The Mad Science of Fringe: Where Do Embryonic Shape-Shifters Come From?


Last night's Fringe marked a huge reversal from the past two weeks' filler episodes and gave us some real answers about shape-shifters and traveling between universes. In The Man from the Other Side, Thomas Newton opens a portal and gets someone he referred to as Mr. Secretary through to our universe. Peter, trying to stop Newton, realizes almost presciently that Walter kidnapped him out of the alt-world when he was young. And of course, angrily, he runs away. Now, I find it implausible that Peter could be angry at Walter for saving his life, but let's take a look at the science of last night's episode, shall we?

Scenario: Shape-shifters get to our universe accompanied by a radio wave given off by a solar flare from the alternate universe and grow like little tadpoles in pods, (with their brain-drain mechanism in tow, of course) and I'm really sorry about all those prepositional phrases, but what?

Plausibility: 4 of 10. I can handle the tadpole/pod situation, and I think the accompanying radio wave, which was represented by mixed TV broadcast signals, was really neat. I think a hole crops up, however, as the show delves further into creating a portal to the alt-world (see scenario three). Where do these pod people come from? If no one creates a portal, how do they get here? I fear we'll never know, but perhaps this judgment is premature.

Scenario: Walter tries to jolt a lot of energy through one of the unopened pods so it'll hatch and the team will get some answers.

Plausibility: 9 of 10. "Like jump-starting a car," Walter explains, as he hooks up six car batteries to the semi-synthetic creature. Since the tadpole's arrival and metamorphosis was sparked by something electrical, reintroducing a current should kick it back into gear. And it would have worked, too, if Walter hadn't sliced into the thing at the start of the episode.

Scenario: The two universes vibrate at different frequencies. Every seven months, however, they vibrate in sync and you can create a portal between them. All you have to do is arrange three rods in an equilateral triangle and cause those rods to vibrate, and, when the right frequency is reached, whatever is in the center will be swapped between universes.

Plausibility: 9 of 10. Feel free to disagree, but I thought this was a pretty great, simple explanation. And, most importantly, one that seems like it'll be easy to keep continuous throughout the series. I wish I could say the same for the pod people and their mysterious appearances throughout Boston, because that does not happen every seven months.

Can you think of a better way to reason out the shape-shifters traveling between universes? And don't say it's because they're part synthetic, because Walter had to use the three-prong technique to get that car through. Sound off below!


  • Elliot says:

    Truly abysmal science, but I don't care much. It's the story, the characters I am concerned with. I do like how they are maturing the show's horror quotient; this was some seriously skeevy stuff. Walter's crushing at Peter's hands was awful--Noble and Jackson did some fine work (well they always do but this was exceptional). Jackson was rather evil seeming, must've been weird for him and Noble to play that scene, as close as they have become.
    Once Peter knows what all happened, he will begin to forgive Walter, and I hope they don't drag it out all over the place with mixed signals and excess angst, that's what American Idol is for. I'm quite looking forward to 'Brown Betty'/'Overture', love the stylistic stuff Fringe does, and the forward motion on Peter & Olivia. But what is up with not knowing what they are going to call episodes, or how to number them? That is confusing.

  • I truly love films I could not really live without...

  • TheWRiter says:

    I must say i love films I couldn't really live without...