Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fringe - The Bishop Boys

One of my favorite couples on television right now is completely unromantic and would be incestuous if it were. It's the Bishops - Walter and Peter. I've just finished watching What Lies Below, in which Peter is infected with a virus that is over 75,000 years old and may have wiped out the mammalian population. The virus does what it can to infect as many people as possible, so, once Peter is infected, he spends his entire time trying to escape from the building in which he is confined. Fortunately, Walter is a brilliant scientist and manages to concoct a cure before the Army is brought in to kill all the infected.

So there were some parts that weren't exactly the most believable, but to be honest, that is the least important to me. What instead really shined in the episode is the close relationship between father and son.

Peter started out the series not wanting any contact at all with his father. Walter was the stereotypical "mad scientist" who may not have been very nice to his family. In 1991, at least one of Walter's lab assistants was killed in a lab explosion, and Walter was charged with manslaughter. However, Walter was judged mentally unfit to stand trial and institutionalized for seventeen years. As Walter's only family, Peter was the only person who could get Walter released. Walter initially refused, but Olivia Dunham convinced Peter of the importance of Walter's work.

In the first season, Peter was the often-annoying voice of reason, protesting that his father's theories were too outlandish to be true. But since this is a show about fringe science, Peter's well-founded skepticism was disregarded, and Walter was often proven correct. As this occurred, Peter became more accepting of the wild theorizing, often commenting that he was crazy for considering these ideas.

I think what surprised Peter the most was how vulnerable his father was. Walter's institutionalization left a very child-like man with limited social skills and many fears. Peter often finds himself parenting his father, and Walter has responded alternately with gratitude and frustration. So, it turns out that Peter finds himself liking his father.

However, we've learned a few things that may change all that. Last season, we learned that Peter Bishop died in 1985. Thus, Walter built the door to the alternate universe to collect another Peter. Our Peter is not our Peter, if that makes sense. We learned this season that Peter has a history of nightmares in which he is kidnapped by his own father. And in this episode, Walter told Astrid, "I can't let Peter die again." Astrid heard the "again", and asked him about it, but Walter refused to respond. This secret will come out. And there will be hell to pay.

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