Fringe 2.17: "Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver."

In many respects, this is just another episode about just another unusual case. But there are tons of connections to the larger mythology, in terms of the fallout of the previous two episodes. Not only are aspects of the Jacksonville experiments becoming more and more integral to the progression of the story, but Peter is going to learn the truth about his origins.

It was pretty clear that Walter was going to come to the conclusion that he would have to be the one to tell Peter the truth. But it was very interesting to see how the writers deftly maneuvered the situation. The episode began with Walter denying the need to come clean with Peter, while Olivia was insistent that it happen. By the end of the hour, both characters had taken a logical road to the opposing point of view.

Not that it would much matter. Based on Olivia’s stricken expression in the scene with Peter in her car, she’s well aware of the fact that the truth precludes any hope of maintaining this happy little family unit. It’s not so much that Peter would react badly to the news. He might want to have some time to think about things, but what other life has he really known? That’s probably going to be less important than the feelings of betrayal.

He’ll feel betrayed by Walter, of course, but I think the anger towards Olivia is going to be the most heart-rending part of it. Because even though it was clearly not her place to reveal the truth, and an objective part of Peter would recognize that, it’s going to hurt for him to know that she knew and said nothing. Olivia is really in a no-win situation, made worse by how close they had actually become.

I predict that Peter will be inspired to find a way into Alt-Fringe, so he can find his real father. This would be the perfect way to not only introduce Walternate in this particular time, but also to reveal that Walternate is the one behind the effort to destroy Fringe Prime. This will probably take place in the season finale. (I’m not sure if this plot twist would end up being predictable or simply well-earned. Proper foreshadowing should not be penalized, after all.)

One thing I wasn’t expecting was more information on the Jacksonville experiments. One big point of the episode was that Fringe Division doesn’t have a full list of the children used in the cortexiphan experiments. This put a lot of people in jeopardy, not the least of which Olivia, who is supposed to be the one person able to stop the collision between realities.

So what could be important enough for Broyles and Nina Sharp to lie about the list of affected children? For that matter, we still don’t know the connection between Broyles and Sharp, and how that plays into the connection between Broyles’ earlier Fringe Division work and Massive Dynamic.

The logical assumption would be that Broyles and Sharp had been working for some time to find and monitor the children involved in the experiments, documenting their abilities as they manifested. This would explain Broyles’ long interest in Olivia as an agent rather well. But as already noted, it would beg the question of why Olivia is not being given information about the other subjects in the experiments. And there seem to be many of the Ohio test subjects still unaccounted for, which may be a secret purpose of the Fringe Division.

It is implied that James Heath was “activated” by someone. This is similar to what happened with many of the first season episodes regarding Mr. Jones and the ZFT activations. This brings back some of the ideas surrounding the ZFT organization, and that implies that these activations are ultimately the work of William Bell. Since Bell was keen on developing “warriors” for the battle to come, this would make some sense. This would also imply that Broyles and Sharp may be secretly working with Bell to keep track of these potential “recruits”. It all ties together.

And that is one of the promising aspects of the episode. Not only are the lingering effects of Walter’s confession in “Peter” explored in some detail, but this episode calls back to many of the important elements introduced at the end of the first season. This strongly implies that the disparate plot elements of the second season may finally be placed in context with the best elements of the first season, and that the scattershot feel of the second season may be smoothed over in due time.


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