Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 5 – Dream Logic. In this review I present my honest opinions on both the good and the bad aspects of the episode. I also take a look at the answers and unresolved mysteries, before sharing my thoughts on other aspects which may have been overlooked.
- Follow-through. Although this was a stand-alone episode, I did appreciate the call-backs to previous episodes and reference points. There were quite a few of them in this episode, from Olivia’s bitter recalling of her addictive her step-father, to Walter and Peter moving into their new abode (and Walter being specific about the orientation of his quarters, as only Walter can), to Olivia going back to Sam Weiss for some more Jedi training – to name only three. I rate Fracture as being the current season 2 benchmark for stand-alone episodes – DL wasn’t quite up to those standards, but the splatterings of overarching mythology were duly accepted.
- Character building and subtext. One of the things that Fringe has done well this season is subtext. This week we had the central plot of dreams and nightmares cushioned either side of death. The crazy dream-stealing storyline was decent, but it was the way that it seeped into our main character’s past and present stories that made it worthwhile. We got to see Olivia deal with the death of her friend Charlie, doubting her ability to cope in the nightmare that her life has become. While we got a first real glimpse of Peter realising that his life may be but a dream. Olivia’s self-awareness and Peter’s self-ignorance is fascinating to watch. There was also a nice balance to this episode in how Peter and Olivia’s stories gave extra depth to the otherwise average ‘fringe science’ formula – without that character depth I fear that this episode would have resembled The No Brainer.
- You’re gonna be fine. Sure, it was a bit sappy but the Olivia/Charlie relationship deserved that. One of my worries after last week’s episode was that Olivia would just ‘move on’ without any reference the the pain, confusion and guilt that she’d naturally be feeling after Charlie’s demise. Thankfully, the episode was largely about Olivia coming to terms with his death. The ending also gave us a greater sense of Olivia’s place in the world – is she a guardian, a warrior or an instigator? The answer, for me, is simple – she’s whoever she has to be the find the answers, and the answers are all around her. It’s something I raised back in season 1 – particularly after the episode Inner Child. I get the feeling that Olivia is..as Belly said, just coming into her domain.
- Astrid outta the Lab. It was only a small scene, but while it was one small step for Astrid, it was one giant leap for character progression. I’ve previously complained about a lack of Astrid-action, so it’s only fair that I recognise when the writers do something to address the problem. More of the same, please.
- I liked that the episode partly addressed WHY Peter doesn’t remember his abduction from his own world. It was a valuable nugget of Peter’s back-story that also tied into the episode story (or vice-versa). I also find it interesting that Peter and Olivia’s stories went hand to hand in this episode – this is probably the first episode that they’ve ‘shared’ an episode. For what it’s worth, I think Peter’s story held-up well against Olivia’s. This is very encouraging for the future because both characters are important to the mythology of the show.
- The Zzzz-story with Walter and the whole agent Cashner involvement was pretty weak. It was a bit like Brenden’s cameo last week – it felt out of place and dragged the episode down. I get that Walter needed an escort to take him home (and I’m glad they didn’t skirt over that necessity), but lip-service would have done. I don’t think Cashner served any real purpose and I don’t know why he stayed for so long. And we didn’t even get to see his reaction to being sedated against his will! Seriously, Walter can’t do things like that and get away with it (more on that below).
- Dr. Nayak. I wasn’t convinced, I must say. His motivations weren’t directly explained (only speculated) and his character was flaky at best. I felt that this was an opportunity missed to add another intriguing character to the Fringe mythos.
- Walter experimenting on agent Cashner without consent. I know it’s Walter but it felt slightly out of character. After all the progress he’s been making, he goes an does something like this? Maybe it’s another character flaw – and I’m fine with that because we want interesting and complicated beings, but this felt more like a plot contrivance. Every scene is mechanical to some degree, but this one felt way too obvious in its need to give Walter SOMETHING kooky to do. Thing is, Walter doesn’t always need to do something crazy or unethical to get my attention. We already know that he’s both of those things – heck, he stole Peter and attacked Astrid! The scene at the end with Walter overhearing Peter’s dream was 100 times better then anything else he did in the episode. Maybe the point is to reinforce Walter’s amorality? Again, I’m fine with that, but I just think there are better, more convincing, ways to do it – like in an important episode when the stakes are actually high.
- Speaking of the stakes, there was a complete lack of tension in this episode. Who cared about Nayak or the airplane pilots? At least Fracture had more ‘weight’ to it. Give me Olivia crying over Charlie or Walter watching his fake-son sleep over pointless character’s, who we’ll never see again, any day.
- If I’m to believe that Walter and Astrid are friends then the writers have to keep it real. There’s no way that Astrid would fail to see the parallels with Walter sedating agent Cashner and what he did to her in Arrival. I don’t expect an entire scene on it (think of the poor casual viewers!) but a mention, or a pained look, or something..anything, would have been nice. Maybe it’s just me, but details like that really matter in a show which is actually becoming more character driven.
- Come on guys, CCTV! I’d expect Nayak’s sleep clinic to have CCTV cameras installed considering the type of research he had going on in there. Of course, to do so would have blown his cover early on. Fair enough, but it’s too big a contrivance for it to have been both ignored by the characters and unexplained in the episode. This show actually has a problem with ignoring the existence of close circuit cameras. There must be a way around this, like having someone mention that all of the cameras were taken out remotely.
- Momentum Deferred. I thought the episode was better than Desirable Objects, but the momentum that built up last week has definitely been delayed. I would have liked more direct carry-over from last week as these stand-alone efforts are far too many in their number and dilute the anticipation for Fringe. Standalone episodes should happen once every 5 or 6 main-story episodes, not the other way around, in my opinion. For some reason the show wants to distance itself from LOST’s structure (preferring plot-holes over explaining things 😉 ) – yet anyone would think that LOST, at its audience peak, never received 23 million viewers. Maybe it’s time to let Fringe be what it so badly wants to be?
- Why didn’t Walter want to go inside Greg’s hospital room, or remain in Seattle? There is definitely something to this. Walter mentioned that Seattle has a “smell”, was “wet” and that the situation reminded him of St. Claire’s. If I were to guess what this was alluding to, I’d say that perhaps that Dr. Sumner and Co. stole dreams or memories from Walter whilst in St. Claire’s (this might explain the alter who visited him in 1.08). The “wet” could, of course, refer to Walter’s recollection of stealing Peter, especially if the exit point was Reiden Lake as I speculated during our season 1 rewatch.
- How did Sam know that the color red would guide Olivia to what she needed?
- What are Sam’s true motives in helping Olivia?
- If that was our Walter in the Peters nightmare, where was Alter-Walter? If it was Alter-Walter, why did he seemingly drag his own son from his bed?
- Apparently, Nayak’s victims died from exhaustion.
- Nayak’s chips were transmitting large amounts of data, basically stealing people’s dreams. The patients didn’t remember their dreams because they were siphoned off before they receive the consciousness. Further to that, the chips had the ability to turn on a dreaming state whilst the patients were awake, thus causing the freakish nightmares which lead them to kill people and the inability to differentiate between reality and dreams.
- Which plugs right into what we learned about young Peter having regular nightmares. It seems that Walter (our Walter) used to condition Peter to not to remember his dreams (nightmares) by having him say a mantra before he went to sleep – “please don’t dream tonight” – over and over again. I’d speculate that Walter was trying to prevent our Peter from remembering the truth of his abduction (Peter’s conditioning means that he is unable to remember his childhood dreams, or what happened to him). So no wonder Walter was getting worried!
- The reason for Nayak’s obsession with accessing people’s dreams was, according to Walter, for the rush. Nayak developed a split personality – “Jekyll and Hyde”, if you will. Apparently he was unaware what his other side was up to until it was too late. His final act was seemingly his way of trying to put a stop to things. I’d imagine that this alludes to the Walter/Peter back-story on several levels.
- We also have another time-line marker – Peter doesn’t remember dreaming from the age of 8 (to 19). I haven’t looked into it yet but I guess this is another pointer as to when Walter took him from his own world. What makes this even more interesting is that adult Peter is now able to remember fragments from his dreams – much like Olivia, much like Walter, he is starting to awaken – as we saw during the final scene with Walter.
- The implication from Peter’s dream is that Walter DID snatch Peter, rather than some other scenario involving a more ‘consentual’ kidnapping. However, it’s not clear whether we were viewing that end scene through young Peter’s eyes, Walter’s, or a neutral perspective. That said, the implication is there..we saw young Peter being dragged from his bed, screaming. Yikes Walter….yikes.
- I kind of get the impression that I’ve seen this episode somewhere before – “Dreamscape” and “Bad Dreams” spring to mind. I’m not sure that this is a bad thing, per say, as one of the things this show does is build up its themes gradually through episodes that share similar concepts. (Just look at the 3 or 4 core themes which dominated season 1). But this one did cut fairly close to feeling repetitive.
- Sam tells Olivia that her life is something of a “nightmare”. As well as setting the tone for the episode it also reminded me of the Pilot episode when a desperate Olivia told (asked?) Phillip that she just wants to go back to before. That was the start of her nightmare, or certainly the start of her realisation that she’s entangled in a bad dream. Sam’s words and much of the episode is illustrated by the death of Charlie and the question of whether or not such nightmares continue in death.
- Although this was a stand-alone episode, it did share vague parallels with the overarching shapeshifter storyline, with Greg saying that the office was infiltrated with creatures, and that his boss was their leader.
- Walter worrying about leaving oven on, the door unlocked and the toaster on was an interesting moment in the episode. I thinking that this is an allusion to Walter forgetting to do something important when he took Peter from the other side?
- This episode raises another old line of thought – did Walter somehow upload some of original Peter’s memories into replacement Peter? I don’t think this is necessary, as the current Peter storyline explains why Peter and Walter have a different recollection of events, but it’s worth considering alternative possibilities.
- Walter: “Peter, I want to go home”. Heart-wrenching stuff. I just wonder what will happen if Peter ever turns around to Walter and says the same thing..
- One of things this episode did well was to illustrate the reversed roles that Peter and Walter have – particularly when Peter tells agent Cashner how to handle Walter on the ride home from Seattle. Peter is, in essence, the father figure, and Walter is now the child (the rucksack on his back only serving to amplify the point). Like any good parent, Peter knows exactly what his child needs, how to quell his fears and how to protect him from himself and the world. I just wonder, was Walter ever as good a father to Peter!?
- I think we’ll see more themes involving humans being integrated with computers. I just have that feeling that this episode featured a very watered-down version of a major plot-point.
- I’d like to find out more about Walter’s work with the MK Ultra project.
- Where was Sam when he was talking to Olivia on the phone? It looked like he was in the bowels of the bowling alley, but I can’t be sure.
- The scene of young Peter dreaming and the waking nightmares of Nayak’s patients were filmed with the same type of lighting, further illustrating the parallels in how Walter conditioned Peter and Nayak’s microchip. Perhaps this also allows us room to question the logic of the Peter ‘nightmare’ to what we know so far. Does everything really add up?
It’s interesting to look at how much Olivia has lost over the past year or so. She’s lost her partner and lover, and now her partner and friend. Not to mention the ability to trust her own judgement, and the hundreds of people who have died under her watch. It’s no wonder she feels responsible and scared, even. The further down the rabbit hole she goes, the more personal it becomes – from finding out that she was experimented on as a child, to Charlie’s death (which wouldn’t have happened if not for Olivia visiting the other side). Olivia is now flying solo, unless her new family are able to support her in the ways that she needs.
Dream Logic saw Olivia missing Charlie and his words of support. Words that she wanted to hear, words which some how found their way to her. Words which I’m sure will give her some piece of mind in knowing that there’s a bigger force guiding and protecting her – something to make sense of the nightmare she finds herself in.
As a character, you have to admire Olivia. She rarely complains about the things that have happened to her, despite not asking for any of it. She questions and fights, but she doesn’t hide or walk away or act like a victim (even though she is a victim). I’m sure some dark thoughts crossed her mind during this episode, but her willingness to open her mind to a higher force brought her the comfort that she needed in the end. And I’m sure most people can relate to that on some level.
Best Moment: Final scene with Walter snatching young Peter.
Best Performer: Joshua Jackson
Episode Rating: 7.5/10