Welcome to the rewatch for episode 16 of Fringe season 1 – “Unleashed”. Join us as we level-up for a spot of Dungeons & Dragons with Walter and his demons.
We have renamed this episode: That Which We Create.
Newly Observed Perspectives
- I always find it interesting when Olivia’s actions or thoughts manifest themselves in her reality. Like the bedtime story about monsters that she read to Ella at the start of the episode. Perhaps this is more evidence that Olivia is the Fringe narrator, maybe it hints that she unknowingly has the ability to simultaneously perceive and create reality on a grand scale, or maybe it’s a nice illustration of how clues foreshadow our next moves.
- What’s interesting though, is that the monster was very much Walter’s demon, yet the writers chose to bookend it with Olivia and two sleep references. Perhaps it was just narrative convenience, but maybe there was another reason for it?
- Was R@chel really in this many episodes originally, or have I slipped into the void of perpetual agony without realizing it? Thank goodness she’s not in season 2, eh?
- Ah, the ridiculousness of this episode – Charlie gets knocked-up and doesn’t tell his wife. Don’t cha just love standalone episodes.
- Like Olivia, Walter can be very deceptive when he wants to be. Every time I see Walter do something brave or selfish, I think of Walternate and consider that he is also capable of the same actions. Maybe there does exist some small inherent difference between them (I wouldn’t bet against the writers exploring such a thing), but at their root I see them as the exact same man separated by strands of experience.
- Walter was prepared to sacrifice himself, but how much of this was driven by the need to satisfy his own guilty conscience?
- It’s interesting to see how readily Walter was prepared to get himself killed. Did he even stop to think about what this would do to Peter? He, of all people, should understand the pain of such loss, since he moved heaven and earth to get a new Peter when his original died. While I certainly don’t think that it’s easy to rationalize something like this – after all, it was commendable that Walter was trying to save Charlie’s life and prevent further deaths – it does serve to illustrate both the duality of Walter and the doubled-edge swords which we sometimes live (and die) by. One of the problems I continually have with Walter is that even when faced with opportunities to redeem himself, there’s always a trace of selfishness tucked away in his actions somewhere.
- Walter’s admission that he doesn’t know if he can ever change his internal ability to ignore the consequences of his actions is an interesting character point. It was this lack of thought that saved Peter’s life, but it was also this that shattered the foundations of the alternate universe in the same move. How do you extract one act from the other? We can’t. They are both intertwined and may forever be.
- It may well be that Walter’s only true chance of redemption rests in whether or not he’d make the same choice again. As we’ve seen in this show, time has a way of coming back around to present our heroes with similar situations that require them to choose. I suspect that one day, eventually, the writers will put Walter in a similar situation as he was on that fateful day when he decided to steal Peter. If such a situation (or similar set of circumstances) occurs, will he think about the consequences and break the cycle, or will he act on impulse and emotion and repeat his decision? One life for two worlds. Make no mistake, it’s a tough one, but knowing what he knows now, would he choose differently? Could he really inflict such terminal damage on two universes for a second time? Could he really let Peternate die for the first time?
- Poor Olivia, after her traumatic day fighting dragons in dungeons and picking out booties for little baby Charlie, she’s unable to sleep with the light off. This..fear is interesting because it shows that those barriers that she spent years putting up are crumbling. Her mind is manifesting fear and reality is forcing her into situations which trigger that fear. In context, this is an early sign of Olivia reconnecting with her ‘fear center’ – the part of her younger self whose abilities were activated when got scared. Though this episode is not the best, I’m grateful for this one nugget of a scene as it has become more interesting given the events in season 2.
Best retrospective performer: CGI Puff The Magic Dragon Monster.
Best retrospective moment: Olivia switching on her bedside lamp.
Retrospective episode rating: 2/10
Next rewatch episode – 1.17 “Bad Dreams” – TBA.