“I’m not wearing pants”

25 Sep

 That one line delivered by John Noble in the fourth season premiere of Fringe, or the series premiere, depending on whether

you think this is a re-boot, summed up why I watch this show.

While it challenges the viewer to look at some very serious questions,   like perception and purpose. It also balances with lighter moments that grow organically from the way Walter is written.

The idea of perception, especially Walter’s, is an interesting part of this episode. He is seeing Peter, but of course doesn’t recognize him, because Peter never existed. He has been erased because he served his purpose. Could you imagine if we lived in a world where as soon as you fulfilled your purpose you were erased and no one remembered you existed.  Just like everyone wants to know what happens after we die I can’t wait to find out what happens after you fulfill your purpose. So far we are lead to believe Peter is stuck and the Observer has to erase him.  I am sure it is no coincidence that a key component in the mechanism to erase him is a tube from an old school TV.

John Locke, not the guy from Lost, but the philosopher wrote about the veil or perception, he and other philosophers believe that we don’t actually see things as they are, we have access to sense-data or impressions. He used an image to clarify his position, he said human understanding is like a ‘closet wholly shut from light with only some little openings left, to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without’.

This is what I see going on with Fringe, both universes are only seeing bits and pieces and their perceptions are limited. Except for Walter who is seeing more than everyone else in his visions of Peter. He will be the first to identify what they are all missing, the feeling something is not there.

Enter be the sceptics, just like Locke’s sceptics who pointed out a tomato can look red or black depending on light or other factors that impact perception.  Olivia or Broyles will say it was a reflection on the TV from light, or an image burned on the screen from a previous viewing. They will try to convince Walter that is perceptions are wrong, that he is not seeing truth.

What do you think, do we perceive things as they are? What do you think it would be like to live in a world were as soon as your purpose is served you cease to exist and no one remembers you?

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