Fringe Review: 3.15 Subject 13


Welcome to our review for chapter 3.15 of Fringe – “Subject 13”.

In this review we provide completely honest opinions on the good and the bad aspects of the episode. We identify the answers that were provided and the mysteries that remain locked away. We take an in-depth look at other aspects of the episode that made an impression on us, before rounding off the review with our final thoughts and episode rating.

THE GOOD

  • The storytelling. I’ve long considered Fringe to be something of a TV novel. Well, those storybook elements really flourished here in a fantasy-meets-reality page-turner. A captivating follow-up to “Peter“, “13″ provided context while encouraging us to really imagine the possibilities.
  • The Characters. I am so pleased to see care and attention given to Walternate’s character. He became fleshier and juicer in just one trip down memory lane, and this can only be good for a story that wants us to experience both sides of the coin. I found myself invested in all the players in this one, and found the themes to be a perfect fit for supporting this character-driven ‘wishing well’ of a episode.
  • John Noble and Orla Brady. They needed to be great to make up for the absence of the other main cast members, and boy where they great. They complimented each other extremely well, bringing a realistic hue to their characters and an ‘brokenness’ that prevented them from being unsympathetic. I think Noble does some of his best work as a more serious version of Walter/nate, and Brady is welcome on Fringe anytime as far as I’m concerned.
  • Young’uns. I thought the young actors did pretty good jobs. Particularly Chandler Canterbury, who did some things that actually made me sympathize with grown boy Peter a bit more. Credit goes to the writing, casting and directing as well. But, as young actors go, I thought he captured some interesting elements of the Peter Brand.
  • Enhanced. I’m sometimes asked what makes a good episode in my eyes. One requirement is that it needs to make me believe in the story. This episode was all about believing and it hit several notes that enhanced my enjoyment of the story’s bigger picture.
  • The Score. Particularly good in this one; supporting the emotion of the scenes very well.
  • Beyond the story. I got the sense that something else was going on. It’s something I touch on below, and may explore further in the Observations column, but there’s certainly potential for this episode to be something of a matryoshka.

THE BAD

  • For the Sake of Continuity. It’s a shame they couldn’t get the same actor as before to play young Peter. I didn’t find it to be a major problem, though, as I thought the young actor did a good job. That being said, there were some wider continuity issues at hand, such as the timeline.
  • Parents? I would have liked to have got more explanation on whether the parents of the ‘Day Care’ children knew the full extent of the experiments Walter was putting their tots through? That seemed like a convenient omission. I mean, seriously, where was Mama Dunham? I guess something had to give, but it would be nice to know.
  • Stepfather. ‘Glad’ is not the word, but it was..useful to finally met Olivia’s stepfather. That being said, I thought he would be a bigger character when he was introduced. There’s still scope for that in the future (should there be a fourth season), but his role here was rather one-note.
  • Retcon. Unless we glimpsed into another realm, there are several massive retcons in this episode. There seems to be a problem with the Cortexiphan timeline, Olivia’s age, and Walter’s prominent role in the ‘trials’. As for the children being “prepared” specifically for the war? Mangled by previous episodes, but not remedied here. Some of these deviations could be explained away by Walter’s hazy memory, or some sneaky misdirection, but until then it looks somewhat ‘retconny’.
  • Belleive It. The absence of William Bell in an episode like this was noticeable. This is one of the reasons why I thought the producers would go for an actor who is committed to a long arc, and not necessarily a ‘big name’.

BIG MYSTERIES

  • At some point we know Olivia forgets her childhood, including: Peter, Walter, and the trials. In “Bad Dreams”, Nick Lane says they meant for them to forget. How was this achieved?
  • Are we now to believe that William Bell came up with the idea for Cortexiphan shortly after the events in this episode? If not, when?
  • Update: As a few commenters mentioned, the suggestion seems to be that Cortexiphan was indeed administered to the subjects prior to the events in this episode, in-keeping with the previously established Cortexi-timeline.

  • The white tulip field. There originally, or manifested from Olivia’s imagination? I have my thoughts on this, but it’s still an open mystery.
  • Does the white tulip field bear any direct influence on the events in the episode “White Tulip“?

BIG ANSWERS

  • Peter’s suspicions that Walter stole him remained after he recovered from his sickness. He almost killed himself trying to go back home through Reiden Lake.
  • Olivia is the titular ‘Subject 13′.
  • “Subject 13″ takes place six months after Walter kidnapped Peter from the alternate universe. The episode was previously titled “Six Months Later”.
  • Walter and Elizabeth continually lied to Peter about his origins until he ‘believed’ that they were his parents.
  • Walter created his own version of Massive Dynamic, called “Bishop Dynamic”. He developed the Star Wars missile defense system.
  • Walternate and Elizabeth didn’t know who took Peter, or where he had been taken, until Olivia unintentionally crossed over to the alternate universe, mistaking Walternate for Walter, and leaving behind a drawing of herself and Peter.

FRINGE THOUGHTS

  • Last season’s flashback episode, “Peter”, saw Walter guide us through his account of events, serving as the narrator for our story. The “Subject 13″ narrator seems to be less forthcoming, though s/he does tell both sides of the story. I wonder if we can take anything from this approach, or whether it was just a storytelling decision borne out of convenience. Is “Subject 13″ a more accurate reading of what happened, does it hint at hidden context, or can we trust the narrator of both episodes?
  • A traumatized young Peter returns to zero, his original point of entry into the Blue Beyond, in a desperate bid to get home. How gripping! How thematic! How cyclical!
  • It could have been under more pleasant circumstances, but I was glad to see Elizabeth again. She’s emerging as one of the most intriguing Fringe characters, and Orla Brady is UTTERLY convincing as the loving yet deeply traumatized mother and wife. Someone please retcon her death! Her face when she read that letter..
  • And what about that letter. I’ve had a poke or ten at Walter in the past for failing to leave a ‘I Haz Your Son’ note for Walternate when he ‘intended’ to bring back Peter. So it was good to see Peter being ‘better than his father’ by letting them know where he was going. It’s a small thing, but it might tell us something about his eventual capacity to forgive his kidnappers.
  • The ice cracking from Peter’s weight as he walked towards his ‘RETURN ME’ held more than just metaphorical weight. Peter momentarily slows down but doesn’t stop. He’s committed to this task. More than that, he genuinely believes that he can get back home. The boy believes.
  • It’s that quiet determination that is so haunting; seeing this young whippersnapper tethering himself to an anchor that will plunge him into the depths of the murky unknown. Except, he does know..he remembers, through the haze of his sickness, he remembers that he was stolen! While this scene is somewhat disturbing to watch, Peter doesn’t see his actions as crazy – he’s simply prepared to do anything to get back. Where have we seen that before..
  • Elizabeth calls Peter’s name, her voice untraceable in the echoes of the icy air. I just love that momentary sense of displacement; an almost dreamlike vibration, his mother calling him from above or from below – from the other side? Mother, is that you?
  • Peter ignores her calls, plunging the ice-breaker down with vengeance. He just wants to go home, he doesn’t belong here. Peter is both right and wrong in his thinking. This is the way home, but this place is also death.

  • The look in his eyes as Elizabeth desperately begs him to step away from the FREEZE ME. Her raw desperation, those fresh cracks in her spiralling madness. But Elizabeth is a TROOPER. As Peter descends into the abyss, she doesn’t hesitate for one moment, she dives right in after him. Both Walter and Elizabeth have saved his life. How interesting.
  • It was great how the episode converged the two back-stories of Peter and Olivia. The return to the Jacksonville Day Care center further added depth to what we already knew. But I think it works both ways in that respect – the future can foreshadow the past in this story, it just depends on your perspective of time.
  • One of my most useful take-aways from the episode is the validation of wish-fulfillment and its influence on reality. It’s something I’ve been talking about for a while, and recently the idea has really bubbled to the surface. The opening scenes at the Day Care Center lend themselves as further evidence:

Walter: “We discussed that your imagination can take you anywhere that you want to go”

  • It was great to see young Olive, Nick and the other Cortexitots.Walter is a firm teacher, but he’s intuitive to the children’s needs – giving Nick his toy despite telling them off for talking. It’s this that makes his questionable treatment of the children all the more divisive.
  • Elizabeth has come to Jacksonville to tell Walter that their boy tried to escape to Narnia. She couldn’t have picked up the phone because it’s reached the point now where Walter has to experience what she goes through 24/7.
  • Initially, I didn’t quite get the overly emotive expression on young Olivia’s face as Walter sends the tots home, but later this made sense: she’s terrified of going home to her abusive stepfather. The creep who winds up sending her creepy hand-delivered cards on her birthday. He’s got a Dunhamnating with his name on it.

  • I found it interesting trying to separate the good from the bad in Walter and Elizabeth’s actions. On the one hand they’re both invested in getting Peter home after realizing that this Peter is a bit of a wet blanket. But while they figure out how that can be done, without crippling the universe, they feel compelled to lie to him, abusing the child mentally, warping his perspective on reality. The damage this is doing is abundantly clear.

Walter: “Of course the Dodgers play for Los Angeles”

Peter: “No they don’t, they play in Brooklyn and I’ve seen them. And, the Red Lantern isn’t supposed to be green. I’ve never had a baseball before, never”

Walter: “Peter, you were very sick, for a very long time. You must be confused, you’ve mixed up your memories, son”

Peter: Do not call me that, I am not your son. You are not my father, and she is not my mother! You are not my father! You’re not my mother, I want to go home”.

  • All three characters are deeply, deeply broken. That poor boy is on the brink of illness with all those lies, and all those lies are visibly killing Elizabeth. No amount of Amber to could patch this together. Just like the lies, it would only be a temporary fix.

Elizabeth: “He’s asleep. We can’t keep this up. It’s making him crazy”

Walter: “What’s the alternative?”

  • I’ve got an idea, how about telling him the truth? Even at his young age, I sensed that they could have trusted Peter with this information. It may not have been ideal, but better that than driving the poor boy loop-the-loop!
  • And isn’t that interesting – the idea that Peter has experienced a semblance of what it’s like to be Walter, ‘before’ (if you will) Walter experienced it himself. Of course, crazy is a term given to him because he’s powerless to get back home. Just as Olivia was, for a time, powerless to escape Walternate’s void.
  • Elizabeth say it’s “been six months”. It’s clear that this is taking its toll on her more than Walter. While that might not be fair, Walter at least has his work to concentrate his mind – he’s doing something, while Elizabeth “is with him all the time”. I found that to be such an interesting point, almost tinged with contempt for having to watch over the son he stole.
  • What was once an incredible second chance, a fulfillment of an impossible dream, had turned into a burden – a nightmare. So much so that she’s prepared to risk the universe’s satin sheet just to take him back. It’s gone beyond just love or morality, guilt can be a killer.

Walter: “The texture of the universe has changed from my crossing, it cannot withstand anymore damage.”

Elizabeth: “Neither can he, Walter”

  • There’s something about this story that comes to life when it blurs the line between science and humanity. I love Elizabeth’s response, she’s basically equating Peter to billions of lives. In her desperation she’s become Walter, while Walter seems to more measured of the two.
  • What is stopping Walter from going once more unto the breach? Is he really that concerned about the consequences, or is he finding excuses? That’s what I like about this episode, the obscurred motivations that lie beneath the skin like a vein, pumping a cocktail of emotions to the twin hearts.
  • (To be fair, if he had taken Peter back using the Door device, the situation might be a bit worse than it already is in 2011. Though I still think there’s a point to be made of his unwillingness).
  • Speaking of blurring, Elizabeth’s mind continues to unravel. She stresses the need to take Peter back to his real parents in one breath, and in the next she calls herself his “mother” and laments the fact that he doesn’t trust her. Bless her, how could she not be confused? She’s a grieving mother who almost lost her replacement son. Once was already too much.

Walter: “Elizabeth, you are not his mother, he’s a little boy, very much like our son”

  • Interesting how Walter is able to disconnect like that, especially given his undying love for Peter in the ‘future’. While I wouldn’t say he was emotionless, I suspect that on some level he realized that this Peter didn’t quite fit, he didn’t quite match up to his original son. Elizabeth knew this too, I suspect, but she’s a mother, and he looks so very much like her little boy.

Walter: “..we saved his life”

Elizabeth: “You saved his life, I’m just trying to keep him alive”

  • The resentment that I suspected we’d see. Elizabeth feels like her job is never done. It’s one thing saving a life, but how do you keep someone from killing themselves? And when that person is a child? It’s easy to see how this woman descended into madness.
  • Two more important phrases in this scene: the idea of “trust” and Walter saying that “the children are the key” – themes which echo back and forth throughout the story.
  • Walter says that Peter can ride on the Cortexitots feet when they take him home. Such a ridiculous thing to say, but in this almost ‘fairytale’ installment I absolutely loved that idea. I’d love to see a mock-up of that.
  • Meanwhile, Olivia has her head in a book, food for the imagination. But the fear of her stepfather causes her to cross over to the alternate universe. She was also running away from him at the time, reminding me of Projection Peter’s words in “The Plateau”, “You kept on running” (paraphrasing).
  • I would really like to know where the heck Mother Dunham is at this point? She allows her child to take part in these weird experiments and brings an abusive man into her daughter’s world. Was she powerless to stop it, or could she have done more? It’s hard, and perhaps unfair, to say without getting more context on that side of things.
  • Elizabeth says that Peter has been asking her questions for two months, suggesting that his suspicions have become more prevalent during that period.

Peter: “He makes you say that doesn’t he? Because he’s the one who stole me”

  • Peter blames Walter more than Elizabeth. These are the seeds of Peter’s resentment towards his father when they reunite in 2008 – there’s more to it, of course, but I suspect their fractured relationship was guided by Peter’s underlying distrust and resentment towards Walter for stealing him. We’ve seen that the subconscious is not something to be taken lightly. If it can save Olivia from the AU and power the Boom-Boom-Machine, you better believe it can shape relationships.
  • Peter calls his home “the other world at the bottom of the lake”. Again, very storybook-esque. This is the perspective of a child – and he’s not exactly wrong in what he says.

  • Walter notices the bruise on Olivia’s eye and tells her that she can trust him, yet he ignores his suspicions to further his own ends, realizing that her home environment could lead to unlocking her ability.
  • He has a dilemma with wanted to use Olivia to get Peter home, but his suspicions of child abuse should out-weight that. It’s moments like this on which the characters have to be judged, and Walter loses points for knowingly allowing Olivia to be terrorized by that animal.
  • While were dealing with different periods of time here, it’s useful to contrast Walter’s actions to Walternate on the other side, who plays the role of child protector. These two men of the same stock almost take turns in the hero/villain roles. I continue to wonder how much their choices/feelings are governed by themselves, and how much by the universal blanket. The moment a thread is pulled, unravelling begins.
  • Olivia’s drawing represents her minds-eye. Her imagination. It’s worth remembering that Olivia can manifest things into reality (we’ve seen it on so many occasions). And that continues to beg a lot of questions about the ‘reality’ of the two universes. Though I should stress that perhaps we need to redefine the term ‘reality’. Are dreams reality? I would say they can be, in this story, certainly.
  • Elizabeth and Peter drive through a field of white tulips on their way to the toy shop. This ties into the above, and, I suspect, a lot of what I’ve said about the episode “White Tulip”. In my review for that episode, I said the following:

“I’m probably taking this concept too far, but I like the idea that the world of the show is in some way constructed from our characters inner most needs, wants and desires and driven by their subconscious (or a cosmic force). I’m not discounting Peck’s existence or his story, but I reckon he was also narrative device for a larger concept. We’ll see.”

  • The writers do indeed seem to be touching on the fabric of the show’s reality here, as we’d find out later.
  • In the meantime it’s useful to quote Elizabeth:

“You know tulips don’t usually grow in areas like this? A professor who was working her missed them, so he imagined a tulip that would grow in this climate and he invented it”

  • She tries to persuade Peter to “use his brain and imagination”, and believe that this world is his own. I suspect we have the seeds of what has to be one of my favorite Fringe quotes – “if you can dream a better world, you can make a better world” (“Bad Dreams”).
  • There’s no doubt that this was manipulative of Elizabeth, she’s not truly thinking enough about the long-term damage this could do to Peter. But she also wants him to be happy, to make-believe. And Peter held onto these fantastical notions - the seeds of the Mother repeating.
  • It’s an interesting contrast between Peter’s initial resistance in using his imagination and Olivia’s abundant ability to use hers. Both would unlock the other.

Elizabeth: “How would you change the world if you could, Peter? What would you wish for?”

Peter: “I wouldn’t make stupid flowers grow”

  • Heeey, don’t call Olive’s flowers “stupid”. She put a lot of effort imagining them up!
  • For a while now, I’ve speculated that the Boom-Boom-Machine functions as some kind of wish-fulfillment device. “Reciprocity” offered further evidence to the idea that it will create or destroy by tapping into Peter’s subconscious will. Elizabeth’s question seems to further allude to that idea. Even though the character herself is unaware of Peter’s destiny, the idea of wishing for something and making it happen is pure Fringe.
  • To underscore the significance of that, Peter says he’d return home if he could wish for anything. Will this translate to Peter choosing his original universe over the blue universe some 26 years later?
  • I don’t think it’s that simple. He’s feelings for Walter, Olivia and Altlivia (and the baybee) has created further entanglement – who knows which way his deepest desire will swing when the moment comes to decide? I would hope that he finds another way. Certainly, that seems to be the implication.
  • I’d also like to do away with the notion of ‘time’. Yeah, I said it. This episode, as much as any other, is a reminder that time is not linear in the world of Fringe. To really see the story, we need to look at time differently, in my opinion.
  • For Peter’s toy shop, see Olivia’s gift shop. It’s a place of imagination, of escapism. It was good to see him smile at the sight of the toys, I’m glad that he still experienced some positive moments with Elizabeth and that we witnessed a few of them. I thought he’d choose a G.I. Joe, but an airplane makes sense as they don’t (appear to) have them over there. He’s building attachments.

  • Liz asks Peter if she can trust him not to run off. She’s trying to establish trust and wants it to work both ways. I liked the way she watches him as he fickles his way through the different toys. And then the smile – a connection is born, ring the bells, a connection is born!

Elizabeth: “It costs how bloody much?” :o

  • In all seriousness, that was a nice moment and sometimes that’s all it takes to for two people to connect, to meet each other on the same level and use it as a foundation for the future. And it’s no coincidence that Peter should arrive on safer ground just as he’s about to meet Olivia. It’s no coincidence that my ability to believe in this pair is made more possible by slowing it down and going back a touch.
  • So it begins. Peter and Olivia see each other for the so-called ‘first time’ and it looks like young love at first sight. Whether or not the writers intend this to be the case, I’m able to take value from the sense that their immediate pull towards one another is driven by a  sense of destiny. They do not know it yet, but they have instantly experienced a lot together.
  • It’s this timeless equation that makes sense to me. We know about the cyclical nature of the story, so who’s to say that this is the first time they met? There seems to be an underlying recognition, a vibration that complements the notion of experience happening all at once.
  • Whatever the message here, that’s my passport in. I can dig destiny. To me, it makes sense and increases my investment in the two characters.

Walter: “The beguiling Olivia Dunham, beguiles.”

  • Look at you, match-maker.
  • I’m glad William Bell got a mention. We’re led to believe that Cortexiphan was mostly his idea, with the trials beginning in the early 80s, although there’s no mention of the drug in the episode. It looks like we’re supposed to believe that the clinical trials took place shortly after the events in this episode? (or before?) I smell the whiff of retcon but perhaps there’s another explanation in the air. We’ll see.
  • That said, it was interesting to get a look at how Walter tried to mould young Olive’s mind. Calling upon her creative attributes, being fun and playful. The mood soon dimmed as Walter became more and more demanding, putting the poor girl through exhaustive tests, pushing her limits and ultimately scaring the Cortexiphan out of her with the help of Nick Lane and fake blood. I must say, Walter’s demeanor sure did change quickly. He was becoming something I didn’t like.

  • How deplorable that Walter would not only endanger Olivia, but put Nick’s life in danger too! Did his science tell him that should anything happen, Nick wouldn’t be burned to a crisp? Speaking of which, how did the whispering Nick get inside the room if the door was locked? Who in class has that ability? Waaaaaalt?
  • This Ashley woman, is she supposed to be the voice we heard on the infamous video tape from “Bad Dreams”? It would be kinda cool if they had used Brenner in this episode, though (although the incident should have taken place earlier). Oh Brenner, where for art thou?
  • Peter is tempted to look through Olivia’s Imagination Box, but his adult self psychically tells him never to look through a woman’s draw unless given permission. He takes a peek inside her Imagination Book instead and is surprised to see the white tulip field that he not so long ago experienced.
  • It’s the old chicken and egg question – what came first, the white tulip field or Olivia imagining it up? I’m a big believer in the power of the subconscious mind, so I like the idea of the field existing because Olivia thought of it.
  • It depends on what the writers are trying to say. I suspect much will depend on the answer to the BBM and the First People. If reality, or one of the reality’s, is a construct, how much latitude is there for individuals within that construct to add to the canvass? Certainly Olivia is. Peter, you’d have to think will be able to when he’s hooked up the BBM. Walter has certainly taken advantage of the amenable nature of reality.
  • Of course, the easy answer is that Olivia already knew about the field and decided to draw it. Personally, I think the story is far more interesting if she actually manifested it, bringing it forth into existence.
  • Meanwhile, Elizabeth is doing her own snooping. I’m glad she chastises Walter for using Olivia’s domestic abuse as a cog in his experiment. If she can find a problem with this, why can’t Walter? That aside, it’s interesting to see Walter becoming more and more desperate.
  • It’s also worth picking up on the dual theme of Peter and Olivia returning home. The combination of love and fear that comprises Olivia’s home is used as means to get Peter home. ‘The sins of the father’ don’t just apply to Walter’s treatment of Peter, but also Olivia’s two ‘father figures’.
  • Elizabeth says, “surely there’s got to be some other way?” – somewhat echoing Peter’s words in “6955kHz”.

  • The following is perhaps one of the most chilling moments of the season. The incredible close-up on Walter’s face as he admits being scared about his own other-self coming after him, “I know, because that’s what I would do”. The fact that he’s right, and we know he’s right, makes it all the more ominous.
  • He’s also laying his cards on the table here, bridging the gap between himself and Walternate to zero – a marked contrast with his confession in “6B“, where he stated that for a long time he thought Walternate to be evil. Well, he probably did, but only because that’s how he felt about himself.
  • This is why the alternate universe is so delicious – it’s the exploration of the self. Walter and Walternate are only different in terms of scenario. It’s the story, their perspectives that are different. The reason I’m more sympathetic towards Walternate isn’t because I hate Walter, as some might think. Rather, it’s because I feel more for Walternate. It’s difficult to support the aggressor.
  • Though, this is why I’m not giving up on Walter – he needs Walternate in order to be redeemed, as much as Walternate needs Walter to be able to forgive. Again, it’s almost wish-fulfillment, a scenario manifested from the mind.
  • Walter says he wouldn’t sacrifice Olivia for Peter, “but for thousands of others, or millions, it would have to be considered”
  • Rarely does a bad decision get better by making another bad decision. That’s what I’d like to tell Walter if I had a time machine and a packet of Red Vines. Again, we have repetition – mistakes being repeated over and over, the pattern of the universe set not just through actions, but emotions, intent.
  • For all Walter’s ills, I do love the way intuition is conveyed in this scene. It’s very under the surface, but it does something useful – it illustrates how decisions are often borne out of the thought of what we would do in this circumstance or that situation. We calculate different scenarios and probabilities, and prepare accordingly. Walter tapping into his inner Walternate, his inner self.

  • I liked the way they framed the transition to the alternate universe; both Elizabeths looking through windows of time in search of their beloved Boy Wonder.
  • On the other side, Walternate and Elizabeth aren’t doing much better, particularly Walternate who has turned to drink (interesting that Elizabeth should later turn to drink, the universe feeling its way to appropriate balance as best it can). He’s a mess and can’t understand why everyone else seems to have given up on finding his boy.
  • He’s so much softer here, frail and vulnerable from the personal and professional pain of Peter’s kidnapping. We can see how a single event went on the mould him into different shapes of his former self.
  • He’s the creator of the “Star Wars” defence system that protects the United States, giving us an indication of the climate over there in the 80s, while providing a link between his more scientific past and his future as Secretary of Defense. There’s little irony in his role as protector (or “Safety Czar”), it’s the way of the universe to throw up specific challenges one must overcome.
  • There’s so much emotion in this scene, let alone the episode. Coming on the back of an episode high on the concept of ‘feelings’, blending both worlds together, Walternate’s immense desire to hold on to Peter must be doing something to this amenable construct called ‘reality’.
  • I’ve long wondered what conversations Walternate and Eliznate had regarding Peter’s kidnapping. How would Eliznate explain that a man bearing Walternate’s identity came in and whisked their son away? I suspected that there would be some blame attributed to Eliznate for not recognizing the difference between the two Walters.

Walternate: “You said he was wearing a beige sweater, not a suit like I would wear. What did he sound like, his voice? I have a new theory, plastic surgery. There are a handful of surgeons skilled enough to pull off a feat like that, but not the voice..the voice would be tricky.”

  • I liked this from Eliznate:

“Maybe it was plastic surgery, or an alien..able to take on any shape it wanted”

  • Are these the first kernels of Walternate’s eventual affiliation of the shapeshifters? I think so. I love the idea that a throw-away comment from Eliznate could both inspire and manifest one of Walternate’s most successful creations in helping him make contact with Peter.
  • The deeper into Fringe we go, the more clear it becomes that you can view the story in two key ways – as a linear telling of events, or like an ‘Observer’ – in that events are taking place all at the same time. A character has a need, and they get presented with a solution. It might not manifest in their universe, but that’s why it’s called world building.
  • Furthermore, it’s rather poetic the a man described as a shapeshifting alien (Walter) would go on to be undone by the shapeshifters his actions helped inspire. That’s what this episode does, it allows us to draw further conclusions from the context of the story – again, removing the linear timeline when thinking about this show adds a deeper sense.
  • Another interesting detail to emerge from this scene was that Eliznate had hypnotherapy in a bid to recover details of that fateful night. I just get this sense that hypnosis is going to reveal itself on a larger scale at some point. The green, green, green, red mythology is screaming at me.
  • I’m grateful for the exploration of their relationship and the impact that removing Peter from the equation had on them. They’re clearly at breaking point. Since a parallel is made between Elizabeth and Walternate in their handling of their respective situations, I wonder whether Walternate might have ended up committing suicide, like Elizabeth, had he not received an “explanation” as to the whereabouts of his son?
  • It’s interesting to consider whether the universe couldn’t feel its way to balancing out that equation, or whether Walternate’s sheer resolve canceled out any universal approximation? I guess the same question would be just as fittingly laid at Eliznate’s door. Was she stronger than her double?
  • Gosh, Walternate just breaks your heart, doesn’t he?:

“Please Elizabeth, one more time..he’s my boy. I can’t lose him”

  • When he sits down beside Peter’s bed, there’s a sense of emptiness. Once more we have themes of sleep being transmitted in subtle fashion.
  • The following scene was so very strange. Not because it was bad, but because I had to work out what the heck was going on. For a moment, I got the terrifying sense that Walternate was going to snap Eliznate’s neck. My mind considered the possibility that the woman we saw in “Over There” was instead a shapeshifter and not Peter’s mother. Of course, I soon came to my senses, but that’s a peek behind the curtain of real-time. ;)
  • I actually like this scene because it’s filmed in such an ambiguous way, the camera holding on Eliznate’s reflection as Walternate’s heavy footsteps plod closer and closer from behind. The fact she was brushing her hair at the time and looking rather emotional also created this incredible sense of vulnerability. Did the director intend the sequence to be this foreboding?
  • It’s so beneficial to examine the impact of Peter’s kidnapping on the victims. I sense that many fans don’t really like Walternate – me? I love him. I wonder if this episode will change people’s perspectives?
  • What do parents do when their child is kidnapped? It’s a question I’m not sure many expected to have explored in Fringe, even though Peter was taken from another world.
  • I liked Eliznate’s wish that whoever had taken Peter was looking after him. This leads me to Elizabeth asking Walter whether they gave their Peter a good life (“Peter”). There seemed to be some uncertainty on that note, so it’s interesting to consider whether Eliznate’s hope is being projected through the void, allowing her double a second chance at making sure there’s no doubt this time around. Whether she succeeded or not, well, I’ll leave that for you to speculate.

Eliznate: “I can’t break, I need to be here for him. We need to be here for him.”

  • I like this. Even though they end up splintering, it’s almost as though this pact made here was the foundation for their incredible strength and dedication in getting Peter back. Perhaps it was this that kept him alive? Hope.

Eliznate: “I need you, my love. I’ve lost Peter, I can’t bear to lose you too. Don’t go to work tomorrow, stay home this week. Forget the Lab, forget Florida, let’s put our marriage back together.”

  • That’s just beautiful writing, acting, scoring, directing – if you’re invested in Walternate as a character, I imagine this will be high on your list.
  • The fact that it precedes Walternate’s decision not to forget the Lab makes it even more significant. That was a decision he made, one that probably solidified future events. Had he stayed home making love to Eliznate, well, as we find out, things may have been a WHOLE lot different.
  • Again, nice framing as we transfer back to the Blue universe

  • Young Peter has found young Olivia in the white tulip field having seen her drawing. I just like the idea that Olivia is responsible for the white tulip scenario that led to Alistair Peck forging God’s signature and ‘forgiving’ Walter for stealing Peter. I’ve long speculated that Walter somehow manifested his own forgiveness, and while that still might be the case, I’m just as happy with the notion that Olivia also played a part.
  • Again, to buy into any of this it might depend on your perspective of whether Olivia manifested the tulip field or whether she just imagined herself in this already-existing place. I think it’s the former.
  • Moving on, I’m, also intrigued by the evident attraction between Peter and Olivia. And by that I’m talking more about the gravitational pull. There is a sense of destiny here and I like the way it’s conveyed. I can buy it because I’m a big believer in the cyclical nature of this story. I’ll say it again, I think we’re looking at the power of flux – the echoes through this constructed notion of time that causes events and feelings to constantly bleed at the same time.
  • In some ways, it’s almost as though young Peter is playing the role of ‘Projection Peter’ from Olivia’s subconscious. His earlier non-coincidental trip past the white tulip field led him to her, and he pretty much put the wind back in her sails.
  • I like how Peter seems to understand Olivia, knowing where she’d go because “it was the only one that looked happy”. I also like how he wasn’t scared of her ability, even though he had no real reason to even know what she meant when she told him to “be careful”. I’ll say it again, flux. Apologies for swearing, but it’s not about knowing – it’s about feeling. Anyone who’s watched the classic LOST episode “The Constant” will probably know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t agree.
  • I LOVE that Olive said “Dr. Walter”. That’s just..brilliant.
  • I also appreciate Peter’s stillness. He’ so still, just like adult Peter. You see, I don’t mind it here because it creates a connection.
  • But there’s also some nice emotion there as he almost calls Elizabeth his mom. He then swallows and goes ahead with it anyway:

“My mom was telling me how you got to imagine how you want things to be, and then you can try and change them”

  • Peter is playing the role of mentor, carrying his faux-mom’s message through the darkness to bring inspiration to Olive. This directly plays into Olivia’s ability to change reality, and (I suspect) Peter’s role with the Boom-Boom-Machine. Also, how great is it that Peter is mature enough to absorb this message and pass it on to someone who really needs it?
  • There’s so much good stuff going on here. There story is at a point where there’s so much blending – here it’s being mixed with a steady hand and a wooden spoon. This is what Fringe is capable of, scenes like this which take on greater meaning because of the ‘seriable’ nature of the story.
  • Olive asks a poignant question, whether Peter trusts Dr. Walter, bearing in mind Walter stole him and that they’re sitting in the field of forgiveness, I absolutely LOVE that he didn’t answer the question, but still encouraged Olive to confide in Walter. That’s an amazing quality for any person to have – to give good and honest advice even though he has his own issues with Walter.
  • I sense this also represents the slither of hope, Peter’s capacity to forgive. You know, perhaps he was chosen for the BBM for more than just his DNA or whatever, maybe there is something in his human nature that makes him the best candidate for the job. Who knows where this story really begins, it’s so entangled that I really do think the concept of flux is a worthy way to view the story. I’ll flux off now.

  • And then the boy goes and does it – he echoes one of my favorite Peter lines of recent time:

“You gotta try something, right?”

  • They touch hands and it begins to snow. Surprisingly, I didn’t reach for the bucket. It was actually quite sweet, in a sickly kinda way. I like Peter’s response:

“Did you imagine that?”

  • Interesting that he didn’t ask her to imagine him home. I think he was beginning to feel at home thanks to Olivia. And ironically, his comforting words would set off another chain reaction that would bring comfort to Walternate.
  • Back at the Shop of Horrors, Olivia doesn’t want to go home for obvious reasons. She runs into Walter’s office and tells him about her step father hitting her, “that’s when I crossed over to the other universe”. Walter’s expression is a blend of bemusement and guilt. She passes him her Imagination Book, and something begins to register in his mind:

Olivia: “That’s where I saw the blimps, just like you said, they were in the sky in the other universe. Can you make him stop hitting me? Please?”

  • She looks at Walter, Walter looks back at her with renewed sensation in his eyes, then..then..

“OLIVE?”

  • It’s…Dr. Walter?? Olivia had momentarily crossed over to the other universe, she had been talking to Walternate, a combination of fear and love transporting her across without her realizing (though you’d think she’d notice that the office was different).
  • Crucially, she left her Imagination Book behind in Walternate’s possession, among its pages a drawing of her and Peter together (another wish that would came true).
  • While Walternate digests this information, Walter walks Olive over to her stepfather (I assume Olivia decided not to tell Dr. Walter about her mini adventuroo?). Walter comes good and threatens her stepfather, although I do wish he would have done more to guarantee her safety. That said, I understand we have a storyline to preserve, and Olivia has to shoot the creep.
  • Walter did the right thing here even though it would impede his ability to get Peter home. He had put the girl through enough. Well, she would still suffer immensely. But the important message here is Walter’s pledge to find a “new way”, mimicking Peter’s “there’s gotta be another way”.
  • By the way, the expression on Olivia’s face when she snaps back to reality – totally out of the “LOST” scrapbook of incredulous expressions. Love it!
  • Meanwhile, back at the Bishops Lair, Peter apologizes to Elizabeth. He has reconciled with the idea that he’s “never going back”. He’s disappointed, but as I said earlier, there’s an incredible maturity about this kid. He seems to have accepted the fact that he just has to make the best of his new life, and I think Olivia had a part to play in that. The connection he made with her created a sense of peace, of belonging. Without knowing it, I suspect he felt they’d meet again.
  • Elizabeth makes an important choice here. She has the chance to tell Peter the truth, to reduce the guilt pressing down on her own heart. Instead she chooses to lie. Why Liz, why??

Elizabeth: “Listen to me. Sometimes the world we have is not the world we want. But we have our hearts and imaginations to make the best of it. I will promise you this, I will be the best mother I possibly can be to you. I’ll take care of you, I’ll protect you, and I’ll never let anyone take you away from me. No-one. Not ever.”

Peter: “But you’re not her..are you? You’re not my real mother”

  • The big moment:

Elizabeth: “………..You were sick..you were very sick for a long, long time. And I think it confused you. YES! I am your mother, of course I am.

  • Peter weighs it up in his mind and agrees that she’s telling the truth. What they’re both doing here is make-believing, they’re both using their “imaginations” to almost trick themselves into believing the lie. Why? For Peter, I think he wants to belong. He’s also feeling a little better since meeting Olive in the fields.
  • Also, he’s buying into his Elizabeth’s words, which are pretty powerful if you think about it – sometimes we have all have to make the best of a situation. Remember, he’s still a child, impressionable, and his mind is being filled with fantasy-meets-reality.
  • For Liz, well, I find her motivation here a little harder to place. But I would say she’s on the brink – she just gets the sense that she can pull it off, so she goes for it. She’s worked this hard to make Peter make-believe, another lie is all that’s needed.
  • I also think there’s a lot more going on. Despite her earlier gestures to get him home, she wants Peter to be her real son – she actually tells him that she wont let anyone take him from her (which is VERY telling). She also needs him to trust her, another Reiden Lake incident could send her over the edge. I also think that she can’t bear to admit that she had lied to him for 6 months. And I speculate whether Eliznate’s desire for him to be looked after is somehow influencing her double in some intrinsic way?
  • So there’s many reasons that underpin her decision to continue the lie. And I appreciate this because it’s all very intricate. The emotions the characters are feeling are neither red or blue, they’re multi-shaded. And, for the most part, I find it to be a realistic portrayal of emotions and underlying motivations. In terms of character development, Elizabeth takes the biscuit in this scene, and it’s a very yummy biscuit indeed.

  • Oh, and should we mention Peter’s smile, hug and “mom”.. Mega creepy! Crumbs, it’s no wonder poor Liz went over the edge! Talk about having nightmares! She got what the degrees of her heart wanted, but she instantly paid the price. You can just see her unravel as he walks off like some kind of Robby the Robot.
  • It’s a terrible crime that she’s just committed and once again I have to credit Orla Brady for an incredible portrayal. To come into a story this rich and layered and give that kind of performance? If she doesn’t win some gold at the Fringe Bloggers Season 3 awards, I’d be very surprised indeed.
  • Peter has bought his mother’s story but there’s enough in this scene to convey the idea that deep down he always knew the truth.
  • Meanwhile, in the world at the bottom of the lake, Walternate is rejuvenated, he can hardly contain his excitement:

“Elizabeth it’s me. I know where our son is! I know where Peter was taken”

  • This is a celebratory end scene built on the dirty climax of Elizabeth’s Jedi Mind Trick, and we go out on the triumphant, beat your drums, sound your horns, march from Walternate’s office. Instantly, his posture stiffens, breathless, almost dizzy, a man is reborn..forged by the young girl who was forged in the rings of Saturn, prepared by the man who lost a boy, a boy he stole so he could be redeemed, so he could be forgiven, so balance could prevail. Imagine that.

FINAL THOUGHT

A ‘Magic Box’ of page-turner. While I found parts of “Subject 13″ problematic, and some of the pages were unreadable from spilled Slusho!, it gave me something to work with again and hit many right notes. I needed this episode like Astrid needs a baby-sitting course.

Best Performer: Orla Brady (honorable mention, John Noble).

Best Line: “You saved his life, I’m just trying to keep him alive” – Elizabeth to Walter.

Best Moment: Elizabeth lying once more to Peter and convincing him that he is of this world. Her reaction.

Episode Rating: 9/10

You can find all of our Fringe reviews here.

Comments

  1. Page 48 says

    “I think Noble does some of his best work as a more serious version of Walter/nate”

    Amen to that. Bring the serious and drop the buffoony cartoony.

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    • Owl says

      I’ll agree with that. Whenever they have Walter be goofy or just disgusting, I just want to edit him out of the scene altogether. When he’s being serious, he’s unmatched.

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      • Robert Gertz says

        I couldn’t bear Fringe without goofy Walter. Serious, recovery Walter and Walternate are fine but goofy, damaged Walter and his relationship to Peter, intertwined with the relationship to Olivia and Astrid is the heart of Fringe..

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  2. Peppymint says

    What a great episode! Though yes… a lot of inconsistencies in timelines. Please let there be a Season 4 & 5!!!! I know Fringe has a lot more stories to tell :-)

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  3. Page 48 says

    “I’ve got an idea, how about telling him the truth? Even at his young age, I sensed that they could have trusted Peter with this information. It may not have been ideal, but better that than driving the poor boy loop-the-loop!”

    I think they should have leveled with Peter. Let’s face it, he already knew parts of the truth. He knew he wasn’t with his real parents. He knew that zeppelins only appeared over 50,000 seat stadiums, that Tommy Lasorda didn’t belong in L.A., that “Back to the Future” should have starred Eric Stoltz.

    Being honest could have done Peter some good, and surely would have done no harm. Walter could have taken him to the lab to show him the Inter-Universal Window TV thingy that allowed Walter to keep tabs on Walternate’s quest for the cure for Peter’s illness.

    Walter, why torture and torment a confused kid…save that for Olivia.

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    • says

      “Walter could have taken him to the lab to show him the Inter-Universal Window TV thingy that allowed Walter to keep tabs on Walternate’s quest for the cure for Peter’s illness.”

      That’s an excellent idea. It’s amazing that Dr. Walter didn’t think of that. Was he being selfish, or did he not want Peter to watch AU “Fringe”? Dr. Walter was a mean man in the 80s.

      In all seriousness, it would have been nice had they confided in him and given him some access to his home world via the Magic Window. It’s not like they weren’t doing enough damage as it was.

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  4. tb says

    “It’s interesting to consider whether the universe couldn’t feel its way to balancing out that equation, or whether Walternate’s sheer resolve canceled out any universal approximation? I guess the same question would be just as fittingly laid at Eliznate’s door. Was she stronger than her double?”

    I think this begs the question of what we think strength is. Is it a blanket ability, or does it apply in certain directions?

    I think Eliznate was “stronger” than her double only because her side of the situation played to her strengths. Eliznate was faced with a mystery while our Elizabeth was faced with a painful truth. It appears that Elizabeth’s strength lies in being able to accept what she cannot change and move on (which is of course the advice she ends up giving Peter). She is weak, however, when faced with lying.

    The difference between Walter and Walternate also plays along similar lines. Walter’s strength lies in understanding. Our Walter knows exactly what has happened. He fears the consequences, but he at least understands the situation. Walternate, on the other hand, begins the hour crumbling in the face of a mystery he CANNOT understand. This is his weakness. He regains his strength only at the end of episode when we finally understands what’s happened.

    Different situations, different forces acting on the same personalities, different results.

    Thanks for an awesome review! Much to think about.

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    • says

      “I think Eliznate was “stronger” than her double only because her side of the situation played to her strengths. Eliznate was faced with a mystery while our Elizabeth was faced with a painful truth.”

      Cracking stuff. I’m very much in-tune with that line of thinking.

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    • Robert Gertz says

      Curious so much hard on Walter but so light touched on Elisabeth who after all is the reason Peter was kept initially until Walter realized reopening the Door would batter the universes dreadfully…Hmmn…Wonder how Belly’s been crossing? Harmonically? Anyway, our Beth told the essential lie that ended any chance Walter would pursue his efforts to return altPeter and yet we find in earlier episodes that she jabbed at Walter, probably driving his decision to cut loose brain pieces, telling Peter daily to be a better man than his father, in Greek to give emphasis. Not nice, Beth…Nor fair. One wonders exactly when Walter and Beth split..Before or after his brain surgery? If after, doubly cruel, though she may simply have found Walter too impossible to deal with in her already weakened condition. It would explain why she finally cracked completely a year post-Walter’s commitment.

      It’s easy to see the gap between Elisabethnate and Walternate came over his unspoken accusation that she’d slipped up in letting Walter take Peter. He fights it consciously but it slips out (in brilliant acting), and while it may be his recovery on learning the truth helps to patch things for a time, he likely suffered the same bitterness Olivia did over AltLivia…Why couldn’t you tell the difference? However I am glad (spoiler…)…

      … that the alternate timeline of S4 seems to heal their break and bring them back together, with no Reiko in between (no offense to the wonderful Joan Chen, but I couldn’t enjoy Walternate having a mistress). It seems in the alttimeline, Walternate must have learned that Peternate did not survive and so could fight off his bitterness at Elisabethnate, saving their marriage. Pity that (spoiler…)….

      …the final visit to the AU didn’t mention 80+Elisabethnate still happily with Walternate in the future, but I’ll choose to assume so, in proper balance for poor Elisabeth’s guilty suffering. And it’s very right that it was (spoiler…)

      …Elisabethnate in S4 who came to console Walter in our universe, forgiving him and atoning in a way for what Elisabeth did to him in her semideranged state. I don’t know it’s right to deny she did a terrible thing to him, despite his many sins, and bore a considerable part of the guilt for the consequences of Peter snatching/keeping.

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  5. real1 says

    Very nice review , my issue was : Walter is knowing that Olivia did cross over while she was 3 years old .. so why he was not sure in this episode ?

    Elizabeth did a promise : ever never she will let go of Peter .. how she did commit suicide ?

    Walternat is knowing the value of Olivia , how he did agree to kill her NOT to use her ?

    Peter seemed to con his mother ! I didn’t take it as if he did believe her more than he is just accepting her as a new mother for him .

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    • Ari says

      I don’t think Olivia did cross over when she was three. In Jacksonville they talked about her “seeing” the other side – seeing the glimmer. I guess she was able to see which things were from the other side from a young age but it wasn’t until later (when faced with the extreme fear/love situation with her stepfather) that she actually crossed over.

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    • Tenison says

      Maybe these are the answers to the unanswered questions by Ari.:

      2. If i’m not wrong, she just commited suicide after Peter graduades and starts to travel, she just couldn’t protect him forever, just while he was under age.

      3. I thought he realized that her original memories would keep coming back and that Olivia could travel again. Together with this, I think that he knows more about the machine than we know, maybe even about the choice that Peter will have to make. Therefore, he needed to eliminate our Olivia, so Peter would only chose their Olivia, and with it, their world.

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  6. says

    As for the boy who played young Peter:
    it may be just another huge setup by the writers. What if (just what íf) the boy that played young Peter is another Peter from a third universe?
    Maybe this Peter is the child of 2 different parents?

    I know it is a very, very long shot, but in Fringe nóthing is coincidence.

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    • real1 says

      And how could Elizabeth and Walter felled in that ? … i mean … how they didn’t notice that ? and how Olivia is seeing Peter glimmering now same with anything from the other side ?

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  7. giorgio - Greece says

    What can I say about this episode? Loved it. Although there were some continuity errors, indeed…

    I just loved the performances. Orla Brady was simply amazing. What an amazing actress.

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    • says

      I am trying to chalk the continuity errors up to there being more to the story. Fringe likes to do some shifty and subtle things with their storytelling and camera work (as evidenced by Olivia’s cross back over to Dr.Walter(nate)’s office). So we shall see.

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      • Dylan says

        They do make mistakes, though. As long as they aren’t too infringing, we’ll live with them.

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  8. Wikiaddicted723 says

    Well, this got me thinking: we’ve all been partially outraged that Peter (chose?) did not see the differences between the Olivias (that should be a rock band’s name) or did, but explained them away. I think we just saw where that came from, as Peter chose to believe Elizabeth’s lie. Some habits are internalized and then subcounciously reenacted through our lives, and I think this ‘believing’ echoes back to his childhood and his need to feel like he belongs, this time in the form of Olivia, be it one or the other. He was basically thought at a very early age to believe his eyes and forsake instinct when presented with this kind of doppleganger situations.

    It certainly gave me a new perspective on this issue, because we could claim that all the heartache and brokenness between Peter and Olivia in the future was Elizabeth’s indirect fault…..just a thought.

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      • Zakray says

        You took the thoughts right out of my head! I think I commented on this somewhere a while back, that some how Peter would not trust his instincts about the people closest to him (Olivia/Altlivia). You managed to put it into words much more eloquently than I did.
        So I guess the the lesson here is on fringe when a character is behaving out of character we shouldn’t spend hours whining and complaining about the writers and their storyline. Unlike other shows I’ve invested time in, that shall remain nameless, the writers aren’t, so far, insulting our intelligence just asking for our patience.
        I like you, Roco decided many moons ago to look at this show as an epic novel and it has yet to disappoint me, frustrate me sometimes, yes, but that just makes me wish I could turn to the next page and continue reading. (Just 10 more minutes Mom(Fox), please! or rather just two more seasons, pretty please!)
        PS: Roco love your reviews! They rock!

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  9. lizw65 says

    Great review, Roco, but how did you come up with the following:

    “Are we now to believe that William Bell came up with the idea for Cortexiphan shortly after the events in this episode? If not, when?”

    I thought it was pretty clear that Olivia and the others were already treated with cortexiphan as early as 1981, and that Nina was fudging the truth when she claimed the trials were “unsuccessful” and discontinued in the early Eighties. Unlike you, I don’t see this ep as a retcon at all, given that so much of the information thus far has been relayed by characters who are at best unreliable, and at worst, who lie outright. My only real issue is that this ep was supposed to have taken place six months after the events of “Peter”, and it’s STILL WINTER. Even if “Peter” took place in November of ’85, it would be May at least by the events of “Subject 13″, and a lake in Massachusetts would be unlikely to be frozen by this time.

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    • says

      Oh Liz65, that is a great point. It may lend itself to some very interesting speculation about time and where/when the events of “Subject 13″ took place.

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    • Pam says

      I had the same question too, lizw! I thought it was pretty clear that the kids were cortexiphaned and that is why they were being subjected to these “standing in a circle, trying to cross over” activities. I don’t understand why Roco thinks otherwise…
      And, nice catch on the winter!

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    • Isa says

      Yes, Liz, I agree with your points and let me add that Wyman already confirmed (twitter, guys!) that the fire incidents (in “13″ and in “Bad Dreams”) are two different events.

      Btw, great review, Rocco! I love when I can come here and read your review and enjoy the episode even more.Thanks for that. And I love Orla Brady. I wouldn’t mind if the writers do something to bring Elizabeth back from the death. I would love to see her interaction with adult Peter, with Walter and even Olivia.

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    • says

      lizw65: re: Cortexiphan, that’s a fair point. I that feel it could have been conveyed a bit firmer with regards to Walter being ‘somewhat’ less informed of Olivia’s ‘emotional triggers’ than I would have imagined. Particularly with these events seemingly taking place years after the ‘incident’ referenced in “Bad Dreams”.

      But there are indeed other inconsistencies. Not enough to detract, mind, but worth pointing out.

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      • YourPique says

        I don’t think Nina said that the Jacksonville Cortexiphan trials took place at the same time as the Wooster trials.

        My thought is that Bellie invented Cortexiphan, as previously stated, in the early 80′s, and performed the trials in Wooster. Something caused him to stop. 5-6 years later, Walter now has a use for the drug…to take Peter home. Somehow, he chose Jacksonville, and there we have it..

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        • becca says

          I’m pretty sure Olivia was three when she was first injected with the drugs based on the video of her, the age her child self is in her vision quest and on the fact that Olivia specifically accuses Walter of drugging three-year old children and I trust Olivia to recognise herself and her age. Plus the drug has been stated multiple times to be most effective on really young children.

          My bet is still that the trials occurred in the early 80s, were more or less discontinued (possibly shortly after Olivia’s original firestarter incident? Given they never repaired that room and it would help explain why Walter and Bell never explored the emotional triggers in more detail?), and then restarted when Walter suddenly had a use for the drug *and* a class of kids, many of whom were probably still in Jacksonville, ready to work with.

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          • Ben says

            That sounds like a good explanation. Certainly the kids seem to be “enhanced” at this point, Olive more than the others perhaps.

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      • lizw65 says

        There actually was a year in the late 1800′s with a “long winter” that lasted a full year, brought on, AFAIK, by a volcanic eruption. (Not that that has anything to do with the show, I just think it’s interesting.)

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  10. Pam says

    Great review, as usual, Roco! I like it that Peter found his peace and probably felt more grounded after meeting Olivia. I have always thought it a little strange (and significant) that Olivia said “they belonged together” rather than use words like love, or meant to be together (which would also have very similar meaning) – belong together makes more sense after this episode – I think more than anything, Peter and Olivia have a deeper thread of reciprocity running between them. Olivia is able to cross universe with the combination of love and fear but, she can probably use her ability positively and be better controlled at it with Peter beside her (Did you imagine that)
    Another point that I want to make is, I do agree that Peter has this great maturity to see the truth and give honest advice regardless of his own personal stakes in the matter. But, that also subtly points out that Walter is a good guy – and Peter has read it. He definitely refuses to call Walter “dad” and doesn’t equate him to his father on any level; despite that, if he knew that Olive could trust Walter, he must have seen that Walter is a good guy, no matter what. Although I did sympathize with Walternate in this episode for the first time, I do think that Walter’s decision to not traumatize Olivia for the sake of sending Peter back home is a very commendable decision and credit should be given where credit is due.

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    • says

      “I have always thought it a little strange (and significant) that Olivia said “they belonged together” rather than use words like love, or meant to be together (which would also have very similar meaning) – belong together makes more sense after this episode – I think more than anything, Peter and Olivia have a deeper thread of reciprocity running between them.”

      Very nice. That’s one of the reasons why I personally like this episode – it provides a backdrop that explains rather than forces down one’s throat. The themes definitely help that. It doesn’t make it perfect, imo, but it taps into something that I feel has been missing for a few eps.

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  11. becca says

    Great review as always – I agree with pretty much everything. Just wanted to chime in with the others who have mentioned that I was assuming that the Cortexiphan trials occurred as we’d always been told, and that Olivia’s first pyrokinetic episode happened when she was around three, the first time she saw the other universe. It’s just the new information is that things continued after that. My actual assumption (based on nothing but the fact that six months ago, Walter wasn’t working down in Florida all week and that Bell also, by this point, seemed to have moved on to other projects) was that the trials were indeed wound down during the early 80s, but Walter somewhat resurrected the Jacksonville project with the kids who were still there specifically *because* he now needed to a way to get Peter back and he remembered their (or just Olivia’s?) abilities to perceive the altverse.

    So I kind of saw it the other way around – that Walter was returning to an earlier series of experiments to solve his current problems.

    I also thought – as much as I believe his ultimate decision to defend Olivia was genuinely intended as at least a measure of atonement for considering allowing her abuse to continue, and as much as he genuinely meant it when he said they’d find another way – how much of that was easier because of his subconscious desire to keep Peter?

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    • says

      “I also thought – as much as I believe his ultimate decision to defend Olivia was genuinely intended as at least a measure of atonement for considering allowing her abuse to continue, and as much as he genuinely meant it when he said they’d find another way – how much of that was easier because of his subconscious desire to keep Peter?”

      becca: Well said. I’m with you in wondering. His subconscious desire is indeed pertinent.

      I also find it interesting to look at how these ‘opportunities’ arise. Does the subconscious seek opportunity and respond, or does it also influence reality..

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    • Ari says

      Just to say I thought the same thing about the timeline. I assumed that the original tests, as described in Jacksonville took place. They were led by Bell with Walter in some sort of support role. At the time they were just experimenting with the other side so wrapping up the tests would not have been terribly dramatic – Walter had to deal with Peter’s illness and Bell had to get some “funding” in Europe. In the wake of the Walter’s abduction of Peter (which he has, six months later, recognized as being bad for the universe, not just for himself and his family) restarting the trails makes sense for a number of reasons. Bell is off being mysterious (am I the only one who suspects that all this might not be Walter’s fault – that Bell was jumping back and forth before Walter and consequently caused the original rip in the universe?) and so Walter is left in charge.

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      • Annette says

        Ari, you are not the only one. Why were Bell and Walter experimenting with Cortexiphan in the early 80′? Why did they anticipate a need to create people who could serve in an army against an alternate universe? I assume Bell traveled to the Red on several occasions to steal ideas from Bishop Dynamics to create Massive Dynamic. Did he kill his counterpart in the Red ‘verse to gain access to Bishop Dynamics? I do ponder why Walternate didn’t have the shapeshifters bring Peter home. If Walternate’s goal is to bring Peter home, then why the Boom Boom Machine? There’s a plan for Peter. The shifters know about the plan. So what’s the plan. When was this plan hatched? I love this show!

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        • Ari says

          Blue Bell killing Red Bell AND stealing from Walternate is just devious enough that I love it! Massive Dynamic had such a sinister feel to it in the first season that I think has been lost. Maybe I just can’t let go and the story is moving in another direction but Bell and his massively dynamic corporation still creep me out.

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      • Tenison says

        I do think the same as you – fundings in Europe, aham… you mean the Red Europe, right Bellie?

        And Annette, I have another question to your list: What is the exact relationship of Nina, Walter and Bellie? I mean, how and when they met each other for the first time, why Nina was chosen by Bell to be the CEO of the Massive Dynamic and what secrets does she still keep?

        But I have some answers for you: They started experimenting with Cortexiphan ’cause before the trials and etcs. they already knew about the alternate universe after bringing things from Over There to Over Here, and their idea of a war between universes it’s because the LSD trials shown in “Momentum Deferred”, where they were introduced to the shapeshifters.

        I don’t believe Bellie wanted to gain access to the BD. Don’t ask me why, I just don’t get this idea. But I know that Walternate didn’t use the shapeshifters before ’cause
        1. We don’t even know if they were original created by him. In my concern, William created them some years later ’cause Walternate asked him to do it – and anybody denies an ask from the Secretary of Defense. And…
        2. He didn’t even know about the Blue Universe before Olivia cross and talk to him. Just years later he discovered how to cross shapeshifters safetly.

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  12. CH says

    i know this doesn’t pertain to this episode but for anyone intrested you can download all 10 of violet sedan chair’s songs off of itunes and amazon

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  13. Matt-ernate says

    Absolutely loved this episode.

    When Olivia crossed over in the office and told Walter about her dad hitting her, my heart broke. Kudos to that young actress, she really shined in that scene…and when OUR Walter opened the door and came in, I lost it. I had to re-watch that scene later just because of how great they did.

    Elizabeth was great as well. So many aspects of this episode just blew me away and kept me watching attentively.

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  14. Lenaig says

    Rocco, may I ask you. I constantly think about this phrase “I`ve seen what the two of us together look like and it was beautiful”. It was so out of place that makes me wonder wasn`t it put there intentionally for some not obvious reason. And given the concept of “experience happening all at once” may it be that somehow Peter was reffering to that beautiful scene in the white tulip field. And may be, just may be, Olivia somehow felt the deep meaning of that phrase and that is why she reacted the way she did.

    Or maybe it`s too much to think that way)

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    • says

      Lenaig: Nice thinking! That would certainly make Peter’s line easier to digest. I would like to think that the writers had O&P’s ‘timeless’ experience in mind. Certainly we can now read Olivia’s reaction that way.

      I still feel that it was probably intended more a reference to his time with Altlivia, but you’ve given me a parachute. And personally, I prefer the interpretation you mentioned – much more weighty.

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      • lizw65 says

        I didn’t personally have a problem with that line, but I do like the idea that Peter was somehow subconsciously recalling the scene in the white tulip field. (Speaking of which, I wonder who the scientist was who created the tulip? I assumed at the time I was watching that it was the character played by Peter Weller, but that is by no means a certainty.)

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        • fedorafadares says

          Slightly off-topic, but could the white tulips have been planted by future!Walter who traveled back in time — giving Olivia a soft landing from the trauma he inflicted on her, giving himself a field of forgiveness for her to land in at the same time?

          My head hurts.

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    • Lindsay says

      I love this explaination! I too thought the ‘beautiful’ line was out of place and out of character give the circumstances but love the idea that deep in their subconscious they know that they are ‘belong’ together

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    • says

      Leana: It’s not confirmed that she did, it’s just my on-going speculation regarding Olivia’s abilities and the true nature of the story’s ‘reality’.

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  15. Peter Bishop Must Die says

    A follow up to this episode isn’t just something everyone wants, it’s a necessity because:

    a. Peter and Olivia never would have forgotten meeting each other, especially when it had such impact on them at such a crucial point in their lives. Plus, Olivia has a photographic memory and Peter has a 190 IQ. Something happened that MADE them forget. Olivia doesn’t just not remember Peter, she doesn’t remember any of the Cortexiphan trials. Peter, meanwhile, doesn’t remember being sick, doesn’t remember falling into the freezing lake, and also seems to remember Walter hooking a machine up to his head and zapping him. Something was done to them and we’ve yet to get a reasonable explanation.

    b. The Cortexiphan trials didn’t end at the end of that episode. Walter and William Bell were still searching for a way to get the kids to cross over, which means they were still searching for a way to take Peter back to his own world. What made them suddenly stop the trials? What was it that finally made Walter go crazy and how was his lab assistant killed? Why did William Bell disappear to the alternate universe? What made him flee? What finally pushed Walter to have Bell remove the pieces of his brain? Why did they have (theory) to wipe Peter and Olivia’s (and all the children’s) minds when the trials ended?

    c. Where are all the parents of the Cortexitots during this? Do they have no idea what’s going on or are they receiving some sort of benefit for volunteering their children? Or are they being blackmailed? Also, if they have no idea, wouldn’t their children, being children, let something slip? Were Walter and William threatening the children as well to keep them silent? Scary stuff.

    d. The Olivia we saw in this episode wasn’t the Olivia we know and love today. She wore color and smiled and laughed and drew. This Olivia (while not undamaged) still had a chance to grow up happy and normal. So why didn’t she? Something happened to her between this episode and the present that changed her, that triggered the ‘soldier’ in her. Either something Walt and Willum did to her at the end of the Cortexiphan trials, or her shooting her stepfather. Either way, we’ve yet to see WHY Olivia has grown into what she has today and when it was she decided she wouldn’t be scared anymore.

    I believe we as an audience need a fair explanation to these questions and a filling for these gapping holes. I seriously hope the writers can see that as well. Plus, I just generally loved this episode and I want to see more :)

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  16. Peanut says

    Roco, I’m glad for your review because otherwise I would have missed a lot of the significance of the episode. The main thing that I got, before reading your review, was that blabbermouth Olive told Walternate that there was an alternate universe. Then it actually was Peter’s fault because he was the one who told her to talk to Dr. Walter. Well, then it was really Walter’s fault because he was the one who stole Peternate in the first place. So there.

    I won’t go into great detail about the liberties that have been taken with timeline because I have expressed those previously & Roco has made the point too. That neither Peter nor Olivia remembers their earlier meeting, I find difficult to believe & dilutes its meaningfulness to me—although Roco may not see it that way. I guess that’s why the show eliminated Red Liz—someone who could have given a credible account of a time that is missing from the memories of Peter and Olivia (robbery at the memory bank?). I’m not sure how much Walter remembers of the Cortexiphan test subject era but obviously at least some things.

    It struck me that Olivia has somewhat replaced Blue Liz in the story narrative. There seems to be a parallel in that both Olivia and Blue Liz did not tell Peter about The Secret (of his origins). I would say that their reason(s) are the same also, that they would have considered that it was for Peter’s own good while still wrestling with the feeling that they also kept the information from him for a selfish reason—because they were afraid of losing him to others in another universe—and possibly both reasons are true.

    At what point did the Observer tell Walter not to let Peter return to the AU? Relevant to how hard Walter was working to return him?

    Big fan of Orla Brady’s acting. Bring Red Liz Over Here—just be sure to warn her that there are molebabies in this universe, though.

    The stepfather was a bit of a figuratively moustache-twirling villain. That is not what Olivia said about him. She said that he was a “Jekyll and Hyde,” the personality change apparently brought on when he was drinking. That is a more nuanced picture than we got in this episode and makes more sense. I think that one of Olivia’s survivor traits is tied back to having to assess her stepfather’s moods. If he had been a man of unrelenting evil, she would not need that ability—all she would have needed to do was run from the evil dude when he was around. On the other hand, if she had to be alert for drastic mood swings, she would have known how to watch for cues, such as a certain look in the eyes. I think that that was how Olivia became a good judge of people.

    As Roco said, I do wonder where MomWhat’sHerName (not Dunham unless Olivia took her stepfather’s surname) was & also wonder where Roco’s fav R@chel was—surely she was toddling around by this time? Their appearance would have rounded out the family picture better. It is ironic that Olivia was happier at “Bishop & Bell’s Happy Times & Unethical Experiments Daycare” (Therese Odell’s term) than at home.

    I note that the Cortexibrats were not wearing drab colors, which makes me wonder when the soldierly indoctrination was supposed to have begun. (I’m imaging little Nick Lane with a gun in one hand & clutching his stuffed animal in the other hand.) There were 8 or 9 children in this group of Cortexibrats out of the original 16? Wonder why Walter wasn’t keeping a fire extinguisher handy while he was performing such excruciating experiments on Olive.

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    • says

      Peanut: Many excellent points, as always. I’ll pick out just a couple:

      “The stepfather was a bit of a figuratively moustache-twirling villain. That is not what Olivia said about him. She said that he was a “Jekyll and Hyde,” the personality change apparently brought on when he was drinking. That is a more nuanced picture than we got in this episode and makes more sense. I think that one of Olivia’s survivor traits is tied back to having to assess her stepfather’s moods. If he had been a man of unrelenting evil, she would not need that ability—all she would have needed to do was run from the evil dude when he was around. On the other hand, if she had to be alert for drastic mood swings, she would have known how to watch for cues, such as a certain look in the eyes. I think that that was how Olivia became a good judge of people.”

      Very interesting comment. In a storytelling sense, it would have added more ‘complexity’ to Olivia’s nurture.

      “At what point did the Observer tell Walter not to let Peter return to the AU? Relevant to how hard Walter was working to return him?”

      That’s a very good point. Did Walter come close to finding a better way, causing the probability of Peter returning home to become more likely? Did Walter ‘obey’ the Observer’s instructions immediately, secretly pleased that he now had another reason not to take Peter back?

      It’s interesting to consider the timing of the Observers interventions, especially considering Peter still ended up going back.

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    • jacksonheights says

      You accurately pointed out why I didn’t love this episode. So many glaring inconsistencies it was difficult to watch. This also is supposed to take place at a military base and to have all of these children around after 5 years is highly unlikely. Most military people transfer every 2-3 years. One of the aspects I loved about Fringe is that is used be rooted in reality and then we jumped off into the unexplained from there. I am seeing less evidence of that lately.

      I watched this episode with 5 people. We all watch every episode. Three of us discuss it regularly the other 2 do not. We had to stop the DVR to explain what was going on to the 2 who are casual watchers every 5 minutes. That is NOT a good sign. This is how you lost me at “LOST” to confusing.

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  17. Lila says

    Great review Rocco!
    No doubts, this is my favorite episode in the whole season (And I think it will be hard to top it)!
    Did anyone else found it very ironic for Olivia to be the one who let Walternate know that Peter was stolen by Walter?? I mean, if she didn’t, a looooot of things would never happen (the war, AltLivia, shape-shifters, BBM, ans etc), other than the obvious consequences of the lie (Elizabeth lying for example)!

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  18. megan says

    Robby the Robot! lol I love your reviews Roco. This was a great episode and I can’t wait to watch it again. I adore Orla Brady and I can only hope we get to see more of her.

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  19. Pamela says

    An excellent review. You’ve conveyed the episode perfectly. I stutter in shock in response to remarks that this was the most boring episode of Fringe ever and I’m left with a shocking “…BUT this was the most insightful episode YET!” Again, nicely reviewed, thank you.

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  20. Tattie says

    Hey Rocco

    What an absolutely wonderful review. This episode seems to have rejuvenated your love of the show – this review seems to be more detailed and passionate than most of late. Great work and wonderful to read – many more episodes like this one please!

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  21. says

    I was thinking, timeline wise, that maybe events unfolded as so…

    1. Children were given cortexifan to prepare for the war. (How they knew about the upcoming war is a mystery still, maybe it has something to do with Robert Bishop)

    2. Walter stole peter from the other side.

    3. Walter knew the powers the kids possessed and decided to try and use them to bring peter back. (which is this

    I am pretty sure that they were already given cortexifan in this episode although it isnt mentioned. For example, Olive is referred to as Subject 13, which is usually the case when there are multiple test subjects, the test being cortexifan.

    I like your break down of the episode and am eager to find out how this all comes together.

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    • becca says

      The woman from season two who Walter experimented on and who gained the ability to see the other side had visions of the shapeshifters waaaaay before Walternate had ever made them, suggesting (since we know time in the Fringeverse exists simultaneously and the Observers perceive this) that she was seeing through time as well as across space. Walter and Bell seem like the type of gentlemen who’d take it upon themselves to experiment on a bunch of kids to prepare them for a war they’d heard about in the drug-induced ramblings of a late-70s test subject… ;)

      But yeah, it’s definitely something they might revisit in the future.

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  22. Jennifer H says

    I apologize if I’m missing this somewhere on the site, but is there no mention of the game Pong being sold in a toy store in 1985? It was released in 1975 and was long gone by 1986.

    Battlestar Galactica was canceled in 1979. Why would there be Battlestar Galactica board games in 1986? They would have been really out of date.

    Also, Walter referred to his “new BetaMax.” BetaMax had already lost the video war by then. BetaMax was also out of date by then.

    At least in our world. Is our world not the “blue world?”

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    • Annette says

      You’re not missing something. I’m personally going with the multi-verse theory – some of the scenes were not in the Red or Blue ‘verse. I’d like to hear other speculations.

      On another subject, the computer game the child was playing in the toys store would not have been new to Peter. That’s the reason Peter smirked. He had a computer in his room in the Red ‘verse. Compare the computers on Walter and Walternate’s desks.

      And you’d think the Red ‘verse would have the cure for Peter’s illness. Interesting that Walter came up with the cure.

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      • number six says

        “And you’d think the Red ‘verse would have the cure for Peter’s illness. Interesting that Walter came up with the cure.”

        Walter didn’t come up with the cure, Walternate did, but he missed it, because The Observer distracted him. Walter, who was spying on him, realized this. He copied the formula, stabilized it and used it to cure Peter.

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    • WaySeeker says

      You are mistaken about BetaMax.
      It is big in professional circles! Not so for home use, but kept on going for professionals.
      I know, I worked with making Beta copies up until 2006. We made them for TV stations to air things like Hallmark Hall of Fame movies and MO Dept. of Conservation shows etc. etc.
      BetaMax tapes are actually superior to VHS in machine AND especially tapes! It’s true. It’s just VHS somehow VHS the lesser won the public over … but that is a huge subject I can’t get into on a simple comment you know :)
      Anyway, Walter being a scientist and cognizant of quality would have been all over the BetaMax, seeing right through the obvious inferiority of VHS machines and tapes.

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      • WaySeeker says

        Seems true about what you said about PONG, which I thought was right:

        “By 1977, Atari released a game system that change videogames
        forever: the Atari 2600vcs. Bally released the Astrocade in
        1978. By the end of ’78, pongs became boring to play and
        companies ended producing and marketing them since people
        wasn’t bying them anymore. The fate of Pong has been sealed
        and “died” without remorse…..fate can be cruel.”

        classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=ConsoleMuseum.Detail&id=5&game=12

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      • WaySeeker says

        But it seems right about PONG and BSG board game (1979). SO the BSG is more likely a fan-insert from the writers. I don’t know why they would put in PONG.
        Because, if it isn’t meant to be an alternate universe from the one we live in (and thought they did too) then … surely they have fact-finders for this show, right?

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  23. Pierce says

    “The reason I’m more sympathetic towards Walternate isn’t because I hate Walter, as some might think. Rather, it’s because I feel more for Walternate. It’s difficult to support the aggressor.”

    You must have a strange definition for the word, “loathe”, which you used in describing how you felt towards Walter in a recent review, because as definitions go, that pretty much sums up hatred towards something or someone. But hey, to each his or her own, right?

    In terms of feeling more for the aggressor, isn’t that exactly what Walternate has become? An aggressor determined to destory and entire universe in seeking revenge and in being savior to his own universe no matter the cost? I get the duality and complexity of the situation, and I’d be lying if I didn’t appreciate his pov, but somewhere along the way, Walternate went from being the victim to the assailant in this story and vice versa.

    On re-watch of this brilliant episode, I was just floored of all the subtlty it contained as well as the callback to previous episodes. I love that the breach between worlds holds so much emotional weight to the point it’s become porous. Walternate descending into despair and drink echoing Elizabeth unraveling at the moment Peter accepts his situation by buying into the lie she and Walter perpetrated on him. The child actors they cast for young Peter and Olivia were fantastic. Both managed to mimic the characteristics of their adult characters/actors where you could actually catch a glimps of who they would be as adults. I also thought the episode did a splendid job of showing the audience that the connection between Olivia and Peter now isn’t meant to be reduced to some night time soap opera drama to either roll your eyes at or pull your hair out in despair because it isn’t unfolding exactly how one might like. Emotions have always played an intridate part of their story and subsequent connection. So, Sam Weiss’s comment to Nina Sharp was never meant to be some cheesy who does Peter love more in the usual, nonsensical manner, it’s woven into the fabric of the narratives mythology.

    Orla Brady was simply flawless in her portrayal of Elizabeth in her desperation to protect Peter while she slowly began to unravel on this side while showing her determination to remain strong on the other. Brilliant. The same goes for John Noble as both versions of his character.

    Very compelling episode.

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  24. mlj102 says

    “And what about that letter.”

    When I saw that Peter had left a note for Elizabeth, my first thought was that it was an act that could provide some hope that Peter left a similar letter for alternate Elizabeth when he chose to come back here. You always gave him a hard time for not saying goodbye. Maybe he did… In his own way.

    “In her desperation she’s become Walter, while Walter seems to more measured of the two.”

    Not so sure I got that same feeling. Sure, she’s desperate, but I believe in her motives more than I do Walter’s. I believe that she was thinking more of Peter than she was of herself, while I think Walter’s actions, while done out of love and concern for Peter, were more selfish than that. HE couldn’t bear to lose his son. HE was experiencing too much grief. But for Elizabeth, it’s because she’s seeing what all this is doing to Peter. Even if they couldn’t take Peter back, but they could at least tell him the truth, I think that would do wonders for her. But Walter wouldn’t allow that.

    I don’t get the feeling that she’s willing to sacrifice both universes to send Peter home, but she’s desperate for some sort of solution that will improve the situation for Peter, so she’s putting out the only solutions she can think of. Tell him the truth, open another door like before, etc. She’s just trying to come up with something that will help him. If she had reached the point Walter was at, she would be insisting that he open that door and take Peter home.

    “What is stopping Walter from going once more unto the breach? Is he really that concerned about the consequences, or is he finding excuses?”

    Exactly. Walter initially seemed perfectly fine with the idea of taking Peter back after curing him. It sure was a convenient way to rationalize what he was doing at the time. But now all of a sudden he can’t possibly take Peter back safely. Now he’s suddenly concerned for what it would do to the fabric of the universe. I don’t buy it. There’s no way he suddenly developed that kind of conscience about this. I think he can’t bear to part with Peter, even if Peter is struggling with the adjustment.

    “I would really like to know where the heck Mother Dunham is at this point? She allows her child to take part in these weird experiments and brings an abusive man into her daughter’s world. Was she powerless to stop it, or could she have done more?”

    Perhaps at this point she was ignorant towards his abusive tendencies. Maybe she didn’t know until he started beating her, and that didn’t start until Walter threatened him so that he wouldn’t beat Olivia anymore. It’s not extremely inexplicable, but I agree… I would have appreciated some sort of explanation for where she was while all this was happening.

    “Heeey, don’t call Olive’s flowers “stupid”. She put a lot of effort imagining them up!”

    I think it’s interesting that you have concluded that Olivia imagined up the white tulips. The idea never crossed my mind. I just trusted Elizabeth’s explanation that a scientist made it possible, and I wondered if there was any connection with Alistair Peck. But why conclude that Olivia is responsible? Olivia draws what she sees: the zeppelin, her step-father’s face, and it’s reasonable to think she saw the tulips on the way to daycare, and drew them, too. I can see how you would be far more fascinated by the sort of explanation that Olivia imagined them up, but I just can’t see how that was intended to be the explanation we took away from that whole concept.

    “To me, it makes sense and increases my investment in the two characters.”

    Your investment of the two characters, or your investment of the relationship between the two characters? There is a difference…

    “It looks like we’re supposed to believe that the clinical trials took place shortly after the events in this episode? (or before?)”

    Again, I didn’t get that impression. I agree with LizW65 and others who have commented on that. I felt that Walter was convinced the children could help get Peter back because they had been treated with cortexiphan when they were younger. It just doesn’t make sense that he would expect the children to be able to do all these extraordinary things without there being anything done to them. Children get frightened all the time, but they don’t cross to another reality or blow up a room. There must be a reason these children were different, and I imagine that’s because he had treated them with cortexiphan, and now he was expanding upon that to develop those abilities they had prevented from being limited. No problem for me.

    “For Liz, well, I find her motivation here a little harder to place.”

    I had figured that Elizabeth ultimately chose to lie to Peter because she believed Walter when he argued that they couldn’t tell him the truth. All along, Walter was forcing her to lie to him, and I saw that moment where she chose to continue with the lie as her choosing to follow him and do as he said, despite her own reluctance to lie to Peter. It certainly seemed against her better judgment and like it took everything out of her to insist upon the lie. And afterwards, she seemed appalled with herself. For good reason. Ouch.

    Always good to read your reviews, Roco!

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  25. jkyarr says

    This may have already been asked, but how does the age of olive in this episode match with the betamax footage from the previous season? http://www.fringebloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/fb_olive.jpg

    I guess the writers had quite a time dealing with this conundrum of getting a suitable actress (capable of portraying controversial content like child abuse) at the age initially depicted?

    Also, has not the series at least implied that the Jacksonville kids had the abilities because of the cortexiphan? They should have been treated before the events in this episode and been practicing the process of accessing their abilities by this time (as was implied by the exercise witnessed in this episode with the children standing in a circle). In fact if they’re going to find an explanation for the age/time difference between this episode and the betamax footage then Olive would have had to have been treated with cortexiphan years before the timeline involved here. Thats why Im not really comprehending the thoughts shared about cortexiphan trials in this review.

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    • Peanut says

      The firestarter events are supposed to be two separate events, I understand. Still things wrong with the timeline anyway. The actors playing Olivia & Peter are aged 11 & 12 yet this is supposed to be six months after Peternate’s crossing from the AU–which was supposed to have happened shortly after BluePeter died at the age of 7 in 1985 & had to be winter. Someone did a screen cap that shows that Olive was on the Betamax tape 1 Apr 1985, which means that it could not have been “six months later” after Peter’s arrival as that would put Peternate’s crossing in 1984 & further demonstrates the age problem–that the actors are noticeably older than 7-8 year olds. Olivia was the second shortest child on the height chart before (1981), out of 16 children & now is one of the taller ones–so were new younger children brought into the study?

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  26. Phoenix219 says

    I have some alternate views on Peter in the toy store; First; I’ve never subscribed to the “there are no planes” theory of the AU; I just figure they have multiple forms of transportation. The Blimps are a German influence, and I actually have a whole other theory about that, the time travel comic and Hitler, but another time. 911 happened, and there are moon flights and shuttles, so I can’t imagine a lack of planes. It seemed to me more 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. By the way, the game wasn’t Pong, it was Joust, which would have still been quite common in ’85.

    The reason Walternate never had the shifters bring Peter home is that he couldn’t. They didn’t know how to cross over in that way. They got the Harmonic Transfer from our side within the last 2 seasons, and thats what they test and use to finally come retrieve Peter. The shapeshifters come over in a totally different form and communicate with the typewriter. Even Walter’s original way was removed from his brain so now one could find out. Walternate can’t figure out the cross-over technology. Not only does he not have his own version of Bell to help him; He has OUR Bell purposefully misleading him. I do like the thought of him killing and replacing his alt-self; It goes well with the infiltration, defense of war, super solders, cortexiphan trials, ZFT storyline, but taking Bell at his word that he died as a young man works as just as well. One thing I find odd that nowhere after the kidnapping does Walternate ever wonder how they cured him, or if they did, or why, or any of that. Happiness over his sons lack of dying as he was about to should at least run through his mind once.

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  27. Phoenix219 says

    As for the german thing; if u assume that Bell is telling the truth and that Walternate never encountered alter-Bell, then you can assume his lines of research are completely different. If he never ends up in the situation where he builds the time machine for the government, and he and Bellie don’t send Hitler back to the time of the dinosaurs, maybe Hitler does something post-WWII “suicide” to maintain Germany’s power in the AU, leading to the differences seen on the show like the blimps, the more socialist society, etc.

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  28. Phoenix219 says

    another thought… love/fear trigger goes back to the red red green experiment too, doesn’t it? :)

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  29. Phoenix219 says

    Why don’t they use the Window TV Thingy to spy on what Walternate is doing RIGHT NOW??

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  30. WaySeeker says

    People wonder at the time stamp of 4/1.
    They say this episode is connected to “Peter”
    Well, the original airdate of “Peter” was on 4/1!
    So that may be one reason why they have the date-stamp of 4/1 here.
    It is another way of connecting the two episodes
    BUT doing it from a fictional story world version to a viewer creator our world version. Matching fiction with “reality” in a fun way.
    Because it is shown through a camera on a TV screen.
    FRINGE is captured with cameras and we see it on TV screens (on certain dates, even).

    It is kind of like breaking the fourth wall, yes?

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  31. WaySeeker says

    I can’t help but to wish you had discussed White Tulips more. It is an article all in itself, don’t you think?

    Here in “Subject 13″ (3.15) there is a field of white tulips. Walter’s wife drives Peter past it. Do we know if Walter knows about this field? If so, is this how he got his idea for a white tulip in “White Tulip” (2.17)?
    Who is this “professor” that not only imagined tulips growing where they don’t usually, but WHITE ones to boot? That is breaking reality’s bounds twice in one single item!
    I find it interesting to think about what Walter said about White Tulips and what was done with it as a symbol on that show, and how it was used in this episode. As you say, it is the “field of forgiveness”. In season 2 it was forgiveness of Peter for Walter as Walter wanted it to be. Here we see how Walter continued to make that situation worse by lying and scheming … and later MUCH later by the time of “White Tulips” he wants to tell the truth and have Peter forgive him at the same time. That is full of pricklies!
    But .. why is it in this episode, this “field of forgiveness”? I think it is a part of the “flux” you are talking about. I think it is meant to be a symbol of Olivia forgiving Peter in the “present day” of FRINGE.
    We also saw white tulips in “6B” with the elderly lady. She had to eventually “let go” of her “other husband” or there would be extreme danger between universes (but mainly in Over Here’s). Emotions are involved, memories, different realities. This corralates directly to what is going on with Peter and Olivia, in that Olivia can cross universes and Peter (if Sam Weiss is correct) can destroy one or the other.
    now, you can see the lines connecting this past “field of forgiveness” with Walter’s White Tulip of Forgiveness and also the things Mrs. Merchant went through in 6B and we see all kinds of connections from just a single object!
    Walter, Peter, Walternate, Elizabeth, Olivia, Mrs. Merchant, Peck, this mysterious “professor” …. it does make one wonder if this is some kind of deliberate symbol created in this world to connect things? Is it Olivia, or is it Olivia AND something else? Some other unknown overreaching force? But, if it is Olivia, she’s done a LOT with just one symbol!
    ***
    And I was wondering about the “professor” that imagined this field of white tulips. That is quite a feat! And, notice, they use a specific word here. They could have said “botanist” or “visionary” or “scientist” or whatever, or given a specific name, but instead they use the word “professor”.
    That is not just a “teacher” you know .. look up the word “profess” and you will see what I mean:

    1. to lay claim to, often insincerely; pretend to: He professed extreme regret.
    2. to declare openly; announce or affirm; avow or acknowledge: to profess one’s satisfaction.
    3. to affirm faith in or allegiance to (a religion, god, etc.).
    4. to declare oneself skilled or expert in; claim to have knowledge of; make (a thing) one’s profession or business.

    Think about how much “professing” goes on in this episode, and in the series as a whole, and you will see that this is yet another theme to look for in the past present and future of this series.
    Just one more piece of evidence of the genius of this show.

    There is a LOT going on with this “White Tulip” symbol. I wonder if there was any in the Pilot? Other things in the pilot show up later in the series.

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  32. WaySeeker says

    Isn’t it interesting how young Peter is MADE to believe his parents are his real parents. He knows they aren’t, but he is made to ignore that and see them as his folks and this as his world.
    Now, think about the present day of FRINGE. How adult Peter somehow mistakes Altlivia for Olivia despite lots of signs we as viewers (and Olivia later) say would have been obvious.
    Guys! He was already programmed to believe his truth was a lie and the lie of the Over Here parents was the truth! Now he did a similar thing where he believed Altlivia was Olivia despite the signs!
    Doesn’t this now make sense of that? He was programmed to do this as a kid.
    REMEMBER PRESENT DAY PETER IS A CON ARTIST. Before the events of Fringe season one started, when Olivia finds him to bring him in to get Walter out, Peter was a con artist, on the “FRINGE” of society.
    What do con artists do?
    They trick people into believing their lies.
    Young Peter was conned as a child to think this world (and parents) were his own, he later becomes a con artist tricking people into believing false things were real, and then he conned himself (let Altlivia con him) into believing Altlivia was Olivia! (at least the first and last of these could be said to be done from love? Love for the parents in this other world, and love for Olivia?)
    It is now, after letting it percolate, obviously NOT a writing flaw, but a writing GENIUS!
    Because I freely admit while I was watching it happen I also thought it was unbelievable. But, now that I have watched Subject 13, I get it!
    See? Doesn’t that make some sense of that now? This is an epiphany for me so I wonder what you think? Just .. let it percolate a bit, first reaction is to stand by the idea that Peter should have known and protect our Olivia … but if you let it simmer awhile you can see what I’m saying, what the writer’s were doing, yes?
    Well, for me I think now that it was a risk worth taking. It was “kismet” for them to decide to switch Olivias now because that act brought up so many MORE rich layerings and themes they had already started on! I think it probably made Season 3 far more interesting … once we back up a bit and view the overall picture.

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  33. Roger says

    I have to say that i feel they are sugarcoating Walter here just a bit. We never quite see the terrible father and ruthless researcher he all but becomes.

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  34. Tash says

    What i don’t get is that when Walter orginally stole Peter he was like a week from death but then he was cured but how would Walternate know that but when hes talking about he kinda assumes he is still alive when as far as hes concerned he should be dead.
    Also isn’t there world so much more advanced so shouldn’t they of worked out the whole alternate universe thing first.

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  35. TomC says

    Good episode on the whole (little olive and peter were brilliant), BUT was it just me or did anybody else find this episode blurry. i dont think it was anything to do with the story or direction but it just looked like they’d whacked the ‘softness filter’ up too high causing at many times a blurry look. it pretty much ruined those scenes for me.

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