This week on Fringe, Olivia Dunham responded to the attacks of fans by completely throwing out her personality, history, and life for a man. Yay?
First off, having his Olivia back may be enough for Peter, but it sure as hell isn’t for me. I don’t watch the show for this one relationship, I watch it for a web of interesting relationships in both universes, whose histories I have followed to the point of obsession. I watch a show to see the characters at their best and their worst, and to follow them along the road. Not just to see if Peter and Olivia finally get married.
Of course it makes sense in the show’s internal logic that Peter can’t go back, that there is no back home. We’ve spent a whole season re-writing the chronology, for God’s sake—we’re not just going to go back to normal. But his immediate acceptance of this, and Olivia’s choice to just let her old self go, imply that the only thing they need is each other. The concept of “home” is only their love for each other. This is romantic and all, I’ll admit, but it’s not realistic.
Olivia has been working in Fringe for four years. She has a series of relationships with dozens of people, a whole different set of responsibilities and connections than our Olivia. She has a family, she has a past, and she NEEDS to know them. She can’t just forget everything she knows about her life! Peter’s job is based on his scientific abilities, which he can use in any universe or timeline. Olivia’s job is based on her ability to make connections, to see patterns, to analyze situations. How the hell is she going to do that in a whole different universe?
Let’s have a quick example, shall we? In the LAST EPISODE, Olivia gained control of the situation by figuring out that Nina wasn’t really Nina. She did this by testing fake Nina’s memory. What would have happened if she really had no way of knowing that? She probably would have found a way out of it, but she can’t exactly count on getting lucky, can she?
In the end, the relationships of Fringe’s characters, and the continuity of the show, have been essentialized into a single romantic relationship. Again, this makes sense in the show’s internal logic, but it’s incredibly disrespectful to the characters, particularly Olivia, and annoying as hell to the viewers.