Forrest Gump once said; “life [is] like a box of chocolates”. Well, if that’s the case, reality must be like a bag of sweets — there’s just so many to choose from!
There was one scene in “Inner Child” that had me intrigued above all others. It was the moment when Olivia poured out a handful of M&M’s — the many different colors serving as a possible metaphor for the Multiverse — where all things are possible and were all realities are probable. For example, you’re ALWAYS going to get at least one yellow M&M in every bag. Likewise, there’s bound to be other realities similar to our own (where Roadblock’s scar is on the other side, for instance), just as there are even more realities that are vastly different, and others that no longer exist because they have expired (like a bag of 5 year old M&M’s).
I’m not the only one who noticed the possible Cortexiphan clue when Olivia said that she never liked the yellow M&M’s when she was a kid because they reminded her of medicine. Like many of you, my guess is that Cortexiphan (or a related medicine) is yellow - the color of happiness, but also of deceit and anger. To my mind, this mirrors the role that Cortexiphan may play in Olivia’s life — on the one hand it has seemingly given her access to amazing gifts (by keeping her minds-eye open), but on the other hand she was Cortexiphaned without any say in the matter — she had no choice. Don’t think that wont matter — Olivia is a “question machine”, it will dig away at her like a splinter in her mind.
Choice is an interesting theme — it is part of human nature, it is why we pursue advancement with such vigour — because we need to know. Choice comes secondary to our needs. Ignorance is bliss, but knowing the truth is sometimes too enticing to resist. Which is partly why the M&M moment reminded me of the scene from “The Matrix” when Morpheus presents Neo with two pills — one blue, the other red — and asks him to choose. The red pill is said to grant Neo the “truth”, whilst the blue pill allows him to continue believing that the world is the way it is. Neo reaches to take the red pill and Morpheus warns him that he’s offering nothing more than the truth — whatever it may hold.
Neo takes the red pill. We all know how this ends. The better question is why it started.
Our story is a little different, but I believe that the symbolism (fate, choice, destiny, reality, ignorance, truth) is still there — be it intentional or otherwise. Olivia pops an orange M&M into her mouth, she then relates this moment to her own past by effectively warning the Child of the yellow M&M’s (Cortexiphan = yellow). She then asks him if he wants one — she offers him a range of colors. This is not only a symbolic moment of trust between the two characters (after all, you don’t give enemies your last Rolo), but a moment of sincere truth – the Child picks up a red sweet, analyses it and then, to Olivia’s surprise, he pops into her mouth. If he’s anything like the adult Observer, he wouldn’t taste much anyway (not without jalapenos and tabasco sauce!). The fact that he gave Olivia a red M&M (pill) is not coincidence — it mirrors the color that Neo chose when he was given a choice between the blue and red pills. The Child had a wider choice than Neo because we’re not simply dealing with “truth” and “ignorance” — “Fringe” is delving (further) into multiple realities, where it’s not just “us and them”, but us, them and everything in between — including “us”! Reality is not necessarily a lie, but one degree of many possible realities (as we’ve already learnt from Olivia’s dream-state trips and the ZFT Manuscript).
In my opinion, the fact that Olivia’s offering was given back to her signifies that she cannot choose her role — it’s already been given to her, she has ability. But she may be able to shape her destiny, and the destiny of others. She may also be able to choose how to experience her reality. In truth, her calling is far higher than tackling would-be “Artists”.
The child giving the sweet to Olivia also tells me that her inner child needs feeding. For far too long Olivia has looked after everyone around her (John, Walter, Peter, Rachel, Ella, pattern-victims, citizens, etc), but no-one has really looked out for her. It’s not so much that they don’t care, but it’s not their role (not yet) — what’s more, Olivia doesn’t let people get too close to her, and that’s understandable.
Rachel (yep, she’s still here folks) asked Olivia a very interesting question — she asked her whether she likes her job. Olivia thinks about it for a moment, and then responds: “Yeah..most days. Today, not so much”. In my view, many people who like their jobs feel that way not necessarily because it’s something they’re good at (although clearly that can be a factor) — but because it’s their calling — that inner voice that tells them “THIS is what I was put here on this earth reality to do”.
My fear for Olivia is that she’s feeling jaded by all the horrors that she’s been exposed to (both the “pattern” events and the more regular chasing homicidal maniac stuff). When you’ve poked your head through the rabbit hole, I imagine that it must be an unsettling experience. My hope for Olivia is that she doesn’t lose that sense of enjoyment, her quirks, that feeling of fulfilment..her inner self. Cortexiphan may have made her different, but her “inner child” is what makes her authentic.
*As an aside; when Olivia offered the Child the sweets, she had already removed all of the yellow M&M’s. It could be argued that she is personalising her own childhood experience with the Child’s adaptation into his new surroundings. Some might argue that this deprives the scene from being a moment of “sincere truth”, as she is restricting the Child’s choice. Even though the yellow M&M is totally harmless, Olivia is relating her own experience to the child in a subconscious bid to protect him. This in itself is interesting, as it kinda ties back in with the “Matrix” analogy that I used above — think about this: what is more truthful; knowing the truth regardless of what that truth holds, or being protected from the potential pitfalls of truth? In other words, does Cortexiphan really unlock reality..or does it generate reality..