Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fringe: Dramatic Irony Fail

So, last night Fringe decided it was finally time to reveal that Bell, founder of Massive Dynamics and Walter Bishop's former lab partner was funding ZFT. This was not exactly a startling revelation, in fact the amazing thing is that the characters could not come to this conclusion beforehand. Of course we are privy to details that Olivia, Boyle and Peter lack, and while Walter probably remembers more than even we know he is playing it close, and for good reason. This discrepancy between the viewer's perception and knowledge and the characters plight is the very heart of dramatic irony, a technique used extensively in drama and slasher horror. Unfortunately it really just fell flat. This could be Olivia and Boyle's fault, I imagine among the human emotions she struggles with surprise is one of the more complex, and Boyle is so grim and dour that satisfaction must be completely alien. Or, it could be that this sort of irony really does not play out so well over the length of a television series, and when used it must be hinted at sparingly rather than slapped across the face every other episode as Fringe has done. In a similar show, the X-Files, it was genuinely a shock to Scully and Mulder when it was revealed that Skinner worked for the Cigarette Smoking Man, a plot line that ruminated about for a good season but done in such a way as to force the viewer to question Skinner's true motivations and maybe even the Cigarette Smoking man. It was also subtle enough that it was believable that no one would suspect his collusion. Unfortunately in this revelation on Fringe we merely feel the characters have caught up, no real dramatic change has occurred.

In last week's episode we have another bit of dramatic irony, in the continuing revelation of just how bad Walter was we learn at the very least Olvia (Little Olive) survived some sort of fiery accident, but from the video I am guessing that her chemically induced psychic power is pyrokinesis. If so I suspect her emotional flatness is a result of her controlling her emotions to keep this power in check, and she has been doing it so long she doesn't even realize that she is anymore. I am basing this purely on other sci-fi sources where pyrokenisis is tied to one's emotional state, and uncontrolled emotions generally means bad, bad things for the rest of the cast. I suspect that this is going to come into play soon, and while we know (suspect) Olvia's true potential no one but Walter does in the show. Well, Bell of course, but Spock knows everything.

As a side, I would love to have a mock up of the ZFT manuscript to add to my collection of random crap. I think it would be a great piece of ephemera for my science fiction and modern horror games.

1 comment:

  1. The reveals about Walter were very well done, about Bell not so good as you point out.

    My prediction. Walter founded ZFT and wrote the Manuscript. The Observers are related to the fight also.