The Art of War – Know Your Enemy

Nov 4, 2012 | 15 comments


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”










Related Episodes

OKC Fringe Finale Party Recap

OKC Fringe Finale Party Recap

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 2 months since the Fringe finale. We want to again thank everyone who was able to make the trip to Oklahoma City and be a part of the Golden Spiral Media Fringe Finale Party! Whether you drove in from just a few miles away,...


  1. Kristin (a/k/a @serenityinall)


    Happy Sunday evening sprinkled with an extra hour! Terrific perspective here. I always enjoy reading your takes on the episodes. Glad to see that everything is getting somewhat back to normal for you after the superstorm. It was a delight to see you had posted.

    I appreciate you bringing up the points you did. I too am hoping that Peter will not be lost into an abyss of darkness. I have a feeling that Olivia choosing a different path through her grief this time, her efforts to keep them together and of course, their love will aid in keeping Peter tethered to what is truly important. Even Walter this season is a different man, walking a seemingly different path himself based on his intense/emotional discussion with Olivia this last episode. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Peter won’t touch on becoming that monster himself before somehow coming back to what is important. I have a feeling there will some type/form of intervention from Etta (yes, perhaps from the gave even) that will suddenly awaken him. We’ll see.

    I will mention that I too immediately thought back to the episode where Peter was killing the shapeshifters to steal their tech. We all have seen that part. I didn’t like it then, I won’t like now. Hopefully things will work out. I am excited in anticipation as to what it to come.

    I am actually really enjoying the emotional journeys here. I am particularly impressed by Anna Torv and her characters walk this season. Maybe because on some level I understand it so (no, not literally). I think we tend to key in with characters sometimes that either remind us of something in our lives or are the total opposite. Olivia’s journey is somewhat that for me (and no, I am not a mother so it’s not because of that). Can’t explain it. Just is. I will say that I am loving Josh Jackson’s performance this year. Yes, he is quite off the rails right now, all over the place all season and I am really into watching Peter’s journey. I also am intrigued to see what else that tech in Peter’s head can really do – will he now be able to travel inside/outside of time or travel between multiple universes? Will he be on the same frequency now as the Observers, or be able to intuit their plans or what have you? I have many questions – ha!

    Oh and thanks for the illustration – it is perfect! Thanks for reading. ttfn

    • Inter-dimensional Dave

      Hi Kristin,

      I appreciate your concern. I’m behind everything especially my book reading. I haven’t been able to pick up “Cloud Atlas” for a week and a half now. Darn Storms!

      I like your take on Walter’s behavior. I can’t help but see him as the Walter from seasons one through three. In fact, I don’t see him as season four Walter at all although technically he should be. I also like how you describe Peter as being “tethered” to Olivia. As if he was some light air balloon that could drift away at any moment. That makes the scene in “An Origin Story” more resonant when he removes his wedding ring and starts cutting into his own neck. Tether broken!

      I share your intrigue into Peter’s new found status. All your questions are quite valid. He may possess all the strengths of the Observers but not their greatest weakness.


      The Observers don’t get love. They see it as a weakness. Can you imagine Peter with all that power but still “tethered” by Olivia’s hope and love?


      Let’s hope Peter doesn’t stray too far. But if he does I hope Olivia will be there to rescue him.

      Keep tethered Kristin and thanks for the feedback!

  2. The Doctor

    “There’s always hope. It’s the one thing nobody’s figured out how to kill yet.”
    –Galen, _Babylon-5: Crusade_

    • Inter-dimensional Dave

      Galen sounded a little cynical there didn’t he? A+ for the Babylon 5 reference and there is a Fringe tie in also! Thanks “Doc”.

  3. CharlieFromVirignia

    Dave, I think you are spot on stating, “Peter may become the monster he seeks to destroy”.

    I think the writers want to show in a terminator way, that the future creates the past and the past creates the future in an unending cycle.

    Peter creates the observers by placing the nanobot device in his brain stem. Out of his grief for his daughter he creates the very people who destroy his daughter.

    I love time travel and dystopian future so I am truly enjoying this season. I recommend looper to everyone who hasn’t seen it.

    January 18, 2013 will be a sad day for us all.

    • Inter-dimensional Dave

      Hey Charlie, I was actually wondering how badly Virginia got hit from Sandy. I know West Virginia got bombed with snow. How was it for you?

      I listened to the feedback portion of the Fringe podcast today and I think it was AJ from the UK (Viper fame) that called Bishop the “Peterminator”. It looks like you were both on the same track.

      I love dystopian futures also and I did see Looper too. I loved it and it didn’t hurt to have Emily Blunt in it. Ahem!

      Thanks Charlie and stay dry!

  4. duckyislost

    Nice work as usual Dave! Clearly Peter is walking the razor’s edge here. We’ve seen his angry streak before, but this is a whole other level. A willingness to buck the laws of nature is on a Bell/Walter level of playing God. It may work in the short term, but at the expense of his soul? What made me most nervous was the way the device gravitated toward him, just like the machine. As though it was designed to interact with him. Since he took it from an Observer’s neck that could imply that they are related to him. Scary implication if they literally arose from the Bishop DNA, not just from tech.

  5. Inter-dimensional Dave

    Wow, great thought about the tech working with Bishop DNA. That’s not good!

    Did you think of “Falling Skies” when the tech crawled into Peter? It reminded me of Hal being possessed by that insect tech crawlie thing that swam through Hal’s eyes. Yuck. This can only lead to tears. Oh, there was a Matrix vibe to that hole scene also.

    Great thoughts Lynne!

    (What did you think of the Mouse House buying Lucas films???)

    • duckyislost

      Oh wow, I completely forgot about Falling Skies and the little eye bugs. You’re right. Except this was voluntary. A bit more like white tulip. In fact a lot of Fringe cases are about people trying to take shortcuts in human evolution for love, power, anger, or just survival. It never ends well, there is always a cost to the imbalance. Maybe the cure that saved Peter as a kid was the first imbalance.

      At the risk of irritating fans, I’ll answer your mouse question via twitter.

  6. dana

    Hey Dave, thanks for the recommendation, just finished watching Army of Shadows. I’m ashamed to say it reminded me of a lot of movies I had seen that I thought this season of Fringe was similar to, and felt quite proud of myself for having seen, but I am now realizing that they all were just later fragments and attempts of this great movie. Very interesting! Anyways, if anyone wants to check out some similar movies (though the one Dave recommended really does need to be seen, it’s the “Godfather” of them all) I would suggest these:

    In the Land of Blood and Honey
    Flame & Citron
    Charlotte Gray

    And kinda similar:

    Inglorious Bastards
    The Pianist

    • InterdimensionalDave

      Glad you were able to see “Army of Shadows’ dana. It is a classic isn’t it? I have to see “The Land of Blood and Honey” Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. dana

    oh yeah, just remembered a really good one! The Lives of Others. One of the best movies ever. period.

  8. Lindaislost

    Always enjoy your thoughts, Dave. You made my day with the “We have met the enemy and he is us” reference. My dad was a lover of nature and an environmentalist before the word was invented. We would read POGO every morning and discuss as if we’d just attended a seminar on the philosophy of Mother Nature. Every piece of paper on the side of the road meant I would again hear……we have met…….etc.

    Thinking about this makes me so sad for our present day Fringies and their loss of the beauty of their world. They have truly met the enemy…..Peter can certainly say “I have met the enemy and he is Me.”

    • InterdimensionalDave

      Thanks for sharing that story Linda, I found it very touching. My father wasn’t an environmentalist at all and he was bewildered when he found out I contribute to the WWF etc. Now when I take Inter-dimensional Rover and Fido for walks I take a bag with me to gather all the litter. Keep fighting the good fight and thanks for the reply.



  1. Robert JR Graham » Friends and Enemies - [...] The Art of War – Know Your Enemy [...]
  2. Robert JR Graham » Friends and Enemies - [...] The Art of War – Know Your Enemy [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.