I was hesitant to add Olivia Dunham to my list of Top 10 Women in Science Fiction because her story is incomplete with the addition of a final Season five but she is too compelling of a character to ignore.
When we first meet Dunham, she is an inter-agency liaison with the FBI investigating an horrific event that happened mid-air on a flight from Hamburg, Germany to the United States. During the course of the investigation her partner is gravely injured and she puts to get a team of eccentric people to save him and to aid the investigation: Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop and Agent Astrid Farnsworth aka Astro aka Aspirin.
The following exchanges with Peter in the pilot episode shows what a strong and resourceful person Agent Dunham can be.
Olivia: You heard of Flight 627
Peter: The Hamburg flight of course
Olivia: You may be able to help us with that
Peter: I think you got the wrong guy
Olivia: Your father is Walter Bishop
Peter: The last time someone asked me that it was an accusation
Olivia: He is the man who we are looking to speak with but do to his current status. You’re the only one that can provide us access
Peter: What possible help could that man be to you? And what exactly are you expecting me to do? Hop on a plane with you back to MA. I just here honey…
Olivia: …Your father maybe able to save someone who is dying. Someone I care about very much
Peter: Sweetheart, we all care about someone who is dying. I can’t help you. I’m sorry.
Olivia: I know why you are here. I have your file.
Peter: What file?
Olivia: The one the FBI would say doesn’t exist. And it has everything: where you’ve been; what you’re running from and what you need while your here. So, either you come with me or I let certain people know your whereabouts.
Peter: When do we leave?
Peter: What are you asking me to do? No, Guardian? No forgot it.
Olivia: He’ll do it
Peter: No I’ll will not.
Olivia: One phone call that’s it takes. Coz I got my phone in my pocket.
Olivia: Now it’s out of my pocket
Peter: You wanted my father – now you got my father which falls in the category be careful what you wish for. Sweetheart.
Peter: Tell what else tom the file say about yours truly? How bad was it.
Olivia: I’m not at liberty to discuss it.
Peter: why don’t you go ahead and liberate yourself because I’m here now and I kind of feel like I deserve the truth. Don’t you?
Peter: There is no file
Olivia: I needed you back here
Peter: That was what- you were bluffing
Olivia: I was desperate
Peter: I’m usually good and reading people that’s sorta what I do.
Olivia: I could see you were in trouble anyone could see that
Peter: I could have stay, I could have stayed in Iraq…
While these exchanges are simple in nature, the direct and passionate way in which Olivia delivers them gets her whatever she needs from information to personnel. Olivia has been shaped by her past experiences (her relationship with her family and being experiment on as a child, specifically) and it has prepare her to lead the Fringe team.
Over the course of four seasons, the team learns a lot about themselves and each other while they investigate unusual events. Standout episodes include: Inner Child, August, Northwest Passage, Peter, Worlds Apart,
With story arcs that span and entire season that dealt with patterns, human experiments, trying to understand the motivations of the Observers and dealing with mad geniuses, Fringe has been one of the best shows on TV. While the show has moved to a weak storyline that has Peter and Olivia destined to be together romantically, the ultimate plot is Olivia journey to find out who is she.
Fauxlivia gets an honorable mention. With the introduction of the alternate universe in season three, we get to meet Fauxlivia. Her load in life has been an easier one, quick with a smile and love for her job and colleagues, Ann Torv has create the polar opposite of Olivia.
To learn more about Fringe secrets
With the conclusion of Fringe, I felt the need to revisit one of my favorite characters. The final season did a disservice to the once powerful women of the show. Olivia, Astrid and Nina were all reduced to standing in the shadow and acting only to propel the relationship between Walter and Peter. From being an active and intelligent FBI agent fighting to solve unusual cases and saving the world, Olivia was reduce to moping first over the death of her daughter and then over Peter’s quest to avenge her death.
The overarching theme of the show seemed to be should there be limits to the pursue of science. In addition to Walter’s struggle to come to terms with the consequences of his research and actions, Olivia’s journey also seemed equally important to this theme. From being experimented on as a child by Walter and William Bell, to being kidnapped by Walternate and having her personality altered by drugs, Olivia has been the face of the ethically struggle of science. This season, she has been strangely passive. We don’t get to see the original bad-ass Olivia until the penultimate episode. The season suffered from her mis-use.
Boo on you show runners!