The third episode in our impossible rewatch sees us revisit The Ghost Network in search of new perspectives, clues and connections.
Though we remain conscious of the fact that we are a long way from our ultimate destination, we are confident that our minds will pick up the hidden frequencies, leaving no coffee bean unturned in our bid to see the show like water passing through time.
Gather your Jedi sticks, your eyes and your minds, as we head back to the chapter we are renaming “The Unsocial Network” – because Ziegler and his chums were a clandestine lot.
- Opening scene – A Bell tolls. Is that you trying to contact us from beyond the ether, William?
- As per Roy’s question about God and the devil, the episode makes it clear that science – or rather mans nefarious application of science is the devil, the big bad of the series. Looking at it with retrospective eyes, I’d pretty much agree with that.
- Roy’s “Pattern visions” with Olivia’s glimpses to the other side raises are quite thematically similar.
- Looking back at my “Ghost Network” rewatch from last year I noticed that I said the following in relation to John Scott:
“There may be no dual intention behind this, but it makes me wonder about death in context of the show – what does it really mean if the dead can still interact with the living? In many ways John is still alive and at peace..somewhere. It also makes me wonder whether Walter could have sought solace from the idea that Peter was in a better place when he died.”
- Which is funny, because Walter went on to express a similar thought in the episode called “Peter“, where he assures Elizabeth: “somewhere Peter will grow up, somewhere he will lead a proper life, somewhere he will be happy, but just not here”. I just find it interesting to look back at just how close we come to the big ideas and themes before they’ve been laid out to us.
- It’s interesting look back at the amber toxin and how it was applied Over Here as a means of cruel destruction, while in the alternate universe we see it used for the more altruistic reason of containment. That’s not to say it hasn’t been used as a weapon Over There, but this is the comparison the show has shown us and it fits with the rather reckless tendencies of our main universe.
- Poor Livvy, she’s really hurting, huh: “He told me he loved me”. I imagine that if John hadn’t told her the L-word it would have been easier for her to accept his perceived betrayal. You can almost see her grappling between wanting to slip back into the world of before – with its veil of ignorance, and getting right to the very bottom of who John was working for.
- Goodness! How strange is it to be reminded of the long lost story-arc that was “Big Eddie” and those early days when he and the mob were still a general point of interest. For me, Big Eddie always felt like a rather small and irrelevant part of Fringe. Some two seasons later, it’s practically inconceivable that he ever mattered. Sorry Ed, but there’s..um..‘bigger’ fish to fry.
- Broyles to Olivia/team. “If I knew that then you wouldn’t be here”. Oh Really. Do tell more.
- The value of this episode for me stems from the show’s early depiction of the human mind and the ways that it perceives the information it receives.
- Oh look, the good old days when Walter couldn’t get Astrid’s name right no matter how hard he didn’t bother to try.
- I got the faint impression that Broyles knew that agent Davidson was lying from the start, but let him continue to see where it led. Another test for Dunham, perhaps? Again, it would be interesting to know if Reddick received specific direction on how to play those micro-expressions, or whether this is just another example of the show instinctively informing its participants.
- Intwisting! So the the amber toxin was used before, in Prague – and Broyles knew but decided not to tell Olivia. To his credit, he did explain himself later, saying that he doesn’t tell Olivia everything for her own safety, but that he will, “when you’re ready”. Dun, dun, duuun!
- Seeing Walter moving coffee between the two cups made me think of the coffee shortage in the alternate universe and the cause and effect that his ‘passing’ through the to other side had on that world. I don’t for one minute think this was the intent, but it could be an indicator that the show was subconsciously informing the writers (and actors) even at this early stage. Or, you know, it’s just Walter being Walter.
- Walter posits that psychic communication is possible between people who are “linked”. I talked about this quite a bit last season, but I do wonder whether a similar thing could happen between characters and their Doubles in various universes (specifically the parallel earth we are currently dealing with). To my mind, we’ve already witnessed examples of the inherent connection between the two worlds and the people in them. The next step must surely be for the show to explore this further.
- Roy had metal in his blood – reminded me of the shapeshifters and the mercury goodness.
- The rabbit and the duck test – our first “white rabbit” reference. Okay, going too far with that one, bit it did spring to mind, what with the heavy focus on perception.
- Peter is unknowingly onto something when he asks Olivia: “of all the career choices, how did a girl like you end up in law enforcement?”. Olivia doesn’t realize how close she came to the real source of her path, when she said: “I pretty much knew that this was what I wanted to do by the time I was nine”. I’ve gone on about this a lot, but I’m still intrigued by the lack of choice that Olivia may actually have had in her crucial life landmarks, such as her career path. She was always the strong one, and like her fellow Cortexikids, she developed an urge to protect people. Unless, of course, her ability to protect was purely instinctive, purely natural. I’d love for the show to explore the “natural and unnatural” part of Olivia’s being.
- Walter: “This brings back some sore memories”. Heh.
- My main take-away from this episode is that the mind is a perception reservoir – taste, touch, sight..experience can all be created (or recreated) in the mind. For instance, Roy was able to accurately depict Patten events merely from hearing them described in an foreign dead (“ghost”) language. Now, imagine what could be created – perceived – with a more power and attuned mind. Why, whole new worlds could be manifested. Worlds which are only a few degrees removed from dreams and only a couple more from a different decision which branches off into its own ‘reality’. It’s pretty trippy stuff when you think about it, but I’d say that we’ve already seen echoes of it. I’m not saying that ‘the road not taken’ idea is not the main model for the show’s alternate universe concept, but the mind and its ability to perceive is the engine which brings it all to life. If what you see can change your mind, what if your mind could change what you see?
Mysteries & Answers
- Why was Peter supposed to check-in as soon as he arrived home?
- My Opinion: Big Eddie needed some love. That, or Peter owed him money/information or blah.
- Why did Roy’s visions only begin 9 months earlier – the same time as the FBI became aware of the Pattern?
- My Opinion: Probably because that’s when people started using the Ghost Network and/or the compound in Roy’s bloodstream had multiplied enough for him to pick up the signal. Plus, the writers may have intended to connect the Ghost Network to many, if not all, of the Pattern incidents.
New Clues & Observations
- The encryption disc is yellow-ish in color. Yellow being a prominent color in the world of Fringe.
- Yellow mats were also used to lay down the victims killed by the amber toxin.
- The walls of Roy’s house were yellow, particularly striking because Pattern Events were stuck on the walls.
- The outside of the Bishop’s old house had a lot of red. Probably not an early alternate universe (red) reference point, but it somehow informs us in retrospect.
- This was pretty much explained in the DVD extras, but it does seem as though the left the door open to do something with John’s mother if the desire took hold. The creepy-ass smile that she gave Olivia at the funeral was really disconcerting, but ultimately went nowhere (at least not on the broadcasted version of the show).
Tracking the root of some of the most intriguing Fringe themes.
Dreams / Sleep
- Peter explaining to Walter: “We put Rufus to sleep about 20 years ago”
God / Faith
- Episode opened on a church and Roy’s confession. Roy wanted to know if God talks to people. Then expressed his concern that the devil was communicating with him.
- “The souls of the just are in the hand of God”
Evidence of Narrator
Who is the Fringe narrator?
Once again there’s not much to go on, although questions of spirituality and faith could be coming from Walter or Olivia’s perspective. Or perhaps we have a higher power narrating? It’s possible. Walter flashing the light across Roy’s (and our) eyes was the only other flash point. Shall remain ever vigil.
- “It’s horrible. They’re like Mosquitoes trapped in amber”.
Best Retrospective Performance: Blair Brown
Favorite Retrospective Moment: The meeting between Nina and Broyles.
Retrospective Episode Rating: 5.5/10
- All Rewatches past and present
- 1.02 The Same Old Story Rewatch (comments)
- Last year’s Ghost Network Rewatch
- Original Ghost Network Clues
Next Rewatch Episode – 1.04 “The Arrival”, Wednesday, July 28th, 2010.
If you have any comments on the above rewatch, or you have your own rewatch thoughts and observations, feel free to share them below. While I have personally chosen to tackle new perspectives, feel free to approach this rewatch in whichever way you want.