Synopsis “Our unlikely trio’s strange partnership begins as they investigate the mysterious death of a woman who conceives, carries to full-term and births a baby in the span of hours, and her baby who ages 80 years in a matter of minutes.
As the bizarre and seemingly unexplainable occurrences are explored, quirky Dr. Bishop runs extensive testing in the lab; his reluctant son Peter endures his new role as his father’s keeper; and Olivia turns to Massive Dynamic Chief Operating Officer Nina Sharp for assistance.
General Thoughts: If the pilot episode was about Olivia and her team passing “tests”, this episode was about making connections and putting the pieces together – “like a puzzle”. The title of the episode serves to illustrate the collision between Olivia’s past and present. Her world may have been turned upside down, but the same old stories are playing out – only now she is better equipped to solve them.
This episode retains the prize for being the most X-Filesque of all Fringe episodes. This disconnected me from the story somewhat, as did the score. I also felt that some of the scenes were a bit ‘clunky’.
Below I outline my New Observations and Perspectives, Unresolved Mysteries, Closed Mysteries and provide my Final Thoughts based on my rewatch of this episode.
New Observations & Perspectives
1.) Phillip Broyles seems to have extensive knowledge of Walter Bishop and his involvement in the Pattern, as evidenced during the ‘oversight committee’ meeting. This changes my perception of Broyles slightly – he seems even more knowing than I thought he was at this stage, with his p-p-p-poker face.
2.) According to Phillip, Nina Sharp only has “limited” clearance on all things Pattern. Funnily enough I always had the impression that she knew more than most about Pattern-related events. Maybe Phillip was just blowing his own trumpet to impress Olivia – what with the tug of war for her services?
3.) There were even more blue flares present in this episode than I originally remembered. All of them appeared during the Chris or Clause scenes. I’m sticking to my belief that the lights are indications of observation or travel.
1.) Peter’s Medical history. I’m tempted to put this in the “closed mysteries” section but although we know that Peter almost died in a frozen lake, had a rare strain of bird flu and was stolen/taken from another reality, I doubt we know all there is to know about the health of the boy Bishop. For one thing I’m still wondering how many Peter’s Walter has been through? Did he acquire just the one replacement..or have there been several who didn’t acclimatise? And why-o-why didn’t Olivia press Walter for more info!
2.) We never did find out what happened to Clause. Peter managed to shoot him in the leg but he still managed to escape and is never captured. This isn’t a major mystery but the poor man could be lying in a ditch somewhere bleeding to death.
3.) Nina tells Olivia that she has also lost people close to her. A rare moment of complete sincerity from Nina? Just like in the pilot, it could be argued that this is a loaded scene and Nina is referring to losing Olivia (I know, crackpot, right?). At any rate, we never get to find out about Nina’s loved one’s – she may have a robot arm but her aching heart is made of muscle and nanobots.
4.) Clause tells Chris that he only needs “one more” (pituitary gland). Why only one more? Was Clause on the verge of a growth hormone breakthrough or was he just trying to comfort his creepy son?
1.) Olivia’s dream with “Broyles” asking her “were you safe?”. It seems like an allusion to the idea that Olivia and John didn’t use protection during their last romp – leaving Olivia worried that she might be carrying John’s child, and making her more invested in protecting the women of Massachusetts from pituitary thieves.
2.) The final scene with the Christopher Penrose clones inside Massive Dynamic labelled chambers tells us who Clause was working for. What is not entirely clear however, is whether or not MD knew that Clause was holding back on them by keeping one of his “children” for himself.
Although this is still one of my least favourite Fringe episodes, it did have some gems in the way it foreshadowed future allegory. Walter tells Peter “I feel like I’ve been asleep for the last 17 years” – considering their crossed paths, this marries nicely with Olivia’s own ‘awakening’. She learns in “Bad Dreams” that she was put to ‘sleep’ several years ago, casting doubt on all of her experiences and the things she holds to be true.
This in turn adds context to the song referenced at the beginning and end of the episode – “row your boat”, which ends in the ominous words, “life is but a dream”. Dreams are often seen as subconscious messages – some offer guidance whilst others are not to be trusted. This is exactly the dilemma facing Olivia at the moment – she has been led into a dream-like ‘world’, she wants to go back but she can’t – not just because she’s seen too much, but because this perspective is actually turning out to offer more answers than the one she previously held. I doubt it would have been lost on her that after 12 years of Clause and Chris getting their pituitary on, it’s only now that she has been able to stop the ‘same old story’ from playing out.
At it’s core though, this episode reminded me very much of “Midnight“ – not only because it was fairly ‘standalone’, but also with the idea that people will do ANYTHING for those they love. In Midnight we saw it with Nicholas Boone giving his wife his own spinal juice – in turn killing himself and knowingly facilitating her murderous (yet sexy) rampage. In TSOS, we have Clause Penrose who helps his son kill people so that he can stay alive. The motivating factor is love and the continuity it provides. Walter understands both men because he too has crossed unethical boundaries for his son (and perhaps also for himself), with scant regard for society. Love can be fairly selfish at times – it could be argued that we need to love as much as we need to be loved. Even if Peter was in a better place, would this have stopped Walter from trying to bring him back..would it have stopped him from replacing him with another? Who did Walter really do it for? I guess we will have to wait for ‘the powers that be’ to show us that episode – needless to say it will represent an important landmark in the history of Walter, Peter and the show itself.
Best Performance: Anna Torv
Favourite Moment: Walter admitting to Olivia that he has found it difficult to distinguish between “God’s domain and our own”. The resonance of that scene increases now that we have greater insight into the lengths Walter has gone to ‘retain’ his son.
Retrospective Rating: 6/10
Next Rewatch Episode: The Ghost Network – Thursday (ETA)