SciFi Weekend: Some Answers on Fringe; Avengers; SHIELD; Star Wars; Dexter; Awards; White House Response On Petition To Build The Death Star; Grammar Dalek; Dark Knight Trilogy In Three Minutes

Fringe Olivia Walter

This week’s episode of Fringe, The Boy Must Live, was the final episode before Friday’s two hour series finale. After enduring years of episodes which offered more questions than answers, this episode did reveal a lot about September/Donald, the Observers, and the child Observer, Michael. September was punished for his assistance to the Bishops by Biological Reinversion–being turned back into a normal human. Donald explained how the Observers became the way they are by generic engineering (in addition to the device seen earlier this season). The key moment comes in 2167 when a scientist in Norway finds that removing jealousy from humans would leave room for greater intelligence. Further emotions were later removed to provide for even greater intelligence. Of course we have seen examples showing that at least some Observers still have some emotions.

Once humans lost emotions, test tubes replaced sex to create future generations. Michael was an anomaly who possessed both advanced intelligence and emotions. His genetic material came from September, who showed emotions himself in forming a bond with this son and saved him, analogous to Walter saving Peter.

September has been keeping a notebook of his observations of humans. This is actually being released as a book on March 12.

For beings of supposedly great intelligence, Observers often appear to have difficulty communicating. When September met Walter after saving Peter, when he said “the boy must live” he was referring not to Peter (the boy present at the time) but to Michael (a boy who Walter had no knowledge of at the time). While September sees time differently, it still makes little sense for him to have said this to Walter at this time without further explanation. September also showed questionable intelligence, even if reinverted to a human, when he wired his apartment to explode but included a warning light allowing other Observers to escape.

Finding the real meaning of “the boy must live” does clear up the question of why the Observers eliminated Peter’s existence in our timeline in a previous season if he was so important. I had previously rationalized this as representing different priorities for September and the other Observers.

Donald’s plan was to send Michael to 2167 to show that it is possible to have advanced intelligence without eliminating emotion. The scavenger hunt of the season to date has been to accumulate supplies needed for a time machine, with Donald conveniently having access to additional material needed. The idea is that, seeing Michael, the scientist would go down a different road and not eliminate emotion. The hope is that this would keep the Observers from coming back in time and waging war against humanity. When in human history have emotions kept a group from going to war?

The episode foreshadows two ideas which have been common in fan discussion of the final season–sacrifice and resetting time. Peter even suggested to Olivia that if they could reset time and prevent the invasion they could have Etta back. However, if the Observers were changed this might mean that Walter might have never succeeded in bringing Peter over from the other earth and he might have never lived and met Olivia. On the other hand, this might not be an issue in the world of Fringe, where Peter already returned once after he ceased to exist in our timeline. Michael also gave Walter memories of Peter from the previous timeline, making it even more tragic if the two do not both remain alive after the Observers are defeated.

I also wonder if raising the need for sacrifice and resetting the timeline in this episode served as misdirection, with one or both points not being true once we see how the dilemma is resolved.

The episode ended with another mystery as Michael voluntarily surrendered himself to the Observers. I wonder if he doesn’t have yet another plan which will allow him to destroy the Observers while he appears to be their prisoner.

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Joss Whedon says Avengers 2 will be deeper, not bigger. He also will begin shooting on the pilot for his S.H.I.E.L.D. series in the near future. Reportedly the series takes place after the events of The Avengers, but there also reports that Clark Gregg will reprise his role of Agent Phil Coulson in the pilot, creating some questions.

ABC is also considering a live action Star Wars television series.

Person of Interest had another strong episode this week. Prisoner’s Dilemma ties the recent arc in which Reese was captured into has back story. He’s now in the hands of his old partner, Kara Stanton, and I have no idea what she is up to.

Showtime had an awesome Sunday night line up with both Dexter and Homeland. They are moving up Dexter’s’ eight, and probably final, season to June 30 so that the popularity of both Dexter and Homeland can be used to develop other shows.

The Oscar nominations came out without much attention to genre movies. Some genre movies are competing for Visual Effects. The nominees are The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Life of Pi also was nominated for Best Picture. There are some additional nominations for genre movies, but only in minor categories.  Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role on Sherlock at the Golden Globe Awards tonight.

The White House has denied the petition to build the Death Star, and showed a sense of humor with this response:

Official White House Response to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

That’s ok with me if they don’t build the Death Star. I’m far more interested in the more recent proposal to build the Starship Enterprise.

Grammar Dalek

T-shirt available here, based upon this cartoon.

The Dark Knight Trilogy is condensed to only three minutes in the video above.  I’m afraid the experience is not the same as watching the full movies.

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