The next episode in our rewatch sees us revisit episode 9 of season one, entitled “The Dreamscape”. We’ve decided to rename this streamlined retrospective Tanks for the Memories because, well..ain’t it obvious?
- My takeaway from this episode – don’t screw with butterflies! In all seriousness, this episode is like one big perception pill, serving as the pre-curser to the pre-curser.
- “I hate to sound like a suiter who’s constantly being turned down for a date.” I love how Nina’s flirts with Olivia. Her playfulness is obviously predicated on the fact that she knows more about Dunham’s past than our intrepid agent does. Even at this early stage Nina is gently ushering Dunham down certain corridors, using subtle hints about Olivia’s true nature in order to stir those subconscious instincts. For example:
“When one’s domain includes the cutting edge of science, there is a risk of exposure to ideas that aren’t easy to reconcile – certain realities..I’m sure you know what I mean, doing the work that you do”
Dunham feels around in her mind, as if searching for that distant flame. Nina continues:
“For some, it’s too much to take.”
Allow me to finish the sentence: “but not for you..you were always the strong one.”
- The very next scene sees Charlie picking up a bottle of pills as he questions where human-kind would be today without drugs. The room also resonates with yellow tint, as if to foreshadow the real context of what the writers are building towards. That is, Olivia’s Cortexiphan trials, the ‘preparation’, the leap that was taken by William Bell and Walter, in a bid to enable the survival of our world. The human will to survive – natural, the ability to survive – unnatural.
- I found it notable that the next conversation also carries underlying context. This time serving Olivia’s more immediate struggle: “once we break the encryption we’ll send you his data.” I’d say this is a reference to John Scott’s consciousness bleeding over into Olivia’s mind. Whether the writers had this interpretation in mind or not is not overly important (though it would be interesting to know), because the story has an almost internal functionality about it.
- TESSA! How wonderful it was to see her again. Peter and Tess – now that’s a relationship worth getting behind – as long as they’re standing in front of the Void of Doom. Don’t worry, Peter fans, September would intervene and rescue your boy.
- VERY interesting to hear Olivia’s confession that she’s “going clinically insane..literally”. What with Walter’s struggles, it’s often forgotten (or not as often stated) just how much psychological trauma Olivia has been through (even by this relatively early stage). These events could almost be seen as preparation for what was to come in the alternate universe. Had she not have been through the whole John Scott mind-share thing, would she have coped quite as well with seeing a mirror version of herself? Her reality is literally being e x p a n d e d.
- TESS-HA warns Peter about Big Eddie, and such: “If I can find you, they can find you. They’ll hurt you.” I have no words for that, only laughter: HAHAHAHAHA!
- TESS-HA continues to give Peter an earache, and that Void of Doom thing I mentioned earlier is looking all the more appealing. Then again, if she knows Peter “better than anyone” (lol), we had better get her back on the show! Perhaps she can explain to me, in simple terms, how the guy could leave the alternate universe in 2.22 without saying goodbye to his mother who he hadn’t seen in oh so many decades. Hey, I’m just looking out for the mothers here!
- “Properly altered as an hallucinogen.” Hm. Altered..alternate universe..hallucinogen..not real.
- “You’re saying that Mark Young hallucinated the cut on his body and his mind made it actually happen?” As I’ve speculated before, what if someone’s mind (or a group of minds) is making the alternate universe happen? While this may conflict with the road not taken theory, it does question the true nature of reality. Are both universes equally ‘real’ or does one reality hold overriding authenticity over the other(s)? I have my beliefs on where this is all going, but it will be interesting to see the global statement the show ultimately makes on this.
- YAY! The Bra & Panties Tank makes a return! (albeit it in lite form). You’d never think that any men were on the writing staff of this show. How about we be fair and have a few scenes of Peter topless as he fumbles around for that heart of his? Actually, no.
- It’s interesting to study Olivia’s motivation for going back into the B&P Tank. She said it was because she was ‘losing her mind’, but also implied that she felt it would lead to answers that would help others. That’s our Dunham.
- Walter’s bible, representing another side to his outlook on reality, which is soon to reveal itself to be an even bigger part of his rehabilitation. It also indicates another aspect to his relationship with Olivia, who is becoming someone he actually cares about. Walter goes on to say that he’s not religious “anymore”. He didn’t seem very religious around the time that Peter died. Indeed, he championed Science (if not himself) as his system of choice. Was he religious before Peter died? Perhaps after he stole Peter 2.0 makes the most sense?Given what we know about his quest for forgiveness.
- If this is the case it would seem that his commitment towards religion didn’t last very long, since he has only recently started to explore faith again (outwardly, at least). I find this interpretation kinda interesting (even though there’s probably a hint of retcon in the writing), because faith is rarely a straight and steady path – certainly not when that faith is truly tested by various means. I’m intrigued by the idea that Walter eventually turned to religion after he stole Peter, but for one reason or another didn’t pursue it indefinitely. Did he struggle to reconcile his desire to be forgiven with what he believed to be an act (stealing Peter) filled with good intentions? Perhaps his need to be absolved was not as great prior to being sent to St. Claire’s, or before the truth about Peter was out of the bag?
- If so, that’s an interesting take how a need can manifest itself based on the actions, or potential actions, of others. As this episode shows, Walter was beginning to re-find his connection to a higher-being quite some time before Peter was close to finding out the truth about his abduction from the alternate universe. Was there some internal mechanism preparing Walter for that day? Did the prospect of losing Olivia to her dreamstate instinctively cause Walter to reconnect with a belief system that would hold him steady during the storm leading up to Peter’s discovery? On a side note, it’s perhaps worth considering that though Walter may have not been the most religious down the years, he may have still believed in a higher power, especially post putting those cracks in the universe.
- I’ve said this a few times before, but Olivia seeing herself through John Scott’s memories could serve as another pre-curser to the idea that the characters and their doubles in the alternate universe can communicate to one another through a subconscious link. It might take an extremely powerful or enlightened individual to make the connection strong enough, but we have a few of those (or we did before Walter got most of them killed in 2.21. ..I jest). At any rate, the restaurant memory provides a compelling example of how the two universes occupy the same ‘space’ but within different constructs (or frequencies, if you will).
- “You must listen to my voice at all times”. Is Walter talking to Olivia or telling us that he is indeed the Fringe narrator?
- As for dream references, the whole entire episode is a dream reference. I mean, seriously. Other than that there’s the very specific: “Sleep well”.
Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv
Best retrospective moment: Walter denying Olivia the opportunity to go back into the B&P Tank. It’s not just because he showed concern for Olivia’s welfare, but because he rationalized it by saying that there’s nothing he would rather do than pump the Dunhamnator full of drugs. There’s something seriously wrong with this man, and yet..he’s funny.
Retrospective episode rating: 7/10
Next rewatch epsiode – 1.10 “Safe” – TBA.