Fringe Rewatch: 2.14 Cometh The Dunhamnator

Welcome to the rewatch for episode 14 of Fringe season 2 – “Jacksonville”. Join us as we dose ourselves with Cortexiphan in preparation for the final leg of this impossible rewatch. Will we make it in time? If time stops still.

We have renamed this episode: Cometh The Dunhamnator.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • “The Universe seeks balance”. While I agree with Walter, I do wonder why the universe didn’t seek balance when he abducted Peter? Did the Observers have a word with Mrs. Universe and persuade her to let this one slide? Or perhaps Walter’s original son’s grave is empty, his body transported to the other side? I guess the most acceptable answer is that Walter’s doorway was stable enough to override the Universe and her whims.
  • I do love this episode, and not just for all of the reasons that we often speak about. But the idea of the episode (and the paths that have led here) I find quite uplifting. For me it’s about a person coming into their own, embracing their power, not out of desire or conceit, but out of necessity. It’s the heroic nature of Olivia that I really admire, and this episode – the journey back into her Wonderland and the activation of her ability, is really quite something. There are of course a few off points but there are times when the story and its power overrides any dodgy CGI or contrived plot elements. This is one such episode.
  • “We gave you the ability”. Erm, yes and no. She had the ability, Walter, you just limited the limitation of that ability. But this ability in itself is still a wonder..
  • Whenever we get one of these SUPA POWA episodes I’m always intrigued by the nature of the Cortexiphan subjects, and the idea that everyone had special abilities in the moments before the limitation kicked in. There is so much to speculate with this, such as: what does this epic battle between nature and nurture symbolize? Does everyone have unique abilities? Are these abilities given to humans for a grand reason, even though most of them will never even know that they have it? Who or what implemented the limitation, and why? I find these questions interesting and I hope the show finds a way to explore them.
  • Do people in the alternate universe have such abilities? If so, are their abilities different in nature? How does PETER POWA factor in? Is Boy Wonder the source of the limitation of the limitation?

  • Love this:

“I can’t see it anymore”

“Because I believe that you stopped wanting to. When you did there were consequences, but I was able to elicit the ability once, I believe I may be able to do it again.”

  • I like the idea that people can fail to see things because they stop wanting to. How often do we see people ignore the truths because pretending they are not there makes things easier, or brings a sense of peace? Walter himself was experiencing something similar at this point with the Peter secret. Although we are yet to fully explore the full scope of Olivia’s ability, I find her perception to be one of the most realistic yet powerful ‘powers’ in recent science-fiction. What I like about perception when it comes to Olivia is that a lot of it is about emotion and choice.
  • Then there’s these “consequences” that Walter mentioned. Was he referring to the consequences of Olivia not wanting to see the other side, or consequences of her seeing the other side? Hmm.
  • In this episode we see Olivia’s eyes open to the truths of her past, but in the background, much more subtle, is the fact that Walter also experiences something similar. I think we touched on this at the time, but there’s one moment which encapsulates this brilliantly. It’s when Walter not only puts on his old spectacles, but he looks at his reflection in the tray. This is a small scene that reflects Walter’s conflicted emotions very well, as his face flickers from happiness and pride to something resembling regret and disappointment.
  • Broyles (and his knowing eyes) asks Olivia what finally activated her ability. Olivia delivers a brilliant answer, one that taps into the destiny element of her journey: “I think it was just time“. While I think she may be talking about a number of things here, is this a small glimmer of acceptance by our warrior queen? Is she ready to reclaim her ability? Natural and unnatural, time waits for no man but it stops dead for the Dunhamnator.

Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv.

Best retrospective moment: Jacksonville Day Center Scenes.

Retrospective episode rating: 9/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 2.15 “Peter” – TBA.


  1. jophan says

    “Olivia delivers a brilliant answer, one that taps into the destiny element of her journey: “I think it was just time“. While I think she may be talking about a number of things here, is this a small glimmer of acceptance by our warrior queen? Is she ready to reclaim her ability?”

    I don’t see acceptance here at all. She lied about it because she wasn’t able to admit to Broyles that fear (or love, or fear of love) was the activating impulse. And it seems (though not definitively) that she again does not want to retain the ability after what it showed her about Peter.

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    • QuoteGirl says

      I agree. I had the sense that she was straight-out lying, not “fulfilling destiny” or any of that stuff. She was embarrassed by how emotional she got that night and how much of herself she revealed to Peter.

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  2. number six says

    “Of the thirty children that William Bell and I experimented on, you were the first with the ability to identify things from the other side.”
    Sure! But she wasn’t the only person able and available. Rebecca Kibner had the same ability. She just needed some fun drugs and she would have been happy to help, but did anyone remember her? Not one mention. A simple “she’s traveling now” or “her ability is too weak” would have been enough. As it is, and given how quickly Olivia agreed to go to Jacksonville to relive the abuse, it makes me think that she secretly likes to Wallow in her Sorrow (and if she manages to throw in some righteous anger at Walter in the meantime, even better).

    Also, let’s not forget that Walter can build a glimmer-detector in like 5 minutes, as Northwest Passage showed, which is something I suspected the first time I watched “Jacksonville”. After all, he has built more complicated devices. But a long time had passed without us witnessing the Plight of Olivia and it was long overdue. So what can we do? Off to Jacksonville!

    Why did Peter go with them, other than to be the mute elephant in the room? I know he wouldn’t leave Olivia alone with Walter, but Astrid was more than capable of helping and keeping Walter in check. Peter could have been of much more use at Massive Dynamic outgeeking Brandon, as he proved in the couple of minutes he was there. He could have narrowed down the amount of buildings for Olivia to work her magic on.

    Since Olivia managed to save those people, I assume that the mass for mass interchange is for objects and not living beings. So the building over there brought the alternate people with it, but that alive mass doesn’t need balancing, otherwise, Olivia wouldn’t have been able to save anyone (assuming they didn’t disappear afterwards). The mass for mass explanation is a bit inconsistent, but it’s not that important and, hey, the trip to Jacksonville paid off after all, and I mean the real pay-off: Olivia seeing Peter glimmer, which, in the end, it’s what this episode is about.

    It is possible that Olivia needed to concentrate to see Peter glimmer and that’s why she didn’t see him glimmering during the near kiss scene, but it’s still contrived. I’ll rationalize it this way: she goes to Peter for comfort, he touches her, which calms her down enough for her to realize she’s scared and off she goes to concentrate on buildings. It’s still a pretty scene, though.

    For me the best parts of the episode were the not-date; they were awfully cute in their reactions and clothing (he was wearing, what he thought was her style and she did the same by wearing more rebellious-looking clothes) and, of course, the scene where Olivia saw Peter glimmer. I wonder… if she had had her gun with her, would she have shot Peter in the head? The possibility if him being a shapeshifter must have been her first thought. “Please, don’t tell him!” John Noble stealing scenes again, but as brilliant as he was in this episode, I didn’t feel much sympathy for him until this very moment. The grilling he got previously from Olivia was fully deserved and I couldn’t feel sorry for him.

    The second best part was the opening scene. Amazing.

    7/10 at most, because it was well acted and because of the Olivia and Peter cuteness.

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  3. Catherine says

    One question I have about “Jacksonville”: Newton brought the building over from “Over There” to “Over Here,” right? Don’t Newton and Walternate care enough about their people to have evacuated the building before Newton brought it over? They killed their own people! The only explanations are 1) no, they didn’t care about their people or 2) They wanted to see it their people would cross over safely? I lean towards #1.

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  4. FinChase says

    With all due respect to the great finale, I consider this to be the best episode of season 2. It’s the only one that really can be classed with the great ones of season 1, “Ability” and “Bad Dreams.”

    I think this episode takes you right to the heart of the mythology of Fringe.

    10/10 for me

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  5. QuoteGirl says

    Jacksonville is one of my favorite Fringe episodes of all time, if not the highest on my list. I loved nearly every thing about it and I completely agree with the 9/10 rating.

    It combined the perfect amount of action (running around trying to save the building) horror (Olive’s creepy eyes and the Ted Pratchetts) amusement (Walter’s ridiculousness) romance (obvious Peter/Olivia near-kiss) and things to ponder over (Peter really is from the alt-verse).

    It was brilliantly acted and very iconic. The image of Peter and Olivia sitting on the swings in Jacksonville is always one of my favorite moments – shows them suspended between childhood and adulthood, how their lives are unsteady and not tied down and how much they’ve changed. Gorgeous.

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  6. Alex says

    AMAZING EPISODE!!!!!!!!!!

    My fav Fringe plotline is Olivia’s past/activation/abilities with Cortexiphan, so episodes like this (eg. Ability, Bad Dreams) are my faves.

    Top moments: the swings, the dream state, Olivia seeing Peter’s glimmer (and looking like she’s gonna cry),

    Worst moment: THE ALMOST KISS! I liked them better as a pseudo-sibling friendship. The romance is really contrived, no?

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