Fringe Rewatch: 2.04 Becomes Natural


Welcome to the rewatch for episode 4 of Fringe season 2 – “Momentum Deferred”. Join us as we navigate our memories in search of a mystical man named Willum and the secrets that he told us before the glass hour.

We have renamed this episode: Becomes Natural.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • It really is amazing just how many sleep references there are in this show. Fake Charlie AKA Farlie gets this episode’s sleep references started: “I didn’t get much sleep last night.” On its own it’s fairly insignificant, but taking a step back and looking at the theme as a whole, it’s pretty easy to see that sleep/dreams/waking are powerful themes ingrained in the DNA of the story.
  • Walternate wouldn’t let Farlie come home for repairs, even though he was dying. The stealthy hybrid was in too well placed inside enemy ranks and had Olivia’s trust. It will be interesting to see if Altlivia can do as good a job as Farlie, who managed to go something like 6 weeks undetected. He would have gone longer too, if things hadn’t come to a head.
  • Unbelievable character portrayals: Our team knew that the Shapeshifter was still alive, they knew that Charlie was the last known person to have interacted with it, and yet they somehow contrive to get 2+2=90. Even after all this time I find that disappointing. And the Bishops are supposed to have how high an IQ again? Sure, it was a plot device, but it was another clunky one.
  • Walter talks about perception, and within that we see the different perspectives that have arisen from Walter’s experiments. Olivia, as we know, has resentment towards Walter and Bell for what they did to her as a child, while Rebecca Kibner, bless her soul, is grateful:

“Our experiment triggered an ability to see beyond the limits of your vision”

“You gave me a great gift, Walter. You..opened my mind

  • Interesting that Olivia didn’t experience the time-slips until she actually met with Bell inside his office. She had already been pulled across to an alternate universe some time earlier without suffering from the disorientation. This is more evidence that several methods, if not leaps, were involved in getting Olivia from A to Z, with the final jump in the elevator knocking her consciousness even further out of whack/transporting her to the correct universe. That, and the emotional response to being face to face with the man who tortured her and wants her to call him “Willum”. *shudders*

  • Bell describes Olivia’s talent as being “natural“. As you probably know, I’m constantly intrigued by the nature vs nurture element in this story, so it’s interesting to be reminded of Bell’s exact words here. He claims that had it not been for her natural talent, she’d have been ripped apart in the journey to the alternate universe. Are we to place more emphasis on her natural, predisposed, ability than Cortexiphan? Or is Bellie referring both her natural and unnatural talent when he says this? I guess it has all fused into one ability, and has become natural in that her body instinctively protects her during these feats. Still, it would be interesting to know where the natural begins and the unnatural ends.
  • Looking back at their meeting, it might be interesting to see if there are any other important parts that Olivia hasn’t yet remembered.
  • It seems likely that much of the us vs them debate will boil down to intent. Bellie claims that he never intended to hurt anyone. While I don’t believe him (he certainly intended to save this world by ensuring the destruction of the other), it’s the degrees by which actions and their consequences differ that may help us decide who we sympathize with most. Right now Walternate is beyond angry, he’s vengeful and possibly parading that under the banner of protection (let’s be honest, even if he does want to protect his world, which I don’t doubt, there must still be a significant revenge factor fueling that motivation). But as much as I sympathize with him, like Walter, he can only push that card so far. I’m desperately hoping that somewhere along the line he becomes the ‘Bigger Walter’. Please don’t let me down, Mr. Secretary.
  • Olivia detects that Bellie is trying to appeal to her childhood instincts. As we’ve noticed, it seems that her inner mind is a perceived source of weakness for her opponents. Little do they know she was forged in the rings of Saturn.

You were the one, Olivia. Of all the children, Walter and I prepared. You were the strongest. You were always the strongest.”

  • Were did this strength come from? (OK, Saturn, I know). I’ll keep asking it until it gets some more exploration, but it’s fun to speculate.
  • At this stage Olivia couldn’t fathom why the First Wave would want to kill Charlie just so they could open up a door to the other side. She wants to know why they couldn’t just call that known expert, doorsmith Peter, to kick down the door for them. It seemed a piss-poor reason to take someone’s life, right? While I’m sure she still finds what happened unacceptable, by the end of the second season, it’s clear that she realizes that the other side had enough motivation to warrant their pursuit. Doesn’t make it right, not by a long shot, but it’s about much more than just opening up a door.
  • In this episode we technically experience three realities. Olivia’s universe. Her meeting with Bell in the alternate universe. Her memory of the meeting with Bell in the alternate universe. (I’m cheating a bit there, but in terms of the presentation of these events, I think you’ll get my point). The way that it was edited together is still brilliant to this day, especially when Peter and Walter wake Olivia up just as she’s retrieving the final piece of memory from deep within.

Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv.

Best retrospective moment: Memory of meeting Willum /exiting the memory.

Retrospective episode rating: 8/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 2.05 “Dream Logic” – TBA.

Comments

  1. Cindy says

    “He would have gone longer too, if things hadn’t come to a head.” <— Was that an intentional play on words?

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  2. Elaine says

    “Unbelievable character portrayals: Our team knew that the Shapeshifter was still alive, they knew that Charlie was the last known person to have interacted with it, and yet they somehow contrive to get 2+2=90. Even after all this time I find that disappointing. And the Bishops are supposed to have how high an IQ again? Sure, it was a plot device, but it was another clunky one.”

    That scene takes me out of the story every time I watch this episode, because the leap to realizing that Charlie had been compromised didn’t take two geniuses and two pretty bright women to figure out. What makes it worse, it was like the writers realized this was a major plothole, but made little attempt to fill that out so our characters didn’t come across as the dumbest group of people to ever cross a tv screen.

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  3. Elaine says

    Roco, out of mild curiosity, you’ve been rather cheeky when speaking of Peter in your previous posts. Why the hostility towards the character? Or is this premiere anticipation putting you on edge and Peter’s expense?

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  4. Ann_Louise says

    Didn’t Farlie cross over as one of those proto-people those two dumb teens discovered last season? Altlivia appears to be a regular person in her universe, who crossed over “as is”, not needing to transmogrify into a person’s form. So if she doesn’t need to chug down mercury life Farlie did to just stay alive, who knows how long she can play double agent.

    While I’d like to think that Walternate may become a better man and grow beyond the revenge that’s fueled him so far, he still has his whole brain. Our Walter had Bell take out pieces of his mind to prevent his becoming like Walternate – without that “brake” on his actions, I can’t see Walternate changing his path.

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  5. FinChase says

    “Looking back at their meeting, it might be interesting to see if there are any other important parts that Olivia hasn’t yet remembered. ”

    I’m glad you brought this up. Everytime I watch this episode I’ve thought there was more there than she actually has retrieved yet. I was actually really hoping that she would retrieve more of that memory for the finale and that would be what helped her to cross over to the other side. Perhaps it’s something in those still lost memories that makes her tell Broyles that she trusts Bell?

    I like this episode. Yes, the mental lapse of all the main characters where Farlie is concerned is unforgivable, but the rest of it works really well. For me, the meeting with Bellie lived up to its hype.

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  6. number six says

    Why is the FBI so bad, when it’s convenient for the plot? The moment they realized that the nurse wasn’t a shapeshifter, Olivia or Broyles should have checked Peter’s and Charlie’s palates right there, but, of course, they had to be dumb for drama’s sake.

    While Olivia’s meeting with Bell is interesting and I’m glad that we finally got to know, what was said, I am disappointed that Olivia forgot her main reason to meet him: ZFT. Suddenly, that’s thrown out the window and she just complains about the Cortexiphan trials. Not that she doesn’t have a right to confront him about it, but wanting to meet somebody as badly as she did in S1 just to basically say “you’re a mean, mean person” is a letdown. Luckily, Bell was eager to share some very important information… and to send her back in that very dramatic way. OW!

    Walter didn’t seem too worried that Rebecca Kibner could detect and out Peter as someone from the alternate universe.

    Olivia drinking that flatworm shake was badass, but why did she want to get flatworm memories?

    The best moments:

    - The Olivia/Bell meeting. Olivia is The One. I like this. Now could we sacrifice the rest of the Cortexiphan kids off camera, please?

    - Peter curbing his suspicions about Walter and Rebecca and letting Walter go with her, even though it obviously made him uncomfortable. Great acting there. “He said okay!” Walter is just the best.

    - Rebecca viewing Walter’s experiments on her as a gift. At first I found it creepy, but it’s a nice contrast to Olivia’s point of view. Rebecca was a voluntary test subject.

    - Rebecca realizing Peter is from the other side.

    - The fight between Charlie and Olivia.

    Walter made this one a 8/10

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  7. matt says

    “This is more evidence that several methods, if not leaps, were involved in getting Olivia from A to Z, with the final jump in the elevator knocking her consciousness even further out of whack/transporting her to the correct universe.”

    I wonder, if there are 3 or more universes, whether she had to travel through one to get to the another? I personally think something else happened and am just putting it out there since I think there are either 2 or infinite universes in the show myself, but if there are three it would explain the whole pulled-out-of-a-car-but-also-an-elevator trick…hmmm…

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  8. matt says

    also, in terms of Olivia’s natural talent, if humans used to be all powerful and that something/someone (maybe the observers, maybe they’re what humans were once? i dunno…) burdened the rest of us with ‘time’ and thus limitation through experience, then her talent(s), having not been eliminated ‘over time’ thanks to her mind’s cortexiphan shield, would be a natural thing for all humans in the grand scheme of things on the show, rather than our current state of existence which would consequently be unnatural. that is nutso if that’s what’s up.

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  9. matt says

    forgot to add:

    remember, Bell never said cortexiphan does or undoes anything, but rather that it prevents the limiting of our [previously imposed somehow] limitations (as far as I can remember anyway)

    phew… done

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    • FinChase says

      Good point. And in “Bad Dreams”, Walter said that the drug trials were conducted on “pre-disposed” children. So there had to be something about Olivia and the other children selected that made Bell and Walter think the drug might work on them. Maybe that’s what Jones’ test kit of “children’s games” really was: A way to select the pre-disposed children.

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      • mlj102 says

        Actually, I just looked up that quote, and Walter says that Bell theorized Cortexiphan could enhance certain abilities in predisposed children — not necessarily that they only experimented on predisposed childern. I interpret that as meaning they experimented with Cortexiphan on a large sample of children, but not all of them responded to the drug because not all of them were predisposed. Then they likely focused in on the ones who showed some sort of response to the treatments.

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  10. mlj102 says

    “He would have gone longer too, if things hadn’t come to a head.”

    No pun intended, right? How do you come up with these things? :)

    “At this stage Olivia couldn’t fathom why the First Wave would want to kill Charlie”

    Reading that, it struck me that “First Wave” is an awful lot like “First People”… Think there’s any kind of connection, or is it just a random coincidence?

    “Walternate wouldn’t let Farlie come home for repairs, even though he was dying.”

    Maybe this is the kind of thing that was meant to be completely obvious, but I have to admit, it startles me every time someone refers to the orders received through the typewriter mirror (ie, the orders to kill Olivia, for shapeshifter Charlie to remain on our side, etc.) as coming directly from Walternate. I understand that Walternate is a man of power and influence over there, and he’s typically the one calling the shots. But for whatever reason, I never pictured him as the one on the other side of the typewriter. When shapeshifter Charlie talks to shapeshifter Smith about how he has to finish his mission, he says that “they” won’t let him return yet, and Smith returns by saying “They’re real sweethearts.” Which implies that it’s more than just Walternate who’s directing the shapeshifter actions. While Walternate is likely still involved to some extent, it just doesn’t seem right for us to make the assumption that he was the one — the only one — directly responsible for those decisions or passing on the orders. There has to be some sort of group or organization who know of the “threat” of our side and are working together towards neutralizing it. It just doesn’t make sense for it to be Walternate alone.

    Completely unrelated point here, and I know you are frantically attempting to finish the rewatch before the beginning of Season 3, but is there any chance you could do a post reviewing the bonus features included on the DVDs? As I’ve been going through them myself, I have found there have been a lot of intriguing pieces of information included in the various features on the DVDs, and I immediately wonder what you would say about those things, along with everyone else’s opinions….

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    • Ann_Louise says

      “While Walternate is likely still involved to some extent, it just doesn’t seem right for us to make the assumption that he was the one — the only one — directly responsible for those decisions or passing on the orders. There has to be some sort of group or organization who know of the “threat” of our side and are working together towards neutralizing it.”

      A couple of things have led me to see Walternate as either typing out the orders – or ordering someone else to.
      In the what we’ve seen of the Other Side, the government is created a very thorough security state to deal with a disintigration in the fabric of their world. People are used to being monitored, having their “show me” cards at all times, and living in a general state of emergency. The Dept. of Defense (relocated to the Statue of Liberty after their 9/11?) appears to be a the heart of this security state, and Walternate looks to be very much in charge. This doesn’t look like a gov’t that would have loose screws running things unbeknownst to the boss.

      The devotion of the Proto-soldier towards “Mr. Secretary” – indeed, the wholehearted devotion of the other sides’ agents here and There – indicate a very personal and strong loyaty to their boss. The way Walternate strode into the Fringe HQ, indicated to me that he knew he way around there very well. The man who can describe people from “our side” as “monsters in our skin”(iirc) could also very easily order a trans-dimensional murder.

      So while it’s possible that someon

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  11. aci79 says

    “Unbelievable character portrayals: Our team knew that the Shapeshifter was still alive, they knew that Charlie was the last known person to have interacted with it, and yet they somehow contrive to get 2+2=90. Even after all this time I find that disappointing. And the Bishops are supposed to have how high an IQ again? Sure, it was a plot device, but it was another clunky one.”

    Yeah.. it was a “It’s Charlie!! Duh!??” moment for me. Maybe they are so caught up in their own intelligence that they are unknowingly rejecting the idea in their head that after all this time, Charlie is the shapeshifter. Afterall, it’s Charlie. It’s like thinking that Olivia, Broyles, Peter, Walter or Astrid has gone rogue. Convincing themselves “No Way, there’s got to be another reasoning.” I guess I’m just scrambling for words to justify the situation. :-)

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  12. matt says

    I wonder, regarding the whole memory/sleep thing, if one has to travel through the dream/unconscious state to get to the other reality or something similar? The restaurant scene at the end of THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF EVERYTHING felt kind of like a dream or the B&P tank adventures to me (maybe she was unconscious for that part of the trip after the accident – like peter sleeping for a day – and her brain made up the restaurant scene, then she was pulled out of her subconscious-state elevator into the other universe?).

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  13. matt says

    ^^ yaknow like how dreaming can feel like a week but then you wake up and it’s been 5 minutes? maybe the sleep state or something similar is how the universe makes up the time difference between universes (or the sleep state IS the universe making up the difference… or something…)

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  14. LizW65 says

    Dunno if this is the right place to bring this up, but last night I watched the first four eps of Season 2 with no break between them, and it went a long way toward reinforcing my opinion that that is the right and proper way to watch Fringe. Many people complained that Season 2 seemed disjointed and did not hang together well, but when you don’t have a week’s space between eps, the continuity is far more apparent–and eps like NODO don’t feel like non-mythology filler at all. In fact, with all the griping about molebabies, I’d forgotten just how much character development and mythology that episode actually has.
    (And FWIW, if Olivia hadn’t made the comment about six weeks having passed, I would have assumed it took only a few days for the team to “out” Alt-Charlie.)

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