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Fringe Episode 4.04: Subject 9

by on October 19, 2011

Fringe

Almost catching up, I think. Maybe if I spent less time on the introductions, and just started writing…. Hmmmmmm

Anyway, this week, Fringe tackles an episode that is designed to bring an old familiar friend back to the Fringe Universe, and brings Walter and Olivia closer together.

Fringe – Season 4, Episode 4: Subject 9

In the last episode, Olivia and Lincoln were battling a fungus that had made a psychic connection with a boy that reminded Walter of his deceased son, Peter. Meanwhile, Walter is still seeing images of Peter and hearing his voice. Walter thinks he is going mad, but a conversation with Olivia makes him realize that they are both seeing images of the same person.

Synopsis

  • Olivia is haunted in her house by an electrical disturbance that draws metal to the location.
  • Walter believes that the phenomenon is connected to another child who was with Olivia in the Cortexiphan Study, Cameron James.
  • Olivia is continually ‘haunted’ by the disturbance that also causes time displacement, in her apartment and throughout the episode.
  • Walter finds papers from St. Claire’s given to Olivia so she can evaluate Walter’s sanity and determine if he should be re-institutionalized.
  • Walter goes with Olivia to New York City where they confront Cameron, and learn that it is not him who is causing the disturbance.
  • When Walter, Olivia, and Cameron try to destroy the disturbance, Olivia sees the face of the man who has been in her dreams and breaks it off.
  • Olivia’s action cause Peter to be brought back into our world, and Olivia signs papers to keep Walter out of St. Claire’s

Changes Since Peter’s Sacrifice

  1. As Olivia requested the release of Walter Bishop, she is the one who must evaluate Walter’s sanity.
  2. It seems like Olivia has not met the other people who participated in the Cortexiphan study. (But maybe she’s lying )
  3. Walter and Nina have an adversarial relationship, instead of a positive one.
  4. Olivia and Nina have a relationship that dates back to her high school years. Was she a ward of Massive Dynamic after she killed her step-father?
  5. Olivia ran away from the Cortexiphan study, as Peter was unable to find her and bring her back.
  6. Walter’s wife committed suicide after Peter died.

Quotes

OLIVIA: Hey. Did I just step on a peanut?
ASTRID: You’re lucky that I convinced him not to use shrimp.

NINA: Nanotechnology — the bloom is not off the rose. Because of the far-ranging claims that have been made about potential applications of nanotechnology, a number of serious concerns have been raised about how this will affect our society if realized and what actions, if any are deemed appropriate, might be needed to mitigate these risks. This is not Massive Dynamic’s concern. We create technology. How it is used is not our concern. We just own the patents.

WALTER: (maniacal) Yes. Her voice goes right into my inner ear and rattled around like razor blades. Of course I heard it. Tell her to go–
ASTRID: (politely to Nina) He said that he is not sure, but thank you for the suggestion.
WALTER: I did not say that!

NINA: Now, come on. I haven’t seen this much fear in your face since Bobby Hastings asked you to the prom. So what can I do to help you, dear?

WALTER: (after having cigarette smoke in his face) Fresh air… I’d forgotten how much I love it.

OLIVIA: Walter, I don’t think I’m gonna get much sleep tonight either. What do you say to a root beer float?

WALTER: No, no. No, no, no, no, no, no. Let me show you how. You take the straw out of the glass, thusly. Then stab the ice cream… push the straw down to the root beer at the bottom, and then you suck up the ice cream and the soda simultaneously to deliver the perfect blend of sugary goodness, like so. Mmm, mmm. Ahh. Better?
OLIVIA: Better. Mmm.

WALTER: You just did it in the hallway. Once when you were a boy, you blew up a toaster oven with your mind simply because of an irrational hatred of raisin toast.
CAMERON JAMES: Have you ever had raisin toast?

WALTER: You acted against all reasonable agreements and expectations. You behaved irrationally with regard to only your intuition and instincts.
OLIVIA: I guess I did.
WALTER: When I do that, people say I’m crazy.

Analysis

This is an unbalanced episode, and it’s the type of episode that Fringe doesn’t do very well. The plot line has to do with Olivia somehow using her abilities to bring the phantom of Peter closer to her. But how and why? Or if not, then how is Peter who was a phantom in the corner of someone eye, suddenly become an electrical force that displaces time?

On the other side, I thought the interaction between Walter and Olivia was pretty well done. A nice adult father-daughter relationship between two people who have been incapable of having that type of relationship. The Walter to be sent back to St. Claire’s was a bit heavy handed and forced, but it is a legitimate issue given the changed character of Walter Bishop.

Nina’s speech is really really interesting. I wonder if this is a new change to Nina’s character and personality, but regardless it was a very interesting speech coming from her. Especially as she has been the devil’s advocate for morality in the past two seasons.

The relationship with Cameron and Olivia and Walter seemed a little too repetitive of the episodes in the past. Seemed too easy to reach back into the Cortextiphan bag of tricks. Would have been more amusing to take someone who we had already met, and maybe put them in the role, even a former person we met from the Cortextiphan study. It was fine, but needed more time to develop.

Missed it the first time I watched it. Walter has frequently called Astrid by the wrong name in the past, but in this episode he calls her Claire, as a return to St. Claire’s is definitely on his brain.

I felt that the Landlady’s reaction to her tenant, Cameron/Mark, was subtly a nod to modern racism. Probably unintentional, but well done. Or at least, believable. There’s always that undercurrent, and it is accurate to catch it on television, as long as you don’t make a thing about it.

The focus on Walter’s complete lack of family, and the potential (in the former universe) of Olivia being a daughter-in-law to him, is actually quite painful. And you can feel Olivia feels empathy, but due to her coldness and the troubling nature of Walter she cannot move closer to him.

I really felt that the line by Walter, “What’s best for whom, Agent Dunham?” was really pushing an agenda that the story didn’t show. Walter is a troubled man in this reality, and cannot control his phobias and base impulses. This is not some loveable man with a harmless delusion. Don’t get me wrong, I like Walter and would want him to not go to a mental institution. But, a line like that suggests that there is no reason to put him back in St. Claires, but the story suggests that it’s at least worth considering.

And later to follow it up with, “I suppose I’ve learned that crazy is a lot more complicated than people think.” Too heavy handed.

What was the point of the interaction between Lieutenant Daniels and Olivia. Just to reiterate that Fringe Division has Blanket Authority. I guess that’s a little more than they’ve had in years past, but not much.

So Peter returns, knows everything about the Fringe team, but somehow neglects to tell anyone his name. I’m sure that the name Peter Bishop would be familiar to both Walter and Olivia, and potentially Broyles as well.

Verdict

I kept thinking that the phenomenon wouldn’t be Peter, because we were thinking it had to be Peter, but then in the end, it was Peter. I like Fringe, and I don’t mind when the episodes are geared towards the title cast and not an investigation. But this felt so cheap and easy, that it bothered me. I loved the interaction between Olivia and Walter, but the rest of it was pure plot moving, and nothing else. It was well acted, but I didn’t think it was much of anything.

C-

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