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.
If there were an award for the Fringe Season 1 episode that starts out swinging, episode 110, "Safe,"would surely win it. Written by Jason Cahill and David H. Goodman, this episode has tons of energy.
"Safe" picks up where "The Equation" leaves off, for Double Agent Mitchell Loeb and his "Chess Club" of hirees take the magical formula for making boundaries penetrable and use it to steal the last pieces of Walter Bishop's hidden transporter machine. In safety deposit theft Number 3, one of the magnets gets stuck and Raul Lugo takes time to free it, but he gets stuck in the wall on the way out. Leader Mitchell Leob takes only a second to be distressed, in the next he shoots the poor man in the head, and the remaining men take their leave.
Sometime later the Fringe Division arrives, and if you like great Peter/Olivia banter(with classic Walter Bishop interruptions) some of the best in the series occurs when they enter the crime scene at the bank in Philadelphia. (You can read the transcript here: http://www.fringepedia.net/wiki/Safe/Transcript.)
As the team stares at the poor man in the wall, Peter delivers the phrase, "Just when you think things couldn't get any weirder." If that sounds familiar, it's a slightly different form of what Olivia says from her hospital bed in 201, after Peter tells her she spoke the Greek phrase his mom used to tell him every night.
Olivia suddenly realizes that she knows the victim. Peter thinks she's joking, but Liv proceeds to tell them his name, where he lives, his wife's name, and even that she's been to his New Jersey home. Peter gives her that look, and we get a squirmy feeling in our belly, or at least we should.
About a third of the way into this episode we see the familiar site of Wissenschaft Prison in Hamburg, Germany, and suddenly this plot spins a whole new direction. What in the world does incarcerated Daivd Robert Jones have to do with anything, we ask ourselves.
"Safe" has some lovely humorous spots, and Peter and Walter trying to buy a saw at a tool store in greater Philly is one of them. Walter snarks about Peter's lack of roots and Peter verbally retaliates, as a doe-eyed associate asks if she can help them. Walter tells the innocent what they need, and trying to be helpful, she asks what they are cutting. In true Walter Bishop style he tells it like it is. "Human tissue. Flesh and bone. It's more sinuous than you may expect."
The girl's eyes go wide as Peter flashes her his con-man smile anad tries to minimize the blow, but Walter's no help. The girl gives them blunt directions and dashes up the stairs. Peter does damage control by yelling "No need to call the police," as the girl speeds away up the stairs.
Jones talks condescendingly to his attorney in his cell, paying seemingly no attention to his appeal info. Instead he makes a written list of things for his attorney bring him, including dramamine and suntan lotion, which leaves us scratching our heads.
Olivia Dunham goes to interview Raul Lugo's widow in New Jersey, and that knot in the belly from earlier starts to expand. Olivia tells Mrs. Lugo she hadn't seen Raul in years, adding that they served together in the Marines. She goes on to tell Susan Lugo that they have met before when she had dinner at that very house, the night Raul became First Lieutenant. Susan gets defiant and says "No, you weren't here." Olivia insists she was, and proceeds to describe the events of that evening and the arrangement of the furniture. Susan acknowledges but insists it was just her, Raul, and his friend John(Major squirmies now! Remember Walter's words about complications from the tank?) Olivia asks "John who," but I'm sure she already knows the answer, which is "John Scott."
One thing I look forward to in the series is a front-row seat to some of Walter Bishop's science discussions/experiments. This time it's making a plastic figure disappear into a beaker full of dry rice, on top of a vibrating football table. It's epecially fun when Walter tells Astrid he's gonna repeat it and asks if she'd like to watch, to which she gives a swift "Nope." Peter does not interpret the scientific Walter-speak. This time around Walter explains everything to us, that the robbers were able to weaken the atomic structure of the vault wall and pass through it, but not without the possible consequence of becoming radioactive.
Olivia informs the team the safety deposit boxes were purchased annonymously 23 years ago. If you've watched through Season 3, you know that goes back to the magic year of 1985 and the enormous Peter-related events of that year. Peter keeps the momentum flowing by asking Olivia, "Okay...so what's our next move?" Olivia tells him she got some names from the widow, including Raul's best friend who happens to work at a bar in Cambridge. This makes a great segue into one of my very favorite Season 1, P/O scenes, that just happens to take place in "Safe."
Olivia and Peter enter the bar in Cambridge to interview Raul's best friend. Always in charge, Olivia tells Peter to "Just go along with this, okay?" to which he responds "Sure thing, boss."
She introduces Peter as her brother, Rick( the bartender doesn't seem convinced of his sibling status. )What ensues is another great batch of P/O banter with two especially enlightening double-meanings-if you're caught up through 3.15, "Subject 13.":
Olivia:Drew, I gotta tell you, I never forget a face.
Peter:It's true, she doesn't. It's kind of creepy actually.(Foreshadowing of seeing "Peter" in S4 or S5?)
Olivia tells Drew the bartender she remembers him being best man at Susan and Raul's wedding. Drew seems impressed. Peter's response:"It's incredible, right? She's been able to do that since we were kids. Remember that?" If you've watched "Subject 13" you know it's a fun and ironic answer, since the two of them don't seem to remember their meeting and interaction as children.
Olivia is throwing down the double whiskeys so fast Peter can barely keep up as she pumps Drew for information. She does learn Raul spent time at a VA hospital before her source gets back to tending the bar. Olivia calls Broyles and recruits his help, and tells Peter they should go. Peter tries to get her to slow down and tosses the gauntlet:"...what's the rush? Two is your limit?"
Olivia gives Peter Bishop a look we've never seen before(her nonverbal reply to provocation?) and one-ups him, "Is that a dare?" Two scenes later finds Peter performing card tricks for her, and it's obvious both of their defenses are down. Peter tells her "so top that," and not missing a beat Olivia grabs the deck and launches into a demonstration of her ability to count cards. Our conman is truly impressed, and you can almost hear the cogs in his head as he's probably thinking about how to exploit that talent. Olivia tells Peter once she sees numbers she can remember them for the rest of her life. After a couple of examples she tells him the 3 safety deposit numbers that were burglarized and a realization sobers Peter's alcohol-laden brain.
He tells her in a serious tone "I know those numbers."
If you read my commentary on "The Dreamscape," you may remember I mentioned that Walter misunderstood that Olivia wanted to get to Peter's bed when she came to wake Walter late at night. After the bar scene in "Safe," Peter and Olivia go quickly to a sleeping Walter, and Peter shouts him awake. Walter sees the two of them as he comes awake and says, "Do you two want to use the room?" Peter is all business and lets it go, but there is this adorable smirk on Olivia's face and possibly a little blush. Peter asks Walter about the pattern of numbers that includes 233, 377, and 610. Walter chastises Peter for not staying in college, saying that everyone knows it's the Fibonacci Sequence. Peter keeps Walter focused, telling him they also the numbers of the safety deposit boxes that were stolen. After some outloud thinking Walter has an epiphany-the safety deposit boxes are his!
Peter and Olivia drag Walter to the Federal Building where Charlie Francis has learned that Walter lectured in 1985 at Syracuse University. Charlie hands him pictures of banks near the university to see if any look familiar and asks, "Does any of this trigger anything in your mind?"
Walter's answer is a big foreshadowing of the events of 322:
Yes, but not about banks. Think back 20 years-imagine yourself then, imagining yourself now-20 years into the future. In your wildest imagination, could you ever think you'd be here?!
OK, so in 322 we moved ahead 15 years instead of 20, but it's close. Charlie's expression is priceless as he whispers to Liv, "Is he stoned?" Olivia tells Charlie to be patient with him as Walter proceeds to lick the photos. Broyles pops in and tells Olivia that Lugo was an inpatient at a VA hospital for 6 months after he split with his wife, and the plot moves on.
As the Feds hunt down the members of The Chess Club they discover 3 of them bought tickets from DC to T.F. Green Airport(yup, a real place) in Providence. Liv's dialing in a blink and asks Peter if he can ask Walter what bank he might have used in Providence. Peter tries the direct approach and gets nowhere. Then he gets a thought and asks Walter in a different way, and Walter very quickly tells Peter the name of the bank he used and its location.
This time Charlie and Olivia get lucky, catching the burglars leaving the bank, and Liv shoots one in the leg as he tries to catch up to the getaway vehicle. But Olivia gets frustrated because she can't make him talk in interrogation, as Peter watches in the two-way mirror. Peter tells Charlie to call Olivia out, that he wants to try something. A little alpha male contest ensues on Charlie's part, but Peter keeps his cool, and Charlie obliges him.
The scene of Peter Bishop interrogating Ryan Eastwick is reminiscent of his lovely interrogation of Richard Steig in the pilot episode, and you wonder what body parts he's gonna crush this time around. Peter asks to see his hands, and Eastwick places his shackled, shaking hands on the table. Peter says "Let me see if any of this rings a bell for you," and Peter proceeds to list the symptoms of the first phase of radiation poisoning. He's gotten Eastwick's attention now, and Ryan starts talking as Charlie and Olivia look incredulously at each other. Eatwick tells Peter he overheard their unnamed leader say he was going to Westford. The lightbulb pops on for Olivia. She tells them there's an abandoned airfield called "Little Hill Field," and reminds them "Little Hill" was the codename Mr. Smith gave to Mr. Jones(via Peter) in "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones."
While Charlie and Liv approach Westford, MA from different directions, Walter's in the lab desperately trying to remember what was in his hidden safe deposit boxes. Peter does his first coin trick of the series which triggers Walter to remember Peter's "near death" from a rare form of bird flu and his making of a machine to cross the space-time continuum to retrieve a bird flu expert who dies in 1936. Walter tells Peter he thinks the machine was what was in the safety deposit boxes, adding, "In theory, it could retrieve anyone from anywhere."
David Robert Jones gets ready to transport out as Charlie approaches Westford from the South and Olivia from the west, but she never makes it. A black SUV comes from nowhere and cuts her off. When she tries to make a run for it she gets tranqued in the back and goes down. It's funny, sometimes news takes a ridiculous amount of time to travel in the Fringe universe, but here, it seems like only second later when Phillip Broyles contacs Nina Sharp on her private phone to tell her that Olivia Dunham's missing. He is accusatory in tone, and Nina resents it whether she should or not. (We are purposely misled in a tiny earlier scene, when one of Mina's scientists tells Nina they think John Scott shared consciousness with Olivia before he died. They hypothesize that some of John's memories that they need are stored in Olivia's brain.) But by the end of the episode we realize Liv's abduction is Jones's doing.
Jones:"Do you have her? Agent Dunham?
Loeb:She didn't even put up a fight.
Jones:Well then. Let's not keep her waiting.
Interesting Things About "Safe"
The conversations. There are several conversations in this episode that are very smooth, and you give you further insight into the main characters' relationships and personality quirks.
Walter's speech about Peter being severely ill as a child, etc. while not only being huge foreshadowing of the "Peter" episode(in Season 2), propels us further ahead into Season 1, towards that moment in 1.20, "There's More Than One Of Everything."
If Peter Bishop Never Existed....
I doubt that they ever would have figured out which bank in Providence Loeb's men were hitting. Therefore, Charlie and Olivia probably wouldn't have had a chance to catch Ryan Eastwick, and learn of Loeb's plan to go to a field in Westford.
Following this progression, the Feds may not have discovered that David Robert Jones was transported to Massachusetts.
Interestingly, Olivia Dunham may have still been abducted.
Jones gets zapped from Hamburg to Westford in the blink of an eye as we marvel at the scene. Loeb in awe, greets his boss.