Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive clues and easter eggs round-up for episode 3.19 “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”.
We dive deep into the mythology, symbolism and resonating factors to explore the meaning and unlock the interconnected mystery of Fringe.
Observing The Observer
The Observer can be seen at the hospital as Bellivia is brought in for seizures.
This is his second hospital sighting on the spin.
What A Wally
Astrid calls Walter “Wally” for calling her “Astro”. Wally is short for Walter, but also refers to the popular children’s book “Where’s Wally?” (known as “Waldo” in the US and Canada) by British illustrator Martin Handford.
The quip has additional meaning because of the episode’s lengthy animated visuals and the journey into Olivia’s mind amid legions of projections.
A Pour Man’s Olivia
In my Observations for the previous episode, “Bloodline”, I suggested that the dripping tap signified Altlivia’s subconscious fears/emotions leaking through. I said the following:
My take is that her subconscious emotions are leaking through - it’s becoming real. Sure, the waters are still gushing within, but what happens when they begin seeping through the cracks? How do you stop the projections materializing?
We have a nice contrast in 3.19 with water pouring freely from the open tap, as if to allude to the fact that Olivia’s subconscious is running amock – as we later see, her fears have indeed heightened.
It’s also interesting that Bellie should be cleaning his hands – as if he’s washing away his sins, pointing towards his eventual ‘cleansing’ upon sacrificing himself so that Olivia could survive.
No Bell Lie
Bellie’s avatar can be seen on the table.
Birds of a Tether
One could get the impression that Walter grabs a tether so they don’t get lost in Olivia’s mind. Figuratively.
In Her Mind
Once in Olivia’s mind we’re provided with a deeper sense of how she feels about the world. I’m going with the idea that the Bishops attire is provided by Olivia’s mind. (though I am intrigued by the possibility that they could influence the construct, if they tried).
Peter comes equipped with sunglasses, possibly because Olivia still finds him somewhat closed off and mysterious.
Her idealized version of him – Projection Peter – doesn’t wear sunglasses. Peter does, however, sport Projection Peter’s coat.
Walter enters on top of a bus. As I said in my review, it’s probably because Olivia believes he gets carried away with his ideas very easily and has to be helped down to keep him grounded. The “humility” that Bellie spoke of has yet to fully manifest in Olivia’s eyes.
When We Wear Projections
Olivia’s dresses her Projections according to her own palette – one that she and the other Cortexiphan subjects developed due to their strong desire to blend in. Walter stresses that they were “designed” that way.
Also, note the “Be Vortex Aware” poster in the background – this is one of the items from Olivia’s experience in the alternate universe. It signifies the promise she made to Broylnate (to do everything she can do save both worlds) hasn’t been forgotten – at least subconsciously.
It may also speak of her anxiety. She’s being sucked under, overwhelmed by her fears.
Olivia is aware that chocolate pudding is Walter’s favorite. This is important enough to be in her mind (albeit discarded).
Altlivia once used cakes to get to Walter’s heart. Olivia might not buy him cakes but she knows his favorite pudding. A reflective clue which Walter then uses to communicate with Bellie.
Note the tilted camera. We’ve seen this effect employed during moments where someone’s intentions are dubious or unclear. Sam Weiss, Nina, Walternate, and Brandonate spring to mind.
Here it’s used to subtly alert the audience that Broyles had become unhinged by unwittingly taking LSD. Notice also how he appears to be slightly above our perspective, illustrating his ‘high’ state of mind.
A Vine Old Time
He takes one Red Vine from a jar of many and muses on the infinite spirals. Broyles becomes drawn to it as though he is being consumed by the spirals.
Spirals, of course, are everywhere in nature and have been used before to convey the cyclical nature of the story and the universes at the heart of it.
Peter notes that the “towers are out of proportion, we should be closer by now”. Walter suggests that Olivia’s mind is “assigning importance”, and reminds him that their surroundings represent her “emotional landscape”.
It’s worth remembering that Olivia met Bellie in the Twin Towers Over There at the end of Season 1. While it was seeing the Towers on a gift shop postcard after the traveled back from Over There that helped Olivia to reclaim her identity (above).
- Aside: At the bottom left of the first capture we can see Olivia’s stepfather before Walter notices him.
Step No Farther
Olivia’s stepfather and the other Projections become aware of the intruders. The mind wants to protect itself at the best of times, it’s like an automatic security system.
We’ve seen echoes of this: Olivia’s mind locked away Bellie’s message (“Momentum Deferred”) to protect her from the shapeshifters who would otherwise have killed her. While Projection Peter manifested from her subconscious to help remind Olivia who she was.
Olivia’s mind is particularly hostile at this point – a consequence of her protective inclination and loss of identity courtesy of Bellie’s arrival.
In a very game-like scenario, Walter and Peter make a mad dash for the taxi. This represents something of a safe haven for Olivia due to the fact that Henry, the first ally she encountered while trapped Over There, was the one who helped her return.
It’s as though Olivia’s mind, on some sub-subconscious level, has left the taxi there for Peter and Walter – the protective side of her mind silently working against the hostile majority.
It’s very cyclical.
Like Henry, it seems Walter knows all the best shortcuts.
Walter really enjoys himself in the taxi, driving in a manner that he is pretty much unable to in the ‘real world’ (he even does a skid).
For me, this is an example of the latitude that this ‘inner universe’ permits the adventurer. Walter may not be the ‘controller’ of Olivia’s mind, but he had a massive hand in (re) “designing” it.
Peter becomes suspicious of Nina when she guides them to the ‘fastest’ elevator. She’s offering them a shortcut and Peter gradually cottons on to the fact that not all manifestations exist to project and serve.
He then spots he arm of Nin-Rod (still the right one) which is normally covered with skin. Something’s not right.
Peter saves Walter from the elevator shaft and ‘kills’ Projection Nina who descends. Fatality!
Nina’s actions illustrate that Olivia still doesn’t trust her. It could be viewed that Nina was trying to protect Olivia, but while the subconscious mind is generally a protective realm, it can also be destructive and harmful to the owner.
This is later verified by Bellie who says that Olivia is her own worst enemy. Furthermore, Olivia’s Bad Dad Projecticon also tries to harm the Bishops – and he certainly wasn’t trying to protect Olivia.
So while there’s room for interpretation, I do think that Nina is presented as a trickster because it’s how Olivia feels about her.
“She tried to kill us..I don’t like this place” – Walter
As Peter and Walter travel up the levels it becomes more dangerous, as any game worth its salt would.
Mac Catch On
William Bell pours himself a glass of MacCutcheon whisky and takes a sip.
This is another shout-out to LOST. MacCutcheon is the recurring whisky brand that appeared in numerous episodes of the hit series.
The characters consciousnesses are assigned with the colors that thematically represent the various universes. Walter, the speculated third ‘Yellow universe’. Bellie/Olivia, Red universe. Peter, Blue universe.
A bit of fun or underlying meaning? Perhaps interesting that Peter is not assigned the Red sticker, given that he’s from Over There. Similar questions could be asked of Olivia and Bell being marked on Red instead of Blue. If there is any significance to this (other than Astrid’s random impulses) perhaps it implies a hidden truth or a future consequence.
The landscape of Olivia’s mind. Some of the more interesting aspects include:
- The Eiffel Tower. A preferred destination? A reference to Dr. Paris (AKA William Bell)?
- Massive Dynamic
- A roller coaster. One of her happiest moments in recent times was taking Ella on a roller coaster.
- The alternate universe Fringe Division headquarters
- Plenty of water, representing the subconscious reservoir. Her mind is fertile.
- Hopeful sunshine
The zombified people likely represented Brandonate, who conducted experiments on Olivia while she was in the alternate universe.
The zeppelin is also likely to be a subconscious memory from Olivia’s time in the alternate universe. Though it could be from Altlivia’s memories which were assimilated into Olivia’s by Walternate.
The color is also note-worthy, given that red is both Olivia’s lucky color and the thematic marker for the alternate universe.
The engine room door, where Man X was trapped, is also red. This may further hint at Man X’s origins.
Myself and others have already tossed around many speculations on Man X here. One thing that has recently come to my mind, however, is that Man X’s question to Peter “how many are up there?”, could refer to how many are still alive in the ‘real world’. As in outside of Olivia’s consciousness. It would be pretty interesting if Man X was a stowaway in that context.
Red Her Thoughts
Yet more intentional red with Man X’s parachute.
The land below is icy. This may say something about Olivia’s feelings towards Man X, given that this is where his winter’s tale will have landed.
There may also be some implied (or otherwise) meaning behind Walter falling. He enters Olivia’s mind getting carried away on top of a bus, before going up the elevator to meet Bellie, then he travels up the ladder into the zeppelin.
The plummet is an effective illustration of ‘death’ and conveys the height from which Walter has, or may one day fall. Particularly if we’re looking at a representation of Reiden lake.
The close-up on Walter’s right eye after waking up from ‘death’ is a nice hat-tip to LOST.
The opening/closing eye thematic was one of the island drama’s most iconic recurring framing elements. These visual shots were usually used to denote a character’s centric episode – an exploration into who they were.
If I remember correctly, Fringe has previously used this kind of eye visual – with Olivia. I’m thinking “Inner Child”.
A Slusho! poster can be seen on the side of a building in the background. Slusho! is a fictional brand of drink often seen on Bad Robot productions (i.e. Cloverfield). It has appeared previously in Fringe and in some of the Fringe promotional art for Season 2. It also appeared on Heroes.
Hitch-bikers Guide To Olivia
There’s no indication as to whether the motor cycle was always there, but there’s the sense that Bellie’s desire to “ride on a motor cycle” was an instance of something I’ve spoke about on the blog before – ‘wish fulfillment’. Bellie was speaking like a man who knew his bell would soon toll.
This notion cannot be confirmed as being the intention, but I think it’s cool to view it that way.
Continuing the color thematic, a Red bird lands on Walter’s shoulder.
The primary episode clue from “Bloodline” for “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” is the red bird that Altlivia passed when she escaped from Walternate’s scientists.
Thanks to cliff for the heads-up.
The show confirms our long-held belief that Red is Olivia’s lucky color. Her real father painted the door red, he told her it was “good luck”.
It would be interesting to know how Sam Weiss knows about Olivia‘s lucky color. Not surprising, but interesting.
Peter steps into the light. LOST fans may have had a reaction.
Little Olivia is drawing when Peter comes to find her. This is fitting given that later on in life her drawings – along with Cortexiphan – enable Olivia to tap into her abilities.
In “Subject 13″ we see that drawing was a means for her to exercise her imagination..
..and make things happen.
Olivia’s penchant for drawing ‘creations’ might offer an explanation for the animated construct of her subconscious. It also implies something interesting about the final scene where she brings Man X into ‘reality’ by drawing him.
Back To When
Olivia’s safe haven included projections of her mother and biological father.
It’s worth noting that Olivia is wearing Pink – this is a time before her life made that turn, before it was about the drab Gray of Cortexi-Wear, or the Red and the Blue of Over There and Over Here.
Olivia lets her guard down and suddenly the construct transforms to Christmas time and her Bad Daddy appears, along with dozens of hostile Projecticons.
What happened at Christmas, Olive?
For Truck’s Sake
Peter saves Olivia from the on-rushing truck, but gets hit himself and wakes up.
Peter’s brush with a truck back in “The Firefly” may have intentionally foreshadowed this moment.
If it was not intentional then its an example of the seeds of serialization cultivating into a living, breathing thing. Meaning extracted from the ‘story consciousness’.
Olivia commanding the Projecticons has shades of this moment (inset) from The Matrix.
Versus The Many
Her growth is recognized, hence the aerial view from above.
It’s also interesting to note that her Bad Daddy is wearing Blue.
Olivia transforms into Adultlivia, wearing the Gray of her Cortexiphan Lineage and the Blue of Over Here.
The Coming Storm
There’s a storm over head – it’s Walter, he’s right on time. The word “storm” carries significance from “Momentum Deferred”, when Olivia remembered Bellie warning her that “a storm was coming”. A storm manifested in that same episode when she was cornered into killing the face of Charlie (Shapeshifter).
Interesting that both Walters should essentially be the driving force behind these respective ‘storms’.
Half of Olivia’s face is cast in shadow. This is the duality she holds as she emerges from her cloud. It may also represent uncertainty regarding Bellie’s message.
A comedic scene with Broyles blowing bubbles, but it also strikes me in another way.
Bubbles speak of creation – using one’s own breath to breathe live into something. Into a universe, if you will. Bubbles offer transparency and a childlike wonder – but their flimsy nature requires that they be protected.
- Vibrant themes of SLEEP in this one, further establishing ‘sleep’ and ‘wakefulness’ as integral overarching themes. As ‘realities’ in themselves.
- Bellie calls Walter a captain before they enter Olivia’s mind. Interesting designation of roles, along the same lines as Walter giving Peter the mantle as “guide”. Bellie was later piloting the zeppelin, however.
- As we know, Olivia and John Scott shared a dreamstate – the methods applied in this episode was a variation on that.
- An opportunity missed to show Astrid taking revenge on Walter for stabbing her in the neck with a needle back in “The Arrival”, by having her really jab the needle into his arm.
- Interesting that Peter should agree with Walter in not liking “this place”. You can’t blame him, but he’s talking about Olivia’s mind.
- The Opus Peahen comic strip from “Bloodline” seems like an additional foreshadowing clue for 3.19 – in reference to the episode’s animation.
- The glyph code for “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” spelled FEARS.