Well, we must be getting close to the end of the first season of “Fringe,” as the clues are coming fast and furious now. ZFT! Massive Dynamic! The Observer! Agent Harassment! They were all accounted for, will just one piece of the puzzle left to appear: William Bell himself. When Nina Sharp says he’s traveling, she ain’t kidding around.
The firestarter that kicked off the events this week was almost beside the point, narratively speaking. Sure, twins that can generate massive amounts of heat on a molecular level is nothing to sneeze at, but served primarily to further Olivia’s search into her past for patterns in the present. Her search was complicated, however, by recurring visions of slightly altered versions of her surroundings. It’s hard enough finding a needle in a haystack; it’s quite another when you realizing you’re looking at a haystack in another reality.
But that’s where Olivia occasionally finds herself this week: in another reality. Walter calls these experiences déjà vu, explaining that reality is determined by personal choice. Stay home instead of going to work, and reality changes. However, Olivia’s childhood exposure to cortexiphan (which affects perception) allows her visions of the “road not traveled.” These visions are occasionally minuscule (Broyles’ desk is in a different location) to the curious (a second body appears at a crime scene that once had one) to the ginormous (Boston’s on fire, with the words “He is here” scribbled in graffiti on a brick wall).
The “He” in this case could refer to one of three people: The Observer, Mr. Jones, or William Bell. I’m leaning towards Bell, only because Bell’s mysterious absence coupled with Nina’s cryptic line tonight about him “traveling” made me think that he wasn’t in another country so much as another reality. But in any case, Olivia’s visions give a sense of a butterfly effect governing the laws of the “Fringe” universe, in which small changes can lead to massively different results.
Cue the conspiracy theory, uttered by Clint Howard himself: William Bell and Walter Bishop experimented on children using a variety of drugs in order to potentially activate an army of supersoldiers to change a reality in which Boston burns as the War of the Multiverse is waged. Indeed, a missing chapter of the ZFT Manifesto gives Whitney Houston’s assertion that the children are our future a sci-fi twist: the experiments in Jacksonville during Olivia’s childhood were designed to do nothing less than save humanity.
That knowledge puts the seemingly random Crazy Science Meltdown of the Week into some context. It’s unclear that Bishop/Bell knew exactly what drug would produce what effect, and in the name of science, essentially threw everything but the kitchen sink at the kids in Jacksonville. Cortexiphan was but one of the drugs used. That worked on perception, but others worked on pyrokinesis, telepathy, and a host of other abilities seen throughout the season. (Remember the lab fire that sent Bishop into the nuthouse? Was the assistant that died a potential firestarter herself?)
This knowledge does little to assuage Olivia’s increasing anger at Walter’s violation of her cellular structure as a child. Couple that with Agent Harassment’s involvement in the ZFT, and you have a woman at the end of her rope. She picks a helluva time to read Walter the riot act, as The Observer stops by Walter’s laboratory soon after to take him…well, not to Friendly’s, that’s for sure. Nina and Philip apparently have knowledge of The Observer, along with a fearful memory of what happened the last time he appeared with such frequency. I think FOX should thank The Observer for increasing his visits during May sweeps.
Other bits from tonight:
- Loved the payoff of Peter’s project. In my notes, I scribbled, “They make a cheaper one at Best Buy” until I realized the records in question were damaged in a fire. I love the Bishop Boys when they are bonding.
- Anyone else see the ZFT light box behind Nancy’s chair in the warehouse? Nice touch. Also enjoyed how once again Olivia calmed and focused a fellow Jacksonville study buddy. I think this only confirms what many of you thought months ago: that only together could Olivia and Peter turn off the light box rigged by Mr. Jones. Peter was 1) exposed to the types of tests conducted in Jacksonville, 2) in fact the inspiration for them stemming from the incident in which The Observer saved his life, or, in a third and most mind-bendy version, 3) a version of Peter from another part of the multiverse, a Peter that did not drown.
- Charlie-2's scar? Creepy. And reminiscent of the one from the one seen two weeks ago on Nick Lane's face.
- Given the massive amounts of product placement in television these days, I giggled at Olivia mentioning she had an app on her phone for dialing phone numbers her phone could here. Can’t wait until Apple makes a commercial based around a day in the life of Olivia Dunham. “Say you need to find a teleporting German. There’s an app for that. And if your crazy-go-nuts team scientist wants to know the location of the nearest ice cream parlor, there’s an app for that. And if you’re having a hard time discerning which plane of the multiverse you’re in…well, there’s an app for that too.”
- Bye, Agent Harassment. Wish I could say I didn’t cheer watching you go up into flames, but I did. So there.
- Maybe you liked the unsubtle shout-out to the plot of the upcoming “Star Trek” flick, but I found it tackier than watching the U.S.S. Enterprise go through the “Lost” logo at warp speed during "The Variable."
With only one episode left, the show has a lot of ground to cover. But thanks to the news that it’s officially renewed for another full season, we need not worry about cliffhangers not being resolved next week.
Where did the Observer take Walter? Why do Nina and Philip know about him? And are Olivia and Peter the key to preventing war or winning it? Leave your thoughts below