This season of âFringeâ continues to swing from mythology-heavy episodes to more self-contained installments, and this is one of the latter. There are some elements that speak to the larger questions, but overall, this seems to be a case that only serves to explore character thematically.
The case itself had some interesting aspects, particularly in terms of how human perception might be altered or controlled. This has been one of the recurring themes of âFringeâ, so itâs not a surprising direction for a case to take. It raises the question of the influence of oneâs subconscious: is it simply a conglomeration of all the internal influences operating below our active awareness, or is it something that can easily be manipulating and controlled by the external?
Walter gives a convincing reason why this particular experiment would yield an addict. Yet one could look at some of the experiments that Walter has conducted and wonder if there is a less powerful yet potent addiction at play. Walter seems to have a certain penchant for pushing the human mind beyond its normalized perception, and he craves it even when he is not the one pushing the boundaries personally.
As always, Walterâs perceptions must be questioned. Why does he have such an issue with Seattle? Was it just the psychological reaction to the visual cues of the restraints? That would have been understandable, but there were other situations that would or should have pushed the same buttons. So what was so specific about this circumstance?
For Peter, the case might have revealed a growing subconscious awareness that his memories of his childhood may not quite add up. This episode begins to explain why Alt-Peter doesnât remember being abducted by Walter Prime in the first place: Walter must have wiped away certain memories and used other techniques, like the one Peter described, to prevent those memories from being recognized within dreams and nightmares.
Speaking of the abduction, which appears to have been the case based on Peterâs dream, we may have been given a date. The matter has certainly been on Walterâs mind of late, but close to the end of the episode, a date is scrawled on a blackboard: June 28th, 1984. What is the significance of that date? Peter Primeâs gravestone gave a year of death of 1985, so there could be a connection. Could Alt-Peter have been abducted before Peter Prime died? Walterâs dialogue in earlier episodes doesnât seem to support that theory, but with Walter, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. It would also be interesting to compare that to the time period during which Olivia was part of the cortexiphan experiments.
Oliviaâs progress with her recovery is taking a subconscious path, which is what her new guru started in the first place. Getting her back on her feet utilized a subconscious trigger, and relying on the brainâs tendency to find patterns within the seemingly random was a nice way to deliver a reaffirming message and give her closure on Charlieâs fate. (I do find it odd, though, that she has yet to consider her response to Charlieâs death in relation to Agent Scottâs death, just months earlier.)
It occurred to me, by the end of the episode, that we havenât seen Agent Jessup in a little while. I liked the idea of expanding the supporting cast into new areas, and Charlieâs exit leaves a hole to be filled. Agent Jessup seemed primed and ready to take on that role, so the writers should probably see to that sooner rather than later, if this episode was indeed meant to give Olivia an emotional coda to her relationship to Charlie.