I had to check the listings to verify, but Lord in heaven, we just had a sweet, sweet episode of “Fringe” that wasn’t instantly followed by a lengthy hiatus. This might be a first, people. Chock full of mythological goodness, some genuine creeps, and an awfully familiar sounding William Bell, chalk this episode up in the “epic win” column.
Annie Lennox once helpfully informed us that sweet dreams are made of this, but Olivia Dunham’s dreams are made of death. Lately, her dreams have eerily matched some gruesome endings in New York City. At first, she fears she’s turned into a type of Freddy Krueger, but she’s not causing the deaths; she’s in fact an invited guest to witness them.
Inviting her? A man named Nick Lane, a former mental patient with what looks to be a four-month old scar around his left temple. Why do I assume it’s four months old? Because that’s the time a mysterious lawyer showed up to his hospital and helped convince Nick to leave. He’s what Walter calls a “reverse empath,” able to infect people with his emotions. When he’s happy, the whole world smiles with him. When he’s sad, it’s Smiths records and scented candles for everyone.
Why is he sending Olivia nocturnal greetings? Because they were once study buddies at Bell and Bishop’s School for the Talented and Cortexiphan’ed. While Olivia’s childhood time there has been erased from her memory, Nick’s impressions remain intact. And what he recalls is a nearly word-for-word regurgitation of the infamous ZFT manifesto, written on Walter Bishop’s typewriter that spoke of the upcoming interdimensional war for survival. Not only does Nick have passages written on his wall, but he also adhered religiously to the ZFT’s physical fitness regime and dress code.
Problem is, he’s a soldier without a war to wage. Waiting his entire life for the call to service drove him a little batty, and it’s clear that the “lawyer” that activated his brain doesn’t belong to the ZFT-worshipping sect that counts Mr. Jones as a member. Nick’s mental bonding with his dear old friend “Olive” finally brought Olivia’s past experimentation to light for the Bishop Boys. Moreover, it led Walter to dig up an absolutely riveting videotape that might become the Zaputer film for “Fringe” fans.
In it, we watch a very young Olivia sitting in a white corner of an otherwise blackened room in Jacksonville, Florida. From what I can discern, we heard the voices of Walter, Nina Sharp, and yes, the elusive William Bell from behind the camera. Bell speaks of an “incident” or "instrument" that Sharp insists has been contained, albeit with potential casualties. Walter tries to sooth young “Olive,” but she looks like a combination between that creepy girl from “The Ring” and Cindy Brady.
What to make of this download of mythology? Hard to say right now, but while it seems clear the ZFT was written on Walter’s typewriter, it’s possible the text had more than one author. Moreover, Olivia might be a Jean Grey type figure, possessing a great deal of mental power, currently contained, that would be useful should someone wish to win a war. And lastly, I think we’re meant to wonder exactly what was in niece Ella’s vaccine at school; have the same type of experiments done upon Olivia as a child now evolved into part of a nationalized immunity initiative? Or perhaps a nationalized enhancement initiative? Or am I as paranoid as poor Nick?
More thoughts on tonight’s stellar episode:
- The shot atop the building with everyone eerily silent and still, staring down at the ground below? Grade A creeptastic. Absolutely loved that scene. Approximately 383 times scarier than last week’s LizardWaspBat creature.
- I’m not sure if tonight’s episode solves the “Did Olivia or Peter turn off Mr. Jones’ lights with their mind?” riddle from before the hiatus or not. Your thoughts? Seems to me tonight established her as plenty powerful enough to do it on her own.
- Enjoyed the reappearance of the red and green lights, with Walter using them to induce a hypnotic state in Olivia. I wasn’t a fan of the episode in which these lights initially appeared, but I like these little bits of continuity in the show.
- I know the show needs ratings, but did we need to see Olivia smooch a stripper? Wait, don’t answer that.
- “Perception is the key to transformation.” Nice line by Walter about what they were trying to achieve with the experimental drug. I also dug the suggestion that cortexiphan was a gateway drug in a LITERAL, not figurative, sense: they were trying to access another part of the multiverse via this drug by accessing the dormant part of the brain that might make such a leap possible.
- Loved hearing Bell’s voice. Love that casting. If you don’t know, I won’t spoil. But Lord, it’s a brilliant choice.
- Speaking of Walter, anyone who thinks mankind’s oldest dream is to kill with the power of one’s mind and yet still loves Broadway musicals is worth watching on a weekly basis.
All in all, a fantastic episode and the type of hour I have been waiting for during the last few disappointing weeks. And glory be, when either Olivia or Peter realize the depths of Walter’s involvement, it’s going to make for some riveting television.
A major improvement, or too dense for its own good? What did you make of Firestarter Dunham? And is Walter’s past too dark for you to root for him now?
Ryan makes his feelings well known over at Boob Tube Dude.