Inner Child – Meta For The Metaphor

Olivia approaches the Child

They peer at one another from across the room — Olivia through the blinds, the Child, rather timidly, from behind the door. Olivia approaches him slowly, her kind, inquisitive gaze never leaving his. She sits down in front of him, and asks: “are you trying to help me?” He doesn’t reply. He’s angry that she’s allowing him to be sent away.

No-one should let go of their inner child.

This one scene provides so much of the meaning behind the episode. The Child is not just a being from another reality, he also symbolises Olivia’s intuition, her deep sense of knowing — her “inner child”.

Over the course of the series, Olivia has learnt to shun the essence of her inner self somewhat. She’s always been good at connecting things — at putting the pieces together without any logical means. But working on ‘Pattern events’ has gradually made her aware of just how connected she is. This has caused her to doubt herself. Her psyche has become damaged (The Child’s scar serving as a visual illustration of that damage) — she’s lost her partner, and her trust in the world is in a fragile state. Then David Jones teleported into town and there was no denying her importance, or possibly, her value. Except she did. After deactivating the bomb she refused to believe that she could have done such a thing with just her mind. As David Jones would say — she was “unwilling”.

So the arrival of the Child — a possible alter-reality being, came at a timely moment in her journey. “The Child” served two roles. As a multiversal visitor. And as a metaphor for Olivia’s own inner child. All throughout the episode the child gave Olivia clues and helped her to find the answers that she was so desperately seeking. The child fed her spirit, dis-engaged her from the madness around her, and even wore her “North Western” sweatshirt (Aww!).

That is what an inner child is — it’s your No. 1 fan..your innate guide…your in-built sat-nav system.


So when Olivia agreed to let Mr. Michaels take The Child away to the facility, it was not only a crucial moment for little fella, but also for Olivia. By letting The Child go with the potentially dangerous Michaels, she was symbolically dismissing her own inner child. But by arranging for the child to be placed with a nice family who would look after him, she was at least acknowledging a sense of self. This would possibly account for the sweet, but rather awkward, ‘goodbye’ that the pair shared — from Olivia’s perspective, this was an illogical relationship that made perfect sense.

Interesting that in the very next Olivia scene, after saying goodbye to the Child, Olivia goes home to a game of “Simon Says” with Ella (and Rachel). It could have been any game in the world, but the writers are seemingly big on symbolism — Simon Says is itself a metaphor for the inner child. In the game, Simon is the voice you must listen to, if Simon says jump, then you must jump — but only if the instruction is prefaced by “Simon Says..”. It’s a challenge for the players to distinguish between authentic instructions and inauthentic instructions. Similar to interpreting the instructions from one’s ‘inner child’..those instinctive feelings that, that if followed, will guide you to love and happiness.

Ella: “Simon says put your hands in the air..[Olivia does as instructed]..Touch your nose”. [Olivia touches her nose Doh! πŸ˜€ ]

As the penultimate scene transitions from Olivia and fam’s joyful laughter, we see “The Child” smiling peacefully in the back of the car – the metaphor is complete. But the journey, for Olivia has only begun.

On a wider level, I find the metaphor of this episode interesting as it re-contextualises the presence of the Observers (assuming that the child is from another reality..which I am). They have tremendous empathy — something that our world is seemingly lacking. They can also intuit and feel what we’re thinking (hence how the Observer was able to know what Peter was going to say before her said it — “The Arrival”). But even more than that, on many levels they seem to represent us. They have abilities that our reality has deprived us. Whilst our minds have closed, somehow, their minds have remained open. Intuition is a natural ability, it’s something that is at it’s height in childhood. It’s something that Olivia’s Cortexiphan has enabled her to retain to a larger degree than most people from her reality. If the Observers are here, maybe we (or our counterparts) sent them..


  1. Fringeling says

    It’s almost as if Olivia “passed” another test isn’t it, this Inner Child game of Simon Says with her own young “friend” ….. O_o

    And their abilities make them something more than other worldly. They are almost supernatural —— they could easily be the angels in the Fringe heaven hierarchy. We: the mere mortals, they: slightly above mortal.

    But while the Observer folk seem to have enhanced abilites that we, for whatever reason, have been deprived of —— the God of the Fringe universe has also deprived them of many envious abilities we have as well (like savoring the taste of a root beer float, or feeling the chill of a cold wintry gust of wind on our face, or having someone run their hands through our hair, etc.)

    Looking at them in this way, I wonder if God made them “a little lower than us”, or if he made us “a little lower than them”?

    Like: Thumb up 0

  2. says

    Definitely — I think that this is a subtle moment of realisation for Olivia. Before the end of the season I expect her to have to face up to her ability on an even larger/more important scale than she did at the end of 1.14.

    They could indeed by angels, of sorts — I know that you’ve had some nice ideas on this over at FF, and Walter’s “heavenly, yet earthly” (1.04) comment seems like a nice allusion. I wonder if Prometheus/MD has any origins ties to them?..

    Good point — they do lack certain capabilities that we have. I’m not so sure that their creator has deprived them of these things though (although it’s entirely possible) — I would guess that their lack of certain abilities (taste for instance) is a result of their diminishing world/reality. Much like our world suffers environmental impacts (pollution, etc) that has changed it, and us, over the years, perhaps theirs has suffered similar consequences. I guess they could also be at the peak of their evolutionary cycle — all things being equal (which it so often isn’t), they could be a mirror “us”. Our world could soon be their world in more ways than one..

    It’s an interesting line of thought — especially if we delve more into the ‘dimensional’ side of things. As you say, they could be a little lower or higher than us — or vice versa.

    Like: Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

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