Fringe Rewatch: 1.06 This One Will Make You Special


The sixth stop on our rewatch hike sees us revisit “The Cure” in search of new perspectives and connections.

This is an episode we are renaming – “This One Will Make You Special”. Why? You’ll have to hit the jump to find out.

New Perspectives

  • This is the episode were Olivia is really grouchy.
  • Emily can’t remember what happened to her. Join the club, we have quite a few of those.
  • Red and blue medicine. Note – the red makes you “better”, while the blue makes you “special”. We could apply this to the color thematics representing the two universes – red indicating the alternate reality and blue the ‘main’ universe. Can we glean anything from that?
  • Or perhaps the writers were going for a take on the red/blue pill ‘Matrix’ premise? In other words, which universe makes you better and which makes you special. Which universe is real and which is an illusion? Just some of the things to consider.
  • A bell. On a door. In an episode featuring Massive Dynamic. To to Batcave, stat!
  • Don’t talk about “rebirth” around Peter, Walter!
  • Olivia: “83% of kidnap victims are abducted by someone they know”. I’m not sure that this line stood out to me before, but when the words ‘kidnap’ and ‘abduction’ are said around Peter I kinda feel uneasy.
  • Ah, the Pattern. That takes me back. Back to the days of exploding heads and possibly linked coincidences. When people were preparing for something but we didn’t know what. The Pattern must surely be going on while Olivia’s attention is distracted with ‘bigger’ things. Unless, of course, Olivia’s mind was the source of the Pattern. Stop this crazy talk.
  • Olivia was so driven in this episode. Mostly for other people although subliminally for herself. The motivation to get to the bottom of the ‘wrongs’ in the world has since become so very personal to her.
  • Dr. Patel to Olivia “You should just walk away, you have no idea who you’re dealing with”. Tell that to someone who’s not a Cortexiphan kid.
  • RIP Mr. Papaya. Your clinical trial was short lived. You were the friendliest of fruits, but sadly, not the strongest.
  • Olivia’s master plan to go undercover at Esterbrook’s function? Wear a BADGE! Badges make anything possible. In fact, the world would be a better place if only we had more badges. Just ask Peter, a recent badge owner.
  • Esterbrook – red tie. Just sayin’.
  • Esterbrook gets weird: “How old are you? 28..29? You’re an attractive young woman, I’m sure you want to start a family one day. It would be a SHAME, if anything got in the way of that”. Wow, Esterbrook’s mother sure raised him well, didn’t she!? This is the other reference to Olivia’s reproductive organs that I mentioned earlier in the rewatch. They probably intended to go somewhere with this (other than pointing out the fact that Esterbrook is a total douchebag). Look at Olivia’s face during Esterbrook’s taunt – her demeanor breaks for a couple of seconds and tears form in her eyes. That has to mean something, even if it’s just to convey a certain character point. Some might look to this as evidence that suggests Ella is actually Olivia’s child. I’d sooner point out the possible relationship between Esterbrook’s threat to prevent Olivia from having kids and that fate actually befalling alternate R@chel, who died during childbirth.
  • Broyles wants Olivia to control her emotions. Either he’s a very good Cortexiphan trainer or he just doesn’t get it yet. As jerky as he’s being, it’s hard to not love Broyles in this scene – although I heart Olivia for trying to have the last word. :D
  • Peter tells Olivia that everyone is allowed their bad days, in preparation for his stinky attitude in 2.21 2.22.
  • Interesting. So, Olivia claims that her step-father got abusive when he drank. Is this why the writers made her a heavy drinker? (to be fair, it’s not been stated that she’s a ‘heavy’ drinker, but considering each episode runs about 40 minutes long and we’ve had dozens of Olivia/alcohol references, it’s safe to say that they’re trying to tell us something).
  • Olivia’s mom never called the police on the woman-beating scum. Olivia decided that SHE would have to play ‘law enforcement’ from an early age. I continue to wonder whether Olivia’s protective urge was a product of Cortexiphan, or something more innate – perhaps both? Either way, I found this scene useful as it gives me a stronger sense of Olivia’s chosen path, even if it wasn’t actually ‘chosen’ on a conscious level.
  • It’s also interesting to consider the later reveal (in 1.21) that Olivia’s mom was a woman of faith. I guess Olivia’s ambivalence towards faith may also have stemmed from the idea that she didn’t think that it helped her mom out of her abusive situation – help never came, in Olivia’s eyes. And yet I find that Olivia is a ‘believer’ once you scratch the surface.
  • Olivia was a was capable of murder from a very young age. She tried to kill her step-father. An act borne out of choice, yet defence. How many 9 year olds would be capable of pulling that trigger, I wonder? I’m intrigued by the ease with which Olivia recounts the story and I’m interested in the intent behind this portrayal. She’s almost…wistful. It’s as if she wants to hurtle back in time to pull that trigger for a third time to finish the job. Peter looks uncomfortable. My mind casts back to the “incident” and Brenner’s ‘disappearance’. An accident because Olivia was scared. It was an accident, right, Olive? I guess I don’t call her the “Dunhamnator” for nothing.
  • Olivia unknowingly draws a parallel between her step-douche and Walter: “I know that he’s not responsible for all of the bad things in the world, but he is responsible for some of them”. You can see why she hates Walter just a wee bit. And I do get the impression (since the cafe ripping) that a piece of her despises the man.
  • I’ve mentioned this numerous times, I’m sure. But why does Olivia have such a clear memory of this event but not the clinical trails? I know, I know, deactivation, memory cloaking, trauma – but even so, we need to explore Olivia’s sketchy memories.
  • Peter calms Olivia and presents a solution. You would think that the boy has a magic power, or something.

  • Nina riding horses. That’s one spin-off I don’t want to see. And look at that big bright red building in the background. Just sayin’.
  • Nina’s big elaborate plan. It’s so obvious now. And she’s got Peter’s soul. I dread to think what she’ll ask for when she finally decides to cash in her I.O.U.
  • Peter: “They made her radioactive. They turned her into a weapon”. Says the guy who’s a weapon.
  • Nina helps Peter because she wants something. What then does Peter want from Olivia? A date, perhaps? Those two – yeah right, as if that’s going to happen!
  • Is this the most sadistic that we’ve ever seen Olivia?
  • Broyles isn’t happy. Has arms folded. Is secretly pleased. The take-away – don’t buy the poker face.
  • Olivia says that Broyles is welcome to fire her, but she hopes that he doesn’t. She really doesn’t want to work for Nina and her constant mind-buggery.
  • Olivia was still such a pawn at this stage. I guess, in many ways, she still is.
  • The “red” toothbrush is Peter’s. If only you know Peter, if only you knew. (although, technically, blue is his color. But still, red for alternate universe, and all that jazz).
  • I remember now, this was the birth of “Petah”. If I have to watch a season of these two making sexy-eyes at each other I’ll rename him Petarrgh! Unbearable. Where’s Newton when you need him. At least he knows how to bring the cool.
  • Is it me, or did Peter check out Olivia’s booty? VERY professional Peter. Now go upstairs and lull yourself to sleep. I really can’t remember this episode being so shippy. Perhaps I had those memories removed from my brain like Walter.
  • I wonder if we’ll explore Olivia’s step father in the alternate universe before we explore that story any further Over Here?

Mysteries & Answers

  • Who was Intrepus working for?
  • My Opinion: I’d love to say Massive Dynamic, because I went for them with the Jacob Fischer shenanigans, but Nina was clearly opposed to Intrepus. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nina set up the ‘buyer’ as part of her master plan to bring down the company while giving Olivia another test.

Newly Observed Clues

  • None of note recorded.

Possible Retcons

  • The intention behind Esterbrook threatening Olivia’s reproductive organs.

Theme Tracker

Dreams

  • Walter: “I myself once cured this one in a dream – opium. Fantastic stuff. Of course I forgot how I did it as soon as I woke up”
  • Olivia: “You better get back upstairs before Walter falls asleep on your bed”
  • Peter: “He has actually done that before, while I was sleeping. It’s really not something you want to wake up to”.

Evidence of Narrator

  • The episode is driven by Olivia’s emotions as her past manifests itself in more ways than one. Interesting.

Quote Terrific

  • “This is upsetting because he is the friendliest of fruits”

Best Retrospective Performance: Joshua Jackson

Favorite Retrospective Moment: Mr. Papaya

Retrospective Episode Rating: 6.5/10

Useful Links

Next Rewatch Episode – 1.07 “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”, Friday, August 6, 2010.

If you have any comments on the above rewatch, or you have your own rewatch thoughts and observations, feel free to share them in the comments below. While I have personally chosen to tackle new perspectives, feel free to approach this rewatch however suits you best.

Comments

  1. Anjali says

    “What then does Peter want from Olivia? A date, perhaps? Those two – yeah right, as if that’s going to happen!”

    Oh Roco, you are clearly not a shipper. You’ll get there. :)

    I can’t wait to see the favor that Nina will ask from Peter one day. I hope we get to see that in the coming season.

    I loved ‘sadist’ Olivia in this episode.

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  2. Laura says

    -Red and blue medicine. Note – the red makes you “better”, while the blue makes you “special”. –
    Those lines immediately reminded me of Torv’s words during an interview:
    Olivia wants to be the best, while Alt-livia just wants to win.

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  3. Dani says

    Going on what Laura said – The red/alternate universe could see our characters better as people, happier, (and in Charlie, Elizabeth’s and Olivia’s mother’s cases – alive) whereas in our universe they’re made “special”. This could be an indication that it was Walter rather than Walternate who gave Peter his ability, if he has one.

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  4. Elaine says

    I don’t care how many times I watch this episodes, that opening scene is still one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen on television. *shudder*

    Looking back now, it seems Olivia’s foul mood was a precursor to the resentment she’d later display and hold (understandably) towards Walter when she discovers he had experimented on her as a child.

    I also thought of the Matrix with the red/blue medicine, but I like the early implanting of the idea of what the two colors means in relation to the two universes.

    This episode also made me wonder if Olivia deciding to do something about protecting her mother by shooting her step father at the tender age of nine wasn’t her Cortexiphan enhanced mind subconsciously remembering what she designed to do. She may not consciously recall what happened during those trials, but she’s shown that some part of her mind does–and it’s triggered by various situations and other experiences she’s gone through.

    What exactly will Nina ask of Peter in repayment for her help…man, I can’t wait to find out, as I’m sure it will be something morally compromising. At least one can certainly hope so. For story purposes, naturally. :)

    Rating: 8/10

    I really like this episode. It was the first peek into helping the audience to understand Olivia’s sometimes distant behavior. Something was always breaking under her surface…and we come to understand why. This is also one of the better face-offs between Broyles and Olivia’s. I always got the impression that after walking away or Olivia leaving his office, he would smile to himself, because she was showing him what he needed to see in her.

    Anyways, great re-watch.

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  5. Fringefan1991 says

    Roco, I really loved the caption you put in the picture of Peter and Nina when he goes to strike the deal.

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  6. LizW65 says

    I’m not usually disturbed by fake gore in TV shows or movies, but this is the one episode of Fringe that I find unsettling and hard to watch. I don’t think it’s the exploding heads; it’s just that everyone seems a bit creepy and “off” somehow; there’s this sense of foreboding and doom about it that I find difficult to put into words.

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  7. kittyofdoom says

    This episode has one of my favorite Peter/Olivia scenes – when he calls her on her bad attitude and doesn’t go away until she tells him why. I feel like that was a very sincere moment between the two of them and that at that point it had been a while since Olivia had had someone in her life who was willing to do what Peter did: stop ignoring the issues and actually ask about what’s going on. Peter was a real lifesaver for Olivia in this episode.

    Other awesome moments include, of course, Broyles/Olivia snark, and the epic Esterbrook takedown.

    I’d actually score this closer to a 7.5 out of 10. It wasn’t Pattern-related and had a slight monster-of-the-week feel, but the character development was bang on and the connection to Massive Dynamic was very clever. Also Olivia is slightly more awesome when she is mad.

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    • SF says

      “This episode has one of my favorite Peter/Olivia scenes – when he calls her on her bad attitude and doesn’t go away until she tells him why. I feel like that was a very sincere moment between the two of them and that at that point it had been a while since Olivia had had someone in her life who was willing to do what Peter did: stop ignoring the issues and actually ask about what’s going on. Peter was a real lifesaver for Olivia in this episode.”

      I agree here, Kittyofdoom, and I also think that Olivia telling Peter this story was a test she gives to people who want to be close to her: can they handle the truth about her, which is she once tried to kill her stepfather? Even though Peter is uncomfortable, he stays, and then, as you so nicely put it, he comes up with the solutions and he saves the case and Claire, for Olivia (well, and for Claire too). Yes, Roco, big shipper moments here! YAAAAAY!!! :-D I do think that this is the moment when Olivia dares him to still care after knowing this, and he comes through with flying colours.

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  8. says

    Estabrook is impressively nasty. See Chris Eigeman in nearly anything else and there a big contrast. Different as red and blue, even.

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  9. FinChase says

    I always liked this episode a lot. This was the episode where I realize Olivia is a rescuer. I had been wondering about her, and when I heard the story about her stepfather, I thought, “Oh, that explains so much about her.” Of course, as it turned out, there was even more.

    “I continue to wonder whether Olivia’s protective urge was a product of Cortexiphan, or something more innate – perhaps both?”

    I think this is a very relevant question. Did the Cortexiphan make Olivia the way she is or did the Cortexiphan work with her because of what she is? I tend to think it is the latter. I think they’ve set her character up that way, by continually reiterating how strong she was even as a child. I think that mental strength would have been part of Olivia’s makeup regardless.

    Listening to Olivia talk about her mother never called the police, you can see how even to this day, she’s still baffled by this. She just can’t get her head around someone who just lived with being victimized. I wonder how this all affected Liv’s relationship with her mother? Did her mother resent her for shooting stepdad, who in spite of being a total creep, probably paid the bills around the place? Did Olivia resent that her mother’s acceptance of the situation forced her into the position of being her protector? Even if the Cortexiphan trials had never occurred, this would be a very traumatic event for a child. I wonder how much emotional baggage Olivia is still carrying around that might end up being dumped on Alt-Mrs. D?

    “Olivia was a was capable of murder from a very young age. She tried to kill her step-father. An act borne out of choice, yet defence.”

    I think it’s significant that Olivia could not pull the trigger a third time to finish stepdad. She could pull the trigger to protect her mother, but once she had stopped him, she wasn’t killer enough to finish him.

    “Is it me, or did Peter check out Olivia’s booty?”
    No, it’s not just you! He was definitely checking her out!

    Observation:
    Olivia says that her stepfather is “not being responsible for all the evil in the world but he is responsible for some of it. “Fairy tale Peter” turns this speech on its head in “Brown Betty” when he said about Walter: “Walter Bishop isn’t responsible for all the goodness in the world. But he is responsible for so much evil.”

    I like this episode. The first scene is pretty horrific, and while it may not be linked to the over-arching mythology, David Esterbrook was an interesting villain. I’d still like to know if there is link between he and Olivia’s uncle with that aleph tie pin.

    I think I’d rate it about a 7 to 7.5.

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    • kittyofdoom says

      Oh, thanks for mentioning the aleph tie pin! I noticed it on rewatch but forgot to point it out, and it was the first time I’d seen it. That tie-in REALLY intrigues me. It’s those kinds of little hints that make me SO impressed with the makers of this show.

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    • mlj102 says

      “I wonder how this all affected Liv’s relationship with her mother? Did her mother resent her for shooting stepdad, who in spite of being a total creep, probably paid the bills around the place? Did Olivia resent that her mother’s acceptance of the situation forced her into the position of being her protector?”

      Interesting questions, and I hope they will reveal more about all of those issues later. While I can see how Olivia’s actions as a child could have damaged her relationship with her mother, I just don’t think that’s how it went in this case. I think Olivia’s actions might have been the wake-up call her mother needed to realize that she shouldn’t put up with her husband’s abuse. She might have realized that she couldn’t continue to allow him to treat her and her daughters like that. Olivia says that one day, her stepfather just disappeared. That may be what happened in her mind, but I wonder if her mother kicked him out. It just seems that Olivia has too much of a sentimental, loving relationship with her mother for there to be a lot of tension and unresolved matters between them. Of course, there’s also the matter of her mother’s death. When did that occur, and how did it happen?

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      • FinChase says

        MLJ, you make good points. And I agree that hearing the longing in her voice when she spoke of her in “Over There” confirmed for me that Olivia did indeed love her mother; I wasn’t sure up until then. But one can love someone and still have unresolved issues with them, and this is what I wonder about. I’ve thought that at least part of Olivia’s strength and drive are a reaction to her mother’s perceived lack of strength.

        Like you, I wonder about her mother’s death and when it occurred. Was Olivia an adult by then? I thought it was interesting when Olivia gave Ella the cross that her mother told her it “keep me safe.” How many time have we hear Olivia use variations of those very words? “We need to keep him safe.” “Your friends are here to keep you safe.” There’s a litany of episodes where Olivia uses this phrase; it’s one of her signature phrases and is right in line with her role as protector. Interesting that her mother used it too.

        I hope you are right about the shooting serving as a wakeup call for Mom Dunham. It sounds like she needed it.

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    • says

      Olivia says that her stepfather is “not being responsible for all the evil in the world but he is responsible for some of it. “Fairy tale Peter” turns this speech on its head in “Brown Betty” when he said about Walter: “Walter Bishop isn’t responsible for all the goodness in the world. But he is responsible for so much evil.””

      Great catch, Fin! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. mlj102 says

    “RIP Mr. Papaya. Your clinical trial was short lived. You were the friendliest of fruits, but sadly, not the strongest.”

    I don’t know what it is about your eulogies, but I think it’s so much fun whenever you include one! I love that you even did one for Mr. Papaya! Keep them coming!

    “Look at Olivia’s face during Esterbrook’s taunt – her demeanor breaks for a couple of seconds and tears form in her eyes. That has to mean something, even if it’s just to convey a certain character point.”

    I agree. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think this is meant to imply that Ella is Olivia’s child, or even that Olivia has had a child before. But I do think it was a brief glimpse into how much Olivia does want to have children of her own. I think that’s something that’s extremely important to her. She clearly has a soft spot for children, and I love the soft side that comes out when she’s with Ella or other children. So when Esterbrook essentially threatened that, I think her reaction conveyed both that desire and that concern very well.

    “Peter tells Olivia that everyone is allowed their bad days, in preparation for his stinky attitude in 2.21.”

    I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile now and I have to admit I’m stumped. Admittedly, it’s been awhile since I saw 2.21, but I don’t remember Peter having a particularly bad attitude in that episode. Can you elaborate?

    “So, Olivia claims that her step-father got abusive when he drank. Is this why the writers made her a heavy drinker?”

    I know there’s a bit of a joke that Olivia seems to be constantly drinking, but more than anything I think that’s all that is… a joke. I honestly think that it has become a joke among the writers to see how many times they can show Olivia with a drink. Becoming an addict just doesn’t fit with her character or her background. If anything, I would expect that her past with her step-father getting drunk and abusive would be the kind of knowledge that would stop her from ever letting it get out of control. Yes, she’s often seen with a drink of something or other, but I don’t think it’s meant to be viewed as Olivia becoming an addict.

    “I guess Olivia’s ambivalence towards faith may also have stemmed from the idea that she didn’t think that it helped her mom out of her abusive situation – help never came, in Olivia’s eyes. And yet I find that Olivia is a ‘believer’ once you scratch the surface.”

    Interesting… and I essentially agree with your assessment. I think Olivia is torn. I think there’s a part of her that wants to be a believer. She wants that faith and assurance, and might I even say peace, that comes from having faith. I think there might even be a part of her that envies the inner peace that her mother found from faith, even in the midst of the difficult lifestyle she faced from her abusive husband, and Olivia wants to be able to find that in her life… Not necessarily to the extent that she would permit anyone to abuse her and walk over her like that — I can’t see Olivia ever getting to that point, and I agree that she seems unable to accept the fact that her mother was able to just allow him to treat her that way — but enough that she can find that reassurance despite what life throws at her. And, like you, I think she’s more inclined to believe than she thinks she is. To a certain extent, I think she attempts to deny it, because she doubts the reasoning behind it, and she’s not sure she should rely on it, but I think she finds herself believing despite that. It’s an aspect of her character that I hope they will continue to explore in Season 3 and beyond.

    “Olivia was a was capable of murder from a very young age.”

    I think I interpreted this scene in a very different way. For starters, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Olivia was capable of murder at a young age… In fact, the fact that she wasn’t able to bring herself to pull the trigger and finish the job seems to say the exact opposite and that she WASN’T capable of murder. Also, even if she had actually killed him, I wouldn’t exactly call it murder. In my mind, there’s a difference between murder and killing someone out of self-defense. Who knows what was going on in her nine-year-old mind? I think she felt it was the only way to put an end to her and her mother’s suffering.

    “How many 9 year olds would be capable of pulling that trigger, I wonder?”

    I think it depends… You never really know what you’re capable of until you’re put in that situation. I would imagine that abused children and children who have that desire to help those they see are being treated unfairly, could certainly be capable of taking such drastic measures. Depending on the child, of course. But that’s just my opinion. It’s certainly a deep question, and one that I don’t think can ever be answered definitively.

    As for her portrayal and how she delivered the story, I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as wistful… Wistful, to me, implies a certain amount of fondness, which I don’t get at all from her reminiscing of that time in her life. I would say it was more bitter, resentful, matter-of-fact… But I think I see where you’re coming from.

    “Peter looks uncomfortable.”

    Again, I don’t think Peter looks uncomfortable, per se… I think he looks solemn, sympathetic, and unsure how to react. But I wouldn’t say uncomfortable. I think he understood the significance of the fact that she was confiding in him about something so personal. They hadn’t known each other very long, but Peter knew her well enough to know that she tends to keep to herself and not share her feelings to avoid being vulnerable. He knew that it was a big thing for her to confide in him about that. And he felt bad for her. I got the impression that he was somewhat upset that she had had to go through that. But uncomfortable? I personally didn’t sense that from him.

    “I’ve mentioned this numerous times, I’m sure. But why does Olivia have such a clear memory of this event but not the clinical trails?”

    This question surprises me (and maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying) because, in my opinion, it’s never really ever been an issue. From what I understand, the lack of any sort of memory of the Jacksonville trials is the exception. Olivia has made it quite clear on several occasions that she has an uncommonly reliable memory. The fact that she has such a strong, vivid memory, yet somehow has no memory whatsoever of the Cortexiphan Trials is the anomaly, not that she has a sporadic memory, yet somehow remembers this one certain event very clearly. I can’t think of any other aspect of her childhood that she’s forgotten… So there’s something about the trials that caused her to forget, despite her “freakishly good memory”. And I do think memory is another important theme of Fringe.

    “Nina helps Peter because she wants something. What then does Peter want from Olivia?”

    This statement fully relies on the assumption that Nina and Peter deal in similar ways; that they have similar motivations and plans, etc. And I don’t think that’s true. Nina is the kind of person who always plans five steps ahead. She doesn’t do anything that doesn’t have a purpose. She’s always looking forward to how she can benefit from a certain situation. What’s in it for her? Peter is quite different. I think he is certainly capable of behaving in that way when he needs to. But I think he’s also the kind of person who does things because he sees that someone else needs his help. That’s what I thought was so beautiful about this whole story… We got to see a different side to Peter in that he will stand by those he cares about and when he sees a need, he is willing to do whatever it takes to help make things better. I think that’s a very important part of Peter’s character. (and a great continuity with the Season 2 premiere and the phrase his mother used to say to him when he was a child.)

    “If I have to watch a season of these two making sexy-eyes at each other I’ll rename him Petarrgh! Unbearable.”

    Seriously, Roco, sometimes I think you say things just to to get a reaction. Unbearable? Not hardly (in my opinion). Yes, it was there, but it wasn’t the focus of the episode by any means. What do you expect? I guess I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is about their relationship that you don’t like. I’m by no means a romantic, and I don’t watch the show for the romantic aspects of it. But that is a part of the show, and I think they have done a good job of developing it up to this point, while keeping it in the background. It wouldn’t be believable if they didn’t show hints of it from time to time. And what’s wrong with them developing a romantic relationship? I just don’t get why you’re so opposed to it. (however, I will admit that your “Petarrgh” joke made me laugh :) )

    “Best Retrospective Performance: Joshua Jackson”

    Really? Don’t get me wrong, Joshua Jackson certainly did a wonderful job in this episode, but it wasn’t anything that stood out to me. Nobody hate me for saying this, but after I read that, I had to stop and think, “What exactly did Peter/Josh Jackson do in this episode?” Again, don’t take this the wrong way. I guess it just surprises me because, in my mind, this was such a strong Olivia/Anna Torv episode. For me, she’s the entire focus of this episode. And her performance was outstanding. Josh did great, but he just didn’t have the role in this episode for me to consider him the best performer… But maybe it’s just a different interpretation of the qualifications for best performer…

    “Retrospective Episode Rating: 6.5/10″

    Again, I say really? Really? That’s just harsh. What exactly is it about this episode that causes you to rate it so low? It’s just hard for me to accept because this episode remains one of my favorites. I know it’s a stand alone and such, and I wouldn’t go so far as to rank it up there with Ability or Bad Dreams or Peter or Over There, but something about it just draws me in every time. I love the emotion in it and I love the character exploration and development. I thought there were some very powerful moments, as well as some strong themes that I really liked.

    And Elaine, I completely agree with what you said about the opening scene being one of the most disturbing ever. Seriously. That’s about as gruesome as it gets, in my opinion.

    Other Thoughts:

    I mentioned this in the rewatch last year, and I’m still curious to know exactly who informed Broyles of the way Olivia confronted Esterbrook. It just strikes me as odd that there was someone who reported her actions to him so promptly.

    I love the whole story with Olivia knowing that Esterbrook was behind the events taking place, but she was unable to get to him. I love the way Peter and Walter were able to help her find closure for this case. There’s something very wonderful about the fact that she couldn’t do it without help from those around her. Kind of like showing how she isn’t alone and she shouldn’t insist on bearing the burden of her work all on her own.

    I am so anxious to have them come back to this deal Peter has made with Nina. There’s no way they can just forget about it… is there? It’s too big and there’s too much potential. I imagine it will be the kind of thing that they will leave out until most people have forgotten about it, or have figured the writers have forgotten about it, then it will come back into play in the biggest way possible. I’m really, really excited to see where they go with that.

    One thing I love about this episode is that it hints at so many big things… so many things that have potential. And it’s not like hinting at it in the way of some stories that just don’t hold much interest… but it’s all big things that I’m genuinely looking forward to revisiting. I’m curious about Olivia’s stepfather. I’m curious about the connection between Nina and Peter. I’m curious about the deal Peter made with Nina. I think there’s so much potential for the things that were introduced in this episode.

    Themes/Observations:

    Perception: It stood out to me at the beginning when Olivia got frustrated with Walter’s humming and Walter’s response was something along the lines of “Was I humming? I thought it was in my head.” I realized that Walter often does things that he thinks are all in his head, but it really isn’t. To me that just represented the perception theme and how Walter thought it was all in his head, only to find that wasn’t the case. Makes me wonder, what does he think is real, that’s really just in his head… Or is it the fact that he’s perceiving it as all being in his head that makes it blend into reality? I’m nowhere near as good at exploring these particular ideas as Roco is, but I thought I’d put it out there, anyway.

    Along the same lines, another line that stood out to me was when Walter was focusing on the lights and talks about how “nothing sings like kilovolt” and “there’s nothing in nature quite like it.” I don’t know what it is about that line, but it seems strangely significant, even though I have no idea what that significance could be. Just something about it just screams “deeper meaning” everytime I watch this episode. It’s one of those things I could see becoming something that we look at in a very different way if future episodes end up elaborating on that concept.

    Boats: There were several boats, including a nice big picture of a boat, at Holly’s Diner. I’m telling you, either someone on the staff just really likes boats, or there’s some reasoning behind all the focus on boats.

    Glyphs: Daisies on the card Olivia received from her stepfather.

    Funniest moment: Mr. Papaya. Brilliant. Classic. Amazing acting. Funny. Love it. I love the reactions when Walter suggests repeating the experiment with gerbils. Oh Walter…

    Favorite moment: So many good ones to choose from… I think I’ll have to go with Olivia confronting Peter about where he really got his information. I think that’s such a significant moment between those two, and I’m not talking only from a “shipper’s” point of view. I think it was so important for them to show the relationships and the trust and loyalty developing between the main characters, and this episode really did that for Peter and Olivia. And there’s just something about that that I really love.

    My rating for the episode: 8.0 (it may be merely a stand alone, but it’s a truly great stand alone and, no matter how many times I watch it, I never seem to get tired of it).

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    • says

      “I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile now and I have to admit I’m stumped. Admittedly, it’s been awhile since I saw 2.21, but I don’t remember Peter having a particularly bad attitude in that episode. Can you elaborate?”

      My bad, I meant 2.22 – in particular his comment about Olivia’s hair. To be fair to him, Olivia did take part in ‘Deceptiongate 2010′, so I’ll give him a bit of leeway. ;)

      “I know there’s a bit of a joke that Olivia seems to be constantly drinking, but more than anything I think that’s all that is… a joke. I honestly think that it has become a joke among the writers to see how many times they can show Olivia with a drink. Becoming an addict just doesn’t fit with her character or her background. If anything, I would expect that her past with her step-father getting drunk and abusive would be the kind of knowledge that would stop her from ever letting it get out of control. Yes, she’s often seen with a drink of something or other, but I don’t think it’s meant to be viewed as Olivia becoming an addict.”

      I agree, mlj. It’s most likely just a joke. I do wonder, however, if the seeds of that joke were initiated in the construction of this episode. Was it initially a more serious character point that eventually became an in-joke? Who knows!

      “I think there might even be a part of her that envies the inner peace that her mother found from faith”

      Very interesting comment! I detected an element of that in the small snippets we’ve been given on the topic of Olivia’s mom and her faith. I don’t know if that was the intent, but it’s how it came across, now that I think about it. Thanks for bringing it up.

      “I think I interpreted this scene in a very different way. For starters, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Olivia was capable of murder at a young age… In fact, the fact that she wasn’t able to bring herself to pull the trigger and finish the job seems to say the exact opposite and that she WASN’T capable of murder. Also, even if she had actually killed him, I wouldn’t exactly call it murder. In my mind, there’s a difference between murder and killing someone out of self-defense. Who knows what was going on in her nine-year-old mind? I think she felt it was the only way to put an end to her and her mother’s suffering.”

      You make a VERY good point in that Olive wasn’t able to pull the trigger for the third time. That just goes to show how we can sometimes read the same scene (or situation) in opposing context. Fantastic stuff! That said, I’m going to stick to my guns with this one, as I believe that the fact that she almost delivered the final bullet (and that she had already pumped him full of two bullets) indicates that she was certainly capable of doing it. For example, had the step-father not been abated by the previous shots, she would have given him the Bullet of Death, in my view. I agree that “murder” is probably the wrong word, although the intent was clearly there, imo. She’s a stone cold killer dressed in yellow. OK, too far.

      “As for her portrayal and how she delivered the story, I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as wistful… Wistful, to me, implies a certain amount of fondness, which I don’t get at all from her reminiscing of that time in her life. I would say it was more bitter, resentful, matter-of-fact…”

      That’s fair, and we’re probably dealing with semantics here, but I did detect a strong ‘longing’ do finish off the job. I just think that Olivia is an extremely complex character – even her mannerisms are, at times, contradictory. She’s far from conventional and this scene gave me a small glimmer into her, shall we say, ‘murkier’ side. That said, it’s certainly open to other interpretations.

      “This question surprises me (and maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying) because, in my opinion, it’s never really ever been an issue. From what I understand, the lack of any sort of memory of the Jacksonville trials is the exception. Olivia has made it quite clear on several occasions that she has an uncommonly reliable memory. The fact that she has such a strong, vivid memory, yet somehow has no memory whatsoever of the Cortexiphan Trials is the anomaly, not that she has a sporadic memory, yet somehow remembers this one certain event very clearly. I can’t think of any other aspect of her childhood that she’s forgotten… So there’s something about the trials that caused her to forget, despite her “freakishly good memory”. And I do think memory is another important theme of Fringe.”

      I see what you’re saying, but for me, it is an issue in that even after revisiting the Day Center in 2.14, and not having any distinct memory of her time there, she doesn’t fully persue the discrepancy (although that’s probably down to a lack of immediate continuity). Now, I agree that it’s not exactly one of the show’s great mysteries, but from a character standpoint, I find it interesting that Olivia, or someone else (as Lane later suggests), may have sectioned off a specific portion of her memory. For me, it’s almost as big a plot point as Walter’s memory issues.

      “This statement fully relies on the assumption that Nina and Peter deal in similar ways; that they have similar motivations and plans, etc. And I don’t think that’s true. Nina is the kind of person who always plans five steps ahead. She doesn’t do anything that doesn’t have a purpose. She’s always looking forward to how she can benefit from a certain situation. What’s in it for her? Peter is quite different.”

      Oh, I largely agree (and well said). I was joking more than anything. :) Although on some level, even a pure one, I would say that Peter did it for a reason. Perhaps he wanted Olivia to trust him? Maybe he wanted to look out for a friend? Either way, I find it interesting to look for possible motivations behind the actions of our Fringies. I find that some of the most interesting motivations, are the good ones – the ones without any strings attached.

      “Seriously, Roco, sometimes I think you say things just to to get a reaction. Unbearable? Not hardly (in my opinion). Yes, it was there, but it wasn’t the focus of the episode by any means. What do you expect? I guess I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is about their relationship that you don’t like. I’m by no means a romantic, and I don’t watch the show for the romantic aspects of it. But that is a part of the show, and I think they have done a good job of developing it up to this point, while keeping it in the background. It wouldn’t be believable if they didn’t show hints of it from time to time. And what’s wrong with them developing a romantic relationship? I just don’t get why you’re so opposed to it.”

      Haha! Nah, I just say what I think, although I realize that’s not always a good thing. ;) To be honest, I’m just not down with the ‘loved-up’ aspect storyline because I don’t really buy it. I find it forced and rather unappealing in comparison to the other plot points – although I do believe that there is scope for romance in this show, if it’s done right. I also appreciate that some of the best stories are driven by love – and one day I myself may come to love the idea of Olivia and Boy Wonder hooking up. But for now, it doesn’t move me in the right directions. I’m more interested in the other relationships that drive the show (Walter/Peter, for instance). I’m also not sure that the two actors have the right chemistry (together) to make it work. It seems that out of all the unexpected things that Fringe has done, and all the amazing places that we have travelled – the idea to put Olivia and Peter in a relationship is one of the least inspired. I also don’t believe that the pair have “earned it”, as was promised by the powers that be.

      That said, my heart is ever open. I hope they do something to make it more interesting.

      “Really? Don’t get me wrong, Joshua Jackson certainly did a wonderful job in this episode, but it wasn’t anything that stood out to me. Nobody hate me for saying this, but after I read that, I had to stop and think, “What exactly did Peter/Josh Jackson do in this episode?” Again, don’t take this the wrong way. I guess it just surprises me because, in my mind, this was such a strong Olivia/Anna Torv episode. For me, she’s the entire focus of this episode. And her performance was outstanding. Josh did great, but he just didn’t have the role in this episode for me to consider him the best performer… But maybe it’s just a different interpretation of the qualifications for best performer…”

      I totally accept your interpretation, although perhaps we’re looking at it through slightly different lenses. In my ratings, I’m really going for a “retrospective” assessment. I’m looking for characters to surprise me or show me a different quality that maybe I didn’t pick up on or appreciate before. While I didn’t think that Jackson was particularly amazing in this episode (I’m not sure that anyone was, to be honest), on reflection, I thought that he did a decent job. On rewatching this episode, I found Torv’s performance to be less effective than I may have originally thought it to be. There were some very good moments, but she didn’t grab me. It might also have something to do with the fact that I didn’t particularly enjoy Olivia in this rewatch episode. She was less understated, and I thought that her hostility was a bit too forced. Another possibility is the direction, which probably wasn’t the strongest that we’ve ever seen it. I’m nitpicking now, but something wasn’t quite right.

      “Again, I say really? Really? That’s just harsh. What exactly is it about this episode that causes you to rate it so low? It’s just hard for me to accept because this episode remains one of my favorites. I know it’s a stand alone and such, and I wouldn’t go so far as to rank it up there with Ability or Bad Dreams or Peter or Over There, but something about it just draws me in every time. I love the emotion in it and I love the character exploration and development. I thought there were some very powerful moments, as well as some strong themes that I really liked.”

      I can see why it may seem harsh, and I certainly enjoyed the episode a lot more at the time it went out. For whatever reason I don’t find it as alluring as some of the other episodes. It felt a lot more disjointed than I remember it being. I’m also not all that pumped about the less weighty stand-alone episodes. I just don’t think it holds up as well as some of the others.

      It’s great to read your other observations as well, mlj! We definitely come out of this particular episode on opposite sides of the fabric, but it’s always interesting to see what yourself – and others – think of an episode. Our minds are different but our dedication is intertwined! ;)

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  11. number six says

    This is a rather mediocre episode, in my opinion, but I find some scenes very enjoyable.

    Things I enjoyed:

    – The actress playing Emily Kramer did a great job. What a gruesome death scene!

    – The scene at the diner with Walter, Peter and Olivia. Walter is just too much.

    – Walter in general :-D

    – Mr. Papaya’s epic sacrifice. The whole scene was hilarious, from Astrid’s reply to Walter’s “gooification” to Peter trying to conceal his amusement under Olivia’s Stare of Death.

    – Nina’s scene with Peter. I still wonder what she will demand of him and also why she is so fond of him. They have to do some explaining about these two in this show. This scene and the Mr. Papaya one are my favorites.

    – Olivia’s “Got any more jokes?” I know she was a bit too aggressive, but Peter’s joke was really bad.

    Things I didn’t like much:

    – Olivia’s monologue about her stepfather. Maybe it’s the delivery, maybe it’s just too long. Perhaps it’s because it’s too cliche. The fact is that I found it rather odd.

    – Esterbrook. Fine actor, but the character is way too creepy and one-dimensional.

    Other stuff:

    – Broyles and Olivia talking about her being emotional. O…K?

    – Peter’s red toothbrush… Nice detail. Also nice, the fact that Walter and Peter are on good terms in this episode.

    – Staring contest and flirting. Peter won this round and Olivia loved it.

    – Letter from creepy stepfather. I wouldn’t like to see him in the future, but if he does make an appearance, I hope he gets the Dunham treatment sooner than later.

    My rating: 6.0/10

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  12. LMH says

    Just a quick thought on this one: What interests me most about this episode has always been the IOU Nina now holds over Peter, and perhaps this may be connected later to Walter’s comment in “Brown Betty” that not trusting Nina is getting ahead of the narrative. Nina loved Peter, but will her clear interest in Peternate translate into something like that past caring or something nefarious given his specialness? So much that the writers can do with this given how up in the air Nina’s character and intentions are.

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  13. luvliv says

    Well, IMO, this episode was GREAT!! I thought in this episode that we really get to see that Olivia is really human. She had an issue and she tried to hide it, but of course, she ends up being mean to everyone around her. Who hasn’t done that?? I really liked seeing that side. She has a lot of issues, obviously, but she never wants anyone to feel for her or think that she’s a whiner. I really liked Anna Torv’s approach to the confession scene with Peter. She conveys so much with her face and eyes, it’s amazing! I honestly hope they will elaborate on this storyline and soon. I want to know more about Olivia’s childhood and the relationship she had with her Mom.

    And Fin… Peter totally checks her “ass”ets out.. And my husband was the one to point that out! I loved their chemistry in this episode and I really wish they could get it back…

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  14. QuoteGirl says

    I think I’ve taken to reading these things just so I can crack up over what ever ridiculous and sarcastic and I-totally-don’t-agree-with-you things are written. I mean, it’s a good catch up, but mostly, it’s positively hilarious. Thanks for making my day that much better.

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  15. Jophan says

    Two small points:
    In the Pilot, one of the adjectives for Walter that Peter chose was “abusive”. Here, he learns that Olivia observed physical abuse in her family dynamic. His discomfort may be partly from a comparison of his own experiences (generally unknown to us) and her history.
    In “Safe”, Olivia recounts that she spent some time in a boarding school. Was this in reaction to the stepfather’s shooting, or her mother’s later death? What happened to her natural father?

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