Remember when Sam Weiss told Olivia that he’s older than he looks? In Season 2’s ‘Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver’Sam says he’s so old that he can barely remember his childhood. ‘I’m also taller than I appear,’he adds. I can’t help thinking that we have another Jacob-esque character on our hands, which wouldn’t be a bad thing for Fringe. This show is the quintessential science fiction thriller, questioning the limits of science and cautioning against the danger of advancing technology, but, thus far, it lacks the spiritual-mystery component that made Lost so unique.
Though the mystical side of Lost concluded in a not-so-mysterious way, the timeless questions about the nature of the cosmos echoed throughout the series. As long as they remained unanswered, or at least not definitively answered, the mystery of the show was intact, no matter the scientific and not-so-scientific explanations of the island’s powers. The mystery of the universe was the central pull of this show. It always seemed possible that Jacob and the Man in Black might hold ‘The Answer’for us, some Grand Unifying Theory.
Now we have an equally mysterious authority figure in Fringe, a character who seems to understand what’s really going on.
In ‘Concentrate and Ask Again,’the bowling lane manager with a knack for rehabilitating trauma victims, is revealed to be someone with far greater insight than we first imagined: he knows all about the two universes, and he seems to know Peter Bishop, a man he has never met. Most significant, though, is that he wrote The First People, a book published in 1897. Who exactly is this guy and what is his bowling alley? More specifically, where is the bowling alley? Does it really exist in the physical realm? Does it exist in this universe or the next, or somewhere in between? Consider this: we never see Olivia actually driving to the bowling alley; she just appears in front of the building (under the marquee that, coincidentally, uses a Lost number: 16). And, if Sam is older than he looks, what is his relationship to the nature of time? In In season two he tells Olivia that ‘when you’re up all night, time is a matter of semantics.’
The only time we see Sam outside of the bowling alley is when he visits Olivia in her apartment. He shows up after midnight with a board game. Kinda creepy, if you think about it. Unless, Sam is not in the physical realm; perhaps he visited Olivia’s apartment in a vision or dream. He appeared just when she needed help solving a case that, in turn, leads to an unveiling of her past and her special abilities. During this visit Sam tells her that she’s always wearing a uniform of sorts because her profession is more than just a job to her: ‘you’re a soldier. A protector,’he says. (Similar to what William Bell says in ‘Momentum Deferred: she has been prepared to be a ‘guardian of the gate.’)
Sam also helps Olivia work through her grief over the death of Charlie Francis. In ‘Dream Logic’he asks her to collect business cards from anyone wearing red. He says, ‘I hope you don’t have anything against the color red,’foreshadowing the alternate universe and its signature color. He tells her to create an anagram out of certain letters from the cards. The anagram turns out to be: ‘you’re gonna be fine,’one of the first things Agent Francis ever said to Olivia.
But the most significant mystery about Sam is his authorship of The First People. If he is the author then he has known all along where the machine was buried–the calendar in the back of the book is a record of the coordinates. Did he bury the machine and attribute it to an imaginary ancient tribe of people? What does he know about the machine? Why was it created with Peter in mind? In the book it says that the source of all creation and destruction is something called The Vaccuum. Does Sam know how to avoid the destruction part? If so, will he even offer his insight? Like Jacob in Lost he seems extremely guarded about telling others ‘the truth.’Obviously, he is a believer in free will, acknowledging that the ultimate decision is in Peter’s hands alone.
(On a side note, did anyone catch Current TV’s pilot episode of Bar Karma last week? It wasn’t as good as I hoped, but I like the way they describe free will and possible outcomes–with playing cards. It was a good illustration of how September (the Observer) explains the many possible ‘futures’to Walter. Does Sam share common powers, insight and/or beliefs with the Observers?)
One last Lost reference: the glyphs during this episode spelled out ‘hatch.’It was difficult not to make a connection to the mystical underground bunker in Lost. And speaking of glyphs, the ones featured on the season finale (Over There Part 2), the episode when the fringe team crossed over to the alternate universe and back, spelled out ‘Weiss.’Hmmm.