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Watercooler:A Few Questions About Fringe's Flashback

      Email Post       2/28/2011 07:09:00 PM      

Today's News: Our Take Watercooler: A Few Questions About Fringe's Flashback
Feb 28, 2011 12:31 PM ET
by Damian Holbrook

So Peter and Olivia met when they were kids. Bet that has some of you scratching your heads, huh?

Last Friday, Fox's sci-fi uber-coolness Fringe kicked back to 1985 — land of Walter's sideburns and cortexiphan treatments — to show us how young Olivia (called Olive by Dr. Bishop) star-crossed paths with new-to-this-'verse Peter just as she was tapping into her abilities to travel between worlds. Turns out both kids were in tough spots: He was all pissed that his "parents" were trying to sell him on the lie that he hadn't been snatched from another dimension, and she was desperate to avoid the abuse of her stepfather. Before you can say, "young love," the two youngin's are connecting on that kind of level that causes snow to start magically falling and, in Olivia's case, accidentally crossing over to the red universe and cluing Walternate into the possible location of his missing son.

It was awesome! And not just because a certain Watercooler writer also had that Battlestar Galactica boardgame young Petey was eyeing up in the toy store. The scene where Olive spilled the beans to the man she thought was her protector was a chilling mind-bender that only got cooler up multiple viewings. And once you'd figure out that she had indeed just met Walternate, the realization of what that meant (this was the germ of the idea that has inspired the man to devote his life to ending our universe) solved a huge piece of this puzzle.

However, there were a few questions that came out of the hour we'd like to pose to you...

- Was that betamax video of Olive mentally torching her classroom the same one we saw last season? Thought there was a bed in the background of the first one.

- If Walter's old lab assistant Carla died in a fire, who thinks it was one started by Olive?

- How come Peter didn't remember meeting Olivia? We know she blocked out the cortexiphan stuff from last season's "Jacksonville" episode.

- Do we think maybe Olivia has an untapped ability to turn things she imagines into a reality? That snow sort of just happened, you know?

- How come Walter never mentioned that these two met 26 years ago?

- How much do we love Orla Brady as Elizabeth Bishop?

Ok, Fringies, have at it. Who knows, maybe some of your theories will make it into our next chat with the producers.

(Note:Damian Holbrook is so 'Fringe' cool. It's no surprise he has that Battlestar Galactica game.)


Anonymous said...

What a awesome review by Damien! Orla Brady she was magnificent especially with John Noble who is such a class actor. It definitely raised questions that are being discussed on the fox community forum which Damien has addressed I also was confused with the young Olivia and Peter as the look around 12 years old but some insightful fringe fans raised the point that they were 7/8 years old and it would have been hard with that age to get actors acting thus type of content. I had to watch the episode 2 times to fully understand how many shows can boast that as the more you watch the episode the more thought provoking. Well done fringe!

Damian Garcia said...

Yeah I'm also wondering if they will address their past meeting in a future episode. Or if Walter will spill the beans that he remembers them two meeting. Or perhaps he just wants to see how things play out between them? Plus the betamax video thing did kind of bug me, so maybe it will be a different video. But very interesting questions indeed.

Anonymous said...

I thought that William Bell had performed a three-for-one brain surgery special that included the kids and Walter, but now I'm not so sure. Could the universes be part of some gigantic mind that is dreaming everything up? I'm waiting to be surprised by the upcoming turn of events.

Anonymous said...

What if, given the unseen-before hazy quality of this episode, it is a third 'verse?

Anonymous said...

1) The video was different. Olivia was 3 in the video we saw in season 1. In this episode she was 7 (second fire)

2) Carla died in 1991, Olivia would have been around 13. Not sure where she was at that age. At some point she was boarding school.

3) I don't remember a lot of things from when I was 7. Of course, might be because of Walter that Peter forgot about Olivia. (Repression?)

4) Not sure about the snow. Coincidence, thematic effect, or Cortexiphan ability is up for debate.

5) Walter had parts of his brain removed and spent 2 decades in a mental institute. What's left of his memory should be hazy, especially such small matters.

6) Orla Brady MUST return!

Matthew M said...

So 'Olive' is a firestarter. She started one in pre-school and again in elementary school? The time discrepancy going unexplained isn't right!
I want to see the kids being injected with the Cortexiphan; how many treatments did they get over how man-years? Were the injections into the brain (cerebral cortex), spinal column (very painful) or arm like the old polio shots?
If Olivia and Peter together can 'create' things together then they can 'create' the healing of the 2 universes and save both of them. Problem solved.
I just hope they don't lose track of things and forget other stories they introduced us to in season 1 and 2.

Roberto said...

Lots of questions/problems raised this episode. They need another whole episode really to explain how we got from there to the pilot. Walternate should have been relieved to see that whoever took Peter cured him and likely was taking good care of him. When does the damage start in the Altverse? 6 months after PETER, and nothing. Maybe Walter only weakened the fabric and Bell is the one who broke it. Something has to happen to Olive to lose her memory, just forgetting isn't enough. It could be some trauma, like the cortexiphan, but that really wasn't brought out. There's certainly enough sources. A good one might be accidentally killing Carla with her pyrokinesis. But the more I think on it, Carla was the assistant at the lab. He had the other, non physicist, assistant in Florida. I think there's something fishy with the former though. Maybe Bell torched the lab after operating on Walter to destroy his research, Carla maybe rushing back in for some reason and perishing. Maybe it was a Walternate attack. ... Peter might have just forgot about Olive, but you'd think re-visiting the daycare in JACKSONVILLE would have jogged his memory. Given Walter's brain surgery and his admission of memory loss, he just might not remember Olive/Pete meeting.... I agree, that was a second fire, but the real questions arise right after. When Olive saw her friend dead, did she transport to the tulip field. It seems to be implied from the smoldering tulips next to her. That teleporting there created/carried heat. It seems to be a set up for the next line where she says she's cooled off now and it starts snowing. Pete (young Peter) asked if she imagined that too. She gives a slight smile and we are left with the impression she did. Well, that reading basically makes Olive a god who can do whatever she can think of, any time she wants. Certainly 'cosmic evolution' of a character has been used before, but I'd rather not see that with Olivia, just yet. Maybe this is what the First People were like, they were just humans who could tap into their entire brains... Another reading would say Olive did not teleport to the tulips, that she ran there after the fire. That makes more sense given that her absence wasn't noticed right away. But then why were the tulips smoldering? She had to cool off running in that weather. The snow flakes might have just begun on their own. It was snowing when the episode started. If they are not making Olive into a god, then there are some continuity issues that are troubling. Remember, transiting is not teleporting. You come through at the same coordinates in both universes. They need to take the same care with continuity they have all along. Let's not become another LOST, where they just make it up as they go or go off in tangents that never amount to anything (The Pattern?).

Roberto said...

First People like the Krell from FORBIDDEN PLANET?

Dennis said...

It is easy enough to say that you might forget some boy you met once as a kid. But when you have a moment so unforgettable that you draw a picture about it, it seems a little more than that. Plus, our grown up Olivia has a photographic memory, so there must be something that was done to her (and Peter) to make them forget.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...The Pattern. Many references to The Pattern in Abrams work. I wonder if he was a fan of the "Nine Princes in Amber" series by Roger Zelazny? The Amber Pattern was a perilous walk that traced the web-like design from the outer lines to the inner circle, where the travelers were then transported through many worlds and realities. Just a thought.

fringeobsessed said...

Wow, the Amber series by Zelazny?
It's been years since I've heard anyone mention that. :)

45 said...


But see, how was Olivia supposed to know that the man she came to IRAQ for would be the same guy she meant when she was a kid though? Peter never did state his last name, remember. And let's be fair, too, Olivia RARELY talks about her past, same with Peter so we can't really know if they don't "remember".

Not to mention, I'm sure Peter and Olivia never did keep in touch and even if Olivia does have a photographic memory, how could she have known that little "Peter" would be "Peter Bishop"?

It has been 25 years you know.

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