SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Awake; Lost-Style Reset on Once Upon A Time?; Mad Men, The Beatles, and Rory Gilmore; Damage to Manhattan from The Avengers; Why Companions on Doctor Who Are Usually Young Women

The season finale of Fringe, Brave New Worlds, could easily have been the series finale if the show was not renewed. While there will always be questions remaining on Fringe, the major story lines of the season were resolved. Knowing both of September’s warning and that Olivia was the source of power needed by William Bell, it came as no surprise that Olivia was shot. We also know that death is not necessarily permanent on Fringe, and her recovery due to high levels of cortexiphan around her brain was also predictable.

The season finale set up the situation for next season which we saw in Letters of Transit. We learned that Olivia was pregnant, William Bell was still around (explaining why he was in the Amber), and received the warning at the end of the episode that “They’re coming.”

Things will probably be more complex. Olivia seemed to hesitate before telling Peter that she was pregnant. At the time I was wondering if Olivia would say something suggesting she no longer had her old memories of Peter (or feelings for him). There is clearly something which Olivia held off on saying.

Was the timing of this warning just after William Bell’s failure to start a new universe for dramatic effect to set up the next season, or was there a connection between Bell’s actions and the plans of the Observers? Multiple explanations are possible. Perhaps the Observers had planned to live in Bell’s new universe and decided to conquer our world after this failed. Perhaps Bell knew of the plans and this was his attempt to save humanity the fate of living under oppressive rule by the Observers. Perhaps the Observers justified taking over the earth as a means of protecting them from mad scientists such as William Bell.

TV Guide has an interview with J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner on how the season finale leads into season 5:

“They are coming!” Can we assume that the “they” is the Observers, and you’re lining up with what we saw in 2036?
J.H. Wyman: Yes.

Are you going to stay in the current timeline, or will we see some flashing forward and backward next season?
Wyman:
Well, let’s say that basically 2036 is extremely important to Season 5. It’s crucial, but having said that, everything that you have seen in Fringe from Season 1 all the way to 4 is really, really, really, really important to what’s going on in Season 5, and 2036 is part of that. It’s a 13-episode sprint; there’s no filler episodes. It answers some very bold questions. It culminates with a very satisfying type of crescendo that really is so important for the fans, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the only thing that’s really important is to make sure that they feel absolutely satiated.

Because Olivia did technically die in the finale, does this mean that was the moment September had envisioned? And, will she always heal rapidly and now never die?
Wyman:
At the end of every season, we close a chapter, and you’ve heard us say that before, but this chapter being closed is a gentle closing for a reason.  We wanted to allow the characters to be in the emotions that they fought for and deserved and allow them to experience a little bit of peace and understand where they are.
Jeff Pinkner: Part of the answer to your question is yes, Olivia healed because of all the cortexiphan. At the end of Season 4, as Walter said on the screen, because of the wildly activated cortexiphan in her body, this experiment to heal her brain tissue would work.  Because that’s not constantly the case, because that’s just a fleeting condition, absolutely, she could be killed.
Wyman: They don’t know if anything is over.  So they’ve been given that warning. I think that it’s best to have the audience not know either and be with them in that trepidation of going forward, going, “Well, maybe.” That’s more like real life, isn’t it?

Especially because the “X Man” who was supposed to kill her — as we saw in last season’s trippy animation episode — wasn’t very obvious.
Wyman:
Basically, when Walter was going through the Nanites. From that episode when she was in William’s head, she said, “I know that’s the man who’s going to kill me.” She had a feeling that when she was in William Bell’s head, that there was a man and it manifested itself as a character in William Bell’s head in the comic that they’re experiencing and it had that emblem on it.

Then, ultimately, in this episode, you saw in the in the Nanites they had the emblem on it. When Walter recognized that that was William Bell’s creation by that mark, because that was the mark that William used to mark things with. So really, in a sense, it was William Bell who killed Olivia. You could argue, saying when she came out of William Bell’s head, she said, “That’s the man who’s going to kill me,” it was actually William Bell.

Now that Olivia is pregnant, will she worry about putting herself in the line of fire, or will Peter be worrying about her?
Wyman:
You’ll probably understand that a lot more when you see Season 5, without spoiling stuff. That’s not something that’s going to be examined in the way you just laid it out. But keep in mind that in Fringe, when we say, “There’s going to be a love triangle,” it’s a weird show, so you can have a love triangle with two people, like two Olivias in the love triangle. So we can do some pretty freaky things, but it’s not going to be big issue.

Can we look forward to seeing the two universes bridged back together again? I actually like the other side now!
Wyman:
We really appreciate you saying that because I think, no secret, that it was a really tough endeavor for us to actually introduce that. We fell in love with them and we were hoping that the fans would and we’re so glad to hear when people say that they missed them.
Pinker: We had a conversation with Fox earlier in the season while we were closing the door, one of our Fox executive partners said, “I was so sad.  I had tears in my eyes when we closed the door, and we said, “Yeah, these were characters that you never wanted us to introduce in the first place because you were afraid that nobody would care about them.”  She said, “I was so wrong.”
Wyman: Everything is a possibility on Fringe.

Will Walter feel a sense of responsibility for William Bell trying to destroy the two universes? Is that something he will be dealing with next season?
Wyman:
We’ve always said that science is science and knowledge is knowledge; it’s how you use it that’s the evil. So while I don’t think he feels responsible, there’s many lessons Walter is learning and has learned since the first time we met him. If anything, it’s going to actually make him very positive that he did the right thing all those years by cutting a portion out of his brain.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, and hubris out of control like that is surely the end. Every civilization that’s ever fallen basically is because of some sort of hubris. It’s the overreaching of man, which is a huge, huge, huge thing in science fiction. How much knowledge is too much knowledge? He just feels, at this point, that they’ve made it through and averted this incredible disaster.

Before Olivia revealed to Peter that she was pregnant, she seemed to hesitate. Is there something she saw or something she learned when she died that will play into next season?
Wyman:
You’re very perceptive. Let’s just say you will understand the hesitation.

There’s an indication that the Fringe Division will grow next season. What can you tell us about that?
Pinker:
You will see changes, but you will see things that are familiar, as well.  I know that’s a terrible answer, but the truth is, I just can’t say in specificity what exactly is going to happen.

Now that you know this will be your final season, what are you guys doing differently in your approach?
Wyman:
We’re so thankful. Four years of everybody working incredibly hard, people have put their heart and soul in this show, and by some amazing miracle, we get a chance to get more canvas to paint on, and it’s like the biggest thrill and honor, and we’re just going into it knowing that we’re very fortunate.

The main concern is in no way shape or form are our fans going to be let down. That makes us feel really good that they’re going to be able to see a conclusion that is emotional, that is epic, that is going to make sense, that they can emote with and go through our characters and watch them on their final journey and put this show away in a manner that is worthy to all the hours they’ve invested in our characters. The only thing it does is make the pencil be a little bit more sharp, that’s all.

Leonard Nimoy says he returned to Fringe largely due to enjoying the idea of playing a villain, and might return next season.

Two additional genre shows deal in different ways with alternate realities–Awake and Once Upon A Time. Last week’s episode of Awake, Say Hello To My Little Friend, had Britten unconscious in the Rex world. He spent most of the episode in the world where his wife remained alive, unable to return to the other world until he figured out that the little friend he was having visions of was actually another police office who was involved in the conspiracy to kill him. Realizing there was a conspiracy sets up the two-part series finale.

There were a number of points of significance in this episode. It now looks more certain that the conspiracy was part of both worlds, but there is still no explanation as to why we have only seen talk of finishing the job in the Hannah universe should he not move to Oregon. Visions were once again a key part of an episode and the visions of Detective Hawkins were not completely limited to information which was already in Britten’s head. In one scene, the vision of Hawkins told Britten that the real world version of himself was outside, giving Britten information he otherwise would not have had. Another aspect of the series which has never been explained is timing in the two worlds. After living through a Monday in one world and going to bed does Britten then live through Monday in the other? In this case, Britten spent a long time in the Hannah world and then returned to the Rex world right after he passed out, by now on a previous day.

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Once Upon A Time moves between our world and a fairy-tale world, where the stories are sometimes different from those we have heard. Since the start of the show I’ve feared that the premise could not survive several years, as should Emma ever be successful the story would be over.  Over time the format could get tedious if we always knew that Emma could not reverse the curse. However, the show comes from the creators of Lost, raising speculation that there could be real game changers to rejuvenate the show each season. This is suggested in the video interview with Raphael Sbarge above. The show’s co-creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz also suggested a Lost-style reset in this interview:

TVLINE | What other drama is going on in Storybrooke outside of the Henry thing?
KITSIS | All of the stories in Storybrooke are going to be stemming from Henry falling.
HOROWITZ | They all kind of converge around that pivot point. And the intensity does grow.

TVLINE | How is August doing? Is he flipping through termite control ads?
HOROWITZ | We do check in on August and his condition, and that does play a part in the finale. Everybody’s agendas – Regina’s, Gold’s, August’s – all sort of intertwine around this crisis point.

TVLINE | What is Mr. Gold’s particular take on the Henry situation?
KITSIS | We got his take in the last episode, where Regina says she came up with a sleeping curse, and he says, “All magic has a price.” So… magic has a price! It’s just a question of who pays it.

TVLINE | We’ve kind of come full circle on the Snow White story – she’s bitten the apple, and in the pilot Prince Charming rescued her. Or will the fairytale land be subject to a finale twist of its own?
KITSIS | The finale will kind of tie up some loose ends to their story, and at the same time present a new avenue for Season 2. But…. Well….
HOROWITZ | “We don’t want to tell you,” is what it is. [Laughs]

TVLINE | I guess my bigger question here is: Should we prepare for some Lost-style “reset”? Will this be an instance of the playing field changing Sunday at 8:59 pm?
HOROWITZ | How the audience perceives it, we can’t anticipate, but for us it does change the playing field. We like to think what we’re doing is evolving the show so that it remains true to what it’s been this year, but it takes a step forward into something new.
KITSIS | I feel like the best way to experience the finale is to say, “What the hell are they going to do?”
HOROWITZ | And one of our other goals with the finale – you’ll tell us whether we succeed or not – is that at the end of it you say, “What the hell are they going to do next?”

TVLINE | Will the finale introduce any new players to the canvas?
KITSIS | It will introduce some new… story ideas. But as far as new characters, if you’re talking, like, Michelle Rodriguez showing up at the end of a Lost finale, no. That’s not to say there won’t be new characters next year; but this finale is about the characters we’ve introduced.
HOROWITZ | And there may be some old characters seen in a new way.

TVLINE | What gamut of emotions will viewers be going through during, say, the final 60 seconds?
KITSIS |All of them.
HOROWITZ | Our hope is that in those final moments, there is a combination of satisfaction and also intense surprise.
KITSIS | The emotion you’ll be feeling is, “Holy, holy, holy s—t.”

The Beatles have been mentioned on Mad Men in the past, but this week they managed to have a Beatles song played during the show. While Matthew Weiner has denied the exact figure, there has been speculation that it cost around $250,000 to get the rights to play Tomorrow Never Knows during the episode. Different articles on the subject quoted prices between $50,000 and $100,000 as typical for getting song rights for a television show. If Mad Men is going to provide a strong presentation of the 1960’s, it makes sense to pay what it takes to include the Beatles, considering  how important they were to music of the era.

The big question after last week’s episode, beyond how they got the rights to a Beatles song, was why Rory Gilmore would hook up with Pete Campbell. Pete showed how creepy he could be when he returned to her house with her husband, but at least this was not as bad as when he tried with that high school student in a recent episode. You would think he would be satisfied with Alison Brie.

The Avengers showed considerable destruction in Manhattan (with much of it occurring just down the block from a hotel on 5th Avenue where I had stayed a few years ago). The Hollywood Reporter obtained the opinion Kinetic Analysis Corp., one of the leading disaster-cost prediction and assessment firms in the nation, as to the cost of the damage:

In an exclusive report for THR, KAC, led by Chuck Watson and Sara Jupin, employed computer models used for predicting the destruction of nuclear weapons and concluded that the physical damage of the invasion would be $60 billion-$70 billion, with economic and cleanup costs hitting $90 billion. Add on the loss of thousands of lives, and KAC puts the overall price tag at $160 billion.

For context, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cost $83 billion, Hurricane Katrina cost $90 billion, and the tsunami in Japan last year washed away $122 billion.

Although many buildings in the fight’s East Midtown arena suffered extensive structural damage, most were limited to the more superficial destruction of windows, facade and some interiors. Those buildings that had their tops crushed, though, would be especially costly and time-consuming to fix, as would be Grand Central Station, through which a warship crashed.

“The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive, depending on the subsurface damage to the subway system,” KAC notes. “Although such damage is unlikely, as the 9/11 events showed, collapsing buildings can cause significant damage to subsurface infrastructure such as gas, communications and electrical systems. Detailed site surveys will be required to assess the state of the subterranean infrastructure.”

KAC also predicts that liability would be a major issue. Who, exactly, will have to pay for the damage? S.H.I.E.L.D., they note, is likely protected as a government agency, though probes eventually will look into its role in predicting, preventing and responding to the invasion — just as they looked into the Ghostbusters.

“Most insurance policies have special provisions for acts of war, civil unrest or terrorism,” KAC adds. “Given the involvement of individuals considered deities in some cultures (Thor, Loki), there is even the potential to classify the event as an ‘act of God,’ though that designation would be subject to strenuous theological and legal debate.”

Watson said he was surprised by a lower-than-expected total. “Compared to the aliens in Independence Day, for example, these guys were amateurs,” he told THR. “Of course, the Chitauri/Loki alliance were more interested in conquest and ruling, whereas the ID aliens were just looking for lunch or something.”

Despite the damage, The Avengers has helped in the sale of one type of food–Schwarma. If you saw the movie and do not understand this, you failed to stay for both scenes during the credits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EgB6IVsuc0A#!

Craig Ferguson is returning to Scotland for a week of shows. From the promo it looks like he might have used a TARDIS to get there.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have left the TARDIS. Here is a video of them leaving the set of Doctor Who for the last time. Jenna-Louise Coleman will be taking over. Steven Moffat has commented on the next companion, and what type of person becomes a companion:

Moffat has said that while the new character will “shock”, there will be familiar elements. He said: “I’ll answer you in the show about how it’s going to be different. But because it is going to be different. It’s going to be a shock, I think. In terms of the companions all being ‘the same’ – that’s not as phony or artistically crap a thing to say as it sounds.

“What is the base group of people who would run away with the Doctor? They’re all going to be a bit mad. A bit dislocated. Not happy with where they are. Are they yearning for outer space? They’re going to be people who feel like they can take on the Doctor, who’s quite an intimidating sort of person. So, they’re going to be feisty – they’re going to be all those things. He sort of defines the people who are going to travel with him. The distinction comes very much from the various actors and actresses. So, you know, they’re the ones who create the differences between them. But you are always going to have the same sort of person, just because it’s the same man choosing them, and it”s the same person being chosen.”

Moffat also addressed the trend for the companions usually being young women. He said: “I think the function of a companion is pretty simple. I don’t think that’s very difficult. It’s just a question of who credibly is going to agree to go in the TARDIS? Who’s going to do it? Is it going to be a mother of 15 children? No. Is it going to be someone in their 60s? No. Is there going to be a particular age range? I mean… who’s going to have a crush on the Doctor? You know, come on! It’s more than a format. It’s evolved from good, dramatic reasons.”

This has not been a good time for renewal of genre shows on network television. Fringe is coming back for one final abbreviated season but shows including Alcatraz and Awake are not returning. Community also returns for a short season. While there is not official word as to whether this will be its final season, moving the show to Friday probably places it at greater risk.

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