With one episode to go of Fringe’s first season, I decided to produce a highly speculative line-up of the sides at play and the players on each side. In usual play-on-words style, I’m calling it the A to ZFT of the Fringe Inter-Reality War (although don’t expect it to be in alphabetical order, that’s not how we roll in the alterverse). Please note that the following is purely speculative, spoiler-free and in the name of fun guess-work (with a bit of reasoning thrown in):
Phillip Broyles – Has fairly close ties with Nina Sharp and Massive Dynamic but I don’t believe he is on the books of ZFT. The main question mark that I have over Broyles is that he sent Olivia to the storage facility in the Pilot. The same facility where her lover and partner John Scott effectively met his end. It was this that really kick-started Olivia’s involvement in the Pattern (at least from our perspective). A ‘dying’ John Scott even made a point of suggesting that Broyles had an ulterior motive for sending her to Steig’s den. Maybe Broyles just has faith in Olivia and her ability to find solutions, or maybe he’s in deeper than we think — clearly he knows more than he lets on, as his frequent rendezvous (see booty call) with Nina indicate. For now though, I’ll say that he’s Fringe Division and has Olivia’s back.
Agent Olivia Dunham – A Cortexiphan kid, perhaps one of the very best. Her whole life has unknowingly been influenced by those childhood trials. Her skills of perception and foresight may actually be the result of these trials and everything she thought was her own might be something that someone did to her. But not just anyone — William Bell and Walter Bishop. I get the sense that she is a commodity for several factions – not just MD, ZFT or Fringe Division..but also David Jones and even the Observers. For now she just wants to save people and discover the truth about her origins. In later seasons I suspect her perspective might shift..and with it, the battle.
Peter Bishop – I believe that Peter is from another reality, that crazy expression in the picture above is all the evidence I need. Nah, in all seriousness I’ve laid down my speculation here, so I wont repeat myself. What I will say is that the truth about his origins, much like Olivia, will influence his perspective on the impending battle. He’s highly amoral, people always talk about Walter being amoral but Peter is almost equally so. The difference is that Peter’s morality kicks in when he sees parallels between his own childhood (or what he remember of his childhood) and the things that are happening around him. So he’s kind of self interested. Outside of that, this is the guy you go to when you want something done. You need a need to find the marble you lost when you were 5 years old? Peter has a guy.
Let’s also not forget that he owes a favor to Nina Sharp and Massive Dynamic. I have no doubt that at some point that favor will be cashed in. For now he’s Fringe Division, he’s got Olivia and Walter’s back, but this loyalty may well be tested in future seasons.
Dr. Walter Bishop – The man at the heart of so much, what a shame his mind cannot remember the events that have brought so many people to this point. I suspect that although Walter and Bell were friends (he calls him “Belly” after all), they may have had a difference of opinion over the role of science and technology in society. I believe that the Observer whisked Walter away at the end of 1.19 as part of an agreement they had many years ago – before he was sent to St. Claire’s. This may also involve the Observer saving Walter and Peter from the frozen lake of death. Walter may have sided with those from the other reality (assuming that the Observer is one of those people) and his loyalty to ‘our’ reality could be a conflicted one.
Walter didn’t need much persuasion to go with the Observer – could the be pieces of his memory coming back, or maybe its just an instinctive thing — similar to when he helped Baldilocks to hide the cylinder back in “The Arrival”? He also took his coat with him, perhaps he knows that he’s going somewhere extremely cold? Of course, the Walter we see today is in some ways a blank slate, a ‘tabula rasa’ who is at a new cross-roads – question is, which side will he ultimately choose? I suspect it will be whichever one has most helped his son.
Agent Astrid Farnsworth – At this stage I have no reason to believe that Astrid is from another reality or that she is a mole. Although I do expect the character to get fleshed out next season.
Agent Charlie Francis – In my opinion the writers changed the role of this character in the early knockings of the show. He’s gone from being highly dubious to being down right straight and narrow. Like Agent Farnsworth, I now see no reason for him to be a mole or anything like that. The show needs some trustworthy people motivated by human reasons — I think Charlie is one such person, as we saw from episode 1.16. He will continue to play a vital role in Olivia’s journey and may be the connect that she needs between reality and real.
ZFT – William Bell’s Group (incl. Massive Dynamic)
William Bell – He funds ZFT and seemingly wrote their manifesto. I suspect that he’s been “travelling” between dimensions hence why we are yet to see him anywhere except in the comic books. I have no doubt that some of Massive Dynamic’s technology originates from a world similar, but slightly ahead of our own – those of us who followed the show this time last year will remember that Massive Dynamic were originally called Prometheus Corp. It wouldn’t surprise me if MD stole “fire from the Gods”..or perhaps they are “Gods” themselves in another reality.
My guess is that we can take the Chapter of Ethics for it’s word – Belly believed that children were the future and that they needed to prepare those capable of handling abilities so that they could one day save our reality. However, how did Belly know this? I suspect that the future time-line of our own, or another reality, may have served as a prophecy – “what was written, will come to pass”.
Despite sharing a lab for many years I find it odd that Belly didn’t retrieve Walter from St. Claire’s. I also suspect that Walter and Belly have shared and exchanged consciousnesses at various times in their lives. I further predict that William Bell will inhabit more than one body during the course of the series. As way of even wilder speculation, I have a feeling that Bell is related to Olivia, though this may not be revealed for some time.
As for his immediate conflict (bear in mind that all I know is ‘when’ he will appear and nothing more), I believe that Belly’s ZFT is fighting against a rebel alliance inspired by the ZFT manifesto, but who disagree with Bell’s ZFT on several levels. I think this group is in part led by David Robert Jones (more on that below).
Of course, I am wary that Jones and Bell could be on the same side, a lot of the evidence points to this idea, but equally there’s evidence to suggest that Jones must be the fly in the ointment..the guy who will add a more immediate and internal conflict to the inter-reality war.
Nina Sharp – I’m going to go with the most obvious assumption that she is aligned with William Bell — although she might not be in total agreement with everything that he does. Her loyalty and determined defence of William suggest that she is quite literally his right hand woman – if he really did save her life then I can’t see her being in opposition to him. If she were, I doubt she’d still be at MD.
Sanford Harris – Whilst I suspect that he may actually have been working for Jones and not known it, logic suggests that he was indeed working for William Bell. The light test in the room with Nancy Lewis was almost the clincher that he was aligned with Jones, but I figure these tests are used throughout ZFT to test ability.
Nicholas Boone – low-ranking member who dissented from the movement after he realised the true nature of what his work would be used for. Ultimately killed in a sacrificial attempt to save his wife by giving her his own spinal fluid. He gave us a few important details, including that he had never heard of David Jones, and that William Bell funded ZFT.
Isaac Winters – Another low ranking member, assisting Harris in activating Cortexiphan kids, Susan and Nancy.
Jacob Fischer – Modified Joseph Meegar’s electromagnetic field to “unlock his hidden potential” – giving him the ability to generate electricity. He had a Massive Dynamic poster in his facility and was about to drop Meegar off to a mysterious client before Olivia busted him. That client was probably MD – Occam’s Razor.
Clause Penrose – manufactured rapid growing clones, seemingly for Massive Dynamic as 1.02 revealed several clones of his ‘son’ Christopher Penrose sleeping in MD tanks.
Elliot Michaels – posed as a Child Services agent in an attempt to take the Child, 1.15. He spoke to someone on the phone, telling them: “We’ve found another one [Observer]” (words to that effect). Coupled with Nina’s anxiety of the Observer in 1.19, I think Elliot may be on Team MD (or Team ZFT).
ZFT – Rebel Alliance
David Robert Jones – I am of the opinion that David Jones is part of a separate sub-group within ZFT. He may have been aligned with Bell at one point but I believe their differences have made them rivals. Possible evidence comes in the form of Jones testing Olivia for Cortexiphan. I don’t think he’d need to spinal tap her if he were on the same side as Bell, seeing as Bell must surely remember Olivia as Olive. My guess is that Jones (or whoever he answers to) is trying to build his own army, and he’s recruiting Bell’s Cortexiphan kids by activating them..
Of course, I completely accept the possibility that Jones and Bell are on the same page, but we also have to factor in Nicholas Boone’s testimony that he’s never heard of David Jones. Again, this adds credence to the idea that the group are divided. Both sides may believe in the message of the manifesto, but their interpretation may differ. We also have to consider why the German version of ZFT had the “Chapter of Ethics” removed. Would Belly want this chapter omitted? It would seem that without the ethics chapter, someone, possibly Jones, could use the manifesto in a very different light than it was originally intended.
Mitchell & Samantha Loeb – We know that the Loeb’s and Jones were working together — it was Mitchell who Dis-rey’d him out of Germany to Little Hill. It was also Mitch who arranged for Olivia to be kidnapped on Jones’ behalf so that they could test her for Cortexiphan. Mitch said two interesting things; he told Olivia that they were “saving” her, which could be interpreted in many different ways, including the possibility that they were saving her from a future path — perhaps they didn’t want another side to get hold of her? Or, perhaps, they wanted to give her something to help her to control her soon-to-be-activating abilities? Mitch also told Olivia that Jones was just “a part of the army”. This undercuts Jones status somewhat and suggests that he is not at the top of the tree. Perhaps this deflates my ZFT split idea, but then again, perhaps not. Jones could still be one of many and separate from Bell’s ZFT. For all we know the ZFT might be divided across realities — in which case we could have a situation where Alter-Walter is the head of a rebel ZFT movement. This is over-complicating things though, so for now I’ll stick to the logical assumptions.
David Esterbrook – I don’t think that he’s MD or part of Bell’s ZFT, simply because Nina was delighted to have him out of the picture when she aided the Fringe Division on busting him (1.06). But I do believe he was part of a significant group due to the aleph that he was wearing – the same aleph that was seen on the raft in Olivia’s dreamscape. So I’ll say he’s connected to Jones’ group.
- Olive/Olivia – Innocent victim. Destined Warrior.
- Nick Lane – Innocent victim. Had a natural disposition to be experimented with Cortexiphan.
- Nancy Lewis – Innocent victim. Had a natural disposition to be experimented with Cortexiphan.
- Susan Pratt – Innocent victim. Had a natural disposition to be experimented with Cortexiphan.
- There are others – [to be revealed in later seasons, I suspect]
NSA / Govt.
- John Scott – Also worked for the FBI. Remembered by most as a national traitor, but in reality he was part of a secret government group tracking groups like ZFT.
- George Morales
- Daniel Hicks
- Marshall Bowman
The Observer – From a world similar to ours but slightly ahead in terms of development, technology, science, etc. I believe that his role is to observe events, specifically pattern-events and our heroes in relation to those events. At times he intervenes, as he did when he saved the Bishop’s from the lake in the 80’s (although this is only Walter’s account we have to go on). I believe that he may be here to scout the progress of our reality and to see how accurate their account of expected outcomes will be. He may also be changing reality just by observing.
Alternatively, he may be a peace-keeper, or a ‘referee’ of sorts. That said, Nina’s anxiety at his increasing appearances seems to confirm that he’s one of the “denizen’s” from a parallel world with which a battle is being fought – an us vs them tea party. I suspect that Walter is helping him because ‘our’ Peter is actually from the Observer’s reality. For me, this would be a fantastic conflict for Walter to face and it would make Peter an extremely important character, whilst ensuring that his relationship with his father becomes even more layered.
Rogue (AKA John Mosley) – I’ve always believed him to be another type of Observer. The green/red color pattern on his hat seemed to suggest that he was either from the Observer’s world (who also had the same pattern on his binoculars), or a similar reality. My alternative theory would be that he was working for Massive Dynamic in a bid to obtain the cylinder.
The Child – I’m assuming, for obvious reasons, that he’s a child Observer. I’ve already posted my thoughts on the youngster here and here. [It seems more than likely that we’ll meet more Observers/parallel reality folks in later seasons].
- Gerrard /Ziegler – I’m having difficulty deciding who these two (from “The Ghost Network”) are connected to. They could be an independent group, or they could be part of a larger, focused army. The encryption keys connect them to Massive Dynamic to some extent but it’s unclear whether they were working for or against MD. I could easily seem them being part of Jones’ gang (under my assumption that Jones is part of a rebel alliance), but I’ll say they were MD related.
- Dr. Sumner – If Sumner and St. Claire’s are to be connected to anyone then I’d have a guess at Massive Dynamic/William Bell.
- Alter-folks – I’ve long believed that there are ‘counterparts’ in other realities. However I wont go into this too much, just bear in mind that future seasons may give us alternate versions of our main characters (similar to what we saw in 1.19).
- Robert Bishop – I’ve posted some thoughts on Robert here. I thought he wrote the ZFT manifesto, I thought he’d become a big player in the history of the pattern (etc). It appears I was wrong, but we’ll see what happens in future seasons.
I’m sure I’ve missed out a few players, but I’ve tried to focus on the main people/groups. The problem that I see with the above speculation is that I’ve taken a major gamble by assuming Jones is not working with Bell. If it turns out they are on the same page then this pretty much all falls down. However, it’s all just for fun and I’m due a fall in the theories department. 😉