Fringe review: LSD

April 18, 2011

It took me 3 weeks to catch up on Fringe season 2 and finally season 3, but it was well worth my time. From the moment I popped in a season 2 DVD, I couldn’t stop watching. Every episode is captivating in its own right, continually building on the one before it. The originality, as well as the suspense and imaginative nature of the show are what make it most intriguing. What strikes me most is that I genuinely love every single episode, even if some are not as substantial as others. They are all important, as if each one were cleverly woven into an intricate web of events all connecting one to the other. It’s a show filled with a plethora of bizarre, scientific occurrences that seem to break the laws of physics every time. And now in it’s final episodes of season 3, in which the storytelling is on a creative high, everything is about to come to a heart stopping collision.

In this week’s Fringe, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or referred to as LSD, there are many vital matters stirring. The Fringe team must find a way to extract William Bell’s consciousness from Olivia’s body before she becomes lost within her mind permanently. It is of Bell’s own suggestion that they go into her mind to retrieve her after a failed experiment in which he tries to inhabit another body. I must add that Anna Torv’s impression of Leonard Nemoy is not only fun to watch, but surprisingly accurate with mannerisms, eyebrow movements, and all. After an indirect comment from Peter, Walter realizes that they could utilize LSD as an access drug into Olivia’s subconscious.

The beloved Dr. Bishop and quite possibly my favorite character is no stranger to drugs as seen in several episodes. He is rather unconventional, but ultimately brilliant and at times, a much needed comic relief. (On a side note, after all Walter has done, from essentially destroying one parallel universe by taking a son that wasn’t his to disrupting the natural balance of things, it is exceptionally hard to be angry with him for what is his doing. All of this was done out of the love he has for his son, one that expands beyond two universes.) Walter gives himself and Peter LSD in a form of a sugar cube with an accelerant to speed up the process. With the gateway drug in their system, they enter Olivia’s mind and find themselves in a Matrix meets Inception like world. Detected as foreign invaders, the inhabitants of Olivia’s subconscious chase Peter and Walter as they try to make their way to the Two Towers where they received a signal from Bell.

After they reach their destination, they are surprised to not only find Bell, but that he is only in the form of a cartoon. In fact, when both Peter and Walter step into the room, they both become animated. I think that the purpose of unfolding the rest of this episode in animation was to instill the fact that they are still heavily under the influence of LSD or perhaps it was because Olivia resorted to being in the form of a child, therefore everything takes place in a cartoon fashion. The great thing about Fringe is there are so many theories and speculations that one could come up with as to why things are occurring. There could be many explanations as to why they choose to do the majority of the episode in animation, but I have a strong feeling that LSD was the biggest contributing factor.

As they resolve to find out where Olivia might be hiding, Peter suggests they look in Jacksonville based on the fact that’s the last place people would look for her. While having this conversation, Massive Dynamic zombie scientists bust the door behind them ready to get rid of the invaders. (Yes, Massive Dynamic zombie scientists, just when you thought you’ve seen it all.) Peter fights them off as Walter and Bell escape into the Zeppelin. To be honest, I thoroughly enjoy an ass-kicking Peter, even in cartoon form. They successful escape the zombies and begin their journey to Jacksonville. On the way, Walter reveals to Bell his insecurities about how to save Peter from the machine as well as his fears about repairing the damage that he has caused between both universes. One very important aspect to take away from this scene was that Bell admitted that Walter has something now that he hasn’t had before: humility. Back when they were partners in the lab, we got a sense that they experimented for their own personal gain without a regard for the consequences that were to follow. Walter has not only seen for himself the damage done by his actions on the other side, but also has had an observer show him the consequences of crossing over. In the episode ‘Firefly’, it was revealed that because Peter caught a firefly instead of a little girl, she went missing. Her worried father went out looking for her in the rainy weather and as a result, hit a young man on the street and killed him. The son was of a famous keyboardist that was directly introduced to Walter by the observer. These series of events would have never occurred if Walter had never crossed over. Walter’s sense of humility has substantially grown since then and when the time comes, I believe he will make difficult choices that will significantly impact the route of the story.

During their ride, a mysterious man is seen sabotaging their journey by cutting their fuel. As Peter goes to investigate, he abruptly meets the man. We have never seen this character before. He is an older man, wearing a white t-shirt with an X on it. I have my own theories about who he is, but I will watch the next episode first before I really start speculating about this. All we know is that he is integral and is somehow a part of Olivia’s mind. Could it be that the X stands for “X marks the spot” or “I’m it” scenario? There are so many things to ponder. Walter finds Peter with the man after he wanders after his son. The X man blows a hole through the Zeppelin propelling both himself and Walter out. Walter falls into what seems like the place where he crossed over for the first time (Hmm) and awakens to reality.

Peter and Bell continue without Walter and eventually find Olivia in her old house. Peter is, at first, extremely relieved to find Olivia safe, but after looking into her eyes and examining her, he concludes that she is not Olivia. He passes the test and a little girl approaches him from the dining table and reveals that only Peter would recognize who she really was. Peter has now learned to recognize “his” Olivia after everything he went through with Altlivia. His recognition of her is a true turning point for them after their ordeal with the parallel universes. After they make contact, a subtle lullaby comes on in the background and Olivia’s stepfather walks intently toward them. Peter and Olivia run out of the house only to find danger awaiting them. They run desperately away from the cars that seem bent on running them over. Peter loses his grasp on Olivia while running and eventually pushes her out of the way before a car nearly crashes into her, resulting in Peter getting hit and being thrown back into reality.

It is now up to Bell to save Olivia from the dangers of her mind. As they continue to run, Bell falls and tells Olivia to keep going. Olivia then turns around, a look of determination and realization on her face, and tells the projections in her mind to stop and that she is no longer afraid of them. Her stepfather and the army behind him come to a hault and are seemingly, no longer dangerous. Our view pans to a now adult Olivia, in which Bell makes his final conclusions of what has happened. He thought by inhabiting her consciousness, she would be safe within the realms of herself, but that is not the case. Bell points out that she has never felt safe and that she is her own worst enemy, deeply haunted by her past. She couldn’t be safe inside her mind because that is where her fears are intensely rooted, which have since overwhelmed her at times. Despite this, Olivia found the courage to fight back against her demons, finding that she is strong enough to overcome her deepest fears.

Bell then reveals to Olivia that she must return to her body, but that he would not be returning with her. He leaves a message with Olivia before she goes: “I knew the dog wouldn’t hunt.” The sound of thunder reverberates around them and she is sent back to her body, greeted by the faces of Walter, Peter, and Astrid. Walter quickly goes to see if Bell has transferred himself to a computer as originally planned but is devastated to find that Bell did not return to them. Olivia then delivers the message to him, in which Walter reveals that Bell would only use that phrase when he knew an experiment wouldn’t work. Bell is now gone, but I think that the purpose of bringing him back was to be Walter’s temporary anchor. As colleagues and lab partners, they have found themselves experimenting with the impossible and beyond. If there were a person that could inspire Walter and give him hope and the information he needed to save his son and the two universes, it would always be Bell. Now that he is gone, Walter must do this on his own with the research that Bell has left behind at Massive Dynamic.

The episode concludes with Peter and Olivia in her apartment, both at ease after what had happened earlier. As with any typical Fringe episode, the mind-boggling twist that only spurs more questions is at the end, leaving you thirsty for more. Peter looks at a picture that Olivia has drawn and it is of the man that he had an encounter with on the Zeppelin. Curiously, he asks Olivia who the man is. Olivia, very calmly and without any fear at all says, “I think that’s the man that’s going to kill me.” At this moment, I nearly drop my remote. Could it be that Olivia has been stripped of all her fear? If so, how will this affect her natural survival instincts in the future? Who is this man that she declares will kill her? How in the world does she even know that fact? There are so many questions that I find myself waiting impatiently for next Friday. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain, she is no longer afraid and it doesn’t look good for what’s about to come.

*on a side note, Broyles was absolutely hilarious while under the influence of LSD. Such great comic relief for what is understandably a very serious episode*

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