Welcome to the rewatch for episode 19 of Fringe season 1 – “The Road Not Taken”. Join us as we stand at the gates to the other side with our high beams on in search of new perspectives and higher levels of perception.
We have renamed this episode: Frenemy At The Gates.
Newly Observed Perspectives
- Is Bellie a hypocrite? He created this manuscript warning of ‘the destruction through the advancement of technology’, yet he profited from his scientific, and often unethical, developments in both universes.
- Walter defends Bell and claims that “he would never do these horrendous things”. He’s incredibly eager to absolve Bell. I sense much of this is borne from the need to absolve himself.
- Nina lays it out: “William Bell is not the enemy”. Could we perhaps be saying the same thing for Walternate by the end of the third season?
- Olivia’s interactions with the alternate universe in this episode are still intriguing, but there are a couple of clues for what happened. I continue to believe that for the most part it seems that she only perceived these interactions with the other side. Either through the medium of Altlivia, or through her mind constructing a template of the alternate universe and interacting with an accurate echo of the other side. I said “for the most part” – that’s because at one point it looks like she does more than just perceiving. More on that in a bit.
- Notice how defensive Harris is of Bell? While he’s always tinkling on Olivia’s parade, he really got worked up over her Bell investigations. And we would soon have our answer as to why that was.
- Olivia asks an important question:
“So where did this ability come from? Is it that she was just born different. Or is it something that someone did to her?“
- Isaac Winters. Winters, as in plural. Winters as in the end of both worlds theme? If names are clues, what do we make of September? An age-old question that is still relevant.
- Olivia describes her glimpses into the alternate universe:
“The same people, the same places, but..bleak. The city was on fire.”
- Walter says something which corroborates some of my thinking. He suggests that there’s a reason why Olivia’s abilities are percolating. Although we can point to recent events as the reason for her powers activating, I continue to wonder whether that’s only part of the story. Is there a larger force at work? Are these events not happening to Olivia, but in some way being caused by her? It’s a wacky idea, but I think this rewatch has picked up on enough indications to suggest that there’s something deeper at work, should TPTB be so bold.
- Emmanuel Grayson: “Bell is trying to activate his subjects. To see which ones were successful. Some can handle the process, others can’t.”
- Harris, once again, continues to question Olivia’s sanity. There’s a theme here. Do they really think Olivia can be broken in this way?
- Olivia gets reaally angry and her inner mind gives her one of her strongest glimpses to the other side. This, of course, ties into another theme – Olivia’s emotions heighten her abilities, something which is extensively explored in the second season with the whole ‘fear’ thing. This time, however, it appears that Olivia actually travelled to the alternate universe, as moments later one of her colleagues from ‘Over Here’ bumps into her, saying: “sorry, I didn’t see you”. To my mind, you’d only write that for a reason. The implication being that Olivia disappeared from her main universe while she was interacting with the other side. So it looks like this episode illustrates two levels of Olivia’s ability at work – peering in to the other side, and physically travelling there.
- Peter’s project. Utterly disappointing and contrived. Plot Device Peter strikes again. His work here is done.
- In Nancy Lewis’ apartment, Olivia sits by the yellow drapes (and a window, which says it all). A color Olivia hated as a youngster. No doubt this was intended to reflect her childhood in an episode where it begins to seep back into her present.
- Interesting that Bell didn’t try to activate Olivia (although he may have gotten around to it). She essentially activated herself, either through the traumatic experiences she had faced since the pilot, or her subconscious guide, which, as I’ve suggested, seems to project itself on Olivia’s world. We shouldn’t rule out the possibility of both alternatives being a factor, which goes back to the idea that Olivia’s journey is self-created.
- Walter receives a Drive-by Olivia Shredding, and rightfully so. I’ll just quote:
“What did hell did you people do to us?..you and William Bell, Walter. What did you do to me?”
“They were Bellie’s trials”
“But you knew. Walter, you were there. And you knew.”
“We were trying to help. We meant no harm”
“No harm!? you were drugging children! Three year old children, Walter. Why did you do it?
“We were trying to prepare you. To make you capable..able. Something terrible is coming.”
“The Cookie Monster..”
“Walter, what did you do to us?
“I don’t know”
“Damn it, Walter, you do!”
“No I don’t. I can’t remember” *sobs..hard* “I’m sorry”
*Olivia retreats, gives Walter the Eyes of Death*
*Peter returns, consoles Walter by..wait for it..touching his hand. We’ll see more of Peter’s ‘special’ touch in the second season.*
- Funny how Walter finds Bell’s ‘Chapter of Ethics’ just as the Observer comes to collect him. It’s almost as if the September’s presence provided Walter a kind of instinctive clarity to locate the missing item.
Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv.
Best retrospective moment: Olivia’s moments of high perception.
Retrospective episode rating: 8/10
Next rewatch episode – 1.19 “There’s More Than One Of Everything” – TBA.