Synopsis: After a young music prodigy is taken by a serial kidnapper, it’s discovered that a sequence of flashing lights appeared at the abduction, which Walter links back to his bunkmate at St. Claire’s Hospital. Much to Peter’s dismay, Olivia encourages Walter to return to the mental institution, and Walter’s determination to help ends up having chilling ramifications.
General Thoughts: This was one of the episodes I most wanted to rewatch, both for the excellent performance of John Noble and the exploration of the father/son relationship, which in my opinion, is the most important relationship in the show – at least in the first season.
Below the jump I share my new observations and perspectives, explore the unresolved mysteries, highlight the mysteries closed by information gained in this episode and cap it off with my final thoughts on this episode retrospective.
New Observations & Perspectives
1.) Mr. Stockton said that Ben was different after the “accident”. That he woke up from the coma with the ability to play the piano, despite never taking a lesson prior to that. So we can assume that someone gave him these abilities for a very specific purpose (perhaps to break the equation).
Whilst it’s unlikely that Ben is a Cortexiphan kid, there appear to be similarities with the premise of giving children special skills.
2.) There was a brief cut to a Superman cartoon when we first see Ben locked up in the room - this probably doesn’t hold any deep significance to the show, but it could be considered a nice little reference to having special abilities and the color thematics in the episode (Kryptonite = green). Yeah, that’s really digging.
3) So we have the scenario in which a special combination of green and red lights were used to put people into a trance and give them hallucinations – making them think, feel and see things that weren’t really there. This seems to support the idea of the alter-Walter being a hallucination and not a version of Walter from another reality. Could Walter have been exposed to any green and red lights that we were not privy to? Personally I think the significance of the alter-Walter is still very much open, but I have to think that Sumner only allowed Walter to speak to Dashiell so that he could check up on Walter..or perhaps do something to him..
4.) According to Walter; “[green and red], these wavelengths are the key to success”. Does this tell us something about why the green and red sequence was on the kayak, Observer’s binoculars and Mosley’s hat? Is there something in this episode that can help us link these three elements into a single explanation? And here’s a slightly random thought – what if the whole world was put into a hypnagogic state – life really would be a “dream”, as Walter put it.
5.) Not sure if this holds any subtle meaning, but when Walter said the following to Peter it stuck out like a sore thumb: “he’s light years ahead of where even you were at his age”.
6.) Dashiell: “None of it happened, it was just a dream. Just a bad dream.” Unintentional foreshadowing! Yay!
1.) Why was the equation incomplete in the first place – why did Loeb only have part of the equation? When, where and who did they get the bulk of the equation and the machine from?
2.) Was Ben more able to crack the code because he’s a child? Does this tie in with William Bell’s belief about children’s minds having less limitations?
3.) Who does Sumner really work for? He said too much and was just too ominous to not have any ties with major players in the story.
4.) Peter warned Sumner: “you have no idea what I’m capable of”. What IS Peter capable of — other than sarcasm — and what did he mean, exactly? A lot can be read into what he said, but knowing what we do now, I wonder if Peter was hinting at something more supernatural than criminally under-lordish?
5.) How did Ben get his abilities, who gave them to him and why?
6.) How the heck did Loeb recover from his ‘parasite situation’ so darn quickly???
1.) Ben didn’t really see his mom – she was a suggestive manifestation induced by the hypnagogic state – he was hooked up to the computer the whole time. I guess this is how Ostler knew that Ben’s imaginary mom said “I don’t want to go away” (to which Ostler replied “well, that’s up to Ben, isn’t it”). She wouldn’t have known what to say had the image of his mom not been controlled by her.
I’ve always remembered this episode with fondness, but until I rewatched I had kinda forgotten why. I particularly enjoyed seeing another side to Walter, who gained some much needed independence and social awareness from his foray back into St. Claire’s.
There was a really touching moment when Walter asked Peter if he is as incoherent and difficult to deal with as Dashiell – the warmth on Peter’s face said it all: you’re my family. In that moment it seemed as though Peter began to forgive his father — just a lil’ bit — for all of the heartache he suffered growing up – seeing his father sacrifice his own safety for a little kid was a redeeming act surely not lost on Peter.
I do wonder though, how much of this forgiveness and progress will be undone when Peter finds out that Walter is not his real father, and that he’s kept the truth from him, even once he remembered?
Best Performer: John Noble
Best Moment: The appearance of Loeb at the end and the realisation that we were about to go more serial!
Retrospective rating: 8.5/10
You can find our original The Equation Eastereggs here.
Next episode rewatch: “The Dreamscape” – Thursday (ETA)