Eternal Fringe Of The Spotless Mind: Why Olivia and Peter Forgot Meeting


There’s no doubt that the writers have used Olivia and Peter’s memory impairment as an nonlinear storytelling device, but personally, I’m fine with it. To my mind, it brings the story closer together and remains true to the cyclical narrative. I think many of us have suspected at one point or another that Olivia and Peter had met as children, given that their stories are so connected. More than that, this reveal also speaks to one of the core themes: memory.

What I find particularly interesting is that Olivia and Peter’s mutual ‘blind spot’ seems to be converging with some of the show’s other big ideas, that of SLEEP and WAKEFULNESS. It was Nick Lane who, referring to the Cortexies, told Olivia, “I think they meant for us to forget,” and that “sometimes what we wake up, can’t be put back to sleep.”

Subject 13“, therefore, provides additional context for what we’ve long believed to carry a level of intent. The question now becomes: why and how were they made to forget?

The first thing to consider is whether or not Olivia and Peter’s ‘blind spots’ are related. It could go either way, depending on what the writers want to do, but here I’m working with the premise that it’s a bit of both.

Here are some possible reasons for Olivia and the Cortexiphan kids memory issues…

Possible Reasons for Olivia’s Memory Impairment:

  • Olivia and the other Cortexies were essentially ‘sleeper agents‘ for a future war. Walter and Bellie may have wanted to preserve their unique childhood abilities by repressing their ‘inner child’ memories.
  • They were children – the Cortexiphan kids were bound to forget one another if regular contact was broken.
  • Their powers became to harder to control, so they were ‘put to sleep’ until the time came for them to be “activated” as adults.
  • For their own protection. This may tie into the above.
  • To prevent ‘outside forces’ from learning or acquiring their abilities.
  • Olivia chose to. We talk about the power of dreams, isn’t it possible that she could also chosen to forget – perhaps influencing the others to do the same? Perhaps this is a bit too Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. But there’s also the potential flip-side: locking away happy memories, like a photos in a photo album, to be re-opened later.
  • Olivia’s ability to identify objects from the other side may have prompted Walter to sedate her memories of Peter. “Dr. Walter” didn’t want people knowing the truth.
  • Olivia and Peter didn’t meet as children..originally: If you buy my theory of ‘experience happening all at once’, perhaps within that we also have iteration - a cycle of events incurring slight changes during each additional loop. Perhaps their meeting as children was only truly experienced the moment they..ahem..went boom-boom in Peter’s room-room? We could be looking at a series of retroactive memories constantly forming. There may well come a time when the characters ‘suddenly remember’ their childhood meeting.

Here are some possible reasons for Peter not remembering meeting Olivia…

Possible Reasons for Peter’s Memory Impairment:

The absence of Olivia in Peter’s childhood memory is perhaps easier to pinpoint, since we know that he was already predisposed to growing up in another universe – the memories of which were distorted by the ‘culture shock’ and conditioning he endured under his new parents. The consequence was that he eventually ‘forgot’ his original universe – a combination of imagination and the added bonus of the mantra Walter gave him to stop him from having nightmares about his abduction (“Dream Logic“).

I would imagine that without regular contact with Olivia, she too would have been expelled from his memory banks – at least on a conscious level.

As for the possible methods which may have resulted in Olivia forgetting elements of her childhood/Peter, I’d put forward the following suggestions:

Possible Causes of Olivia’s Memory Impairment:

  • Hypnosis. Perhaps the green, green, green, red lights may have played a part – preserving the specific memories in a state between sleep and wakefulness?
  • Cortexi-Powa. Did one of the children have the ability to quieten memories? Could this have been controlled by Walter and Bell?
  • Treatment. We have Cortexiphan, could Bishop &  Bell have concocted a formula that specifically allowed them to negate emotionally charged memories?
  • Technology: Walter has many toys, perhaps he invented something to help them forget?
  • The Observer: We know that at some point he warned Walter not to let Peter go back to the other side (thanks to FB Peanut for the reminder). Did he also have a hand in putting certain aspects of Olivia’s memory to sleep?

Those are just 5 possibilities from the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that we could think up if we put our minds to it.

Other related thoughts:

  • Olivia the adult has a photographic memory.
  • Olivia recently battled with memory loss while trapped in the alternate universe.
  • I’ve suspected for a while that the red thematic for the alternate universe, could also signify memory. Could an entire universe be stitched together from memories?

This is just a framework – if you have any thoughts on the above, or the spotless minds of P-Olivia, feel free to share in the comments so we can make it all fit together.

Comments

  1. deneph says

    I’m not convinced that Peter did forget. He has a conman past, he could have known the whole time and maybe used them to get back home. He could be going along for the ride for his own purposes.
    And being mad at Walter at ‘finding out’. Maybe he was just mad because he was finally being told the truth, knowing he was right the whole and yet they lied and lied, that would tick me off too.
    Olivia, I think we’ll find out that her memories of being tested were removed somehow.

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    • Annette says

      I agree. I believe Peter gave in to the lie because he knew he wasn’t going home. He resigned his memories to the dust bin and began living in his new world.

      Olivia was traumatized. And photographic memory or not, our subconscious is geared to protect us from trauma by burying hurtful memories. Our subconscious filters our perception.

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      • says

        “I agree. I believe Peter gave in to the lie because he knew he wasn’t going home. He resigned his memories to the dust bin and began living in his new world.”

        Oh, indeed. I’m certainly not disputing that. (though I think it was more a case of giving in and using his imagination to make-believe).

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    • says

      @deneph:

      I agree that Peter remembered on a ‘subconscious’ level, but I doubt he was conning Walter/Olivia all of this time. Unless that’s the rattlesnake in the mailbox. I’m not ruling it out, but the writers would have to go some to make that fit.

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      • deneph says

        I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the first season since it aired so there could be details that throw this right out, but from what I can remember, I think an argument could be made. I think I have an easier time believing that he’s conning them to a point rather than he just blocked it out. And I didn’t buy that he believed Elizabeth saying she was his mom so that’s just egging me on too. And we’ve seen that he’s willing to leave them out and follow is own agenda, killing the shape shifters and all.

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        • says

          “I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the first season since it aired so there could be details that throw this right out, but from what I can remember, I think an argument could be made. I think I have an easier time believing that he’s conning them to a point rather than he just blocked it out.”

          I may not be on the boat with that one, but it’s possible. As you say, an argument can indeed be made.

          “And I didn’t buy that he believed Elizabeth saying she was his mom so that’s just egging me on too. And we’ve seen that he’s willing to leave them out and follow is own agenda, killing the shape shifters and all.”

          I think it’s a fine line. My reading is that he didn’t necessarily believe her 100%, but that he decided to go along with it, using his ‘imagination’ to believe that it was true. His subconscious took care of the rest over the years, protecting him from the harmful reality.

          Re: the shapeshifters. I hear you, although my take is that the Boom-Boom-Machine essentially extracted his subconscious urges, bringing them to the surface. This possibly supports the idea that he was only subconsciously aware about the truth of his origins – until they came flooding back to the surface in “TMFTOS”.

          I think the subconscious is tricky like that, playing the duel role of the protagonist and antagonist.

          That’s just my take though.

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          • deneph says

            Okay, I’m watching Brown Betty. Olivia tells Nina that she’s looking for Peter because his girlfriend thinks he’s in trouble and Nina says this…

            “Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me. Whatever trouble he’s in, I’m sure he deserves much worse. Peter Bishop is a con man with many talents and many identities — all of them suspect. Small cons to large scale industrial espionage, with only one person’s interests at heart — his own. ”

            Just putting it out there. He could be playing them all.

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            • says

              “He could be playing them all.”

              True, he could be.

              I’m not sure “Brown Betty” tells us anything new in that regard. I think the important question for such a scenario to hold weight is why? Why would Peter pretend not to remember? To get home? But he went home, stopped off for a bacon sarnie, and then went back.

              I like the idea of such a twist, as it would make PBie more interesting, but I’m not sure this particular reveal would ‘sit well’ within the established continuity of the show.

              The one way I think it could possibly work is if they make certain events of the narrative (if not the entire story so far) the unreliable ramblings of an unreliable narrator. Something like that could make it more workable.

              So, not entirely ruling your theory out – I would just need to massage it to something more meta-orientated.

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  2. Peanut says

    This is mainly from what I previously posted on Fringe Forum:

    I have always thought that it was highly improbable that Peter & Olivia had whole chunks of missing memories—entire years, evidently. It is more plausible that hooking up Peter to the car batteries was maybe electroshock therapy that made him forget a brief period in his life, especially in a confusing situation in which he was a sickly child kidnapped by an identical-looking set of parents who lived in a similar setting. There’s some inconsistency there, in my opinion, such as Peter can remember things that appear to be from his “red” period–such as feeling that he liked bacon & not liking custard so at least some of the precrossover memories must still be bleeding through.

    In Olivia’s case, however, it involves years of missing memories—& this person is supposed to have a photographic memory. Remember that she has had others’ memories implanted electrically (John Scott) & chemically (Fauxlivia) & still was able to revert to herself. I cannot imagine a method—other than removing parts of her brain, a la Walter—that would cause the kind of memory gaps that Olivia has.

    It was at least more probable when we were told that the Cortexiphan experiments ceased in 1983. Then, at least you could say that Olivia didn’t remember because she was so young. I also find it strange that Olivia did not follow up on the “assault in the pastry shop” & quiz Walter (or others such as fellow Cortexicans) further about what was done to her if she truly does not remember (a trained Federal agent doesn’t know how to ask questions?). And she does not want to know? Someone who is so driven to solve cases does not want to solve her own? I’d be digging away myself until I had answers.

    Even if something was done to the Cortexikids, wiping out entire years (six years) of someone’s memory is just not plausible. Every other Cortexican but Olivia could remember at least one other child—& Olivia was the one with a photographic memory. Nick Lane very clearly remembered Olivia. Even the female lawyer killed by James Heath remembered another Cortexican—and apparently, she had not been activated by the ZFT or whoever it was that was going around activating the Cortexicans.

    Olivia remembered her abusive stepfather & shooting him. If she were going to have a “repressed childhood trauma,” that would certainly fill the bill. Her memories of “Bishop & Bell’s Happy Times & Unethical Experiments Daycare” (Therese Odell’s term), on the other hand, seem to have been happier for Olivia than those of being at home so why doesn’t she remember them?

    The best explanation is that Olivia “chose” to forget–thanks to Roco for bringing that point up. But then do we really think that memories of the same period of time are missing for Walter, Peter, & Olivia & that there are three DIFFERENT explanations for why their memories went on the lam?

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    • says

      “Olivia remembered her abusive stepfather & shooting him.”

      that’s exactly the point. I don’t think that memories are suppressed selectively during such a trauma. most of the times you either focus on the things that made you happy (while suppressing the bad) or you can’t remember this certain period at all.
      Imo, she was made to forget the experiments. given the technique walter used to begin the session with the kids (in the very beginning of the ep, just after the opening credits) – standing in a cricle, telling them to imagine to let the world slip away- Roco’s hypnosis theory seems to be a good explanation…

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    • becca says

      I think choice is likely a very big element: I think there’s a deliberate parallel between Peter’s choice to play along with the lie until it became real and Olivia’s (in my opinion at least partial) choice to exist as Fauxlivia because it was easier than insisting on the truth, both occurring at the moments their mothers embraced them. The fine line between belief and choosing to believe is present in both moments.

      I think it’s likely that she was “made” to forget, but I also think it’s likely that Olive’s magic brain could have rejected that programming (as Nick Lane’s may well have), had she truly [i]wanted[/i] to remember. It certainly suggests that she, even more than the other kids, wanted to forget.

      However, I do think it’s worth noting that I don’t think we need to believe she had years of her memories removed. The project may have been restarted after Peter’s kidnapping and shut down shortly afterwards. That daycare seems to be exclusively for those nine or ten kids, so Olivia may only have spent time there as a toddler and then again for a few months as an eight year old.

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    • says

      “But then do we really think that memories of the same period of time are missing for Walter, Peter, & Olivia & that there are three DIFFERENT explanations for why their memories went on the lam?”

      Peanut, that’s a very interesting question. I had a similar thought regarding Walter – does he remember that P&O met as children? Or could he be keeping it a secret, for some reason? Definitely something to think about.

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  3. Inter-dimensional Dave says

    First of all, now that Peter and Olivia have a shared childhood, it kind of scotches my theory that Peter and Altlivia resonate so well together because they are from the same universe. They have that symbiotic harmony or shared frequency that keeps them in tune with each other.

    But wait! Peter and Olivia now share a childhood and they clicked immediately. They now make such beautiful music together they are positively “N’sycn”. Where Peter and Altlivia’s relationship has a more “sciency” explanation to it. Olivia and Peter’s relationship is more emotional.

    Sigh, which takes back to the BBM and Peters effect on it. Will the BBM register Peters emotional response to Olivia or his symbiotic one with Altlivia?

    But I digress. I would think one of the main reasons Peter and Olivia lost their childhood memories may have been caused by some childhood trauma. Perhaps even a shared psychological trauma. Maybe Walter nudged this trauma along by experimenting on Peter by endangering him to elicit a response from Olivia. This endangerment freaked her out so much she set fire to the lab, killed the assistant and transported herself somewhere. This freaked Peter out so much that he shared in the trauma and they both wiped their memories clean of the incident.

    Sound good?

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    • dana says

      “Will the BBM register Peters emotional response to Olivia or his symbiotic one with Altlivia?”

      excellent thought!

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    • says

      “Perhaps even a shared psychological trauma.”

      This is a fine candidate. T’would certainly streamline affairs.

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  4. real1 says

    Olivia was remembering her mother , while she was 6 years old going to the cinema , as she is remembering her stepfather , but not any thing more .

    Walter said to her : she was choosing to forget and to block her memories , still I think Olivia is not belonging to our universe ! I think there is more in the store for Olivia .

    Peter since age 8 to 18 he isn’t remembering his childhood , I guess that this Peter is a body from the red universe and the soul is for the blue universe .

    :D

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  5. Jenn says

    Guys, they were SEVEN. YEARS. OLD. How many memories do you have from when you were seven? A handful at most, right? All the theories put forth by Roco are fabulous, and when you combine any of them with the fact that they were little kids, it is completely possible to forget.
    As for Peter, his makes perfect sense without any memory “tampering.” Think of his earlier memories- with parents who look exactly the same in a house that looks exactly the same…. His whole concept of a different “universe” is based on a feeling, slight differences in behavior, and a blimpe. That is just not enough to sustain a strong memory into adulthood. Plus, he was also offered an acceptable explanation from someone he knows and loves. Everyone in his life is physically identical to what he knew. While Olivia probably needed some scientific intervention (I personally like the theories of the green-green-red and the observer because that’s awesome), Peter’s transition was so slight that I don’t see him needing any help to make the little leap onto “our side” and then forgetting about the whole thing. I’m sure he even has memories from the other side that he didn’t remember were from the other universe because they’re so similar.

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  6. Solis says

    and I don’t agree with the comments about peter was aware of being from another world and when walter told him he just made sure of it … simply because peter had no Idea about the whole wicked , strange things that were happening in the world , not until olivia brought him back in the pilot, and he didn’t even know that there is more then one world ,!
    —————————————————-
    I’m not ok with the Idea Of “simpely forgetting ”
    since the the beginning of the show we saw that:
    - peter doesn’t remember anything about his childhood and yet in this episode he seems to remember everything about his life on the other side , if he lived with the Idea of being confused because of ilness and then continued his life as a normale kid with loving parents why would he forget his toys ! his childhood, and we also know that he had nightmares about somebody stealing him from his bedroom (dream logic)
    yes people forget but not everything and especially him nearly dying twice at the R lake, I think he didn’t (even remember this erea (there is more than one of everything)
    - and if olivia forgot about meeting peter, she could never forget seeing walter’s face ! they spend sooo much time together , and she crossed over and knows they were two universes, she was young enough to remember the daycare , in “jacksonville” she tels peter that she doesn’t remember anything in that place ! and also she doesn’t remember her step father abusing her , but DOES REMEMBER HIM ABUSING HER MOTHER which made me think that walter threatning the step father wasn’t useless maybe he stoped abusing her and kept hurting her mother , but she only remembers him beating her mother so I understood that something happend between those two events
    something that made her forget the past days ! and only remembers what happends next (hitting her mother )

    we have two persons here , one with a photographic memory and the other with 190IQ it’s quit a far suggestion that they fogot all theses moments THE BAD AND ALSO THE GOOD which is confusing !!
    I came up with this theory : maybe peter and olivia met again after a few days , shared a conversation and olivia told him about the other universe , so he became furious once more about his origines , and walter decided to put a stop to this knowing that olivia is the reason, he had to make sure she doesn’t cause any more dammage using her abilities , and that peter completely forget about his childhood :D, for the tools and the ways he used : well defining walter anything is possible !

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    • jophan says

      I figure that Olivia’s memory was wiped, but not for another year or more after this episode. One of the other features of the episode is that she is still wearing colors. This means that the indoctrination of the Cortexiphan kids as the future gatekeepers has not yet been completed and may not have been started. It is likely that the treatment to their memories occurred after that indoctrination.

      As for Peter, we saw him choose to go along. It may be that for a time, he was conscious of his own self-deception. But one of the other features of his life is repeated illnesses (as he said in “Unearthed”). A high fever could have caused a certain amount of memory loss with no effort at all by Walter.

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  7. Karo says

    They should just show us that Walter made them forget, memories removal, hypnosis, anything to move on. I don’t like this debate, it detracts from the real story and could have been easily answered with one or two lines of dialogue.

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  8. jen says

    perhaps they dont remember because it was a long time ago, i mean i can’t remember much of anything from when i was that age, so it could be a simple explanation like that….?

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  9. alexis says

    i’m inclined to think that, as roco said, olive and the other cortexikids were “put to sleep”. i believe william bell and walter did something to make them forget everything, and william bell does tell olivia in “there’s more than 1 of everything” about their intention of activating them should war come upon our world. so it looks that walter and bell are in control of their abilities. they “programmed” the kids so they would respond to a specific “call”, they made part of their minds dormant only to activate them when necessary.

    i just don’t buy that both olive and peter would completely forget evrything. these are the kind of events that stay with you. and even if peter gives in and decides to believe elizabeth he would bot forget having believed that he was from another universe, feeling that he would have revisited when the altern universe started to come into play. and it makes perfect sense given the kind of person that walter was.

    and i don’t think peter would forget olivia easily, either. even if they didn’t have any contact for years, they seemed to have a very trascendent conection. and meeting her is intricately connected to peter’s finally deciding to go along with elizabeth’s lie.

    this memory loss needs to be explained eventually. another flashback episode is in order!! plus, we need to see the story revolving around how olive shoots her stepdad. so there’s enough material, i’d say!

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  10. says

    Sorry at this age you do remember things…I think that wonder tank of Walters is involved. Putting Olive and Peter into it and somehow clouding their memories. They share a common character, they both tend to keep people at arms length (something Peter mentioned). Walter needed them to forget, Olive crossing over and Peter where he was from; remember the Observer told Walter, Peter should never go back to his world.

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  11. Phoenix219 says

    On Peter’s childhood: I think it might have started to click for Peter in S1 when Walter started talking about other universes, but as a child, he probably just adapted and went with it. I have some alternate views on Peter in the toy store; It seemed to me like Peter was moving to what was familiar to him (objects common between the 2 universes) and she was then buying him what was familiar to best duplicate what his world should have been like. He recognized Joust, and was drawn to the planes; (i don’t believe the AU doesn’t have them.)

    On Olivia’s childhood: The other Cortexi-kids were “not supposed to remember” so that combined with the trauma of her step father, it makes a lot of sense to me. I also believe the photographic memory is a effect of the cortixphan (another reason Altlivia doesn’t have it) so its possible that it manifested as such after she was closed off from the memories of what she could really do.

    The timeline seems to be:

    Early ’80s, initial experiments with young children and cortexiphan; They were probably too young at this point to need a memory wipe. This would be when they were initially experimenting with the other universe, getting random objects back in transfers (the things Olivia sees in the room) and the events with the 70s chick that knew Peter was sick. I am undecided on whether the experiments stopped for a few years, and were later restarted when Walter saved Peter, or were a continuing excercise over a few years, but either way the mindwipe was probably to erase any trace of the AU once Walter decided to keep Peter (possibily after the Observer told him not to return Peter.) I would tend to believe that this conversation takes place after the events we just saw; If not, we have to assume that Walter is lying to Elizabeth about trying to return Peter. I’ll have to rewatch some episodes and double check the context of that conversation.

    I would also assume that Olivia has begun fires at two different occaisions at this point. The lack of progress over the years with the children (and the ease of the mindwipes) leads me to believe they were put on hold for a few years, and restarted once things were riled up with Peters crossing over.

    Either way this leads to the question: Why was Bell preparing for war and getting the kids ready to be future super soliders BEFORE Walternate was ever an enemy? Did he know the future? Was he told? Or is there something larger? Another reason for war? Or War with something else? ANOTHER ‘verse? The Observers?

    I hope they didn’t just mess up the timeline, and that the cortexiphan trials were going on the same time that Walter was figuring out how to cross over and retrieve Peter, and that the events on the video tape were just represented differently when we saw them live, and that it was all one event, in one giant retcon.

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  12. mlj102 says

    Thanks for putting this together, Roco. As always, it was fascinating to read. Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with the whole memory thing. As I mentioned in the episode comments, it makes sense and seems reasonable that they both have no memory.

    For Peter, I feel like he made the decision to let go of the life he was so desperately holding onto and, in exchange, he chose to trust what Elizabeth told him. Because of that, his mind forgot the details of the other side, the things that were different, and it blocked those things out. As we’ve seen, he’s had moments where he sees something as different than he’d remembered (first example that comes to mind is the scar on the army doll in Inner Child), but he just dismisses it as an inaccurate memory. I believe this is largely the reason why he doesn’t remember being from the other side. It’s not that Peter doesn’t remember his childhood… he just doesn’t remember being from the other side or anything related to that adjustment time. And it makes sense that he would forget all of that if he trained his mind to believe he really was from over here. Add to that that I expect Walter contributed in some way to helping him forget (at the very least by helping him to block his nightmares), and it seems reasonable that he would have no memory of any of that or any of the events in this episode.

    As for Olivia, I fully believe that someone (Walter/Bell) did something to cause her and the other Cortexiphan Kids to forget. Two quotes in particular lead me to that conclusion:

    First, in Jacksonville, Olivia tells Peter: “I have a freakishly good memory. I remember everything. But not this. There’s just nothing that’s familiar.”

    To me, this suggests that Olivia has not forgotten her whole childhood, as some have claimed, but that her memory loss is only surrounding the events of the Cortexiphan Trials. So the daycare center, crossing to the other side, starting fires, knowing people like Walter, Peter, and Nick, etc., were all somehow forgotten. And with all the things we’ve seen Walter do, it does not seem unbelievable to me that he and Bell found a way to cause the kids to forget specific events. Add to that the idea of her young age (even in this episode, she was young enough that the memories would fade over time) and the concept of repressing traumatic memories, and it seems reasonable that she would have blocked out those memories.

    Second, in Bad Dreams, Olivia meets Nick and when she doesn’t remember him, he tells her, “I think they meant for us to forget. I just couldn’t.”

    This seems to reinforce the idea that Walter/Bell wanted the Cortexiphan Kids to forget. For whatever reason (and Roco pointed out many good potential reasons), when they finished the trials, they wanted them to forget it all and for those memories and experiences and abilities to lie dormant while they grew up. The fact that Nick remembered so clearly was some sort of fluke. And while the others were able to recall vague memories, for the most part, they had all forgotten the details. Which seems to be the best solution since Nick didn’t fare too well with his memories intact. Olivia’s memory loss seems to be extreme in that it was so complete in blocking out anything related to the trials, but again, I attribute that to the fact that she had more than just whatever Walter/William did to make her forget that had a role in causing her to block out those memories.

    As for the timeline, here is my take on things:

    1981-1983ish: Walter and William conduct the Cortexiphan Trials. This is when they administer the Cortexiphan to the young children and first document some of the various abilities. This is when young Olivia first started a fire with her mind. As Walter explained to Olivia in Jacksonville when she walked in on him watching the movie of her in the burnt room, that happened the first time she saw the other side and she got scared and started a fire with her mind. It was also around this time that Olivia first recognized objects from Over There as having a glimmer (again, reference Jacksonville). I believe this might have been what caused Walter to learn of the existence of the other side (which would explain why Walternate was unaware, because he never did those experiments). I also think this explains why Walter later believed the children might be able to cross to the other side and take Peter back. If they could see objects from the other side, and glimpse the other side, then it’s not too far of a leap to think they could go there as well.

    1983ish-1985: Walter temporarily abandons the Cortexiphan experiments because Peter becomes sick, so he begins devoting all of his efforts to developing a cure, though he eventually gives up on trying to find a cure on his own. He even temporarily attempts to build a transportation device that would bring the doctor from the past to cure Peter, but abandons that idea when he decides to start observing Walternate’s attempts at a cure. This leads to the events in Peter.

    1985-1986ish: After making the choice to keep Peter here, and seeing Peter’s reluctance to accept this world, Walter returns to the Cortexiphan experiments in hopes of finding a way to send Peter back over there. He starts working to understand the children’s abilities, and to help them develop and control those abilities. That’s what we see in Subject 13. He knows emotions play a big factor, but he hasn’t connected specifically which emotions until he further experiments on Olivia. We know that he was continuing to experiment with travel between the two sides up into 1986, when they sent the car over there, causing an alternate car came back in return. I imagine he continues to experiment on the children for awhile, before deciding to abandon the experiments. That decision could be determined by various factors, including the fact that Peter started to accept his life here, the observer’s warning, as well as by Olivia shooting her step-father. There’s a big chance that after she shot him, Olivia’s mom took her family and left Jacksonville. Walter realized they would be unable to continue the experiments and decided to end them. Before Olivia left, Walter and William made sure to erase/block her memories of those events.

    1986ish-later years: Walter and William continue their various research projects while Walter slowly goes crazy. In 1991, there is a mysterious fire in the lab which kills Carla Warren. The specific events surrounding this fire are still unknown, but I don’t believe they are connected to the Cortexiphan ability of firestarting. Perhaps something to do with Walternate and what’s going on Over There, or some other classified experiment Walter and William were working on that we don’t know about yet. At any rate, Walter gets sent to St. Claire’s (1991), William goes on to establish Massive Dynamic (1992), Olivia’s mom dies, though we don’t know the circumstances surrounding her death (1992), Elizabeth commits suicide (1995), Fringe events begin occurring with increasing frequency, and from there, we know the rest.

    I could be completely wrong, but for now, that’s how I am interpreting and processing it all, and it makes sense to me. So for what it’s worth, there you have it.

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    • FinChase says

      MLJ, I think you’ve accounted for the events quite logically, and have included all the “canon” events we know about to this point. I’m defining “canon” as being something that was presented on an episode of the show, no matter how early it was.

      The only thing you didn’t add was the writing of the ZFT manuscript. When did Bell/Walter write this, assuming they didn’t just copy it from elsewhere on Bellie’s old typewriter? I also think that it is interesting that the events in “Subject 13″ suggest that Walternate wasn’t even aware of the existence of another universe (he certainly didn’t suspect that his son had been taken there by his double). Now that doesn’t mean that someone else in the Red universe wasn’t aware of it, but it hints that not only did Walter start the decay of their world, he basically provoked the war. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the experiments that resulted in Rebecca Kibner seeing shapeshifters didn’t occur until the late 80s.

      Regarding the death of Carla Warren, I’ve wondered if it might not have been the result of some action on Walternate’s part to cross over from his Harvard lab to our universe’s Harvard lab, just as Olivia crossed from his old lab to Walter’s. We know from “Over There Part 2″ that he worked on it for a time and had equipment in that lab to aid him. I don’t know why he did the work there rather than at Bishop Dynamic, but evidently he did. Perhaps Carla was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or perhaps she was taken back to the Red universe, and her “death by fire” was simply a cover-up. I hope we get that story eventually, just as I hope we find out the full story about Olivia’s mother.

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      • mlj102 says

        “The only thing you didn’t add was the writing of the ZFT manuscript.”

        You’re right, I did forget that, didn’t I? And I suppose that’s because we really have no specific information regarding it, so anything I could say is pretty much pure speculation. I imagine ZFT was written around the late 80′s/early 90′s. Over There, it was written and published in 1995. I think Over Here was slightly earlier, around the time Walter was sent to St. Claire’s. I imagine it would have been written after they had done some extensive research and experimentation involving the other side and the Cortexiphan Kids. Of course, I really have no facts to base this off of, just my personal instinct in this case. It will be interesting to see if they help narrow down the time frame in future episodes.

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  13. Phoenix219 says

    I don’t think the kids helped him discover the other side; Didn’t he and Bellie swap a car or something earlier than that? Plus they had to have objects to glimmer documented for the tests, which i assume are random objects returned to our side after Bell sent objects to that side. Possibly even IN the car!

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  14. Phoenix219 says

    Thats what i get for posting before i’ve finished reading. Are you sure the car stuff is in ’86? It seems like it would make a lot more sense if that was the early experiments that led to the device that allowed them to watch Walternate, since they obviously knew about the other universe in the early 80s, and had objects in the early 80s. I assumed it all would come after the car transference.

    Which, by the way, wouldn’t it be helpful in WAR to be able to watch Walternate in that manner NOW??

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    • mlj102 says

      “Thats what i get for posting before i’ve finished reading.”

      :) It’s all good. To be fair, I almost made the same mistake after reading your first comment. I was just about to make some response about how I’d covered that in my initial comment, but I just managed to notice your second response before I started writing. Wouldn’t that have been ironically sad for us to both make the same mistake? I guess it’s sort of human nature to just respond without necessarily taking time to think it out or acknowledge all the information.

      “Are you sure the car stuff is in ’86?”

      As sure as I can be. It all depends on how much you can trust the things the characters say. In Jacksonville, the conversation goes something like this:

      WALTER: Eleven minutes after we successfully made the car disappear, this car appeared from another reality.
      PETER: How do you know that wasn’t just pulled from down the block?
      WALTER: It was in 1986. The car had a CD player. It wasn’t an option at the time.

      So take that for what it’s worth. Personally, I tend to accept it unless something else later on comes along to contradict it. And it makes sense to me as a rational explanation for what caused Walter to learn of the other side. If the children picked up on it first after the experiments, of course he and Bell would try to look into it further. It would be a good reason for him to start experimenting on transporting objects between the two sides (like the car), building a window, etc.

      “Plus they had to have objects to glimmer documented for the tests”

      Not necessarily. They had no reason to expect that objects from the other side gave off a glimmer before Olivia saw it and described it to them.

      Sorry, but right now I like my theory that the children were what caused Walter to learn of the existence of the other side, and I haven’t yet seen anything to disprove that theory. Besides, it has a nice sort of balance to it, don’t you think? The children, mostly Olivia, were the ones that saw the other side and first helped Walter discover it, and it was also Olivia who inadvertently informed Walternate of the existence of an alternate universe.

      As for the window, I agree that it’s rather convenient that they aren’t using that to check up on Walternate. Of course that would make it too easy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw in some excuse, like the fabric between the two sides has changed so much that the concept behind the device no longer works.

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        • mlj102 says

          Yes, Walter broke the window, but I think the point is, what is stopping him from just building another one?

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          • real1 says

            He is forgetting how to do it again maybe ? or this window is not belong to Walter .. it’s not him who did create it , this window is from the third universe ? maybe

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            • Justin says

              Walter and Belly first found out about the alt-verse while they were tripping balls. I assume they tried to prove it scientifically after that.

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  15. Phoenix219 says

    Fundamentally it just all doesn’t make sense. Where did the objects come from in the first place then? And if they didn’t know about the other universe, why would they ever think there was a significance to the glimmer? The mass-for-mass transfers with the car are a totally different way of crossing over than the door Walter opens in Peter, so I suppose they could just be working on alternatives in ’86, but by then, Walter would have known more, including not to return Peter, as per the Observers orders. He would definately know that his original way of crossing over was no longer viable, so working out the harmonic transfer makes sense, but i also got the impression that when the car showed up with the cd player that it was a *shock* and a major clue that this car was from somewhere else, not that they were purposefully trying to find ways to cross over post-Peter. If the car returned random objects, I assumed the same type of experiments (if not the car itself) provided the objects for Olivia to see. In your timeline, where did these objects come from, if they were somehow there, crossed over FIRST before either Walter or Walternate knew about the other universes (since u like the idea of Olivia clueing him in with her ability). The experiments that resulted in Rebecca Kibner seeing shapeshifters definately didn’t occur in the late 80s, because she knew Peter BEFORE he died, and was surprised, so she would definately be in the earliest form of cortexiphan trials (which also gives an odd, early date for the existance of the shapeshifters as well.) – pre 1985.

    It just makes sense to me to think, they stumbled onto the car transfers, found some objects, started watching the other universe; got government funding, and proceeded with experimentation for a few years. Then gave up post-Peter as per the Observers request (but we really don’t know what rabbit hole they opened, or what William or Walter were truly doing between the mid 80s and his incarceration.

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    • mlj102 says

      “I suppose they could just be working on alternatives in ’86, but by then, Walter would have known more, including not to return Peter, as per the Observers orders.”

      Not necessarily… Unless I’m mistaken, we have no way of knowing when the observer gave his warning to Walter. It could have come much later than 1986.

      “but i also got the impression that when the car showed up with the cd player that it was a *shock* and a major clue that this car was from somewhere else”

      But that’s not the case. The car showing up was not the event that caused Walter to learn of the existence of the other side. Again, referencing Jacksonville:

      WALTER: When Belly and I first tried to generate a stable door between universes, our first test subject was a car — Belly’s old Monte Carlo — and it did not go well.
      PETER: First times are always sloppy.
      WALTER: It wasn’t our first time.

      They already knew about the other side and they were experimenting with ways to travel between the two sides. And I think Walter said it was the “first” time for two reasons: 1) because it was the first time they were trying to open a STABLE door, not just a temporary door, and 2) because he wouldn’t tell Peter that the first time was when he went over to take him. As he later said, it wasn’t the first time. So it’s clearly implied that this came after the events in Peter. And there was nothing accidental about it, aside from the fact that they didn’t necessarily expect another object to be deposited over here in exchange for the car they sent over there. We may have to agree to disagree because I’m still sticking to my theory.

      As for the glimmering objects, there are any number of ways they could have gotten those objects. And there’s a whole range of time in which they could have acquired them. We don’t even know what the objects are. And I really don’t view them as incredibly significant, anyway. But of course they would have considered the glimmer as significant because objects don’t typically glimmer, so of course they would have looked into that further. Again, in Jacksonville, Walter points out that Olivia described the glimmer 26 years ago, which would be around 1984, a couple of years before the car experiment in 1986.

      Rebecca Kibner is one key element that I find I tend to forget quite frequently. And, honestly, I have no idea where she fits in to events because everything else seems to indicate that Shapeshifters did not exist at that point. I’m willing to view that whole timeline as a contrivance to fit the needs for the story. They needed someone who could identify shapeshifters and hint at the fact that Peter was from the other side. And unless they follow up on it with more specific information, that’s going to be my conclusion.

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  16. g33k says

    Four things:
    1) THANKS ROCO YOUR WORK IS AWESOME!!!
    2) If Walter requested Bell removed parts of his brain so he forgot then I think the need to forget events must have been so drastic that they must have felt the need to ensure the children forgot in case they knew something dangerous that would put them at risk.
    3) If Olive can purge memories (John Scott), merge them (Altlivia’s shooting skills in “Concentrate…”) and remember things photographically then who is to say she can’t edit them as well. She trusted Walter enough in this episode to tell him about her step-father maybe she ends up trusting him enough in another flashback episode to try and edit her and kids memories also.
    4) If that’s is how the memory loss gets explained then it would make sense Nick and the other cortexi-kids remember the trials and she doesn’t, because they are immune to each others abilities.

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  17. Phoenix219 says

    With Walter’s memories gone, it left Bell as the only person that knew how to cross over, and he was hiding in plain sight with Walternate. It was keeping the universes and the war at bay, preventing radicals, terrorists and worse, from getting ahold of the technology while keeping it away from the shapeshifters, who’s way of travel seemed to be 1 way and clunky and dangerous for humans. I really do wonder if Bishop really asked for Bell’s help; It seems like a coup (with best intentions) that Bell might have pulled to keep things safe while he tried to control things from the other side. Massive Dynamic was apparently modeled after Bishop Dynamic in some ways, and we know that there was a lot of stolen technology involved.

    I wonder what Bell knows about the Observers, and how much he knows about the bigger picture, not just Walternate and his petty little agenda.

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