a_taller_tale: (Defensive)
[personal profile] a_taller_tale
I’m a little late to the "Fringe" party. A case of the flu left me the chance to catch up. I blew through the first season in four days and I’m on to the second. To my intense instinctual outrage there was a new female character.

Now, I look on new male characters with a similar suspicion, but they never bring out the urge to growl as much as females do. I happen to love female characters when they’re done well. I’ve been burned by television, YA novels, and anime before with a number of vacuous holes they called heroines. As a result, I’m very choosy when it comes to my female character. For the most part if a female character is introduced in the first novel or season, I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s always a lot harder to introduce any new character when the ball is already rolling.

Olivia Dunham, the main point of view character for the first season of Fringe, did not disappoint. She had a lot of personal drama that crossed over into her business life but it didn’t seem to overtake her perspective of cases. She was also a bad ass at combat while the main male characters were more the brainy types. Refreshing change there.

First episode of season 2 leaves Olivia brain dead and has a little upstart NY cop in her place, trying to investigate and join the Fringe Division. Immediately I was on guard.

Was this chick going to join the team? Try to replace Olivia? Mack on Peter?

No, thank you. I don’t need a new female character.

The writing team did a few things right away in an attempt to calm the fans’ inevitable ire.

1) The offending character was outright rejected by all canon characters

In the first scene, the girl is given a tongue lashing by Peter and is shredded in the next one by Olivia’s boss. Her immediate dismissal by all the first tier characters makes the fan relax just a little. Maybe it was a one off, maybe the parallels between her and Olivia are coincidental and it won’t go any further.

2) When she is reintroduced, all former characters have been seen again

Olivia is alive, which means the upstart is not a replacement, so by the time we see her again we are complacent enough to watch the scene without rolling around saying ‘I hate this, I hate this.’ But only just barely.

3) Make her look like an independent thinker

New girl is looking into the Fringe division despite being told no. She’s tenacious; she has all those good character traits you loved in Olivia. Except, yeah, we’ve already seen it. Gimme something else.

4) Obviously has had mysterious encounters with the Recruiters they’re not telling us about

No, I don’t care where she got the mysterious password from. The fact that she had it in the first place just made it too easy for her to infiltrate Fringe division. She’s obviously being courted the way Olivia was to be a soldier, but for which side? Blah blah blah…

5) She rescues the main male from a potentially awkward situation

6) She defends the cute possibly insane old man

7) Unflappable in the face of weird

Now you’re just piling it on. We get it. She’s supposed to be cool, and Olivia’s in the hospital so we need a female agent to get Peter into all the good clubs. …When’s she going to get killed off?

8) By the end of the episode, she proves she is an asset to the original characters

She rescues Olivia from the hit man and has been accepted (not even grudgingly!) by all members of the division. This didn’t just bother me just because she was an interloper, it bothered me that no one else was paranoid enough to look into her before letting her into the Fringe lab.

Come on guys! We just finished season 1 where you could trust no one AND today you were chasing a killer who could change into any face. You’re just gonna let this chick into the lab to eat your custard?

Alright, so these were all very reasonable attempts to make OFC (original female character, whose name I can’t even remember) non-threatening to original fans, and maybe even a little cool. I’ve only seen the premiere so far but it hasn’t worked yet.

Usually when a writing team realizes a character (male or female) isn’t working they will kill them off or conveniently reassign them, ending their appearances in an arc that only makes them slightly more interesting before they’re completely gone forever. Maybe she’ll get killed by shifter!Charlie.

So show writers, try to get your characters all in a row before you launch the show. It never ends pretty when females are considered a threat. Watch a couple episodes of “Supernatural”.
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