Fringe Rewatch – 1.15 Inner Child

Fringe Rewatch - Inner Child

Synopsis: Just seconds before a building is demolished, a mysterious mute child that has been living alone underground is discovered. When the FBI’s Fringe Division investigates, the boy forms an unspoken connection with Agent Olivia Dunham. Meanwhile, an especially gruesome serial killer resurfaces and showcases his “artistry” by displaying his work publicly. As the boy gradually assimilates into a new environment, Olivia and the team must race against the clock to prevent the mad man from further macabre.

Below the jump I share my new observations and perspectives, and take a quick look at the unresolved and closed mysteries from “Inner Child”.

New Observations & Perspectives

fringebloggers_innerchild000071.) One of the workers at the demolition site where the Child is found mentions how “cold” it is. Looking back, this seems like a clue as to the climate of the Observer’s world (the Child being one such Observer, in my opinion). This would make sense to me, as there have been other clues which point to their world being a lot colder than ‘ours’. (the fact that he was shivvering when Olivia was in the meat-packer was probably because he was in-tune with Olivia’s emotions, rather than his own resistence to cold, at that time).

Also, this would be further evidence that the Observers are not from the rather warm parallel world that we witnessed at the end of season 1, but from elsewhere. Time-travel could also come into play.

2.) Walter compares the Child’s ability to read people’s thoughts with the electromagnetic field of a shark. Yet another broad nod to the ‘electricity theme’ running throughout the first season.

3.) Some note-worthy foreshadowing of the alternate reality:

Peter talking about the toy: “Funny, I always remember the scar being on the other side”

There’s also the flipped or ‘mirrored’ scene of the child in the hospital room. I thought I’d reference this again as I really like the subtlety of it – you just know it was purely for those of us who pay attention.

4.) It’s strange seeing Olivia smiling at the end of an episode, off the top of my head I can’t previously recall her being so upbeat at the end of the show (there are probably one or two occasions but that are not coming to me at the moment). It’s almost as if getting in touch with her ‘inner child’ – having someone who understood her needs without even having to say a word – was like a weight being lifted from her shoulders. Not an important point, but seeing as Broyles made a point of her inability to ‘savour the moment’ earlier in the season..

Unresolved Mysteries

fb_fotw_ic1.) Where is the child from? If, as suspected, he’s from the same place as the Observer, how did he get here? How long has he been here (Walter mentioned the possibility of 30 years!)? And why was he trapped/hidden underground?

2.) Elliot Michaels was apparently working for the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, but c’mon, who was he really working for? My guess is Massive Dynamic.

We can assume that the Observer is concerned with people crossing between worlds – does William Bell ever fall foul under the Observer’s policing? Not to mention that in episode 1.19 Nina showed more concern, than I’ve ever seen her display before, over the Observer’s increasing appearances. So there would be reasons for Massive Dynamic wanting to get hold of a mini-Observer. Another guess is that Michaels is connected to John Mosley, who so desperately wanted the Observer’s beacon.

If Michaels really is CIA, that would be another way to bring the Government into the wider arc of the show – which is interesting in itself, as I’d have to believe that the man at the top would have knowledge of what is really happening in the world. And if he doesn’t, that’s even more food for thought.

3.) Why was the child “emotionally bonded” to Olivia? Why not Peter or Walter or Gene? Like others have also suggested, I’m tempted to believe that lil’ Observer and big Observer are one in the same – there’s a big chunk of the story we’re yet to discover.

4.) “The Artist” – so, did Olivia rid the world of his ‘artistry’, or is he still alive? It wasn’t very clear to me.

Closed Mysteries

1.) According to Walter, the Child is not psychic but an empath – he’s able to sense other people’s emotions. This perhaps gives us a clearer understanding of the adult Observer, and how he was able to read Peter’s thoughts and show up at “pattern events” before they happened.

Actually, thinking about it, this could explain why he had to reign himself in when becoming invested in Walter’s emotions upon revisiting his old beach-house – “I’m not supposed to get involved”, were his words..yep, to my mind he’s an empath, which could also tell us so much about his role as ‘inter-reality policeman’, or whatever it is he does. I’ll have to remember to pay attention to that scene when it comes around.

Best Moment: The end scene when Big Observer met Lil’ Observer.

Best Performer: Spencer List

Retrospective Rating: 7/10

Our original posts for Inner Child can be found here.

Next Rewatch Episode: “Unleashed”. This episode can be viewed for free on the Fox Fringe player, or on Hulu (also free) – US restrictions.


  1. jkyarr says

    Seem verbosely implicit that the artist is dead. Why else would Charlie show up and do nothing to either further restrain him or render first aid? They ignored him like he was already laid out on a slab in forensics and they were wondering where to grab lunch.

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  2. mlj102 says

    I always enjoy your recaps, but I thought that this one was especially well done. You pointed out a lot of things that I hadn’t noticed before and your comments were all very neat to read. Great job!

    I especially liked the observation about the warehouse being cold and how that is connected to things we already know about the Observer and how it could be an indication of the type of place the Observer comes from. I’d never made that connection before. Another explanation could be that the Observer, for whatever reason, just doesn’t feel or have much sensation in general. We know from The Arrival that the Observer doesn’t really taste much, and that he can jump into freezing cold water and not appear to be affected. Perhaps the Observer’s people just don’t have much sensation of their own, but they experience that more through other people (like the child did through Olivia).

    Also, great pick up on Walter comparing the way the Child is in tune with people’s emotions/thoughts to the electromagnetic field of a shark. That’s another one I’d missed (goodness, makes me wonder what I was paying attention to in this episode!).

    I agree with your observation about Olivia actually being happy at the end of this episode. It is a rare occurrence. I like how you said it was in part due to her being able to reach her own “Inner Child” and also to feel cared about. I think that a lot of it is also due to the fact that, for once, everything worked out by the end of the episode. And, aside from still not really knowing anything about the origin of the child, there really weren’t any unresolved questions or problems. So she could feel like, when all was said and done, she’d actually accomplished something that day. The artist – who was one of those killers that really bothered her and got under her skin – had been apprehended and that case could be laid to rest. And, in the end, the child was able to be taken care of and sent to a home where he would be happy and safe. It was very nice to see the weight that was lifted off of Olivia’s shoulders because of all that and that she was able to go home at the end of the day and just be happy.

    I’m very excited to learn more about the Observer and his people and what their history is. There are so many questions about the Observer!

    I agree – very interesting point about why the child bonded with Olivia rather than just anyone. Maybe it’s just because she was the first person who really reached out to him and tried to communicate or connect with him. Or, perhaps it was because he could sense that, more than the others, at that time she really needed something and he could give it to her. Or, it could be the result of her being a cortexiphan kid. Or, maybe it’s something else that we don’t know about yet. Personally, I kind of got the impression that the Observer had a unique type of connection with Peter (from The Arrival when they met – something just seemed off in that scene – like the way the Observer was able to read Peter’s thoughts was different from how he’s normally in tune with other people) and that the child had a unique connection with Olivia. I wonder what would cause those connections to form between those particular individuals.

    I liked the distinction between being a psychic and being an empath. I really like the idea of the Observer’s people having the ability to be empaths and being able to read the emotions of people rather than their thoughts, specifically. I agree, it does seem to answer many of the questions about the Observer in ways I hadn’t thought of before you brought it up.

    Other observations:

    I’m sure this was brought up when The Road Not Taken first aired, but Sam Gilmore was another person featured on Harris’ wall of people/cases. That one came as a big surprise to me since we only see her for a very short time and she seemed like just any other person on the street. Had she been a cortexiphan kid? Oh, I guess not. I just double checked it and she was born in 1984, which was after William Bell finished doing the trials. Perhaps The Artist was somehow working for Harris/ZFT? What was it about her that made her someone important enough for Harris to be keeping tabs on her? In general, I’m curious as to why all those people were grouped together and why he was focusing on them. There doesn’t seem to be a very specific thing that they would all have in common.

    Speaking of The Artist, when Charlie was informing everyone about who The Artist was and what he did and all, he mentioned that, “we had our first encounter with him three years ago. He killed four women in Lower Jamaica Plain over a period of two days. After the fourth murder he stopped.” So what prompted The Artist to stop killing three years ago, and why did he start up again now? Was there something going on at those times? Did something happen to him during those three years that prevented him from killing? Was there something special about now that made him start again when he did?

    Another thing that I figure has been brought up before was the Northwestern shirt that Olivia was wearing, and, later, the child was wearing it. The only other reference I can think of to Northwestern is that Nina supposedly graduated from Northwestern University. So is it a random coincidence, or is it supposed to be some link between Olivia and Nina? It just seemed to be one of those things that is rather too intentional and obvious to be insignificant.

    I also noticed when Walter commented to Peter that he (Peter) hadn’t spoken much as a child. I wonder what the significance of that could be. Is it an indication that he had a hard time adjusting after being brought over from the other universe? Or was it that the original Peter hadn’t spoken much, but this Peter was more talkative? Or is it something else entirely? Or just an innocent remark? Who knows?

    I really liked that when the child was writing his little clues for Olivia, he kept his eyes on her the whole time. That really added to the whole concept and made it that much more eerie. And I noticed that it was another thing in common with the Observer – when the Observer was writing his notes in The Arrival, he, too, didn’t look down at what he was writing, but kept looking at the scene.

    Walter had a lot of great moments in this episode. I loved the cryptic comments he made in the hotel: “There’s much that is unexplained, until it is.” and “Well if that’s the problem, then there’s no problem.” Seriously funny! And Peter and Olivia’s reactions just made it that much better. Then there was the time with the nurse when Walter mentioned St. Claire’s and the nurse asked if he was on staff there and he said, “No, I’m not a medical doctor. I was a patient!” I thought that was great. And there was the time when they were trying to figure out why the child wasn’t giving more information and they were all putting forth ideas and Walter’s idea was “Perhaps a small electric shock to kick-start things.”. Typical that that would be his solution! I just really liked Walter in this episode.

    And, as usual, I loved the emotion that Anna Torv portrayed in this episode. There are always so many different emotions shown in each episode and she nails it! It really makes it that much easier to relate to her. I don’t understand how people can criticize her acting, because I think it’s spectacular. I thought she did a fantastic job in interacting with the child and the way she reached out to him. Especially at the end when she realized that he was mad at her and why. I loved just watching her face as she put the pieces all together. And then there were the moments of grief or inner turmoil scattered throughout the episode. The way she reacted when she found out that the child had been right and they had been right there where the second victim was, but they hadn’t realized it – she did that perfectly and it made me feel despair and sadness right along with her. And in the scene where she captured The Artist, again, you could just see her exhaustion and the mental toll it had taken on her, combined with her relief to have it over. And all that in contrast to the end scene where she’s playing with Rachel and Ella, happy and laughing. Seriously, such a great mixture of emotions and each one is portrayed so well! I love it!

    Favorite moment: Continuing with the wonderful moments Walter had in this episode, I think my favorite scene was when Olivia is at the hotel/apartment (I’m really not sure which it is at this point…) and Walter’s getting ready for his bath and Peter is telling him that Olivia is there and needs to talk to him right away and then Walter comes out, notices Olivia and says, “Peter, why didn’t you tell me Agent Dunham was here?” Seriously, a great scene that made me laugh and was definitely classic Walter. And, again, the reactions from Peter and Olivia made it that much better.

    Reflections: There weren’t many in this episode. In fact, the only one I could find was one of Olivia in the rearview mirror at the end as she’s driving to talk with Dr. Winnick. And then, of course, as you already pointed out, there was the great shot of the child where suddenly it’s as if we’re seeing a reflection of him, save for the scar staying on the same side. Very clever and, in my opinion, very intentional and like it was meant to be another reference to reflections and doubles and alternate universes, etc.

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    • says

      Wow, so many great points – let me respond to a few of them:

      I like your alternate explanation for the Observer’s apparent lack of sensation – for all we know the make-up of their world is entirely different from ours and perhaps they have no sensation period (although I still believe that they once did). It’s perhaps also interesting to speculate as to why the Observer didn’t ‘tune’ into Walter’s sensations during 1.04, so that he could also taste the rootbeer float?

      I agree, the Observer is also one of my favourite mysteries!

      You mentioned that the Child may have latched onto Olivia because he sensed that she had the most pressing needs at that point – I really like this idea – that seemed to be his goal, helping her to solve her problems. I also agree with the possible Cortexiphan link.

      Harris’ web of connections are definitely interesting. I agree that he was probably just keeping tabs on all of Olivia’s cases and reporting her progress back to his boss, as I can’t see Sam Gilmore being a Cortexiphan kid.

      It’s strange isn’t it – I have no idea why the Artist suddenly sprang up again. Perhaps he gets the thirst every 3-4 years like a vampire, or something :)

      I agree that the NW shirt could relate somehow to Nina’s past – perhaps connecting her to Olivia and the Child in ways we don’t yet know? Mostly though, I think it was a way of adding texture to the relationship between Olivia and the Child – wearing her shirt in an almost idolizing fashion.

      Great description of Olivia there – really well said.

      Oh, and thanks for the reflections update – it’s useful to have this to look back on.

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