"Like Minds/the Prisoner" (FRINGE #1)

If you have never read the Fringe comics but would like to read them, please, do not read any further, as this does contain spoilers. The first part of this comic opens at Harvard University in 1974, when Walter and Bell first meet and begin their partnership in Walter's lab. First, we see Walter, who is much younger and much saner (and in comparison to his appearance in the season 2 1985 episode, continuity as far as appearance is concerned is not an issue, in my opinion), and he is trying to study quietly as he hears loud music playing from down the hallway. The music is being played by none other than William Bell, and I find this to be very interesting. In the TV series, Walter frequently resorts to music in order to help him concentrate and in order to calm his nerves, something that is seen quite frequently in the series, yet here he is annoyed by it. There are two possible explanations for this, two that I can muster, anyway. One is that after the two of them officially became partners, Bell continued to play music while he worked, and Walter consequently developed the same habit. Another possibility is that when the synaptic transference took place between the two of them, Bell's love for listening to music while he worked crossed over to Walter, which consequently causedhim to practice the habit. Either way, I find it interesting.

After Walter demands that Bell turn his music down so that he can concentrate, he very quickly solves an equation known in the comic as the Morianz Equation (which is fictional), something that astonishes Bell. Is Walter smarter than Bell? At this point in the series (break between the second season and the third season), it has not been totally clear, at least not to me, which of the two is smarter, but I think that one of the purposes of this comic is to show us that Walter is a tad more brilliant than even Bell is, which speaks a great deal of his intelligence. In this comic, Walter is also very arrogant. Bell, astonished, says that only five people have solved the Morianz Equation, and Walter simply says, "I guess that makes six." Likewise, it also seems more like Bell who is arrogant as opposed to Walter, but then again, the Walter that we know now is not the same man that we see in this comic, far from it. In this comic, Walter would have been about twenty-eight, and it is stated directly that Bell is twenty. This means that there is a considerable gap of years between the two of them, with Walter being the older one, which is surprising, because it certainly doesn't look that way between John Noble and Leonard Nimoy (which is probably because it's not that way), but then again, it is likely that Bell having traveled between the universes so frequently has caused him to look much older than he actually is.

Despite the obvious differences between the Walter then and the Walter now, there is also a key similarity. In this comic, Walter's main priorities are knowledge and discovery. He has little to no regard for life, not caring even in the slightest what happens to the mice on which he is experimenting. In fact, when Bell shows a little bit of compassion for the mice and names one of them Jimmy, Walter seems surprised and says that they are nothing more than mice. Bell asks Walter why the mice have been dying, and Walter says, "Could be the wires I'm inserting into their brain. Could be the electrocution. I haven't concluded." This is a bit humorous despite what is clearly animal cruelty, because it could directly go either way and is such a Walter-like statement for one to make. In "Momentum Deferred" (2.04), we finally see what Olivia and Bell talked about while Olivia was on the Other Side between "There's More than One of Everything" (1.20) and "A New Day in the Old Town" (2.01), and Olivia makes Bell out to be the mad scientist. Walter even frequently insists that most of what went on in the lab while the two of them were partners was Bell's work and that he just went along with it, but this comic definitely suggests differently.

Walter also says in this comic that there is no such thing as a soul. In "The Dreamscape" (1.09), Walter tells Astrid that he used to be religious, but in 1974, at a pretty young age, he is telling Bell that he doesn't believe in any such thing as a soul, so I wonder when he lost his faith and why. Did science simply take control of his faith? I also find it worth mentioning that what Walter is trying to do between the two mice in this comic is pretty much what he does between Olivia and John Scott in the pilot episode. I wonder what the deal with the golden pendant with the bird is, though. My guess is that it belonged to Walter's father and that his father gave it to him when he was a young boy, which would mean that most likely, Walter's father is the man that Bell saw after he and Walter underwent a synaptic transference. I can only hope that the pendant will play some sort of role in the TV series, much like the discovery that Walter's father was a Nazi spy plays a role in "The Bishop Revival" (2.13). How much information passed between the two of them during this synaptic transference? Was it enough for Walter to be left with a habit of listening to music while he worked? How long did the information stay? Like Olivia's experience with John Scott, did the two of them ever see each other when they weren't really there to see?

The second part of the comic is titled "The Prisoner" and opens in Littleton, Nebraska (a location most likely chosen as a nod at the LOST character Claire Littleton) with a man named Frank proposing to a woman named Sarah. She accepts, but Frank suddenly finds himself in prison with a different appearance and a different name, Jone (plausibly of relation to David Robert Jones). He tries to get in touch with Sarah, but she refuses to talk to him and changes her number, having told him that Frank is with her, which tells us that Frank has switched consciousnesses with Jones. We are then brought to a different location, "somewhere in Montana," where a scientist is experimenting on a man named Jake, trying to switch his consciousness with that of another man whose name we don't learn. It doesn't work, though, and we are then brought to a third and final location, a spacecraft, where an English-speaking woman apparently finds herself in a Russian astronaut's body. I am confused by this ending, because I don't understand why it's significant. Is the scientist that we see in Montana responsible for all of these transferences? If so, then why did the one involving Jake fail? Anyway, the second part of this comic really reminds me of an episode of Fear Itself titled "Family Man," in which your everyday guy switches consciousnesses with an imprisoned criminal. Anyway, overall, I give this comic eight marked mice.

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