The writers really dragged me into this week’s installment of Fringe, right from the get go. The song Nellie the Elephant was sickeningly sweet and gave me a horrible feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, in a matter of seconds. Especially after seeing the poor little girl in the stroller and the balloons tied to the back.
In the beginning of the episode, Olivia has a mysterious dream, in which she kills a young woman by pushing her in front of a subway car, while she was reaching for a red balloon that had come untied from the little girl’s stroller. She wakes up to see that her dream has come true, and the woman is dead after an apparent “suicide.”
I had a really difficult time wrapping my head around this one, folks. I asked myself many questions throughout the course of ‘Bad Dreams.’ First off, why was Olivia having these dreams? Was it a horrible affect from cortexiphan? Olivia confronts her team at the lab about her nightmare. Peter completely dismisses the idea, while Walter seems quite interested. He calls it, “Murder with the mind.” An interesting way to put it, Walter. Does that mean Olivia is responsible for the murders, or is it possible that she is seeing through the killer’s eyes? As it turns out, mental patient Nick Lane has been contacting Olivia, and she’s been experiencing the murders from his point of view. Or so I thought. Now, I must ask, why Olivia? You guessed it. Coincidentally, Lane has also been treated with cortexiphan. Agent Dunham finds out that Nick Lane was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the same place where she grew up. Really, he hasn’t been killing the people…or…well, it didn’t start out that way. Due to the fact that he was treated with cortexiphan, his emotions were strengthened. In other words, he is hyper emotive, so said Dr. Bishop. It was his emotions, thoughts of suicide, depression, which influenced the ones around him to take their own lives and the lives of others. Involuntary killings, you might say. Not so involuntary anymore.
I thought that the characters were excellently written and excellently portrayed, Olivia and Walter in particular. The scenes between these two were great and really added to the overall tone of the episode. I loved the scene in the hotel room and the reaction that Olivia had when Walter cupped her cheek. A shudder of recognition, perhaps? Again, Peter was furious with his father, when Walter admitted that his former lab partner, William Bell, and he had been doing drug tests on children with cortexiphan. Is this further insight into what Peter must have gone through as a child? My favorite conversation of the episode was that in the lab, when Olivia explains her dream to Walter, Peter, and Astrid.
“I didn’t even know her.”
“Then why did you kill her?”
But the characterization wasn’t perfect, not at all. I was very disappointed with Peter, during the course of this episode. He seems to be toeing the line between disbelief and open-mindedness. Throughout the episode Peter was back to being a skeptic, turning down Olivia’s fearful pleas, and telling her that her earliest vision was “just a dream.” It was downright annoying, to tell you the truth, this fine line that he continues to walk. Especially when he was so eager to believe that it was indeed Olivia who turned the lights out in Ability. My first thought was that perhaps Peter was just trying to protect Olivia from herself. After all, turning off lights on a switchboard and saving hundreds of lives by stopping a bomb from going off is a good thing. Murdering individuals in your dreams…not so much. It’s possible, even if not very likely. Most likely, his tightrope balancing act is just a flaw in the writing; a discontinuity. That’s my best guess, at least. Finally, I was delightfully surprised by the acting of Nick Lane’s character, portrayed by David Call, who’s made one episode appearances on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Army Wives. All I can say is that he did a wonderful impression of a disturbed mental patient. Very…disturbing, David. Nice work.
Now, onto the music of the episode. I’m rather musically oriented and tend to pay attention to the songs heard throughout each episode. This week, the song choices did not disappoint! We first heard “Nellie the Elephant” sang by Risa Pear, played by Rebecca Naomi Jones. That woman is definitely a soprano, let me tell you. She hit some pretty high notes, and some a little cringe inducing. The original version of the song wasn’t sang in such a high vocal range, but I’m assuming the change was purposefully done, making the woman sound vulnerable, nervous, and admittedly…a tad irritating, after a while. Nonetheless, it was a good song choice.
Note: The original version of “Nellie the Elephant” was sung by Mandy Miller. You can listen below:
The other song that I’ll mention, heard in this episode, is Lady Gaga’s “Starstruck.” While I’m not normally fond of when shows like Fringe use well known songs, namely Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and “Realize,” sung by Colby Caillet, I didn’t really mind this week’s popular song appearance. It wasn’t recognizable enough to be aggravating to me. I prefer unknown song choices, so that the song isn’t recognized as that particular artist’s song but as “Fringe’s” song. It’s the unfamiliar songs that tend stand out to me because I relate them to the episode, rather than to the famous song artist.
On a side note, the whole way through the episode, I felt like I was watching NBC’s Medium, with Patricia Arquette, which isn’t a bad thing. Medium is a decent show, though I’ve only seen a couple of episodes far and few in between. One big difference between their visions- Arquette’s character, Allison DuBois, talks to dead people in dreams, rather than murdering them.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Bad Dreams.” It was hard to find fault in much of anything. Except that I thought Peter’s character really needs some work. As much as I love the sarcastic, criminal son, he really needs to make a choice between open minded optimism and his old cynic beliefs. That and apparently Anna Torv forgot how to use contractions.
“Peter, what is happening to me?”
Was it a problem with American pronunciation? Or was it a writing error that just made the moment feel slightly…awkward. Not that I didn’t completely love Olivia accepting Peter’s shoulder to lean on. I’ll confess that my inner Peter/Olivia fangirl was doing back flips over that scene. I’d like to wrap this review up, giving this week’s episode a 9/10. I loved “Bad Dreams,” but was hesitant to give it a 10. Believe me; I’ll know a 10 when I see it. Perhaps the season finale…
- The ending scene really made the episode for me. Oh poor Olive. It seems Olivia and the Bishops are connected more than it has previously appeared. I’ll anxiously look forward to the next episode, waiting to see how Walter acts around grown up Olive, now that he’s made this huge revelation.
- The glyphs of the episode spelled BELLY. More fitting than PETER last episode and WALTER the one before that, seeing as William Bell was partially introduced in this episode, even if for a short ending scene.
- Did anyone else see the tattoo on Nick Lane’s arm? Were my eyes deceiving me, or was the tattoo of a pine tree? This doesn’t happen to have to do with the yellow M&M tree and the pine tree mirror charm seem in “Inner Child” does it?
- Speaking of Nick Lane, was there a “2” etched on the side of his head? Was it branding by William Bell during the tests in Jacksonville? If so, does Olivia have a number shaped scar on her? Then again, perhaps I was just seeing things. I’m beginning to think that more frequently.