Fringe Rewatch: 1.13 Tanks For The Memories – Part II


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?

Answers

  • 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

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 1.14 “Ability” – TBA.

Comments

  1. Shar says

    I hope you’re going to do this for season 2. I’m enjoying watching these episodes again. Of course it’ll have to be done quickly if it’s to be completed before season 3 starts. Thanks for your insights.

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    • says

      Shar,

      I definitely aim to finish before S3 starts. It’s going to be a tight squeeze (and I may have to condense some of the rewatch posts), but we should make to the other side in time.

      Cheers!

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      • Pwnsauce says

        season 2 definitely has a few episodes you really don’t need to spend much time at all. if we’re diligent, I’m sure we can make it. a little over two weeks until the lowatus is over!

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  2. Oscar says

    Can we be so sure that all Scott says really comes from Scott himself? Actually, what Olivia experiences while she is in the Tank is the result of HER mind coping with fragments of Scott’s memories and thoughts… Why couldn’t she unconsciusly integrate and manipulate those fragments, so to have Scott interacting with her (a way of getting more comprehensible informations from the mess of his fragmented thoughts) and – maybe – reassuring her about what she most desires: the truth of his love for her and his loyalty and commitment to NSA?
    Can we really accept all Olivia’s visions in the Tank as objective truth, or shouldn’t we consider the possibility of her having a little “reshaped”, or at least “softened”, Scott’s memories and feelings?

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    • says

      Oscar,

      Oh definitely. The subconscious, as I view it, is more about raw emotion and we saw Olivia trying her best to interpret the data that was fused with her in the pilot.

      In many ways, Olivia’s subconscious mind found a resolution based on her interpretation of the remnants of Scott’s mind that were left behind. The visual interaction between them was either for viewer benefit, or it was the way in which her mind perceived the interaction in order to make sense of it.

      As you say, she reformed the fragments of Scott’s memories and much of their interaction was Olivia’s subconscious perceiving, if not creating, the information.

      With this in mind, it is indeed interesting to consider the objectivity of Olivia’s resolution and the way in which her personal peace outweighed her need for Scott’s name to be redeemed amongst his colleagues.

      That said, I should also add that I don’t doubt that her realization was the truth and that Scott was who he claimed to be.

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  3. jophan says

    “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.”

    This reminds me of an issue in the Pilot: what the hell did she think, offering immunity to Steig in exchange for information to cure Scott? Um, 147 counts of murder. Versus one boyfriend. “Personal” has a heavy thumb on the scales of justice in her mind.

    I do like your reviews.

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  4. says

    jophan,

    Thanks for reminding me about the Steig offer. It certainly is interesting to see the lengths that Olivia is prepared to go to when things get personal. It makes her a more interesting character, and I do love her tenacity, but she still has to be called out on it like everyone else.

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    • FinChase says

      I just don’t think Olivia would have had the authority to cut this deal on her own. It would have had to have been signed off by someone much higher up, like the Attorney General or perhaps even higher than that. There also might have been international ramifications that had to be considered since the flight originated in Germany. I wish they had clarified that a little more.

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  5. Jimbo says

    Isn’t it interesting that the drug the transformed people into “Sonic the Hedgehog” was created by the French doctor – Dr. Moreau (as in “The Island of Dr. Moreau”)?

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  6. Alex says

    I personally love this episode because I was really glad to find out the truth about John. The final scene with him and Olivia on the lake is one of my favourites in the whole show – the music and dialogue breaks my heart every time i watch that scene. I always thought he and Liv had better chemistry than she ever did with Peter (no offence)

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  7. FinChase says

    I wasn’t overly impressed by “The Transformation” the first time I saw. I think I was turned off by the “were-porcupine” scenes, and was completely bowled over by “Ability” which I saw right after watching this episode. I’ve liked it more and more each time I’ve watched it since. I like the double meaning of the title: It refers to the transformation of Bowman and Hicks into monsters, of course, but it also refers to the transformation and redemption of John Scott’s character. You can argue about whether or not he was really redeemed, if you want, but I believe that was the intention. Oscar makes a great point that Olivia’s interpretation may not be objective because that was what she needed to believe, but I’ve found that she is a pretty reliable guide throughout Fringe, so I’ll stick with her here.

    “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. ”

    I loved the scene at Massive Dynamic. Of course, there was the expression on Olivia’s face when she saw John’s body, and all the conflicting emotions that seemed to rush across her face. But you’re right that Nina’s reaction seemed unusual for her. I thought the constraint with which Nina and Olivia greeted each other was interesting. I don’t think those two had met since “The Dreamscape” when Olivia accused Nina and Bell of being behind all the Pattern events, so the coolness seemed natural to me and was a nice bit of continuity.

    “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.”

    This is one of my favorite moments in the episode. It was a very “woman to woman” moment. One of my fondest wishes for season 3 is that we get an episode where Olivia and Astrid go out on a case together and leave the Bishop boys in the lab to take care of Gene.

    From a strictly procedural aspect, the scene where Olivia and Peter go undercover to sting Conrad and his representatives was well-done. It was quite suspenseful and well-paced. Olivia has ice water in her veins, and Peter acquitted himself quite well, especially considering he couldn’t hear what Olivia was hearing. I liked Olivia’s little parting shot at Conrad: “John Scott says hi.” I wonder what he made of that?

    All in all, I thought that was a really good wrap-up of the John Scott arc. While the rush to transform John Scott from apparent villain to good guy was somewhat rushed, it still worked. And it gave Olivia the closure she needed to move on. I wonder if Massive Dynamic still has his body? Did they put it in a little MD museum?

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  8. number six says

    A hedgehog-man crashes a plane and Walter counts his nipples.
    Olivia finally gets rid of the awful John Scott (Thank you, Olivia!) in one of the most hilariously cheesy scenes ever. Don’t let the tank door hit you on your way out, John!
    Peter gets jealous for absolutely no reason… I guess that it was his turn, since Olivia got jealous in the previous episode.
    Astrid is nosy once again and once again she’s extremely cute.

    They didn’t manage to convince me that John Scott was a good guy, quite the opposite. However, his guilt or innocence is of little importance to me, because John Scott is more of a bad plot device than a real character. So if Olivia needed to believe in his innocence for her peace of mind, that’s good enough for me.
    Which brings me to the most significant aspect of their relationship: the tank. The pilot establishes that the tank is the medium, through which they share consciousness. Both are wired to the tank and she receives her memories through it. Then he dies, but part of his memories remain in her and are interpreted through her brain. Why does she need to go back to the tank in The Dreamscape and in this episode? We already know that she can see him and interact with her visions of him without the help of the tank. Walter said it was very dangerous for her. They cannot wire him to the tank and they cannot do, what the tank is meant to do: enable consciousness sharing. What was the point, other than seeing Olivia in her underwear and to reinforce the idea, that she would go to extreme lengths for him (something already established in the pilot)? I think they should have used a different method for the purging of John, they could have used any excuse to put Olivia in her underwear if needed. I think this part was really badly handled.

    The only thing, that made this episode better than The Dreamscape, is the undercover scene with both Peter and Olivia being sexy and badass.

    4.5/10 at most.

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