Fringe Rewatch: 1.16 That Which We Create

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

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 1.17 “Bad Dreams” – TBA.


  1. Elaine says

    Wow…even after having some really insightful perspectives for the episode, you still only give it a two out of ten? You must really, really, really hate this episode. *blink*

    Speaking of perspectives, I do like the point you bring about Olivia’s mind initial reconnection with her childhood fear, and perhaps the creature manifesting from her thoughts. I had never given much thought to that, but it fits with what’s on the horizon for her character. Those darkened halls of her mind beginning to bend and shift involuntarily (possibly) in order to be able to deal with the impossibility of the things she’s encountering.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • says

      “Those darkened halls of her mind beginning to bend and shift involuntarily (possibly) in order to be able to deal with the impossibility of the things she’s encountering.”

      Nicely said Elaine. I very much like that description.

      Like: Thumb up 0

  2. charliefan19 says

    I didn’t think this ep was THAT bad…! (despite the fact that Rachel was in it)Tho it got a little painful with Charlie and his worm babies… :/ It’s better than Molebabies, right Roco? 😉

    Like: Thumb up 0

  3. says

    I actually liked this episode – I thought that the worms were pretty awesome. It was one of those “they’re leading up to something in this episode that will be revealed later” episode. I think a 2 is too harsh – show some love!

    Like: Thumb up 0

  4. LMH says

    I’ve always enjoyed every episode of Fringe, but I will say I think the more recent episodes have spoiled us (or at least me) and made it easier to knock some of the older standalone episodes. They were very fun and interesting when they were new and even through a few rewatches, but they start to look a little tarnished when we’ve already feasted our eyes and brains on the glorious alternate universe and oh so sweet mythalones.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  5. FinChase says

    Definitely not one of my favorite episodes. I guess it’s indicative of how little the story engaged me that my favorite moment is the little scene between Charlie and Olivia where he tells her not to get hurt for him, and she replies that he would do the same for her. It speaks a great deal to the depth of friendship and love that is between those two. The irony is that this is exactly what happens to Charlie: He goes down in a dark, creepy basement after the person who tried to kill his friend, Olivia, and is killed instead.

    I do miss Charlie. I hope that Alt-Charlie can eventually forgive our Olivia for conking him with a vase and brefriend her.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  6. QuoteGirl says

    2/10? Really? I liked this episode!

    Charlie getting knocked-up was easily one of the highest points in his story (this was the most he appeared in an episode, so give it some credit) because not only was it hilarious, it was good to see him and Olivia interact with each other in a less work-defined (even though it is?) environment and see the depth of their friendship.

    Plus, it wasn’t that disturbing on a scale of one to blowing someone’s head off a la “The Cure”. And we got to see Walter waltzing around the Boston sewer system SINGING. Not much beats that.

    I agree, it isn’t the best episode, but it is by no means the worst.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  7. Anjali says


    I love your admiration for R#chel. i really do. :)

    I liked this episode for two reasons – Olivia turning on the light at the end & Charlie talking to his wife on the phone.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  8. number six says

    I, for one, enjoyed this episode and Harriet the lion-snake a lot. Not too bad for a stand-alone in S1. I’ll start off giving it 5 points for the awesomeness that is the massive dynamic between Walter and Peter, from their bickering, to Peter’s fear of losing Walter and to his understanding of Walter’s character at the end. At this point, it’s too soon for Peter to admit to himself that he loves Walter, but he does and it shows beautifully here.

    + 1 point for one of the few moments, where Olivia has been amusing in the show, even if it was unintentional on her part: her jealousy and her failure to conceal it.

    + 1 point for Peter’s glee at Olivia’s jealousy.

    + 0.5 for giving Charlie an extra dimension, until then he was just Olivia’s friend.

    + 0.5 for our Fringies going after the monster to save Charlie. It shows that Charlie is important for them.

    The biggest problem I had with this episode was Walter shooting the beast. I find it unbelievable that the FBI would provide him with a gun. I know, what the writers were trying to do, but it took me out of the story. It would have worked better for me if Olivia or Peter had shot the monster. – 2 points.

    Walter’s character is really fascinating here, as always. Why was he taking responsibility for something he didn’t create (for once)? Was it altruism or narcissism? He admitted he had failed in creating his own chimera and, in the past, he has shown envy for those, who have succeeded in their experiments. It’s like he took ownership of the monster by taking the responsibility of killing it.
    As for him being selfish for putting himself in the way of danger… yes, he is in a way. Olivia and Peter are also selfish, every time they go head first into dangerous situations. There is always someone left behind, who will suffer if the worst happens. This didn’t bother me as much as the plot contrivance, that was bringing along Walter with a gun to the sewers.

    Another thing I noticed: Charlie didn’t tell his wife, that his life was in danger. In S2, Olivia won’t call her sister, when she’s in a dangerous situation in “What Lies Below”. Are those decisions really born out of protectiveness, as Peter thinks, or is there an element of selfishness, too?

    Walter: “What you said before about the consequences, I don’t think of them, never have. Don’t know if I can. That’s not who I am.”
    And Olivia and Peter are clear examples of this. Oh Walter!


    Like: Thumb up 0

  9. Alex says

    2/10????? Harsh, much?

    ps. why do you hate Rachael? I think she and Ella give us sides of Olivia we wouldn’t otherwise see (arguably, the softer sides). That’s far from a bad thing – and it was particularly important in season 1 where people started the season thinking Liv was too cold.

    Other cool episode moment:

    Olivia: You mind if i ask you some questions?
    Dorky college kid: No, I’d love it *wink wink*
    Olivia: *clueless stare*

    Come on Liv, you know you’re hot

    Like: Thumb up 0

  10. says

    I can see why it looks like I’m being harsh in my 2/10 rating. Perhaps I am being a touch bit hard on the episode, but bear in mind all of my rewatch ratings are based on their retrospective value – my enjoyment in rewatching the episodes, and how well I think they hold up given that, for many, this is the third time I’ve seen them.

    I was perhaps more lenient in season 1, because it was the first season and the show was still finding its feet. But looking back at what this episode actually delivers, I’d be generous to give it anything above a 3/10 in the retrospective stakes. It just isn’t the type of Fringe episode that appeals to me, even though there are some interesting tidbits to be had. :)

    That said, we all look at the show from different angles, which is a good thing.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  11. Anjali says

    One thing that annoyed me about this episode was that Peter, Olivia and Walter went alone in the sewers. Where was the FBI? I understand that this was for plot purposes, but it was just very unrealistic of Broyles to send them alone down there.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  12. Shar says

    Roco, I crack up at your comments about R@chel. She’s not my favorite either, and I didn’t remember her being in this many eps. Hope she doesn’t resurface in S3!

    Like: Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *