Fringe Rewatch 1.03 – The Ghost Network


Ghost Network Rewatch

Synopsis: In the third episode of this new procedural thriller that explores the blurring line between the possible and the unimaginable, our unlikely trio investigates a horrific bus incident in which the dead bodies of commuters are frozen inside a bus like insects in amber. Led by the unconventional Dr. Bishop, who requests a piano in the lab to help him process data, the team uncovers a man who has visions of Pattern-related disturbances before they happen, and race to decipher the distraught man’s thoughts to prevent another atrocious event from occurring.

General Thoughts: Rewatching this episode was a slightly more entertaining experience than the previous one, although I’d put them in the same ball park. Ghost Network does, however, benefit from subtle foreshadowing and interesting underlying themes.

New Observations & Perspectives

John Scott life after death1.) Knowing what we do about John Scott’s ‘visitations’, the prayer at his funeral can be looked at in a new light:

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God. And no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead, and their passing away was thought an affliction. and their going forth from us, utter destruction – but they are in peace (Wisdom 3:1-9).

There may be no dual intention behind this, but it makes me wonder about death in context of the show – what does it really mean if the dead can still interact with the living? In many ways John is still alive and at peace..somewhere. It also makes me wonder whether Walter could have sought solace from the idea that Peter was in a better place when he died (assuming Peter 1.0 is dead)? Surely Walter used the synaptic chamber in a desperate attempt to communicate with his lost son? Maybe it provided little comfort, perhaps explaining why Walter was so adamant that John could not have interacted with Olivia during her subsequent dreamscapes?

2.) In the cafe there was a clear reflection in the mirror opposite Walter – considering what we know about alter-Walter’s and parallel realities, this seems like a nice little piece of foreshadowing.

3.) It’s been well documented that the interior of the Massive Dynamic building is all white – but it occurred to me whilst rewatching that Nina wears a lot of black. Color symbolism has played a big part in the series – I wonder whether there are any inferences we should be drawing from this one?

4.) Upon realising the purpose of the Ghost Network, Walter says “they took the easy way out”. This made me think – what other purposes could the Ghost Network be used for, and does the notion of undiscovered waves foreshadow the Observer’s ‘phsycic’ communication with Peter? Then there’s the beacon..don’t get me started on that thing..

5.) Roy’s models reveal 3 pattern-cases missed by Fringe Division. I find this interesting as it shows that they are not on top of all the events that happen. Suggesting that some pattern-events might be smaller..harder to spot.

6.) At the end of the season we discover that Nina had an energy cell hidden in her arm, before that people were hiding encryption disks in their hands. Goodness knows what Walter has hidden where.

Unresolved Mysteries

If you're gonna pop your collar, you gotsta do it right.1.) Peter was supposed to “check in” before he came home – what IS the deal with Big Eddie? I’m assuming the photographer was working for Peter’s Mafia buddies? This is one story arc that never truly got off the ground despite promising to be important in the early stages. Perhaps it’s a season 2 arc, or maybe the writers dropped it completely?

2.) Why did Ziegler and Gerard bother to speak Latin over the Ghost Network – especially if it was supposed to be a private spectrum? My guess is that they wanted to be extra careful – the original technology (or the premise behind it) was seemingly based on Walter’s past work, and as we’ve come to know – that makes it a free for all, with the possibility of multiple parties having access to the same technology and using it to infiltrate rivals. Some believe Latin being a ‘dead language’. That probably made it an attractive option.

3.) Why can’t Walter remember Astrid’s first name? Although he gets it right in the finale, we never really found out WHY her name failed him for 19 episodes. Maybe there’s a good reason, or perhaps the writers thought it would be a good running joke? Hey, it worked. ;)

4.) Did John’s mom give Olivia an evil smile or was Olivia’s perception playing tricks on her? The logical assumption is that she knew about Olivia and John’s affair, or that she blamed Olivia for not protecting her partner out on the field. Not an important ‘loose end’, but at the time it seemed like it could be something, especially with John’s body still on ice over at Massive Dynamic.

Closed Mysteries

Seekers1.) Peter suggests that the people behind the bus attack (Ziegler and Gerard) wanted to gain attention. Whilst their primary objective appeared to be the disk, I’m happy to go along with Peter’s line of thought.

As far as I can tell, they used the opportunity to get the disk and to demonstrate their technology – possibly to those interested in buying it – similar to the Steig situation, perhaps.

2.) John Scott also had a disk embedded on his person – At the end of the episode Nina’s technician tells her that they’ve been pulling data from the disk for the last 72 hours, at which point the camera pans to John Scott next to a computer which is extracting information from his disk. Thus linking John with (fellow undercover NSA agent) Evelina, even at this early stage.

Final Thoughts

Question of faithThe real meat of this episode for me came in the faith vs reason undertones. Roy McComb thought that God was speaking to him, he didn’t understand why he was seeing horrific things before they had played out. He thought that he ‘heard the call’ and there was nothing he could do to help. And yet, it turned out that it wasn’t God showing him prophecies, instead it was technology revealing man’s evil intentions. There was reason to what Roy was experiencing, as Astrid’s said:

“It’s gotta be a relief, right? Knowing there’s a rational explanation”

In the end, science provided comfort to a mind searching for answers – it gave reason where faith didn’t. And yet I get a small sense that a religious man like Roy wouldn’t be fully satisfied to suddenly realise that he wasn’t receiving a call from a higher order.

Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but the series does go on to show how faith and reason collide when one is trying to find their purpose. We see it play out with Olivia, where she struggles to accept the things that are happening to her as she clings on to the last fabric of her reality, yet she grows in the process. So in some instances, science can be a comfort, but believing in something..taking the leap of faith, can get you to the other side.

Best Performer: John Noble

Favourite Moment: It came during Olivia’s meeting with Nina, who masterfully turns Olivia’s questioning on its head by suggesting that Olivia is responsible for the recent Pattern events. I always found this moment great because it suggested that the writers had an answer for WHY everything seemed to happen in Boston. It also elevated Olivia’s overall importance, in my mind. Watching it a second time it was just a joy to watch these two characters go at it, I love their dynamic, so to speak.

Retrospective Rating: 6.5/10

Our Original Ghost Network Eastereggs can be found here.

Next Rewatch Episode: The Arrival – Sunday (ETA)

Comments

  1. Elliot says

    I really loved the portrayal of Roy. And the quirky lab scenes with him, his saying “I wouldn’t call any of this normal!”———-plus the tension between father and son over ethics, with the chastisement going in the opposite to the usual direction.

    Nice linkage of the verse at the funeral to Peter–to Walter’s grief. That stood out for me at the time, but moreso now.

    “the series does go on to show how faith and reason collide when one is trying to find their purpose. We see it play out with Olivia, where she struggles to accept the things that are happening to her as she clings on to the last fabric of her reality, yet she grows in the process. So in some instances, science can be a comfort, but believing in something..taking the leap of faith, can get you to the other side.”

    Yes! Human foibles colliding with fact. Desire (to not be alone, to not be bereaved, to be smarter, to have made the right choice, to win at all costs) clouding judgment, interfering with reason? Walter’s arrogance & loss; Olivia’s love and then loss; Peter’s abandonment & anger, Jones’ disappointment in Bell——all making them do stupid, reckless, dangerous things. And they begin to be faced with the reality that what they knew, what they believed in, was not in fact real. Each one of them is getting a roughly handed out Twilight Zoning. “This will rip open your consciousness” could be the motto for each one of them; ego/id vs objective fact. Even poor Roy, thought he was signing up for a simple Psych 101 course, but was really being wired into a government communications system.

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    • says

      You’re right, Roy was very quirky. I felt a lot of sympathy for him – he was just caught up in everything, a random ‘victim’, and yet he was still important to cracking the case and reigning in the terror that Ziegler and Co. were causing.

      Nicely said! It’s an interesting concept – the show has so many realities in so many different contexts of the word. Just as one reality slips, another reveals itself. It’s fascinating seeing our Fringies respond to the different situations and revelations. With each ‘happening’, a new opportunity arises – how they deal with it is crucial to their journey as individuals and as a family – which is kinda what they’ve become.

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  2. Gil_Cdn says

    Keeping track of the deads # 3

    So here is the death toll numbers in ep.1-03 The Ghost Network:

    Matthew Ziegler (back onto the path of the bus) = 1
    Grant Davidson (handler, shot at train station after hand over) = 1
    Evelina Mendoza (dead EDA agent, mole?! with data disk in palm) = 1
    Innocent passangers on the bus “like mosquitoes trapped in amber” = 11
    (** note: I try counting the passanger and drive on the bus, but could not come to a solid conclusion. At the end of the show, Olivia told Broyles when they were examining the disk: “OLIVIA: So eleven innocent people die today, we risk losing another by drilling through his head, all for something we know nothing about?” Clearly, this is eating on her and I will take her words as confirmation of the number of deads on the bus.)

    Cumulative death toll (3 eps) = 149 + 3 + 14 = 166

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      • Gil_Cdn says

        OLIVIA (in the episode MIDNIGHT): I’m sorry, but since I’ve been working in Fringe Division, eighty one people have lost their lives. And that’s not including the 147 on Flight 627. Now, in my entire career, only nine people have died on cases that I worked.

        Olivia counted 81 people (excluding 147 on Flight 627) had die, she did not count the other 147 on Flight 718 which the porcupine man brought down!?!?

        If Olivia’s count is correct, then we are looking at 147+81+147=375 up to that point in the episode MIDNIGHT (well obviously, Valerie killed a few more and Boone die at the end.)

        I will adjust the number of innocents killed on the bus to 10, I wasn’t sure if Evelina is considered “innocent” but I guess we should. Thanks!

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  3. mlj102 says

    I find it interesting that they went to the effort of showing John’s mother and then following it up by showing Olivia’s reaction to her. I wonder if they’ll ever address that again. She did seem to be very intent on Olivia through that whole scene and if she believes John died as a hero, why was she giving Olivia the evil eye the whole time? For such a brief appearance and not even saying anything, she was a very mysterious character.

    I loved the reflection moment in the diner. That was so brilliant! It was done in such a way where, if you just glance at it, it seriously looks like there are three people there. Very telling.

    I’d also noticed how Nina is constantly in all black, with the occasional gold trim here and there. Also, Massive Dynamic employees in general (with the exception of those working in the medical lab with John Scott) are in black as well. Nina’s assistant, for example, is always in all black. I agree, it’s quite a contrast with the complete white interior of the Massive Dynamic building.

    I don’t quite understand how John is connected to Evelina Mendoza. She was an undercover DEA agent, he was supposedly an undercover NSA agent. I don’t know a whole lot about all the various federal agencies, but I believe they’re quite separate and with different purposes. So as far as I’m concerned, and correct me if I’m wrong, all they have in common is that they were both (again, I’m not convinced about John) undercover and they had discs in their hands. My question is why did they have discs in their hands? Why them? Is that supposed to be some sort of secret undercover agent way of storing information? What exactly was the purpose of the discs and why were Ziegler and the people he worked with so desirous to obtain Mendoza’s disc? I wonder if she had managed to come across some important information regarding ZFT/the Pattern. If so, what might it have been? I think the discs are important aspects of the plot and that we will continue to see them pop up in later cases.

    It was certainly a cryptic meeting between Broyles and Nina at the end. Broyles confuses me – especially in the beginning episodes. There are times when he seems to be way ahead of the team and like he knows all sorts of information about what they’re dealing with, and then there are other times where he seems just as clueless as they are and like he’s learning right along with them. It’s also strange to see the way he interacts with Nina. I’m very unsure about what the relationship is between them. There are times when he seems to be working with her (like when he gives her the disc at the end of the episode, or in the beginning of episode 2 when he’s in charge of the meeting that she’s a part of). They seem to be constantly sharing information between each other. And yet there are other times where he seems very cautious around her and as though he doesn’t trust her (such as when he tells Olivia he would be skeptical of anything coming from Nina and not to tell Nina the details of what they’re working on, or when he was quick to blame Nina for Olivia’s kidnapping in Safe). I hope that relationship will become a little more clear in season 2.

    I wonder if it’s at all significant that Walter had mentioned that he was medicating himself with homemade psychotics. It’s mentioned on a couple of other occasions, and I wonder if there’s more to it than just more evidence of how much Walter likes his drugs. What are the drugs doing to him? Are they meant to help him be more normal after whatever was done to him while he was at St. Claire’s, or is he taking the medication to help give the impression that he’s crazier than he actually is? There are several instances where Walter seems to be very in control and extremely aware of what’s going on and like the crazy thing is an act more than anything else. But if that is the case, what reason would he have for wanting others to think he’s insane?

    I also wanted to point out that we had yet another reference to Peter’s childhood and his mom. It’s the only time I can think of where Olivia asked him a specific question (where’s your mother now), and he completely avoided answering it. He’s given vague answers before, but this was one where he didn’t even beat around the bush, but he flat out didn’t answer and immediately changed the topic. It makes me very curious to know what the whole story is there and how it plays into the choices Peter has made and why he is the way he is.

    Similarly, I thought it was significant that we had another time where Peter mentioned that he is good at reading people and has the ability to tell when they are bluffing. That’s twice in the first three episodes, which seems to indicate that that ability is going to be of some importance later on. I wonder if it is a natural ability that he has or if it is the result of cortexiphan or some other type of experiment Walter performed on him.

    I just thought I’d mention that I really liked the ending scene between Peter and Olivia where he plays the piano for her. I thought it was very well done – subtle and simple, yet a key moment in showing how their relationship is developing. Romantic interest aside, if they’re going to work together, it’s important that those two establish a relationship of trust and understanding and loyalty, and I think it’s scenes like that one that help us as viewers to see that taking place.

    One final observation, and maybe someone can explain this to me. In the scene where Olivia walks past the Observer on the train, you first see him off to her right, but then as she passes him, he’s on her left. I rewatched it several times and couldn’t make sense of it. I don’t know if it’s just a goof, or if I’m just going crazy, or what, but I thought it was strange.

    My favorite part: When they’re about to drill into Roy McComb’s head and the freshman knock at the door and ask if it was PoliSci 101. Olivia’s reaction was priceless and Anna Torv captured the emotion perfectly – complete disbelief and irony. Classic!

    One more thing, regarding the death count Gil is keeping: I think when Olivia says that “eleven innocent people died” it’s likely she is including Evelina Mendoza in that count, since she’s referring to the number of people who died on the bus accident. If that’s the case, you are actually counting her twice, and thus your count is off by one. But it’s hard to know for sure…

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    • says

      “I don’t quite understand how John is connected to Evelina Mendoza. She was an undercover DEA agent, he was supposedly an undercover NSA agent. I don’t know a whole lot about all the various federal agencies, but I believe they’re quite separate and with different purposes. So as far as I’m concerned, and correct me if I’m wrong, all they have in common is that they were both (again, I’m not convinced about John) undercover and they had discs in their hands. My question is why did they have discs in their hands? Why them? Is that supposed to be some sort of secret undercover agent way of storing information? What exactly was the purpose of the discs and why were Ziegler and the people he worked with so desirous to obtain Mendoza’s disc? I wonder if she had managed to come across some important information regarding ZFT/the Pattern. If so, what might it have been? I think the discs are important aspects of the plot and that we will continue to see them pop up in later cases.”

      I could be wrong, but my guess is that Eve was also an undercover NSA agent who also worked for the DEA. You’re right, it’s not exactly clear, but I think that makes the most sense in terms of the encryption disk and why she hid it in her hand, ala Scott, Bowman and Hicks.

      If memory serves we get some more info on the disk in future episodes. Like you say, I think they contained inportant information on groups involved in the “pattern”. Perhaps Ziegler and Co. wanted to destroy the information the NSA had on them, or maybe they wanted to sell/exchange the data the NSA held on other groups?

      “One final observation, and maybe someone can explain this to me. In the scene where Olivia walks past the Observer on the train, you first see him off to her right, but then as she passes him, he’s on her left. I rewatched it several times and couldn’t make sense of it. I don’t know if it’s just a goof, or if I’m just going crazy, or what, but I thought it was strange.”

      You’re not going crazy! :) In the first shot of the Observer on the train, it’s actually his reflection in the carriage door window, making him appear on the right, when he’s really on the left. So it’s just a deceptive shot involving reflections – it might also foreshadow the alternate reality theme..

      Here’s one of our old screencaps – hopefully this will make it clearer:

      Observer

      I agree re: the piano scene with Peter/Olivia. It was very well done. I also liked Walter’s little smile of approval/surprise/satisfication.

      Oh, and I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for any more mentions of Peter’s mother – perhaps we can dig up some more clues along the way!

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