Fellow Fringe Fans,
As you have all most likely gathered by now, I have yet to meet an episode of Fringe I didn’t like and this episode was no exception. At first I thought it was shaping up to be something of a stand-alone episode which, since the last episodes were heavily story-arc based, would not exactly have surprised me.
And then the Cortexiphan trials came into play. An episode which I had initially surmised to be a one-off in fact addressed a question which I felt had gone unanswered: what is going on with the other Cortexiphan kids? It seems to me that this episode is setting up the story-line for the last episodes of the season, and I do hope to see far more of the people from the drug trials.
Diane Kruger as Miranda Green
With this episode our regularly scheduled weird opening scene once again commenced: we started off seeing two people at a meeting in a coffee shop. The woman, Miranda Green (portrayed by Diane Kruger), is a lawyer who apparently brings cases to bear against doctors and large drug companies. The man, going by the fake name ‘Neil Wilson’, is suffering from some illness which he believes is caused by something which he was exposed to as a child – we later realize, this is the Cortexiphan. Neil is looking for other children with whom they went to school so that he can find out if anyone else is sick; the only person Miranda remembers is a man named “Lloyd Becker”. Neil thanks her for her help, touching her on the wrist as he does so; after their meeting, Miranda develops some sort of bizarre rapid growths which we later find out are cancerous tumours.
Did you see the Observer?
Before Fringe Division, due to the weirdness factor, is brought into Miranda Green’s case, we see Olivia visit Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan) at the bowling alley again since she has been having trouble sleeping. In case you have forgotten, Sam was the one who helped Olivia after her trip to the Other Side and subsequent car accident. Sam deduces that it is not the accident she had which have Olivia visiting him, but the fact that she believes she has made the wrong decision. Olivia tells Sam that she promised to keep a secret, but thinks it was the wrong thing to do. Of course, we the viewers know she is referring to Walter’s past with Peter. Sam reassures Liv that she is one of the few good people Sam knows and that if she has agreed to keep the secret she must have a good reason.
“You think you did the wrong thing…” – Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan)
Having been called in on the case, Fringe Division – Broyles included – visits the morgue where Miranda’s body was taken. We meet the coroner who, it turns out, was a student in one of Walter’s advanced biochemistry classes before his committal to St. Claire’s. Upon examining the body, Walter discovers that the growths are cancerous tumours and that they appear to originate in Miranda’s wrist which, as we saw at the beginning, was where “Neil Wilson” touched her.
John Shaw as Medical Examiner John Potesh, former student of Walter’s
Walter, as usual, takes Miranda’s body back to the lab where he explains to Astrid that they can use the fingerprints from the origin-pattern in the tumours to try and identify the man who killed her. Meanwhile, Peter and Olivia go to Miranda’s office to try and figure out if her death was related to a case; her appointment book leads them to the name of Neil Wilson, with whom she was scheduled to meet right before she died.
Olivia, after another sleepless night, heads into the lab early to find Astrid and Walter cooking up a storm. Walter is preparing the skin sample with the handprint, and Astrid is cooking the taffy which Walter is making for Peter. Astrid and Olivia discuss the fact that Neil Wilson is a fake name and, upon Olivia’s request leaves her and Walter alone. Olivia wants to tell Peter the truth but Walter still needs time as he is convinced Peter will never forgive him.
“Walter, don’t mix up the spoons” – Astrid
Miranda Green’s credit card leads Peter and Olivia to the café in which Miranda and “Neil” met. The barista tells them about how Neil looked like he was sick with cancer. Given that cancer isn’t contagious, Peter and Olivia aren’t quite sure what to make of the information as Miranda had the cancerous tumours.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?” – Olivia to Peter
We continue to see “Neil” deteriorate as he searches for the Lloyd Becker whom Miranda mentioned. Upon telling Walter that the man with whom Miranda met was apparently sick with cancer, Walter posits that what took place was an exchange of energy; that the man killed Miranda in order to delay the progression of his own disease. Neil finds Lloyd Becker, and causes the same thing to happen to him as happened to Miranda. Fringe Division is called and Olivia is, initially, at a loss as to the connection between Lloyd Becker and Miranda Green.
“Malignant Sarcomas – just like Miss Green…” – Walter
On the way back from the café, Peter initiates a conversation with Olivia about the almost-events of Jacksonville – namely, that they almost kissed but nothing happened and they have to deal with that. Peter has assumed that the awkwardness over the last couple weeks between them is due to the almost-kiss when in fact it is mostly due to the fact that Olivia learned about Peter’s other-worldly origins. Both agree that they don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the odd little dynamic they have going on.
“I think I know what it is that’s bothering you” – Peter
Back in the lab Astrid has found five other victims who died in the same way. Olivia realizes that somehow she knows at least one of the victims, but cannot recall how. Later that night Sam Weiss shows up at Olivia’s house to play a game of clue, which prompts a realization on her part that she knew the other victims as other children in the Cortexiphan trials as she had written down a list of the kids from the height chart in Jacksonville.
Olivia takes the list to Peter and Walter’s to discuss the list with Walter who was already awake and still making taffy – as well as cooking the skin hand-print skin in their oven. When he learns that the killer is targeting Cortexiphan children, Walter explains how they may be susceptible – that the Cortexiphan, since it allowed children to access untapped energies, facilitates the man’s power. The exchange could only work on other Cortexiphan kids, which begs the question of how the man knows about the kids and whether there is another list of the children; this prompts Olivia to visit Nina Sharp.
“Yeah, but I believe Nina Sharp isn’t always so forthcoming” – Olivia to Walter
Nina tells Olivia that there is nothing more on record about the Cortexiphan trials, and Olivia tells Nina that she has always been doubtful of Nina’s motives. Olivia informs Nina that she knows the whole story about Peter, and that she is going to tell Peter. Nina, insightfully, knows that Olivia won’t tell Peter because she is not ready to lose him.
“Neil” visits Nick Lane’s aunt – recall that Nick was another Cortexiphan kid whom we met in the season 1 episode Bad Dreams – who tells him that even though she doesn’t know where Nick is, there was another person who had come to ask about him – someone we know is Olivia. Back at the lab, taking the handprint from the skin pans out, but there is no hit in the database. Olivia, now at home, realizes that the first victim on the list, Julie Heath, had a brother named James who was also a Cortexiphan kid; James was having chemo treatment for cancer and Julie was visiting him when she died. James Heath then shows up at Olivia’s house telling Olivia that Nick Lane gave him her address. Obviously, this tips off Olivia since she knows that Nick is in a drug induced coma and could not have told him anything.
Omar Metwally as James Heath
James sees Olivia’s badge and attacks her. During the fight Olivia manages to call Peter, since she has him on speed-dial. Peter brings back-up, but Olivia has already subdued James; he tells her that a man came to the hospital and told him about the trials, but when they tried to “activate” him, nothing happened. And then his sister died, and he tried to find other Cortexiphan kids, not realizing that when he touched them he killed them. But then he did realize, and kept doing it to delay the progression of his own disease.
Olivia. In the Kitchen. With the Candlestick.
James Heath is taken to a facility – presumably the same facility where Nancy Lewis and Nick Lane are being held – and put in a drug-induced coma, which seems to slow the progression of his disease. It is there that Broyles tells Nina that they must begin to track down the rest of the Jacksonville Cortexiphan kids, along with the kids from the Ohio State trials.
“Well, Phillip, then we need to find them first” – Nina
The very last scene mirrors the final scene of Jacksonville, when Olivia discovers Peter’s origins: she goes to see Walter to tell him that she’ll keep his secret, but he tells her that he must begin to put things right and that he is going to tell Peter the truth.
Thoughts and Impressions
When Olivia told Nina that she knew the whole story about Peter, it is one of the few times I have actually seen Nina register surprise at something; usually she seems to already know what is going on. I found it interesting how worried she seemed about Olivia telling Peter and I think that as aloof as she acts, Nina really does care very deeply for Peter – especially since we saw how much she cared for him as a boy. When Nina told Olivia that she knows how Olivia feels, that working closely with someone creates “feelings”, I wonder to whom exactly Nina was referring: Walter? Phillip Broyles?
“Does Peter know? Have you told him?” – Nina Sharp
I have always enjoyed Nina and Olivia’s interactions because we never quite know where Nina stands; even though she is usually very helpful to Fringe Division, obviously has history with Broyles, and seems just as concerned about Peter and Olivia’s well-being as Walter and Broyles are, she is still something of a wild-card. Since we saw the extent of her involvement when Peter was a boy, it is even more interesting to see how Olivia reacts to her now, given that Nina has been keeping such a large secret. One thing I found particularly fascinating was how well Nina could read Olivia. She knew exactly why Olivia came to her about the news of Peter – that Olivia almost wanted to be talked out of telling Peter.
“You came here to have me talk you out of it” – Nina to Olivia
As for the relationship between Olivia and Walter, it seems as though it has both been strengthened and weakened by the discovery Olivia made. On one hand, there is the fact that Walter and Bell put her through this horrific experience as a child, and she still hasn’t forgiven him for that; on the other, her and Walter are keeping a secret from Peter together. And I cannot help but think that once Peter finds out Walter is going to have to turn to Olivia for support while Peter tries to deal with his origins. There were a couple awkward moments between Walter and Olivia which I am rather surprised Peter didn’t pick up on: for instance, at the Morgue before they met the medical examiner.
There were two confrontations, of a sort, between Walter and Olivia which I think grant an interesting glimpse into their respective psyches. When Olivia visited Walter in the lab and told him that she had to tell Peter, because if it were her, she would want Peter to tell her. Olivia tries to explain how Peter must understand because Walter saved his life; here, I wonder if Olivia is partially trying to justify her role in keeping the truth from Peter. Walter tells Olivia that Peter will “never forgive him” and that he cannot lose his son again. This makes me wonder whether the reason that Walter is so adamant that Peter will never forgive him is because he cannot forgive himself for stealing away this other child – even though he had the best intentions and saved Peter’s life.
“He will never forgive me” – Walter
The second confrontation, if you can even call it that, was at the end of the episode when Olivia went to tell Walter that she would keep his secret. I find it interesting that the two of them sort of traded places: Olivia was adamant on telling Peter and changed her mind, while Walter stood firm on keeping the secret yet decides to tell Peter the truth. I wonder if part of Olivia’s speech to Walter, that some truths should not be learned, stems partially from her own history as a Cortexiphan kid – that in some way, she feels as though she would be better off if she had never learned the truth. I think that this is a big step for Walter, that he is willing to tell Peter the truth because it is the right thing to do; that this will begin to put things right after those events so many years ago and he will deal with the consequences.
“I think that maybe some truths can do more harm than good” – Olivia
I enjoyed learning about another side of Walter: that is, Walter as a professor. The medical examiner who worked on Miranda Green took an advanced biochemistry class and it was Walter who inspired the doctor to stick with his major. This resonated with me in particular, because I have had professors like that, the ones who “open your mind”, and draw you into something about which they are also passionate.
I found it particularly interesting that we are continuing to learn more about the Cortexiphan kids and some of the similarities they share. None of the children, except Nick Lane, so far have any clear memories from the Jacksonville trials other than, in Miranda’s case, a typical playground experience of a child.
Lloyd Becker, military
It also seems as though the kids are drawn into some sort of protecting role. Olivia, Nick, and Lloyd Becker were all military and Miranda’s coworker told Olivia and Peter that she had a thing for “protecting those who can’t protect themselves”, which sounds exactly like Olivia. Even Sam comments to Olivia that she wears a “uniform” – always dark and subdued colours, exactly like Nick Lane and Susan Pratt.
Another fairly big character moment in this episode involved the conversation between Olivia and Peter about the events of Jacksonville. The first time I watched it I was actually surprised that Peter would be so upfront about their almost-kiss and what did and didn’t happen between the two of them. I thought Olivia’s reaction was a bit amusing as she seemed slightly surprised that he would bring it up so bluntly, but also bemused at his approach to the matter.
I find it rather telling that, as Peter says, this is the longest he has ever stayed in one place before; I think that it is a combination of Olivia, Walter, and their work itself which is keeping him in Boston. I also think that when Olivia tells Peter that she doesn’t want to jeopardize their relationship either that this was partially when her opinion of telling Peter the truth began to really shift because she doesn’t want to lose Peter.
I can’t help but feel as though Peter is definitely not going to react well when he finds out the truth about who he really is given that he tells Olivia that he does not want to jeopardize the family unit which has developed between him, Walter, and Olivia. They really have become dependent upon one another, and I do not look forward to seeing the schism which will likely occur when Walter finally tells Peter.
“You, me, Walter, this odd little family unit that we’ve got going – I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that” – Peter (to Olivia)
There were a couple inconsistencies I noticed which threw me a bit: one of them was the fact that when Sam Weiss visited Olivia’s apartment he noted that she has boxes still left unpacked even though she has lived there quite a while. Yet when we previously saw Olivia’s home, there were no boxes to be seen. Another is that James Heath killed the Cortexiphan kids by touching them, yet he grabbed Olivia’s leg when they were fighting and she was fine.
Initially we saw him touch Miranda Green’s wrist, and saw him shake Lloyd Becker’s hand but was wearing gloves. I assumed that this meant that he didn’t need skin contact to kill his victims. However, upon further reflection I think this inconsistency may be explained by the fact that once getting inside Becker’s apartment Heath took his gloves off and, upon leaving, shook Becker’s hand again. This might explain why Olivia wasn’t affected by the energy exchange.
I prefer it when the science in Fringe is more heavily weighted in maybe-could-be-possible based on more concrete facts rather than a hypothesis about energy transfer simply based on touch. However, I think that the way this, upon further reflection, actually does fit in with the Cortexiphan kids’ powers thus far helps to mitigate the less concrete sciences.
This episode did make me curious about something: in the pilot episode, and subsequent episodes involving the transfer of John Scott’s consciousness into Olivia’s minds, Walter was adamant that such a transfer could not have occurred. Walter said that John Scott’s memories likely transferred over and that Olivia’s consciousness was trying to expel them, but he told Olivia that there was no way that John could see and “interact” with her when they put her in the tank.
I posit that perhaps this unexpected – at least to Walter – transfer of part of John Scott’s actual consciousness, and a measure of sentience, may have been a result of the fact that Olivia, as a Cortexiphan kid (even though we didn’t know that at the time), is more susceptible to energy transfers. Walter explains in this episode that the Cortexiphan was designed to make the children’s brains more pliable and able to tap into other energies.
I suspect that the storyline in this episode will continue to pan out and that we will meet more Cortexiphan kids and learn about some of their abilities – at least, I hope that that is the case.
If you ever want to chat about Fringe, science, or anything at all, feel free to send me an email at the link below, or click on the image to follow the link in the picture to my Twitter page.
As always, thanks for reading and visiting WormholeRiders News Agency!
2 thoughts on “Fringe Review: Season 2 – Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver.”
In addition to the things you described above, I also enjoyed that Peter teased her about him being on her speed dial and her making a joke about the other people who are ahead of him on the speed dial. When these two finally do hook up, it is going to be awesome.
Great review Nadine, as always 🙂 Two things stood out to me in this episode. Nina’s reaction, which, as you mentioned, was for the first time uncontrolled and perhaps the most ‘real’ we have seen her be, and the evolution of Olivia and Walter’s relationship. I think that the strength of Fringe lies on the balance between advancing the story at a regular pace while doing in depth character development. I’m looking forward to your review of “White Tulip”!
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