Join us for our Fringe Summer re-watch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.
"The Dreamscape" is the second Season 1 episode written by Julia Cho. This time she teams up with Zack Whedon(his first time writing for this series)and the result is another busy, yet well-done episode.
There are really 3 sub-plots in this one. Olivia and the Fringe team try to solve the murder of an up and coming Massive Dynamic scientist(Mark Young), Olivia continues to be haunted by her dead partner and lover, John Scott, and Peter Bishop gets a blast from his past. The great thing, like most Fringe episodes, is that the lines between these subplots get deliciously blurred, and you hardly notice you're going back and forth.
Mark Young appears to have committed suicide by jumping out a window at the Massive Dynamic building in New York, but we learn his internal injuries came from the inside out!(How's that for gross?)The question remains how and why? In a twist very reminiscent of 105, "Power Hungry"(which Cho also co-wrote) John Scott supplies the answers. He sends Olivia an email with a basement(yes, again) address. Apparently, like Walter Bishop, John Scott has more than one storage place around Boston. But there's no hands in jars at his, only frogs, or more correctly, toads. Going with her gut Olivia turns them over to a very lucid Walter who informs her the venom under their skin contains a highly potent hallucinogen. Since Peter's busy with sub-plot number three, Olivia simplifies it for us: "So you're saying that Mark Young hallucinated being cut on his body, and then his mind made it actually happen." If you've already seen Season 3, this should smack of Olivia as Bolivia getting herself home in "Entrada", and Peter actually making a bridge between universes in 322. But again, I can see this being taken a step farther in Season 4 or 5, such that Liv hallucinates Peter is there, and then he is. (Wouldn't that be fun?! )
Olivia gets Walter alone and tells him John Scott led her to the toads. She asks him how long his memories will be in her head. He tells her it could be years. A conversation about possible therapy ensues and Olivia guesses correctly it would involve her going back into the tank to purge Johns' memories. She pushes Walter to do it. As she's getting cozy in the brine with just Walter and Astrid in attendance(Peter's still preoccupied) Astrid asks her if she's OK about doing this. Olivia tells her she wants the memories to stop, but if John's memories can help then she hasn't been deceived for nothing.
They hit paydirt with Olivia's dreamscape(except she's screaming her lungs out when John Scott turns and murders one of his accomplices). Fortunately Peter returns to the lab in the middle of the action and throws the tank doors open.
Olivia gives Broyles the details on suspect George Morales and the dangerous Massive Dynamic-developed drug. Broyles tells her to keep going. Nina Sharp actually cooperates and gives the Feds Mark Young's project folders. Olivia stares at his Masssive Dynamic business card(more on that later) and gets the idea that M-O-N-A-R-C-H in Mark Young's appointment book might represent a phone number. She matches letters to numbers and dials. Olivia recognizes the voice, and in a real plot stretch, the location is able to be traced long after the call has ended.
By pinging Morales's cell Charlie Francis and Olivia are able to track Morales down. He gets hit by a cab and ends up in the hospital. In what is one of the most important scenes in the episode Morales tells Liv he'll give her all the information he has on William Bell and Massive Dynamic in exchange for physical protection. Straight out, Morales tells Olivia "Massive Dynamic is Hell, and its founder, William Bell, is the devil." She accuses him of telling her what she wants to hear.
In an effort to get her attention, the words start pouring ouf of Morales's mouth:
"Really? Did I invent ZFT? Flight 627? The Northwoods Group? John Scott? The Pattern? The whole thing is a hoax. It's all a smoke screen so Massive Dynamic can do whatever it wants to whoever it wants. Do you understand that?"
We get the idea that Olivia gives into Morales's demand. But while she goes to confront Nina Sharp, again, Morales hallucinates that John Scott cuts his throat, and in an interesting special effect, a poor nurse actually witnesses Morales's throat cutting itself.
Earlier in the episode Peter gets a phone call that makes him wrinkle his brow and go into a private room. We get some well-earned backstory in this episode, and meet one of his former flames, Tess Amaral. She tells him she has to meet him. After a pause, he tells her he can't get away right now, but Tess pursues with, "Then when?"
Two scenes later Peter and Tess greet each other in a coffee shop with a kiss. He tells her she looks good, she tells him he looks older. Peter makes a joke about it, pointing out that Walter's first words when he saw him were that he looked 'fat.' Tess gets serious and tells him if she can find him then they can too. Peter shrugs it off and asks if he can get her something to eat. Tess responds with "Nothing changes with you huh? It's the same old Peter, you just play it fast and loose until it's too late." But Tess is wrong. Peter Bishop is a bit more grounded now. He's got a dysfunctional little family keeping him in Boston. We learn from Tess that Peter just upped and left her. She sarcastically points out that leaving a second time shouldn't be any harder than the first. The following dialogue ensues:
Peter:I know you think that, Tessa, but you have to trust me, it was harder than you think.
Tess:Trust you? I'm not sure I ever even knew you.
(Needless to say, that last line is great irony if you're caught up all the way through 322.)
Peter's agenda changes when he grabs her wrist and she winces. He pulls back her sleeve and sees the heavy bruising on his wrist. "Michael?" is all Peter asks. Tess tells him things have changed and that they'll do worse to him if he doesn't leave.
Peter catches up to Michael on the street a bit later and roughs him up. With an angry face we're not accustomed to(but that foreshadows "Dark Peter" in "Reciprocity,") he tells Michael that if
he touches Tess again he'll kill him. Near the end of the episode Michael approaches another thug who comments on his injuries. Michael tells him that Peter Bishop is back in town.
This leaves the door wide open in the future for some organized crime retaliation against our favorite dumb, smart guy. Or does it?
The episode ends with a hyper Olivia waking Walter Bishop in his hotel room. Our Liv likes closure, and she wants Walter to put her back in the tank again to get more answers.
She says to him, "Can you come out? Um, I need to go back in." In a Walter moment reminiscent of the scene in "Safe" where Peter and Olivia hurriedly try to rouse him, Walter misunderstands, thinking she's trying to get to Peter's bed. She explains that she needs more answers. But gently, Walter refuses to encourage her into the tank again, telling her repeated use of the tank is too dangerous. Olivia counters that lives could be lost if she doesn't get the answers, but Walter returns that if she keeps going into the tank the life that could be lost is her own. He tells her there are no guarantees she'll get the answers she wants, and that she can't interact with John, can't just ask him questions.
Olivia reminds him that John saw her in the restaurant and again, Walter denies this, saying it's not possible.
A tired and defeated Olivia returns home. She turns off her computer and climbs into her bed, as her computer clicks back on. Out of curiosity she goes back over to it. There is an email from John Scott that reads "I saw you in the restaurant."
Interesting Things About "The Dreamscape"
1)The second "benchwarmers" scene of the series happens after the tank incident. Peter is sitting on the lab bench looking at Olivia worriedly. Olivia, standing, wringing her wet hair out, looks unrealistically calm. Peter asks, "You OK?" which is one of his trademark questions to her in the series. She tells him they have a lead and she needs to see Broyles. He asks if she'd like any company. In true Dunham fashion she turns him down with a smile. Peter replies with, "Olivia, if you need me, I'm here." This is more than just a trivial statement. This is a promise. And I have a feeling Peter Bishop hasn't made too many promises in his life. I'm hoping this is also foreshadowing, that even if Peter Bishop never existed, that our Olivia somehow knows in her head that if she needs "him," he's there.
2)The phone number on Mark Young's business card 1-877-8-MSSDYN, used to really work!
If you dialed that after this episode first aired, you'd get a recording that you have reached Massive Dynamic! But now if you dial you get, "The subscirber you have dialed is not available,
or has traveled outside the calling area." Don't believe me? Try it. Click on the link to hear one of the former phone messages: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZfa2Y02-5s
3)Isn't it unnerving when Walter laughs at his test subject under hypnosis on the tape?That smacks of foreshadowing of Walternate's sadistic nature that we see in "Over There:Part 2", and also in "Olivia," and "Entrada." Equally unnerving are Walter's words as the subject develops second-degree burns from an ice cube: "Cruel probably, but very enlightening."
4)There really is an airport in Massachusetts called the Marlborough Airport, but in actuality it has only 1 runway, and it's the shortest runway in the state!
5)This is the first episode in which Walter Bishop discusses religion. He talks about 'the spirit' again in "Midnight," and of course there is the huge topic of religion/forgiveness in "Peter," and "White Tulip." But here the words "and a new spirit I will put within thee," foreshadow William Bell's spirit intruding upon Olivia's body in "Os," "The Stowaway," and "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide."
6)Nina Sharp's reaction and words when Olivia goes to confront her near the end imply that she knows the FBI's witness, George Morales, is already dead. We have always sensed a cold power about Nina, but in this episode it seems she does have control over whether some people live or die.
As Yet Unanswered Questions That Arise From "The Dreamscape":
George Morales mentions 'The Northwoods Group?' Is this the group Broyles is addressing at the beginning of 102?
Why does Olivia visualize the butterflies moving in the display cases in Mark Young's home?
Walter denies at least twice Olivia's admission that John Scott could see her in her dreamscape while in the tank? Why is he so adamant that John cannot see her, and that she cannot intereact with him?
Why did John Scott kill the African-American man that seemed to be working with him?
If Peter Bishop Never Existed....
No one would have warned Michael not to further hurt Tess Amaral. She could be dead by now.
I think Walter still would have figured out about the Massive Dynamic drug compounded from the toad venom, and that Mark Young was murdered. Interestingly, most of this episode unfolded without Peter Bishop's interaction. (Keep that in mind as you watch Season 4.)