The Art of War – Know Your Enemy
I recently sent some feedback to the Fringe podcast and in it I spoke of how the events of the most recent episode of Fringe, “An Origin Story” reminded me of two very famous quotes. The first of which is “Know our enemy” and the second being, “I have met the enemy and he is us.”
“Know your enemy” is from the book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and the full quote goes like this,
“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.“
No doubt the character of Peter Bishop is familiar with “The Art of War”. We’ve seen him go to great lengths to understand his foes before, such as the time when he was cutting out the chips from shape-shifters. This also exposed us to the dark and brutal side of Peter. The mutilation of the shape-shifters wasn’t fully explored by Fringe. Perhaps they felt they were taking their character to a place that was a bit too morbid.
Given another opportunity, the Fringe writers have decided to tackle this malignant side of Peter full bore.
The risk in knowing your enemy is becoming just like them. The danger in this risk is not knowing when to stop. Peter may have crossed that line when he inserted the Observer tech into the base of his skull. That’s why I feel the last line of the above quote is particularly significant for Peter. I am not so sure he knows enough about the Observers and their hybrid physiology to actually adapt it to his own. Peter may become the monster he seeks to destroy.
“I have met the enemy and he is us”
The second quote refers to becoming what you fear most and wreaking the damage inherent in it. The character of Pogo came to the realization that he and his friends were their own worst enemies. Instead of adopting forbearance they carried on with their worst behavior and before they realized what they had done, it was too late.
Now that Peter has adopted the tactics of his enemy it may too late to turn him around and the realization of what his actions they entail will only be exposed in their aftermath. The Observers laid waste to our planet in pursuit of their technology and their greed in bettering their physiology led them to becoming the unfeeling monsters we now know.
Lastly, I’ve been struck at the similarities between this season of Fringe and of the French Resistance during World War Two. (See my blog entry, “Why We Fight”.) If you want some insight into how this season of Fringe will play out, you have no further to go that the seminal work of art known as the “Army of Shadows”. “Shadows” was released in 1969 and it is a film by Jean Pierre Melville. It is perhaps the most accurate and gripping tale of the Resistance and it reveals both the heroic and demonic sides to that effort. Keep your Kleenex handy as this film is profoundly sad as the heroes become what they hate most even though they are on the side of the angels.
We can only hope our Fringe team can step back from this abyss before it is too late. Below is a trailer for “Army of Shadows”. The opening of the movie where the Nazis march by the Arc de Triomphe was known to be too much for French audiences to bear even in 1969. Many were driven to tears at this sight and some fled the theater as soon as they saw it. It struck too close to home even 39 years later.
The hash tag for “An Origin Story” was “Show No Mercy”. Peter certainly took that to heart. Maybe the next tag will be “There’s always hope”