Welcome to the first of our retrospective Fringe rewatch episodes. If you are reading this with your eyes you will know that we are going back..back in time to revisit each of the 43 aired episodes of Fringe. Loaded with fuller perspectives, we bid to uncover new observations and destroy old standing mysteries that are just begging to be resolved.
Wearing only the “black and gray” garments and armed with powers of perception that a Jedi would be proud of, we aim to gain a unique understanding of Fringe before the third season commences on September 23rd.
This first stop on our rewatch tour takes us back to the nearly beginning – an episode we are aptly re-titling “Just The Beginning“, because Peter said so!
- How fitting that our story should begin on-board a plane from Germany – what with all the Bishop/Germany ties and David Jones escaping from the Wissenschaft Prison. This is one strand that the writers have kept consistent throughout.
- Seeing Morgan Steig spew his guts up on that poor stewardess is still one of the sickest Fringe scenes ever. EVER!
- The mayhem on-board The Plane of Falling Faces was followed by a scene of brief tranquility as we see the auto-piloted plane fly silently through the electrical storm. Such a fantastic transition and a great way to introduce us to the fear and wonder of science.
- Squeaky Bed Time: It’s so strange to see our girl so happy. All I could think of while watching her bliss were the words of December: “It’s a shame things are about to get so hard for her”.
- Watching Olivia throughout this episode I kept wondering: “What’s Altlivia up to on her side?”. Because even though so much weird crap happened in this episode, things still seem so ‘normal’ at this point. “So you can question a dead man can you, Nina? Pfft, I’ve seen Molebabies and a parallel earth!”. This episode really does cross that line – after this, there was literally no going back.
- That damned flickering light above Olivia and John by the rubbish bins. I always thought that it was an intentional marker or just something intriguing the creators thought they’d throw in for ‘atmosphere’. I’d probably stand by either of those possibilities, although I like to think it was the former – an indicator of Olivia’s ability. She had just told Scotty boy that she loved him – emotions were high, and we know all about Olivia and her emotions.
- Olivia looked almost dead as they wheeled her into the hospital. In fact, this scene contains some rather unusual editing effects for Fringe, including almost dream-like scene where the doctor updates Olivia on John’s condition. It was a blend of states, you could say. Was this an early indicator as to the relationship between dreams, memories and reality, or just a cool effect? Probably the latter.
- Being inside St. Claire’s sure made ‘Peter The Powerful’ uncomfortable. I wonder if this wasn’t so much due to his distaste for Walter, but because of the trauma that his mom went through? I’m not certain that the writers knew exactly what story they were going to concoct for Elizabeth at this stage, but they probably would have had an idea that it would involve her mental state.
- Still one of my favorite scenes EVER is Olivia and Walter meeting for the ‘first time’. I love Walter’s rather knowing comment about someone coming for him “eventually”. I adore the gradual close-ups on their faces. And there’s just something so powerful about Walter having his back to Olivia as she stands like a bunny rabbit at the door. Seriously, this is a scene that actually grows with time.
- Just think – so much of what we see of Walter in this episode (and subsequent) is the result of him asking William Bell to remove his memories. I find that retrospectively powerful and engaging.
- It’s noticeable just how far to the edge Olivia was pushed by the circumstances. Just a few examples: allowing a trembling Walter to stick his knife into John, agreeing to go into the Bra & Panties Tank, leaping from rooftops onto stairwells without looking or breaking pace. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: AmaaaaaaaaaZING!
- Ahhhh, I can’t tell you how good it felt to see Broyles in an actual office that doesn’t resemble a dungeon. Good times, folks, good times!
- Did I detect a bit of Eye Sexin’ between Olivia and Peter at the Lab? Nah! It must just be my imagination – nothing will come of it. Thanks God!
- Olivia is incredible. Against all the odds she achieved the impossible by saving John. Ok, so he died in the end, but she brought Walter and Peter together, got Broyles to like her, and got a new job!
- Walter talks about the synaptic transfer and the sharing of information across the unconscious state. I wonder, could a similar technique work across realities?
- Livvy’s ultimate reasoning for entering the Bra & Panties Tank? “John would do it for me!”. Cool, but hopefully not wearing bra and panties! :/
- Behold the editing error. (A couple of folks emailed me about this so I just wanted to reiterate that it is unlikely to be a clue): We see hands entering the tank to pull Olivia out before Peter and Walter have even opened the door. We could, if we were feeling generous, put this down as a time-shift clue of some sort, but I think it was just an oversight.
- Was it just me, or did part of Olivia’s dreamstate ‘wasteland’ resemble The Blight? Probably just coincidence – a construct of how Olivia perceived her fusion with John’s consciousness.
- Walter sees his St. Claire’s incarceration as ‘punishment’, which is in-keeping with his later realization of God and his search for redemption. It may also inform us as to why he asked Bell to remove certain parts of his memory.
- What’s with the cat in the window?
- Olivia says that her and John “owe each other” – giving us a glimmer into what her life might have been like before John. In other words, being with John was probably a momentary bright spot in an otherwise bleak existence – helping to corroborate what we have since come to know about her childhood.
- I’ve heard it claimed (and at one point I may have said this myself) that John tried to kill Olivia by running her off the road. I don’t think this was the case – I think he was just trying to shake her off, not murder her.
- The events in this episode not only brought Walter’s son back to him, but it reminded him of what it’s like to have people trust him. Aw, Walter I trust you. (about as far as I could throw you).
Mysteries & Answers
- Did John Scott know that Olivia was “special”?
- My Opinion: I’ve gone back and forth on this a few times, but I think we have to say that, yes, he did. For one thing, the fact that he KNEW that Broyles sent Olivia to the storage facility for a REASON implies that John knew more about Olivia than he ever let on.
- Which ties in nicely with: Why did Broyles send Olivia to that damned storage facility?
- My Opinion: I actually came to the same conclusion last year – Broyles either knew that Olivia was “special”, or he knew that she had past connections with William Bell and was a test subject in his clinical trials. Broyles probably wanted to get to the bottom of “The Pattern” and so decided to test Olivia – to put her on the trail to see if she came up with the goods – and to his surprise and wonder, she DID. I’m not sure how much information the producers and directors gave Lance Reddick on how to portray those moments, but it seems obvious that he nailed it. A lot of what we see with Broyles is a feigned lack of knowledge, but there are moments when he lets his guard slip: “I know exactly who you are!”, being one such pointer (and yes, I know that he may have purely been referring to the whole Sanford thing, but there are other examples). Now, I’m not suggesting that Broyles knew, or even knows, everything – clearly there are things that have shocked him along the way, but suffice to say he knew about Olivia’s past (to an extent) and has become very protective of her. That’s the interpretation that makes most sense to me anyway.
- How did Steig know that his brother would use his diabetic pen? His whole ‘demonstration’ depended on it. Perhaps he knew that Morgan needed to dose himself every few hours? (although I do wonder whether the electrical storm was somehow man-made – ensuring that Morgan’s anxiety would require him to administer the spiked insulin? That’s probably an unnecessary plot twist though).
- Nina said that she started working for Bell “16 years ago” (as of September 2008) – which would make it the year that he started BellMedics. Although I had assumed she was working for him at the time of Peter’s death in 1985, although perhaps that wasn’t in an official capacity.
- What does the streaming “which must not be bought” text on the window of Massive Dynamic mean, if anything?
New Clues & Observations
- While in the Lab, John Scott’s body is situated under an arch. Arches traditionally symbolise a bridge or doorway to the beyond – a gateway from one place to another. For me, this is an obvious allusion to the different levels of consciousness (as seen in the episode where Olivia communicates with a comatose John Scott) and a very early hint (intentional or otherwise) to the alternate reality storyline.
- The yellow and red doors at the storage facility. Could this be an early representation of the alternate universe color thematics?
“Retcon” = Retroactive Continuity: Adding or altering information to the backstory of a fictional character or world, without invalidating previously established facts.
- Peter to Olivia: “Sweetheart, we all care about someone who’s dying”. I think this may have originally been intended to be a reference to Peter’s mother. As I mentioned a bit earlier, I’m not sure that the writers had fully planned out what they wanted to do with Elizabeth, but they must have had an idea. It’s possible that at this stage the writers had Peter’s mom down as being alive but very sick – giving Peter added incentive to adopt the kind of lifestyle that he had been living prior to Olivia coming into the equation. Or perhaps Peter was speaking in general sense, but with his mother in mind.
- Charlie’s motives: I still believe that in the early episodes the writers left Charlie’s character open to be a traitor. There’s subtle evidence in the Pilot (and subsequent episodes) with those lingering after-discussion stares. Again, not a major alteration, more a case of portraying the character with enough ambiguity, just in case.
- The Pattern. Personally I think we haven’t seen the last of it (and may even have seen more of it in season 2 than we realized), but the consistency of this storyline is definitely up for debate.
“Theme Tracker” will track themes of interest so that we can see how they spawned, where they led and where they may lead.
- Walter telling Olivia and Peter that aside from Bellie, “God” also had access to his work.
- Richard Steig, sarcastically: “I swear to God”.
Dreams & Sleep:
- Peter to Walter (re: the Lab): “Wake up, it’s gone”.
- Walter to Peter: “You woke me up again. You can’t put me back to sleep”.
- Olivia and Broyles discussion: “I just want to go back to before”. “Dunham. I don’t think you can”.
- John Scott thought the synaptic transfer with Olivia was a “dream” – interesting.
- “So much happened here..and so much is about to”
Best Retrospective Performance: Anna Torv – the eyes are so expressive without ever going over the top. Brilliant Fringe debut.
Favorite Retrospective Moment: I don’t have to tell you that it was Olivia leaping across rooftops, because you probably already know.
Retrospective Rating: 8.5/10 – surprisingly very rewatchable.
Next Rewatch episode: 1.02 The Same Old Story – July 22nd, 2010.
If you have any thoughts on the above rewatch post, or your own rewatch opinions that you’d like to share, feel free to dive in below.