If I had a doppelganger, who would notice?

I seem to have been spending all my blogging time watching episodes of the Science Fiction series Fringe recently… So this post is going to address a question that’s been at the forefront of my mind as I watch Season 3. (Warning: Spoilers.)

How would you feel if a doppelganger took over your life for two months and nobody could tell the difference?

Fringe is about a secret division of the FBI which investigates weird stuff, including a conflict with a parallel universe, where there’s an equivalent Fringe Division, complete with doppelganger agents. The mythology of the series and the story arc across the first three series is excellent — and includes for a time the infiltration of ‘our’ Fringe Division by ‘Fauxlivia’, the doppelganger of the show’s hero, Agent Olivia Dunham.

The thing is, none of her colleagues and friends can pick the difference. Fauxlivia impersonates Olivia very well, but she moves differently, speaks differently, behaves differently. (The actress Anna Torv does a great job at subtly differentiating the two characters.) I can’t understand why the characters don’t suspect anything, especially those closest to her. (Aside from the obvious need for plot purposes!) Naturally, when the real Olivia returns, she’s somewhat devastated to find she’d barely been missed.

I’m trying to decide whether this is a plot hole in what is otherwise a fantastic show — because it’s almost impossible for me to believe in the scenario. I cannot imagine, for instance, someone impersonating me so well that people I work with closely every day wouldn’t suspect anything.

But then, I guess we all like to think we’re unique and irreplaceable, don’t we?

Would the lack of doppelganger precedent be sufficient to veil the eyes of my close friends and family, were I to be impersonated? After all, if the very idea of a doppelganger is preposterous, how could the idea of an impersonation even be contemplated?

(Not that this is an excuse in Fringe, where the characters are fully aware of the existence of the Fauxlivia doppelganger, making their lack of insight even worse.)

It’s fascinating to contemplate how far we might be willing to delude ourselves, simply because something seems impossible. How strangely would my impersonator need to act for anyone to realise it wasn’t me?

It’s something of a mind twister. I’d love to hear some other thoughts on this. Any other Fringe fans out there?


10 thoughts on “If I had a doppelganger, who would notice?

  1. I don’t need a doppelganger. I have a teenager. Whose nickname is Sybil. After the character in the old book about the woman with multiple personalities. From moment to moment, I don’t know which version of my darling daughter I’ll be dealing with.
    (And fyi, I haven’t watched Fringe, but from your comments it sounds like a bit of a plot hole…)


    1. Ah, but if someone was like Sybil (could that nickname possibly reflect anyone else?), it should in theory be easy to impersonate them, because any variances would just be put down to that. Your daughter had better watch out!

      I fear it is a plot hole, albeit one I’m willing to overlook for the sake of the rest of the series. Mostly. Fringe really is quite thrilling!


  2. I haven’t seen the show but I am intrigued, plot hole and all. I’d like to think that those who know me well would be able to tell my doppelganger from the true me. And aren’t doppelgangers supposed to be the evil twin of ourselves? I hope I don’t come across as THAT evil. Sinister, maybe. But not evil. 😉


    1. Are doppelgangers evil by definition? Perhaps, and although I was using the term loosely, in the case of Fauxlivia, it applies sort of.

      Yes, I’d like to think those I know well could pick the difference too — but there is the barrier of impossibility to surmount (in our case) which is what makes it such an interesting question, I think.

      Check out Fringe! There is a fair amount of pseudoscience as well, but that just goes way over my head so I can live with it. I find the character interactions far more important to uphold in terms of plot integrity. 🙂


  3. I haven’t seen the series yet either, but I’m going to add it to my Netflix queue straight away. I don’t think anything could imitate a person and fool someone who knew them “well”. The casual office acquaintance sure, if they only saw you at work. But not a true friend with who you have years of history with. My 2 cents 😉


    1. Exactly. Really, it’s unforgivable for certain people not to realise the imposter — but the show uses it to generate some nice tension, so you can see why they did it from a plot perspective. Hope you enjoy it.


  4. Sadly not the only plot-hole in Fringe, but worth overlooking if you’re enjoying the series!

    I think the most interesting doppleganger story is The Wife of Martin Guerre (think I spelt that right). It deals with the difficulty your talking about really well, by imposing a separation between Martin Guerre and his loved ones.

    Though, of course, your friends (probably not your family) would most likely think you were just acting a bit odd. Maybe start acting odd and see if anyone asks about it? “No nothing’s wrong. I’m actually Ellen’s doppleganger” would be the best answer to a question ever.


    1. No it certainly isn’t the only plot hole, but I think I focus on it because it’s character related rather than plot — if you know what I mean. But I can definitely overlook it.

      And, er, yes, OK… note to self: Start acting like a doppelganger and see what happens!


  5. I don’t watch Fringe, but it sounds like a show I would be into. If I had a doppelganger, my kids would notice pretty much immediately. My husband? Well, I don’t see him as much as my kids 😉

    I don’t rule out parallel universes, although I don’t believe there are copies of us there. I think they just have their own thing going on. But, if there are parallel universes and there is a copy of me and she does take over my life, I hope she takes over my mundane household chores so I don’t have to do them when I get back.


    1. You make some very good points, Kim. Kids are most astute… And their imaginations may well leap to the seemingly impossible. Hmm.

      I also think its most unlikely for a parallel universe to contain doppelgangers all in the same relation to each other – but it makes for some excellent TV!


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