Fringe Rewatch: 1.15 Those Who Help Themselves


Fringe Inner Child Rewatch

Welcome to the rewatch for episode 15 of Fringe season 1 – “Inner Child”. Join us as we stop only looking, and start feeling our way to new perspectives and connections.

We have renamed this episode: Those Who Help Themselves.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • The first shot of the little Observer crouching in the primal position against the wall reminded me a bit of young Olivia sat against the wall after she had zapped Brenner into oblivion (speculation). Not a connection as such, but an echo of what was soon to become an iconic visual, and perhaps provides more context into young Olive’s state of mind at the time.
  • This episode employed a few techniques to convey the idea that the Observerkid was a metaphor for Olivia’s subconscious – the close-up of her opening eye, the general ‘stillness’ of the episode and its music, references to the below/underground, and of course, the importance of ‘feeling’ over sight and sound. While also being a character in his own right, the little fella is a representation of Olivia’s inner child (hence the title), and the re-awakening of her powers that were buried for so many years. Whether this has deeper significance in terms of Olivia’s relationship with the Observers? I’d say that it had to be in the writers thinking.
  • We should also mention his scar – perhaps representative of Olivia’s mental bruising and the rigours of navigating her mind to communicate with John Scott. Not to mention the recent nearly-coming to terms with her Mind Powers in the previous episode. Perhaps they represent the opening of old wounds (literally, in terms of the case). Or, perhaps it illustrates the tear in the fabric between the two universes – something of tremendous importance to the Observers. And of course, we can’t forget that a scar was used as a clue for Peter’s origins.
  • Wow. Far too much R@chel-time in this episode.
  • “You enjoy music don’t you, Mr. Broyles?” Yes. Yes he does.
  • The Artist. Worst villain ever seen on Fringe. At least Molebaby had a quirky-charm and a name that matched up to its talent.
  • “He hasn’t relieved himself since he arrived.” Arrived, as in The Arrival, as in subtle confirmation (if it were needed) that he’s an Observer? Probably not intentional on the part of the writers, but that’s the internal mind for you.
  • The Observerkid intuits for Olivia, which builds on the idea that Olivia has the clues that she needs in her locker – she just needs to notice them:

“When I was a kid I used to live on these. Except the yellow, something about the color. Reminded me of medicine.”

  • The Observerkid (who is representative of her subconscious) merely points her in the right direction – as illustrated when he makes an arrow out of her discarded yellow M&Ms, enabling Olivia to later make the connection that was right in front of her eyes. So in many ways, Olivia helped herself:

“He heard you..or more accurately, felt you”

  • One final clue on the subconscious idea:

“If you really can feel what I’m thinking, you know how much I mean that.”

  • This ability to feel what someone is thinking is interesting, particularly in relation to our Transformation rewatch where we looked at Olivia’s exploration of John Scott’s subconscious and how her discoveries were based on what she found down there – or rather, what she felt down there. But those feelings needed to be translated – she couldn’t bring herself to rely on instinct alone. So it’s useful to see just how accurately the Observerkid can intuit people, particularly Olivia. If he is, as I suspect, a representation of her subconscious, this episode is essentially about Olivia giving herself further resolution, perhaps because recent events had stirred something within.
  • So what did Olivia actually achieve in this episode? Well, she solved an old case (always nice) and made contact with a part of herself, a part of her mind, that had been dormant for quite some time. Coming on the heels of “Ability” and what that entailed (the realization that she may have been experimented on as a child), you can see what this episode tried to achieve on an underlying level.
  • And isn’t the final scene with the Observerkid seeing September representative of Olivia’s conflict – she wants to go home and be with her family (which presumably includes lover boy Peter), but her slippery road is intersected by larger responsibilities and concerns. Happiness, for our dear Gate Keeper, may have to wait.

Possible Answers to Unresolved Questions

  • Who was the Little Child?
  • A really young (or really old) Observer – although time is relative – who also serves as Olivia’s rather bruised and intuitive inner child.
  • Who was Mr. Michaels?
  • CIA Directorate of Science and Technology Official. It’s also possible that he is connected with Massive Dynamic.

Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv

Best retrospective moment: The Observerkid seeing September

Retrospective episode rating: 6.5/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 1.16 “Inner Child” – TBA.

Comments

  1. says

    I wouldn’t say the Artist was the worst villain. He is the kind of standard serial killer that Legion on Millennium would have used to distract Frank Black while their real plans went on someplace else. He is cunning, though, and you can’t fault the twitchy intensity of Jeremy Shamos’ performance.

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  2. number six says

    I think that the actor portraying the child did a good job. Those big soulful eyes are really lovely.

    Walter scared me, when he showed the brain rewiring device. He wanted to drill the poor child’s cranium, like he did with Roy McComb. Good thing Peter stopped him.

    This is the first episode, where Peter remembers something from his childhood: Roadblock’s scar being on the other side.

    Walter dancing with the modified instrument of torture was awesome.

    Why didn’t anybody make a connection between the kid and the Observers? I don’t mean that they should have come to the definite conclusion, that he was one of them, but a simple: “He looks like the Observer” would have been nice.

    6.0/10

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  3. Alex says

    I always thought Olivia’s M&Ms comment was interesting, which is why it surprised me so much in Jacksonville when we saw that cortexiphan was in fact RED (?)

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  4. LBJ says

    I still think that the observer kid was a younger version of September. If they can travel through (or observe) time, I think it would be possible for different versions of themselves to “overlap.” It would also explain why September always seems to be observing Olivia in particular.

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    • LMH says

      That would be so crazy…and interesting. But I don’t know if the writers would go there since it could make the storyline too complex, even though I really like that idea. Also, I don’t know whether it is so much Olivia as the entire main Fringe family (Liv, Peter, Walter) that September is focused on. At the end of last season, he seemed particularly concerned with Peter for obvious reasons, and he has followed Walter closely over the years. His focus on particular characters changes relative to their importance in an upcoming event.

      The Observers don’t age (or they age so slowly that hundreds of years can pass without visible signs), so this little Observer kid has always intrigued me. I don’t think he’s young September or a younger version of an Observer we already know since they either don’t age, or they age so slowly it’s hard to see how having two versions of the same Observer would be necessary for the story. If they are observing time (and possibly ‘outside’ of it) they might not be affected by it in any way. Begs the question about this little guy, if he is a young Observer or something else entirely. If he is an observer, how long will it take for him to grow to full Observerhood, OR perhaps Observers as children have special qualities that mirror those of human children that must be nurtured in order for them to fulfill their destiny. Will this little guy stay with his adoptive family or be taken somewhere (I’m not sure those who are tracking these children would not be able to find this kid, and if they don’t take them away they may be tracking them). Needless to say the Observer storyline is fascinating and we know so little at this point. Can’t wait to see how this kid and his fellow Observers fit into the grand narrative.

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    • Elaine says

      I like that theory, because I’ve been trying to assign some logic to why he was trapped underground when it appears the Observers can slip between universes with ease, apparently, but this Observer goes undeteched for years seemingly…? Not sure if I buy that. Now, if we factor in the idea of there being more than one of everything, then it’s not so impossible this was a younger version of September.

      Regarding the episode, it’s always been one of my favorites. I really liked how they played around with the idea of communication. It reminded me of Walter’s comment to Peter in ‘The Arrival’ about thoughts and ideas can be absorbed through osmosis. There was the young Observer communicating with Olivia empathically (is that a word?) and through a mirror image of backward written message. Then there was Peter literally finishing Walter’s comments seemingly when he wasn’t even paying attention to the conversation going on around him.

      Walter dancing to Al Green will always be hilarious. But the funniest part of that scene is once they’re able to tap into the little boys thoughts…the jibber jabber speech is going like a hundred miles an hour while he sits there all serene and undisturbed playing with the toy. Makes me giggle every time for some reason.

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  5. jophan says

    I don’t know if there’s logic to it, but the boy being found underground may be related to the fact that the Beacon came from underground.

    I’m contrarian on this episode. I didn’t like it much. I thought that Olivia as the agent cleared for Fringe events neglected her unique job — the boy — to obsess over a run-of-the-mill serial killer that the rest of the group’s two dozen agents were qualified to pursue. The interference-from-a-rival-department (Michaels) is just as lazy a trope as the authority-with-a-vendetta (Harris). As for Walter’s dancing, I was with Peter, burying his face in his hands.

    I am intrigued by Michaels’ phone call where he talks about finding “another”. Does the CIA have a holding place for Observers like MD’s coma lab for failed experiments?

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    • Elaine says

      I’m not sure there was much else Olivia could have done with the young boy besides what she did. He wasn’t physically ill…and other than being extremely pale and bald, he didn’t seem to have any other issues. In fact, without his unique assistance, she, nor anyone else within that office would have had any breaks in finding a serial killer that was resurfacing to continue his killing streak.

      As far as the boy being found underground, it could have a connection to the beacon, but since there’s been no follow up on either, it’s all speculation, and any guess is as good as the other, I suppose.

      I am very intrigued by the phone call Michael’s made. It suggested that there would be a continuation of where he came from and why, but alas. What people liked or didn’t like about this episode is always subjective, but I personally didn’t find anything regarding the episode trite or run-of-the-mill. It’s always stood out as rather unique because of what it suggested not only about Olivia, but about the appearance of the boy himself.

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    • ronald says

      Yeah me too, “another” for me it was huge because they create some Government Involvement or knowledge about some… things. This came to my mind one more time in the episode of the killing shadow at the end of it.

      Sorry for my english =(

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  6. JustForFun says

    And what about the shirt the kid is wearing (NORTHWESTERN) when Olivia took him out the hospital to the lab :

    http://black-celebration.net/caps/albums/fringe/1×15/1x15_0594.jpg

    Maybe it’s a clue i mean there is this episode named “Northwest Passage”, more i think about and more i’m wonder if there is a anything else with the connection between the Bishop and the Observers, maybe Peter is an Oberserver to ?

    And there is this promo photo with the Observer’s reflection on the glass window just behind Peter :

    http://www.fringebloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/fringes3photos1.jpg

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