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