Welcome to the rewatch for Fringe episode 13 of season 1 – “The Transformation”. In this rewatch we delve deep into our unconscious minds to observe and interpret new perspectives from events that we witnessed long ago.
We have renamed this episode: Tanks For The Memories – Part II.
Newly Observed Perspectives
- Keeping with the dream/waking/sleep themes that we’ve been tracking, there were quite a few of them in this episode, including, Bowman and Hicks being sedated to suspend their transformation, to Olivia delving back into the memories of John Scott.
- There goes Olivia being ruthless again – withholding the sedatives from a poor ‘Sonic The Hedgehogging’ Hicks. If this case wasn’t so personal to her would she have been quite so unethical in extracting an answer? Our Gate-Keeper’s moral compass doesn’t always point North.
- Nina seems strangely remorseful when coming clean to Olivia about John Scott. It’s one of the first glimpses beyond her usual playful, mischievous veneer. Was she really that affected by having to deliver bad news to Olivia? I almost got the sense that, as much as she enjoys playing cat and mouse with Olivia, she actually respects her so much that, to a certain point, she cares what Olivia thinks of her.
- Yay! The Bra & Panties Tank returns yet again! Funny how Walter let her take another dip after all his protestations last time round. I guess the lure of the B&P Tank is too much too resist.
- Note the red hue of the hotel room as Olivia ‘wakes up’ in Scott’s memory. As we know, red is the marker for the alternate universe. But there’s also no getting away from the fact that the color is also used to signify memory in the worlds of Fringe. That said, memory and dreams are kind of like alternate realities in their own right, wouldn’t you say?
- “Don’t worry he can’t see you, remember, you’re observing a memory.” In many ways it could be argued that the Observers are also viewing memory. They see events outside of time – past, future and present function like a stream, or flux. Both the Observers and Olivia’s memory observations indicate that the true nature of time is not linear. Someone operating outside of this function, could, in theory, cut and splice reality to their own will. With all these interwoven outlooks on observation, I continue to wonder whether there exists a meta-observer, of sorts. Dreams, reality, alternate universes, memories, the afterlife – which of these constructs reside on the top tier? That’s something I’ll continue to consider in season 3.
- What I love about this episode is its exploration of the subconscious and how these elements are visually realized through dreams, memories and emotional bonds. We see Olivia dive deeper and deeper into Scott’s subconscious (which actually resides inside her own mind). As she does this, Scott becomes more coherent, more aware of his role in these reconstructed fragments. He is eventually able to direct her through his memories from different perspectives in a bid to prove his innocence.
- I also appreciate the fact that this episode doesn’t just give us a sanitary look at the subconscious. It explores the idea that the subconscious is muddy terrain that relies of a high level of perception to accurately interpret what it is really telling us. We see Olivia wrestle with herself. She interprets Scott’s innocence and wants to believe him, but there exists other debris and emotional baggage that she needs to cut through before she can be certain. I still find it enjoyable to see her travel back to her waking state in order to corroborate Scott’s claims. She’s actually doing something quite unnatural to her – she doubting her instincts, perhaps because she’s lost a bit of trust in herself by this point.
- And just to follow up on that, it’s interesting that Peter suspected Scott’s subconscious may have been trying to fool Olivia. Just the idea that Peter (of all people) bought into that wild notion shows that his character has come a long way. Or perhaps it shows a hint of jealousy? It also added another layer that Olivia had to wade through.
- One of the flaws in this exploration is that Scott should have been able to prove himself to Olivia much earlier by simply showing her a fragment of his memory that would, beyond, doubt show that he was NSA. I guess the idea is that not all of Scott’s memories had been transferred to Olivia’s mind, so he had no way of showing them to her. But they didn’t do quite enough to explain that.
- Astrid makes mention of her mom. I’d like to meet Mrs Farnsworth and tell her that her daughter is a credit to all lab assistants.
- Nice line from Astrid: “So I guess the question is..what’s your instinct? When you met John. When you were looking into his eyes..was he for real?” Her intuition really helped Olivia arrive at her decision. See. Those two really should talk more often. Imagine the crimes that would be solved.
- Interesting how the episode before Olivia’s ability really starts to be explored she finds internal resolution.
- This episode seems to highlight the idea that the people we invest ourselves in shape us on a deeper level even once they are gone. The portion of Scott’s consciousness that remained in Olivia’s mind from the pilot episode has weighed heavy on her and adjusted her outlook.
- Olivia’s journey in this episode allows us to consider the subconscious mind as being so ‘raw’ that it’s almost too difficult to interpret how it informs our actions through the layers upon layers of internal defence. I’m also curious to know where Scott’s subconscious went after it was purged from Olivia’s mind? Did it find the rest of his subconscious mind? Did it travel to the afterlife? Did it wither away? Or does it just exist in isolation somewhere? I just think the idea of resolution is really interesting, as that’s one of the perspectives consider when I watch the show. In other words, what are these characters trying to resolve, and how do their dreams and the alternate universe play into those goals? How much is their reality shaped by their individual and collective perceptions of the worlds around them?
- Why did Conrad spike Bowman and Hicks?
- Bowman and Hicks were working for the government secret service. He must have known that they were closing in on them and wanted to send a Sonic The Hedgehog-style message.
- How could John Scott see Olivia Observing his memories?
- First we have the premise that time is not linear, so we have to assume that memories also have the same freedom from time. Then we have to look at the subconscious mind and the idea that it operates on a different level to the conscious mind. Throw in a heightened individual like Olivia, and we can see how such memories function like the re-telling stories where the main players (Olivia and Scott) are able to step outside of the events and interact with them, and each other.
Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv
Best retrospective moment: Olivia’s various interactions with Scott.
Retrospective episode rating: 7.5/10
Next rewatch episode – 1.14 “Ability” – TBA.