen” – Daniel Faraday has exerted at least some freewill by triggering a new memory in future Desmond’s head, due to his interaction with past-island-Desmond. Thus, the implication seems to be that even if you can’t change the past (which is still up for debate, in my opinion!), you can influence the future via an interaction in the relative past.

Oh but wait! The rules don’t even apply to Desmond because he’s “uniquely and miraculously special”. No wonder Penny went to the ends of the earth find him – he’s a keeper!

As for the rules that Mitchell mentioned, I think they date back as far as the “pattern” (which probably dates back as far as time itself); rules which have set the foundation for an eternal battle between various scientific groups, perhaps even mother nature herself – does she play dice? In the episode before the hiatus (“Safe”), Nina Sharp had similar urgency in her voice when she told her technician; “we’re up against highly motivated individuals”. Most of us assumed that she was referring to the David Jones and ZFT – whom the Loeb’s are affiliated with – but perhaps there’s a much bigger game going on, one in which mankind is not just playing the game..but where mankind is the game?

I always wanted to end on a cliff-hanger. Til next time 😉


  1. Jan says

    Excellent post, it really makes me think even more about deep layers of Lost and Fringe. It really seems that there is some sort of long bitter conflict between factions – often factions with science background (DHARMA, Widmore corp., Mittelos Bioscience in Lost and Massive Dynamic, ZFT and others in Fringe). I loved your references to science stuff too.
    Keep posting!

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  2. says

    Hi Jan – I’m glad you liked it 😀
    That’s a good point about all the different factions. Sometimes I forget just how many there are spread out across the two shows!

    Something that intrigues me about the factions in Lost is that some of them are incarnations or ‘off-shoots’ of the previous/rival faction; “The Others” embracing some of the D.I. way of life, Mittelos Bioscience being an off-island face of “The Others”. Even our dear Losties have, at times, resembled “The Others”.

    It makes me wonder whether these groups are actually fighting for the same thing (as indicated by Jack now working with Ben to get back to the island), divided only by philosophy?

    It will be interesting to see how the ‘sides’ form in “Fringe”, and what the consequences are of breaking the rules.

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