On the "Fringe" of Reality
not a fanatic, I've become interested in the TV show Fringe--especially
the biblical metaphors. Some stand out more than others:
- The alternate universes - Good vs. evil
- Time travel - Eternity
- Walter Bishop - God
- Peter Bishop - Jesus Christ
- Olivia Dunham - The Holy Spirit
- Observers - Angels
- Shapeshifters - Demons
- Massive Dynamic - The Bible
- Transporting between universes - Salvation and Death
The alternate universe symbolizes good vs.
evil, or the spirit vs. the sinful flesh. The show's
adaptation is fitting since, from our human perception, there's
sometimes only a fine (and unclear) line distinguishing the
two. We often justify our own universe to be the good
one. (BTW, this is an old idea in science fiction, similar to
a 50-year-old episode of The Twilight Zone where there was a parallel
universe populated with near-mirror images of ourselves.
The time travel is perhaps the closest thing
that we can relate to eternity, in this life. One of the
characters even said, "There is no past and there is no
future--everything happens now." Eternity is bound neither by
time nor by space. However, unfortunately, we cannot perceive
of a way to depict life as non-spatial (and the show's producers
haven't yet figured this out either).
Walter Bishop is a symbol for God.
His superb intellect makes him appear to be almost omniscient--the
voice ("source") of logic and reasoning of the whole
universe. In his lab, he's even a creator.
Walter's son Peter is a symbol for the second
member of the godhead, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In one
time warp, (the alternate) Peter died, but in another one, he lives--a
resurrection of sorts. He is also able to visit "the other
(evil) side," just as Christ "descended to the lower earthly regions"
(Ephesians 4:9) where He "made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits"
(1 Peter 3:19). "Peter" is also the name of one of Christ's
disciples, and "Bishop" is analogous to a leadership position in the
However, we've learned that this Peter is not
really Walter's son. He's actually Walternate's son, from the
other side. In this sense, Peter is the Antichrist, coming
from the dark side to infiltrate our universe.
Although it's not quite as good of an
analogy, Olivia Dunham must be a symbol for the Holy Spirit.
She appears to be a source of great power, although the show keeps us
in suspense as to the extent of her capabilities--intellect, memories,
etc. She is also a comforter at times (John 15:26).
Just as the two universes stand for good and
evil, the Trinity (Walter, Peter, and Olivia) has a mirror image of
itself in an evil, unholy, and deceitful Trinity (Walternate, Peter,
and Fauxlivia) in the alternate universe.
The Observers are angels--beings that
transcend time without aging, watching over humans. They have
been described as "traveling chroniclers" and "enforcers of
extraordinary events." In one time warp, they assisted in
saving young Peter's life, similar to the angels that announced the
birth of Christ (Luke 2:9-15). Some of them seem to have a
negative disposition, like fallen angels (demons). (BTW,
these observers are all bald. Why would angels need hair
However, perhaps the true demons are the
Shapeshifters. They're undercover agents from the other side
that can suck the life out of people and take on the form of their
victims. Hebrews 13:2 tells us that angels (apparently
including fallen angels) can assume the form of humans because we
might have "shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews
13:2). Also, these Shapeshifters seem to be some sort of
human/machine hybrids, not unlike some of the weird creatures we see in
the book of Revelation. Shapeshifters have some sort of a
mysterious and identifying device implanted in their backs, perhaps the
mysterious "sign of man...666" (Revelation 13:18).
All of the knowledge encompassed in Massive
Dynamic is a metaphor for the Bible.
The members of the Fringe team can "leave
their world" and beam over to the other universe, transporting
themselves through a portal. On our side, this portal is
provided by a magic device; on the other side, this portal is at the
(pseudo) Statue of Liberty. This portal could symbolize both
death--the way out of this life), and salvation--entry into the
Heaven - In a recent episode there was a
reference about "getting to heaven." One man tried to earn
his way to "heaven" by doing "good deeds;" i.e., by taking people's
lives and thus saving them from a worse fate. Just as true
salvation is through faith in Christ, the fate of the characters in
Season 4 seems to rest on their faith in Peter (the type of Christ),
and the seemingly outrageous (unbelievable) claims he makes about his
time warp experiences. (But I'm not so sure that Peter is
really on the level.)
Prior to commercial breaks, a brief image of
a glyph is shown. This is a puzzle symbolizing the mysteries
of the universe that are known only to God, or to a select few, just as
the Fringe team investigates unexplained mysteries.
Owen Weber 2012