Fringe Rewatch: 1.09 Tanks For The Memories


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?

New Observations

  • 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

Useful Links

Next rewatch epsiode – 1.10 “Safe” – TBA.

Comments

  1. modulegirl says

    “VERY interesting to hear Olivia’s confession that she’s “going clinically insane..literally”.”

    “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’,”

    Okay, here’s my theory: Walter went insane because he went into the tank with Peter 2.0 in order to acclimate the boy to his new world.

    I came up with this in an ah-ha moment last winter during the lowatus while rewatching the front half of Season 1. Watching “Dreamscape” in fact. When Olivia says she’s going insane. She feels like she’s going insane because she has these memories of John Scott filtering through her own consciousness, inseperable from her own in some cases and she’s saying this to Walter who has gone insane and put her in the tank to start with. She is seeing things, she tells Charlie earlier that she’s hallucinating. In fact, if you looked at what Olivia was going through prior to the final purging of John’s remaining consciousness from her mind from the outside, without knowledge of her story or what she’d been going through, you’d think she might be experiencing the onset of schizophrenia, which is a fairly close approximation of what Walter did experience. Except that Walter was too old (at least forty, closer to forty five) when he experienced his psychotic break. It’s not unheard of but most mental illness manifest in late adolescence and early adulthood. We saw younger Walter in Peter and he was not a man with any form of mental illness and not presenting any outward signs of drug use. Yet five to six years later he was admitted to St Claire’s as being unfit to stand trial for manslaughter.

    I think Walter had to save his son’s life a second time. There have been hints that Walter did things to Peter (the electrocution that Peter remembered in IWWMMJ) and everyone assumes he was conducting experiments – in fact that’s what he tells Peter, but at that point he couldn’t really tell Peter that he was trying to save his life or why. He continues to worry about Peter’s health, so it may be that Peter did not thrive. I think it had to do with Peter’s memories – of his own world and of his own life. They didn’t match up. Even a little kid is aware of lots of things going on around them and when things change they can cause trauma and Peter was an exceptionally smart child with broad interests (the space theme in his room and his desire to be a dinosaur) with little to do but absorb his world as he lay sick in bed. So he comes across and Walter decides he can’t take him back. And when Peter was unable to reconcile differences between his world and this one, Walter used the tank, which he and Bell had been using on college students, to sync up his mind to Peter’s and sort through memories, replacing them, taking some into himself and putting some into Peter. In this way, he could reduce the congnitive dissonance on Peter’s part to something that the boy could live with. Consequently, Peter remembers very little of his life as a young child, does not remember being on death’s door. And being a child, Peter’s child’s brain adapted and accepted the new memories, but Walter’s adult brain did not. He took in memories and knowledge that he did not experience and that created major cognitive dissonance on his part. Olivia went into the tank one time in order to learn one very specific piece of information; Walter would have gone into the tank with Peter a number of times and taken in much more knowledge with no way to purge it in the times between so it built up to toxic levels and led to his eventual mental collapse.

    I have a number of specific examples to back up my theory but I will provide three. First: the girl in the red dress mentioned in GM. Peter suddenly remembered that she lived across the street when he was a kid, but Mr what’s his name, when told in the video that the girl wasn’t there at all, kept shouting “What did you do with her?” and growing very agitated. If Peter remembered her from the other side, a visitor for a sick child, someone he watched from his bed, if she disappeared from one day to the next and he suspected something was off (he did tell Walter that he was not his father), might also have grown agitated. If Walter went into the tank, he might have removed or suppressed those memories, taking them into himself and storing them close to the memories that Bell took (new memories and all that). Second: Peter knew where Walter put the beacon in The Arrival. How? We’ve never gotten a really good explanation for that. The transfer of memories between the two of them means that Peter got information that Walter did not necessarily mean to leave behind, information that because it had no meaning to him, was not created by him he did not know how to access but Mosley could. And Peter didn’t even know the answer Mosley got, he didn’t think and he didn’t access it but Moseley did. And three: if you watch all of Season 2, you won’t hear the tank mentioned once and I don’t think you will see the tank at all until you come to Peter. At which point you will see the tank featured prominently in the lab when Walter is delivering the cure to Peter 2.0. It is in the foreground in one shot and in the background in another. And the tank is most heavily featured in that scene when Walter is alone with Peter. The tank was incredibly important to Season 1: Walter was thrilled to see it again in the Pilot, Olivia went into it four(?) times, it drove the entire plot through John’s eventual exhoneration. But throughtout Season 2 there was no mention of it, no sight of it until Peter and that scene when Walter is saving his son’s life.

    I’m not saying I’m right, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I’ve never seen anyone else drop this theory. I’d be interested in what everyone thinks.

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    • Jodie says

      Very interesting. I’ve also thought that Walter removed memories from Peter. The show explains why Walter’s and Peter’s memories differ, but we have not been told why Peter can’t remember much from his early years. I just figured that Walter used the car battery to do this, but your tank theory sounds plausible. I remember reading other discussions about Walter going into the tank with his dead son, but never with Peternate. Your theory certainly would help explain how Walter could deteriorate so completely in just a few years. I’ve also wondered about the scene where Peter remembers the girl in GM. It seemed significant that he would remember that little girl after all this time.

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    • says

      Nice theory modulegirl.

      While I think there are other perfectly viable explanations for how Walter got Peter to acclimatize to his new reality (i.e. the mantra), I agree that it’s possible that Walter used the “B&P Tank” with Peter for the reasons you suggest.

      In many ways it could tie in with what I’ve previously speculated about someone editing (cut and splicing) reality to mould a new reality/outlook. If Walter was adept enough, he may indeed have been able to manipulate Peter’s own perspective by delving inside his consciousness and melding new events.

      While such a scenario is perhaps a tad elaborate on Walter’s part (and raises several questions of logic), it is a fascinating idea.

      At any rate, how creepy would it be to see a flashback of Walter placing young Peter in the tank and preparing to transfer some of his own memories over to the youngster. Like, seriously creepy.

      Thanks for the share.

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  2. TracyW says

    Dear Rocco – what made you refer to Tess as Tessa?

    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.

    Have you also made a connection to the Jacksonville kids list from the height chart?

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    • says

      Hi Tracy,

      While it’s certainly possible that Tess is Tessa with all the cool powers and all, I kinda hope that it’s not the same person. I did previously make the connection, but it’s not something I have pursued because Tess seems like a one episode kinda gal. And if they were going down the Cortexiphan route, I would question why Peter didn’t make the connection in and around the time of 2.14.

      Plus, Corexiphan Tessa’s surname begins with “E”, whereas Peter’s lovely Tess is Amaral.

      I referred to her as Tessa because Tess sounds to pally, considering my stance with the character!

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  3. FinChase says

    Great review!

    I’ve always liked “The Dreamscape”, even if I did feel like they sort of dropped the thread of Massive Dynamic’s involvement. What happened to the drug that was given to Mark Young and Morales? Did Massive Dynamic really do this? Have they administered it to anyone else?

    I think the opening scene with Mark Young and the butterflies, culminating in that jaw-dropping dive out the window is one of the best that Fringe or any other show has come up with. I like several things about this episode, but that scene alone would make this episode worth watching. It’s just really well done. The only opening scene I can think of that compares with it is 2.1, where Olivia comes crashing back to our universe.

    I’ve wondered often how much control Olivia actually subconsciously had over the dream state. Why did she go and observe their first date? Mark Young wasn’t there. Was it John’s memories forcing her there or did she instinctively find that memory in her brain? She looked very happy there in that memory, and interestingly enough, was NOT wearing black or gray. I wonder if the writers just hadn’t thought of that plot point then, or if we were to assume that pre-pilot Olivia was not quite so tightly bound to her Cortexiphan fate? I always found the moment when she sits down and begins to speak to John to be moving, giving us a glimpse into her real feelings. I’ve said it before, but I really love the way Anna Torv is able to project so much quiet, understated emotion in that character.

    I also like the music during this scene. I first noticed the theme that plays during the early part of this sequence being used in “The Cure”, in the scene where Olivia tells Peter about her stepfather. I think it is Olivia’s motif, at least during the first season. I’ve noticed it at least three other times, in “The Transformation” (during the final dream sequence), in Inner Child (Olivia and Rachel), and “A New Day In the Old Town”, when Walter believes that Olivia is really brain-dead and calls her “Olive.”

    This episode left me with several questions:
    – How was Morales dosed with the drug?
    – Were Nina Sharp and William Bell really behind all of this?
    – Why did Broyles shut Olivia’s investigation down?
    – Why was Walter so adamant that Olivia could not communicate with John when he had already accepted that John was appearing in front of her, talking to her?

    I think I’d give this episode at least a 7.5.

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  4. number six says

    The beginning of this episode is visually stunning, but other than that and Nina Sharp being her usual shady self, I find that this episode has nothing going for it.

    John Scott is still a drag and he’s still taking Olivia down into this terrible plot. However, no matter how I dislike this storyline, Walter and Peter had always made up for it and managed to save the “John Scott” episodes. Not this time though.

    Walter’s dialogue and jokes felt forced and I couldn’t find him engaging or funny. How difficult is that?

    Peter’s past is so interesting, that it’s a shame they managed to make it one big boring cliche in this episode.

    Tess. Now that is a weird connection, Peter. Of the “WTF?” kind.

    I’d like to comment on modulegirl’s interesting theory on Walter and Peter sharing consciousness in the tank. It would explain Walter’s remark about Peter and him sharing thoughts and ideas through osmosis in The Arrival, which is something that has always bothered me. That said, I’ve never seen any more thought reading, special knowledge between these two or reactions like Olivia’s, so I don’t think Walter did this to Peter. Maybe I just don’t want this to have happened, because it would be beyond disturbing even for someone like Walter.

    Anyway, the fascinating Nina Sharp elevated this episode to a 4/10 for me.

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  5. jade86 says

    About the scene in “The Arrival”, i think that peter showed an “observer ability”. He read walter’s mind like the Observers do.

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  6. jophan says

    I’ve been cobbling together a theory about Peter-in-the-tank as well, but I think it was directed by Elizabeth. She would have been the one trying to get him ready for school after his illness; she was the one who read him stories; she would have realized how much of a social burden his inappropriate memories would have become. And he would have trusted her more.

    Granted, that doesn’t supply an answer to Peter’s knowledge of the hiding place in “The Arrival”.

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