Fringe FBI Podcast Season 4 Episode 7

Frea, Jan, Lou, & Maximus get together after each Fringe episode in this temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast to discuss the Fourth Season of Fringe.

‘Wallflower’
 

The Need To Be Seen

Agenda:

1) Intros

2) Episode Easter Eggs  
3) Quick Thoughts 
4) RoundTable 
5) Ep Rating – out of 10 Genes
  [blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYLg5EEA width=”500″ height=”300″]

Intro Music: ‘One Headlight’ – The Wallflowers
Exit Music: ‘No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature’ – The Guess Who
Leave us feedback here or on Twitter:
Frea – @Frea_O
Jan – @happydayz3
Lou – @olddarth
Maximus – @mxpw999
Jan’s Wallflower Recap can be found at NiceGirlsTV

FBI Inc Podcast graphics designed by Frea_O

My written episode reviews can be found on this blog under my OldDarth handle. 

On the run all the time? A commuter? Listen to our portable version
via iTunes – Alternate Reality Version.

Advertisements

Review of Smart Pop’s The Psychology Of Dexter

The Psychology Of Dexter

Taken from the Smart Pop website ‘About’ page:


‘Smart Pop Books – On the best in Pop Culture Television, Books, And Film’

‘Smart Pop books is a line of smart, fresh funny essays on the best of pop culture tv, books, and film, with particular focus on science fiction and fantasy television and literature.’

From the back cover of Smart Pop’s The Psychology of Dexter book:

‘Millions of us are fascinated by unlikely hero Dexter Morgan – a character who constantly makes us question what being “normal” really means.  What makes Dexter tick? And what makes a show about a serial killer so appealing to those of us at home?

Think you know Dexter?  The Psychology of Dexter will make you think again.’




‘Get Inside The Head Of America’s Favorite Serial Killer,’ is the tagline on the book cover of Smart Pop’s collection of articles about Showtime’s long running series – Dexter.

How successful that mission is accomplished within the seventeen articles that comprise this book will invoke subjective responses from each reader.  In broad strokes the book does a superior job.  The deeper levels are more difficult to quantify because in reading the articles, like watching the show, the journey into Dexter’s mind forces one to hold a mirror up to their own. Which is not always a comfortable exercise.  Each of us has our comfort levels or filters that function at different levels.  Plus our facility for self deception is impossible to address or suppress ie  I could never be like Dexter!  

Many reasons are put forth in the articles in this book as to why viewers are drawn to a show about a serial killer.  Here are the main ones that draw me in:

1) The Dark Passenger  – we all have one.  The vast majority of us have learned how to sublimate it.  With Dexter we get to see it unleashed in a vicarious manner.

2) Social Commentary – the show can be darkly hilarious at times.  Dexter’s outsider observations of accepted normal behaviour are often dryly, darkly, hysterically funny.  ‘He taught me to golf.  I taught him how to kill.  I guess we ARE friends,’ is a paraphrasing of one example of Dexter’s comedic inner monologues.

3)  Justice: Vigilante Style – there is a poetic justice and satisfying emotional symmetry for viewers in seeing other serial killers meeting their ends at the hands of one of their own.  Not only is it satisfying on a base emotional level to have the bad guys meet their ends but to have it done with the tables turned on them so that they experience what their victims felt like, feels so appropriate.  Dexter’s killings may be the work of a serial killer but they feel like justice.

As the book points out, these are not the kind of thoughts that we share openly with each other.  Many refuse to entertain such thoughts, much less share them with others.  None will, however, deny that we all do possess a dark side.  

The articles in, ‘The Psychology of Dexter,’ are all written by psychologists and psychiatrists.  So every article in the book approaches Dexter from a scientific, objective viewpoint.  In Dexter’s case this is understandable given the show has provided ample material which can be studied and used as the basis for their theories.  Even more so, as noted in several of the articles, there is an unique ‘In,’ into Dexter’s mindset because of the dramatization of his inner monologue.

Dexter, naturally, receives the lion’s share of focus in the articles but there is a surprising amount of material about the other characters too.  Not too surprisingly Harry, as Dexter’s father figure and mentor, is often touched upon. Given how much importance is placed on personality development via nature versus nuture, Harry’s importance in Dexter’s development is expected.  

One of the more interesting articles, ‘Rethinking Dexter,’ by Lisa Firestone delves into the premise that Harry’s development of the Code for Dexter is built on a false assumption.  Harry believes that because of the childhood trauma Dexter faced with his mother’s murder that Dexter will be unable to contain his Dark Passenger permanently.  Sooner or later the Dark Passenger will find release and innocent people will die.  Hence Harry’s Code is formulated, funneling Dexter’s murderous tendencies to be used against only those that deserve it; those guilty of murder themselves.

The article further delves into Harry’s personality and suggests his narcisstic needs as a police officer frustrated by his inability to always get the bad guy were transferred to Dexter.  And to Debra as well.  Hence Harry’s ‘Code’ was created instead of seeking counselling for Dexter.  A fascinating article and a perspective that I must admit never occured to me.

Other chapters deal with Dexter’s ability to self delude, to lie without qualms, the psychology of his modus operandi of his kills, Dexter’s inability to feel emotions and empathize with others, how Dexter and his relationship with Harry affected Deb, and Dexter’s evolution of growth over the run of the series  – most notably his relationship with Rita which grew from a convenient cover to something real. There are other chapters that point out ‘normal’ is hard to define and continually evolves in response to social mores.

What the book never tackles, disappointedly, is the concept of good versus evil as palpable forces.  Sometimes people or things are bad for no objective, explainable reasons.  While Dexter certainly has mitigating factors as to how he turned out like he did,  some of the other killers he has run across, may or may not have such factors.  How do people with seemingly normal upbringings and loving parents etc become serial killers?  

Why do people enjoy watching Dexter and find him intriguing?  It may be akin to slowing down to survey a terrible traffic accident.  That, ‘Wow, that’s terrible.  It could have been me. Thank god it was them and not me,’ line of thinking.

Or maybe watching Dexter is a form of sanity check.  After watching the show and/or reading this book: we can all go to bed, turn out the lights, and enjoy a blissful slumber; comforted in the knowledge that our Dark Passengers are firmly under our control.

Or are they?

Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, And Mad Scientists

Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, And Mad Scientists

Taken from the Smart Pop website ‘About’ page:

‘Smart Pop Books – On the best in Pop Culture Television, Books, And Film’

‘Smart Pop books is a line of smart, fresh funny essays on the best of pop culture tv, books, and film, with particular focus on science fiction and fantasy television and literature.’

From the back cover of Smart Pop’s Fringe Science book:

‘Fringe has always been more than the sum of its parts-but its parts, too, are worth a closer look.  The show combines a surfeit of mad science, some old school sci-fi flair, and a dash of strawberry-milkshake whimsy to create the challenging, fascinating Pattern that keeps us coming back season after season and universe after universe.’

Smart Pop line of books are permeated with an aura that reflects a labor of love.  They are books dedicated to genre material filled with content created by and for fans.   Which is an excellent touch because knowing your audience is an enticing way to make a book attractive to your target market.

And who knows a fan better than a fellow fan?  That the fans that provide the content for Smart Pop books have expertise in an area of science or literature or media or all three or more is a sweet bonus.

Take the Fringe Science book for example and it’s eclectic mix of writers and the articles they have provided.  Not only are theoretical and practical sciences covered but articles about Fringe and how it relates to the roots of Science Fiction, be it written or filmed, are included .

Under the guidance of editor Kevin R. Grazier, whose background includes being a research scientist at NASA plus science advisor on shows such as Eureka and BattleStar Galactica, writers have been selected from such diverse vocations as Film Makers, Internet TV Reviewers, Historians, Cosmologists, and Cognitive Sciences Professors.

Like the show that they are writing about, the articles work best when they are crafted in a relatable manner where the topic is tied to the characters of Fringe. One of the articles, ‘ Parallel Universes,’ by Max Tegmark has been retooled from its previous publishing as a MIT article.  It remains dense with abstract concepts and, for this lowly reader, difficult to parse in relatable terms. Regardless, the possibilities raised by this article are mind blowing.

All told there are thirteen articles which are self contained and can be read in any order according to the tastes of the reader.

My personal favorite is, ‘Deja New,’ by Mike Brotherton, an astronomer and SF novelist. It is a timely article given the state of the show which is about to launch its fourth season.  ‘Deja New,’ is much the layman’s version of Max Tegmark’s article. Brotherton calls into duty, the rarely seen but always thought about, Schrodinger’s Cat along with Deja Vu to explore the Fringe stories of alternate realities and choices. Comparisons are made to the original Star Trek episode of, ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, SG-1, and Sliders.

Another highlight of the book is noted genre fiction writer and editor, Nick Mamatas with his cleverly titled piece, ‘Waltered States.’  In it, Mamatas compares Walter and Walternate to two noted men of the 1960s; Timothy Leary and Gordon G. Liddy, respectively.  Leary and Liddy were persons of diametrically opposed ideologies with little reason for the two to cross paths. Fate intervened and their lifes became intrinsically interwoven.  So too with Walter and Walternate.  Both sets of men are two sides of a coin. A coin that circumstances or Destiny or Fate have forced them to share.

The book is rounded out with articles on memory, time travel, diseases, neurotechnology, and the 1950s antecedents in film and television which form the foundation upon which Fringe rests.

If you are one that loves to ponder and discuss such topics then Smart Pop’s – Fringe Science is a book that you will want to incorporate into your reality.

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc) Podcast Review

Frea, Jan, Lou, & Maximus get together after each Fringe episode in this temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast to discuss the Fourth Season of Fringe.

‘And Those We Left Behind’
 

The Peter Paradox: Constant or Wild Card?

Agenda:

1) Intros

2) Episode Easter Eggs  
3) Quick Thoughts 
4) RoundTable 
5) Ep Rating – out of 10 Genes
  [blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYLew1gA width=”500″ height=”300″]

Intro Music: ‘In My Life’ – The Beatles
Exit Music: ‘Lunatic Fringe’ – Tom Cochrane – Symphony Sessions
Leave us feedback here or on Twitter:
Frea – @Frea_O
Jan – @happydayz3
Lou – @olddarth
Maximus – @mxpw999
Jan’s And Those We Left Behind Recap can be found at NiceGirlsTV

FBI Inc Podcast graphics designed by Frea_O

My written episode reviews can be found on this blog under my OldDarth handle. 

On the run all the time? A commuter? Listen to our portable version
via iTunes – Alternate Reality Version.

Fringe Ep. 4.06 Review

And Those We Left Behind
The Peter Paradox: Constant or Wild Card?
Hearkening back to Season Two’s, ‘White Tulip’, ‘And Those We Left Behind(ATWLB)’, is outwardly a high concept SF time travel episode. Both episodes Trojan Horse’d time travel elements to explore very human conditions which is when Fringe is at its best.
And both episodes are stories about lost loves.
With ‘Novation’inserting Peter gingerly back into the altered time line, this week’s episode expands on the implications and possible pitfalls of his return. Opening with a perfect day dream sequence we see Peter, wedding band visible, with Olivia and the swing setting Walter in a park. It is naturally all too perfect and ends on an ominous note with Olivia telling Peter there is a problem. 
‘He is a Fringe Event.’
And that problem is Peter.

With that, Peter’s mind set is laid out for the audience before the Case Of The Week(COTW) kicks in.  Often the best instalments of serialized television are those that directly involve one of the regular cast members –(for example, if anyone watches Castle with Nathan Filion you know what I mean). ATWLBis one of those exceptions as it does not directly involve any cast regulars – though indirectly Peter starts time jumping in very cool sequences midway through the episode. But the story line of the COTW so beautifully mirrors Peter’s current dilemma that it transcends the need for any direct connections.
Powered by the poignant acting duo of real life partners Romy Rosemount and Stephen Root, whom play Kate and Raymond respectively, we discover the root of all the time slips is a husband’s desperate time cheating gambit trying to save his wife from a terrible fate. A fate which in some ways is worse than death especially for someone whose mind is their greatest tool; a theoretical physicist. But as we have seen time and time again in this series, trying to cheat the natural order of things invariably has consequences. It happened to Walter. It happened to Raymond in this episode. And it is happening to Peter in this season. The extent of the ramifications of Peter’s actions have yet to be still fully determined.

Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments.

  • Touching opening – ‘A Perfect Day In The Day’ Peter dream sequence that adroitly lays out Peter’s mind set
  • ‘You, Peter. You are the problem.’
  • Walter on the swing
  • Olivia’s choice of jacket color for Peter – visual cue he does not fit in
  • Walter’s petulant ignoring behaviour around Peter
  • Time Bubbles – with no clear rules ie girl turns into baby yet mother is unaffected
  • Breach Detector from the RedVerse with, in Walter’s opinion, a poorly written instruction manual
  • Peter is a Fringe Event
  • Olivia keeping her distance from Peter
  • Intriguing – Peter unaware that he was showing up to Walter in the lab prior to his appearance.
  • Peter time jump sequences. ‘This could get annoying.’
  • Walter listening to Styx, ‘Too Much Time On My Hands’
  • The Fibonacci Golden Spiral
  • Cool Time Bubble special effects at Kate and Raymond’s house including FBI agent who turned to confetti
  • Peter The Constant! – Faraday Cage (A Lost reference for those not in the know.)
  • Olivia and Peter simultaneously volunteering to put on the Faraday Cage
  • Olivia’s grimace at the Faraday harness neck probe – nifty tie in to her Season 1 encounters with it
    Walter’s Spiderman Penny Pack
  • Raymond to Kate, ‘We Don’t Have Time!’ , ‘I lost you Kate. Lost you.’(More Lost echoes?)
  • The Walter Bishop Faraday Harness
  • Walter remark of grudging admiration that Peter is very smart
  • Kate’s equation blackouts = Peter’s erasure
  • Kate’s answer to Raymond’s anguished, ‘How do I repay you?’ – ‘Just love me & live your life.’
  • Peter believes his appearance allowed Raymond’s Time Bubble Machine to start working
  • Peter gets the house
  • ‘Do I get an allowance?’
  •  Is Peter’s belief that he is not in the right place correct?
The thrust of this episode lays out that Peter does not seemingly belong in this new time line. From Peter’s dream, to Walter’s ignoring behaviour, to Olivia’s work/personal barrier she has set up between her and Peter, to Broyle’s terming of Peter as a Fringe event, to the parallel of Peter’s presence versus the displacement effects of Raymond’s Time Bubble, and to Peter’s conclusion at the end of the episode that his presence is why Raymond’s Time Bubble Machine started to work; makes such a conclusion quite logical
But is Peter right in that belief?
His presence is not an issue of ‘Where’ but ‘When’. As Peter noted there seems to be much variation in the scope of what effects time distortions create. Peter also experienced said randomness first hand when he began time jumping midway through the episode. His quest to go back ‘home’ could have the opposite effect. The Time displacements could become worse instead of better.
The answer almost assuredly lies not just in scientific theorems but in the human heart too. The right answer may be as simple as home is where the heart is.
Kate Erases Herself.  Just Like Peter Did.
Science Fiction is at its best when it explores the unknown. Season 4 is definitely an exploration of that. During the journey the uncertainty experienced may not provide the comfort food type of television viewing that dominates the television landscape today. But the payoff at the destination can be huge. Fringe does what it name implies. It takes risks on the edges of story telling.
Given what we have seen so far from Fringe to date, not just this season but since the pilot, my expectations still remain that payoff will be huge.  It should be noted that the initial introduction of the RedVerse characters was met with resistance. The more we saw of them, the more they become fleshed out, and the more compelling they became, until they emerged as welcome new characters in the Fringe character universe. Now that is becoming more and more apparent that these new ‘old’ characters are not going away soon, even if they may turn out to have a finite shelf date, they too are becoming intriguing characters worthy of further exploration.
‘And Those We Left Behind’, mixes the extraordinary with everyday human elements. The mix of the two can create wonderfully, engaging stories.
This is an episode worthy of many rewatches. This is Fringe, pushing boundaries, at the top of its game.