Sunday, January 8, 2012

Top SEVEN Reasons Why You Should Watch FRINGE- Reason #2

Every day up to the showing of Fringe’s winter premiere episode, I’ll be highlighting one reason why people should watch Fringe. This will ultimately add up to seven reasons. These reasons are in no particular order. The first reason that was posted can be read HERE.

2. The Amazing Relationship Between Olivia and Peter

One of the things that frustrates me the most about couples on television is that an eternity passes before they even kiss or admit their love for each other and along the way, efforts are made to keep them from admitting their feelings for each other in ways that seem contrived or cliche (= things that have already been done before thousands of time in most rom-coms or dramas). I'm left feeling like I've been cheated and that the show is insulting my intelligence since I know that, in real-life, two very compatible people would never take as much time to get together as such couples do on television. I'm also left feeling like I've wasted so much of my life rooting for a couple who won't get together until the series finale. Angst is great, but too much really pushes the audience's patience and devotion to the show.

Peter and Olivia meet for the first time (apparently) when Olivia sought his help while he was in Afghanistan. She needed him to authorize the release of his father (Walter) from the mental institution that he had been in for the last 17 years. Her current partner and lover (Agent John Scott) had been severely injured and only Walter could help him. Although Peter was very against working with Olivia initially (since it would put him in close proximity to Walter), they eventually establish an easy rhythm with each other, an ease that is so subtle that one notices immediately when it is absent (Season 4). Peter comes around in episode 4 of the first season, promising to stick around until he can make sense of the weird things happening around him. When he tells Olivia that he is not going anywhere until he can make sense of everything, it always strikes me just how similar he sounds to Olivia in that scene- they both are strong and dedicated to finding answers, no matter what the cost.

The show doesn't spend an eternity getting them together.  Their relationship starts off as something similar to the relationships you would find among family members, even though some romantic tension is always present in small amounts.  They have each other's backs like no one else does and with the death of Olivia's mentor Charlie Francis, Peter is the only one in Olivia's life that she can rely on and unofficially becomes her partner.  Season 2 is also when we learn a lot more about the trauma inflicted on the both of them by Walter when they were both children.  Peter was kidnapped when he was younger by Walter and Olivia was experimented on by Walter.  Their shared trauma enables them to connect with each other on an even deeper level and what was initially feelings of friendship becomes something more romantic.  With neither of them really feeling like they belong anywhere, they find comfort in each other, finding a place of belonging.

Remember how I was talking about how romantic couples are usually subjected to obstacles that are contrived and so frustratingly cliche? The obstacles that Peter and Olivia have to endure are anything but cliche and contrived. The obstacles don't just serve to separate them; they always serve the wider plot and guarantee a change in the rules of the game. At the end of season 2, Olivia travels to the other universe (the redverse, we call it) to save Peter when he crosses over with his biological father to escape Walter, his adoptive father. Peter agrees to go back to his adoptive home to be with Olivia, but Olivia ends up not coming back with him. Olivia and Bolivia (her twin in the redverse) switch places so that Bolivia goes back with Peter and Olivia stays in the redverse, trapped and experimented on. Peter engages in an affair with Bolivia, believing that she is his Olivia. Thus, Fringe puts a spin on the traditional love triangle, by creating a scenario in which a man in engaged in a relationship with the woman he truly loves and with her twin who he believes to be her. Fringe always so wonderfully puts its own twist on traditional romantic elements important to any love story. The switch becomes integral to the plot in the first half of the third season and its implications reverberate in the plot line that dominates the second half of the third season and in the choices that are made in the season finale. It also provides some truly amazing character development for both Olivias. The fallout from Peter's actions with Bolivia is resolved over the course of several episodes and demonstrates very mature writing and character development that is rarely seen on television.

During the season 3 finale, another obstacle is set up for the pair. Due to Peter's actions, he is erased from existence. I'm pretty sure that an obstacle like that has never really been done. :) Fringe believes that the love story between Peter and Olivia is a very serious one and treats it as such, giving them epic obstacles to overcome to prove how strong and unique their characters are. Due to the fact that Peter was erased from existence, our beloved characters are changed since they have lived their lives without Peter. When Peter comes back, we as an audience are comforted with some very serious questions regarding the nature of love: Is it possible for Peter to love this new Peter-less version of Olivia? Is our love for someone else limited to specific aspects of that person or can our love adapt and change when that person changes? Is their love so great that Olivia remembers Peter on a subconscious level even though she doesn't remember him consciously? How far will Peter go to reunite with the Olivia that he knows and loves? By using this obstacle to keep the two lovers apart, Fringe provides us with an opportunity to explore their love on a different level and in a different set of circumstances.

It doesn't hurt that the creators of Fringe have said time and time again that they are fated to be together. They met when they were children and for some reason, neither of them remembers the encounter. After Walter crossed over to the other universe to kidnap Peter, he experimented on children with Cortexiphan in order to hopefully find a child who, with the aid of Cortexiphan, could cross over and help to take Peter back home. Olivia was such a child and she meet Peter when Peter and his mother were visiting Walter. They meet during a time when they were both going through traumatic experiences that would leave lasting impressions on them as adults. Olivia was being abused by her father and was being experimented on and Peter was being lied to by both of his "parents" and was desperately searching for a way back to his true home. They found solace and understanding in each other.  Olivia helping Peter to get back home is explained on a literal level, but it also has significance on a metaphorical level: Olivia (along with Walter) will always be Peter’s way home.

Peter and Olivia are both very mature people that share many things in common: they both are strong, determined and caring of those around them and they both have traumatic pasts that they are constantly trying to escape.  For both of them, loneliness is an integral part of who they are and they both have a fierce independent spirit.  Being together doesn't change any of that.  They struggle with trust issues and letting people in.  When they are together, it is really "beautiful."  Season 4 completely changed the nature of their relationship and I can't wait to see how they find their way to each other again.  I await that "perfect day" when they're together again.  :)

Watch Fringe’s Winter Premiere LIVE on Friday, January 13th at 9pm on FOX!

Episode Caps are courtesy of Fringe Files

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