Fringe Rewatch – 1.18 Midnight


Midnight - rewatch

Synopsis: The Fringe Division is on the case when severely mutilated bodies drained of spinal cord fluid begin to pile up. After their investigation leads them to a scientist (guest star Jefferson Mays) with possible ties to the Z.F.T. bioterrorist cell, they are shocked to discover the identity and motive of the killer. When the kills occur with increasing frequency, Olivia, Peter and Walter go to desperate lengths to stop them.

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

New Observations & Perspectives

a_fringebloggers_midnight000391.) I still find it slightly strange how Olivia just assumed that Phillip was divorced. Sure, she’s good at picking up on things, but it was still a major leap. I guess it’s a sign that they feel more comfortable with one another, that she could ask him something so personal, despite him being the boss man.

2.) Beneath the surface of spine-sucking drama, the episode was largely about broken relationships: Greg and Rachel’s marital problems, discovering Broyles is divorced, the flawed singles together programme, Bob Dunn cheating on his wife, Nicholas Boone losing his wife to her beastly transformation, and so on. Was this concentrated shift in focus an attempt to humanise the show as headed down the home straight?

3.) Olivia’s been keeping track of the death toll since she started working at Fringe Division – 81 people dead, not including the 147 that died on flight 627. Contrast this with the 9 who died on cases that she previously worked on and it’s easy to see why she was so determined to finally gain some traction on the pattern. I’m glad for this little detail – I’d expect Dunham to keep count of every person lost, and it only magnifies her blossoming role as world protector – but for which world?

4.) Rachel: annoying and self-absorbed as ever. Calling Olivia about her ‘relationship issues’ while she’s at work. Couldn’t it wait, Rach? Not only could this have distracted Olivia, it didn’t make her look very professional in front of the boys club. For someone who has had to fight tooth and nail to get where she is, this was an unneeded distraction. To her credit, she handled Rachel with the patience of a saint. And I loved Charlie’s smile – yeah, that’s Rachel for ya.

Also, Rachel features in the second half of the season A LOT more than I previously thought.

5.) The line;  “you’re my kind of guy/girl” was repeated several times throughout the episode. I’m not quite sure what the significance (if any) of this was, other than perhaps alluding to the possibility that Valerie required compatibility in terms of who’s spinal fluid she took? She did seem fairly selective in her approach (well, more selective than your average vampire). But if this is the case, how did she know who was compatible and who wasn’t prior to draining them of their spine?

6.) Boone seemed to believe that ZFT wanted the skin growth toxin and ‘vampire virus’ to show-off to other scientists. I have to believe that there’s more to it than that (like the much hyped war, for example). Although this kind of school-yard behaviour would align with Jones’ motivation in wanting to murder William Bell for not appreciating him.

That said, who’s to say that Boone was working for Jones, since..

7.) According to Boone, he had never heard of David Jones. He also said that the ZFT he worked for is funded by William Bell. Which is surprising given that previous ZFT attacks (i.e. the skin growth virus from “Ability”) were led by Jones.

So either ZFT is divided into several factions, or Bell and Jones were working together on some of these attacks. The evidence, of course, points to the former. Perhaps Jones had a spy in Bell’s camp and that’s how he got hold of the skin growth virus? (I recall him asking one of his men about the “sealant” in “Ability”). We’ve also seen viruses traded in previous episodes, so there’s also that possibility.

8.) Walter remarks on his fall from grace in comparison to the rise of former colleague William Bell – but I have to wonder, what if it is actually Bell who has fallen? He’s the richest man in the world(s) and, through his soldiers, he will shape the future, but surely he has committed many trespasses of which he is not proud? As Walter all but said, his journey isn’t over yet, there’s still time for redemption.

9.) In the Inner Child rewatch I suggested that the Observers world may be cold due to the various clues we have been given throughout the season. I think that Peter gave more credence to this notion when he said “you know what I hate more than the cold?”. A line said with too much intent to be meaningless, IMO. Could Peter actually be from the Observers reality? (for the record, I don’t believe that the Observers are from the reality we saw at the end of 1.20). What counts against this idea is that we know from the season finale that our Peter has memories of his old beach house – over in his original reality, which is similar to ours and therefore unlikely to be the home world of the bald fellows.

But I’m positive that Peter’s line was a hint – so perhaps it’s a clue that our Peter was the one who experienced and survived the near death experience in the frozen lake? Perhaps that’s why he hates the cold so much – a subconscious memory of that harrowing night? Out of the two suggestions, I think this makes more sense.

10.) Peter playing with the sirens: “everyone should get to do this at least once before they die!”. The alternate reality storyline leaves a lot of room for this kind of irony.

Unresolved Mysteries

1.) If William Bell funds the same ZFT that Boone worked for, how did Jones get hold of his skin growth toxin, given that Bell is Jones’ sworn enemy?

Closed Mysteries

wow i luv your neck!1.) ZFT infected Boone’s wife as punishment, because he tried to leave the organization.

2.) One of the reasons for ZFT creating this virus was to create special attributes in humans. No doubt useful in any inter-reality war.

3.) Boone was responsible for making the skin-growth toxin seen in Ability.

Best Moment: Walter using the clapper.

Best Performer: Jefferson Mays

Retrospective Episode Rating: 6/10

Our original Midnight posts can be found here.

Next Rewatch Episode: “The Road Not Taken”.

Comments

  1. says

    It is my belief that Peter felt the cold because he can sense things in people, as he calls it he reads people. A talent he excepts as being a plus but I don’t think he truely understands were that talents or gift if you will comes from. He felt the cold because he was feeling the death of that man. Peter knows something is up and I think he watches and listens closely not only to find out what the big picture is but also why he is able to do what he can do and how it ot he fits into the big picture.

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  2. jkyarr says

    In your theories about Bell being the “bad guy” you forget that someone took ZFT, removed the chapter of ethics and started mucking around in inter-dimensional affairs. Whether that was Jones or someone before him remains to be seen. I think your theory about Bell possibly being the “fallen one” is just the opposite of what it should be. If you read the comics that cover the prequel era its clear that Bell was the conservative / ethical one and Walter was the liberal / experimental one. It’s conceivable that Bell did something himself or had something done to Walter to cause his memory loss in an effort to foil his evil plans. Or rather, it seemed to me that Alter-Walter is the real villain and Bell and/or Alter-Bell along with our Walter have orchestrated an elaborate plot to withhold key information or technologies from Alter-Walter to keep his evil plan in check, including our Walter’s deliberate memory loss / mind fragmentation… Our Walter seems very kind-natured. Hard to believe he’d be the villain. But he was absolutely terrified of Alter-Walter who seemed much more nefarious in the 0.75 seconds of screen time he had in season 1… Or did we see him much more frequently than that and just not realize it? I think keeping decisive track of which incarnation is the alter and which is the native of each character is going to be increasingly difficult! A deliberate plot device to confuse us about what we actually see characters do at certain points in the show. Was that really Olivia or was it her alter? If either side can come and go as they please we’re gonna need serious help to sort out who is who and who did what!

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    • mlj102 says

      Quick comment: Yes, Walter certainly comes across very kind-natured, but when it comes to science and experiments, he really takes no thought for the people he experiments on. He’s said himself that he doesn’t think about consequences. So even if it’s not an intentional evil, his actions still tend to have negative results. I imagine he was more careless and reckless when he was younger and before he went to St. Claire’s. But still, if you watch him in the current things, he really has little regard for those he works with and has to be reminded often to go gentle and keep the people alive. I’m not trying to say that I think Walter is a bad guy, but I did want to comment on that point you made.

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    • says

      I don’t think I said that Bell is the “bad guy” per se, just that he may have fallen since those ‘wide-eyed’ days of positive exploration. I agree that he probably started off with good intentions, but like our Walter, I’m not sure that he is without sin. Experimenting on children, even for the perceived ‘greater good’, leaves him open to criticism.

      Good point about the removal of the Ethics chapter. It’s something I’ve considered previously – I agree that the possible ‘tampering’ could go some way to absolving Bell, no doubt, but I’d say that he still have people to answer to.

      You’re right to point out alter-Walter – his short stint on screen did enough to make me question his role in our Walter’s decline (and possibly wider events). That said, we are yet to know exactly what he is, so it should be interesting figuring it all out!

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  3. jkyarr says

    The rogue ZFT faction that removed the chapter of ethics could easily be the same group that commissioned the skin growth toxin and the vampire virus. Perversions of Bell / Bishop’s original intent in founding the ZFT army. Devoid of the ethics and therefore purpose that the founders intended them to have. Jones seemed to be central to that faction, but also mitigated his own role in the larger scope of things to Olivia when they met in the german prison…

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  4. mlj102 says

    Okay – it looks like you’re really going to push it to finish off this re-watch before the season premiere tomorrow, so I’m a little behind and have to hurry to catch up.

    Regarding the way Olivia was able to ask Broyles about his divorce attorney, perhaps she actually did have more concrete evidence, but for whatever reason she didn’t want to share that with him, so she downplayed it by using something fairly common to explain how she knew? I agree, it does seem mighty presumptuous of her to make an assumption that big based only on having heard him talk to his kids but never his wife. That would certainly have been embarrassing if she’d been wrong!

    I like your observation about this episode largely being about broken relationships – that theme was definitely flowing through the whole episode. I think one of the most significant and profound quotes from the whole first season is when Boone asks Walter “How far would you go for someone you love?” I think that could easily be the overall theme for the whole season – perhaps the whole show. Starting with the Pilot and all the extreme measures Olivia went to to save the man that she loved, all the way down to the finale when we find out that Walter did something unthinkable in taking Peter from the alternate universe because of his love for his son. There are so many examples of the things people will do for the people they love most. Along these same lines, when Peter and Olivia were in the car and talking about the love that Boone had for his wife, I found that to be very deep. It was like in that moment they were both gaining a better understanding about what real love really is and how it motivates your actions. For some reason I just really liked that and felt that it emphasized the overall theme really well.

    I always find it amusing to read some recap and come across these constantly negative opinions towards Rachel. When I watch the episodes, I typically have no problem with her, but then I read something like this, and I can see where you’re coming from. Then the next time I see Rachel, it’s like I like her less and less, though I really have nothing against her!

    I also found it to be rather strange that the phrase “you’re my type of guy/girl” kept popping up through the episode. It seemed emphasized too much to be just a coincidence, though I can’t seem to come up with any explanation for it – yours is the best I’ve found. But it still seems like it was used rather excessively if that’s all it was about. Maybe it was just supposed to be a joke, having it constantly pop up in the episode. But if that’s the case, I missed the humor in it.

    At this point, I really think I’ve given up on trying to figure out who’s working with who. It just gets so complicated trying to make all the pieces of information fit with what we know. My best guess for the time being is that there are several groups or factions of ZFT/other terrorists and they all fit in there somehow. That said, I certainly expect that in later seasons we will start to see the same names popping up and it will all sort of come together and we’ll see where everyone stands in the big picture.

    Interesting thought about Peter’s mention of the cold possibly being a clue that he’s from the same reality as the Observers. I certainly never thought of it that way – I always just dismissed it as a random, throw away comment to add to the scene – but it is definitely a possibility!

    Other thoughts:

    Probably my biggest complaint about this episode was that the whole time we got all this hype about finding out the truth about ZFT, and in the end all we got was that William Bell supposedly funds ZFT. I understand that it wasn’t practical to expect all the questions to be answered in this episode, but I thought we’d get something substantial. So as a result, I felt that what we did get rather lacked any sort of impact. Seriously, the whole time Boone was promising to tell them everything he knew about ZFT – and he seemed to know quite a bit (the whole comment of “You really don’t know who you’re dealing with” seemed to indicate that he had a pretty good idea of ZFT and the people and the inner workings). Then he goes and dies and everyone thinks “Now we won’t get the answers after all.” But wait! He left a video, disclosing all the secrets. Wow; this is going to be good! Seriously, it was pretty enticing and I found myself on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what he knew and to get some additional pieces to add to the puzzle. And what did we get? William Bell funds ZFT. Maybe it’s just me, but that just seemed so anti-climactic and insignificant. It was like the whole episode was a lot of talk and building up to this point, but when the moment came, it all fell flat. That bothers me every time I watch this episode.

    I have also wondered if there’s any connection to the fact that in this episode the contagion Boone developed caused the infected person to feed on spinal fluid and the fact that when Olivia was kidnapped, they had to perform a spinal tap to determine if she was a cortexiphan kid (it always seemed odd to me that it required a spinal tap — a simple blood test wasn’t enough, but it had to be a spinal tap). Perhaps it was meant to be some sort of defensive thing in the war – create monsters that will suck out all the spinal fluid of the cortexiphan soldiers. Yeah, it’s a random theory and probably no where near the truth, but I figured I’d throw it out there. It just really struck me as more than a coincidence that there were two episodes/story lines that had spinal fluid at the center of it.

    I thought it was fun to see Walter with someone who could be on level with him to work with him and speculate with him and appreciate his lab and his theories and all. It was also a nice addition that Boone and Walter could relate to one another and understand the regret they both individually felt for what they had done.

    One other quote that I thought might potentially be important is when Peter says “Everything stolen is not necessarily lost.” Sure, he was talking about the car, but I think it could easily apply to much more than that small situation. For example, Peter was stolen from his universe, but he isn’t necessarily lost. I wonder if that will be explored later on.

    Favorite moment:

    I completely agree with you on this one – Walter with the clapper was, hands down, the best moment in this episode. It was classic! He was absolutely delighted with his new toy and it was so fun to watch!

    Reflections:

    There seemed to be a lot of mirrors in Bob Dunn’s apartment. There was a reflection of him looking in the mirror as he was getting ready. Then when his wife called him and was talking to him, there was a mirror behind her and a brief reflection (that one is likely a mere coincidence, but I will include it anyway). Later, after Valerie had killed him, she was cleaning herself up and looking in a mirror. And finally, there is a classic interrogation observation room reflection of Charlie.

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    • says

      I think one of the most significant and profound quotes from the whole first season is when Boone asks Walter “How far would you go for someone you love?” I think that could easily be the overall theme for the whole season – perhaps the whole show. Starting with the Pilot and all the extreme measures Olivia went to to save the man that she loved, all the way down to the finale when we find out that Walter did something unthinkable in taking Peter from the alternate universe because of his love for his son. There are so many examples of the things people will do for the people they love most. Along these same lines, when Peter and Olivia were in the car and talking about the love that Boone had for his wife, I found that to be very deep. It was like in that moment they were both gaining a better understanding about what real love really is and how it motivates your actions. For some reason I just really liked that and felt that it emphasized the overall theme really well.

      Well said. For me this question is one of the most important themes of the season – it’s something most of us can relate to and it grounds Fringe on a human level.

      Probably my biggest complaint about this episode was that the whole time we got all this hype about finding out the truth about ZFT, and in the end all we got was that William Bell supposedly funds ZFT. I understand that it wasn’t practical to expect all the questions to be answered in this episode, but I thought we’d get something substantial. So as a result, I felt that what we did get rather lacked any sort of impact. Seriously, the whole time Boone was promising to tell them everything he knew about ZFT – and he seemed to know quite a bit (the whole comment of “You really don’t know who you’re dealing with” seemed to indicate that he had a pretty good idea of ZFT and the people and the inner workings). Then he goes and dies and everyone thinks “Now we won’t get the answers after all.” But wait! He left a video, disclosing all the secrets. Wow; this is going to be good! Seriously, it was pretty enticing and I found myself on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what he knew and to get some additional pieces to add to the puzzle. And what did we get? William Bell funds ZFT. Maybe it’s just me, but that just seemed so anti-climactic and insignificant. It was like the whole episode was a lot of talk and building up to this point, but when the moment came, it all fell flat. That bothers me every time I watch this episode.

      Oh, I’m totally with you. If memory serves, I was disappointed with this aspect of the episode. It was good and all, but it lacked the impact of previous cliff-hangers for the reasons you mentioned.

      I have also wondered if there’s any connection to the fact that in this episode the contagion Boone developed caused the infected person to feed on spinal fluid and the fact that when Olivia was kidnapped, they had to perform a spinal tap to determine if she was a cortexiphan kid (it always seemed odd to me that it required a spinal tap — a simple blood test wasn’t enough, but it had to be a spinal tap). Perhaps it was meant to be some sort of defensive thing in the war – create monsters that will suck out all the spinal fluid of the cortexiphan soldiers. Yeah, it’s a random theory and probably no where near the truth, but I figured I’d throw it out there. It just really struck me as more than a coincidence that there were two episodes/story lines that had spinal fluid at the center of it.

      This definitely seems to be another example of the writers adding layers to important themes. It surely can’t be coincidence, can it? I think there could be something to your idea – so far we’ve seen hints of scientists creating ‘monsters’ and manipulating nature with a view to counteracting potential enemies. There seems to be a lot of pre-emptive measures taking place in the show.

      One other quote that I thought might potentially be important is when Peter says “Everything stolen is not necessarily lost.” Sure, he was talking about the car, but I think it could easily apply to much more than that small situation. For example, Peter was stolen from his universe, but he isn’t necessarily lost. I wonder if that will be explored later on.

      I agree – while I certainly believe Peter 1 to be dead. Let’s play devils advocate and ask: what if he isn’t? That’s the great thing about this show, the writers have a lot of things to play around with!

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