Fringe Summer Rewatch: #115 "Inner Child" ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch: #115 "Inner Child"

      Email Post       8/01/2011 12:01:00 AM      

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.

Inner Child was an episode that threw all of us for a loop in season one. We’d gotten so used to gory episodes with bodies being put the through the metaphorical and physical ringer and our favorite fringe team trying to solve the murder. Outside of having an innocent, albeit weird, looking boy, there was an “old” case of Olivia’s that was reopened involving a killer known as the artist, but these are perhaps the least disgusting bodies we've seen so far.

The show starts off at a construction site with a demolition crew checking each part of a building for squatters before the wrecking ball goes through the building. Two men are just leaving the building talking about their plans afterward when one of them pauses, looking very confused. He then makes an excuse to back track to an area he wasn't sure they thoroughly checked and after looking more closely he discovers a cavity. Inside the cavity is a wild looking boy who is half starved and has never seen daylight.

At the same time as Olivia is notified that past unsolved case has been opened, Broyles puts the Fringe team in charge of finding out where the boy came from. At first Olivia spends most of her resources trying to solve the case of the Artist, working tirelessly to find clues and follow evidence to solve the case and the boy recognizes this and tries to help her by giving her hints and clues. It takes a mention from Walter about how he theorizes that the boy is an empath picking up on her feelings mostly and only wants to help her to wake her up more to the boy who's mystery she is supposed to solve. The boy senses her guilt over the matter and her desire to keep him safe and to give him a good home and helps her out one last time. This ends up being the final hint they need to save the latest victim from the Artist's planned fate. Olivia then begs Broyles to pretend to lose the boy so that the CIA won't take custody to run tests on him and for him to be put with a family so he could have a normal and happy life, despite his bizarre past. Broyles eventually agrees and I think looking back this is a big hint to what Broyles is really like. After having given his word to the CIA agent we would expect him to deny Olivia's request, but he doesn't, and I think this reflects Broyles soft spot for children and also for Olivia whom he is growing fond of despite their rocky start.

Things of special notice:

  • The striking similarities between the boy and the Observers. Both their appearance and methods of relating to others. He even writes like the observers; not in the foreign language, but without looking at the paper.

  • Olivia should've maybe considered going into a children's division with as good as she is with not just Ella, but other children as well. The found boy is only the first of several examples of how easy it is for her to relate to children and make them feel at ease.

  • The child's first encounter of sadness and anger is through Olivia when she hears of the boy being taken away and the boy goes into a panic attack that only she can bring him down from. He obviously isn't used to feeling such strong emotions which begs the question how long has he been hidden and alone?

Unanswered Questions:

  • How many others are there? The CIA agent suggests that this boy is only one of several that are already undergoing tests.

  • Who put the boy into the cavern?

  • How old is the boy? Walter theorized that he is "much older" than he appears and that he could not put an age on him.

  • What medicine did Olivia have to take as a child that was yellow?

  • What role does the CIA have in Fringe related cases and the Observers?
And lastly, If Peter Bishop never existed...

This episode really didn't have much Peter drama in it, but they might not have discovered the relation between plastic and cow's blood without Peter's meat packing facility experience. I guess Walter may have done some more strange stuff to the boy without Peter there to supervise if Astrid wasn't able to stop him.


fringeobsessed said...

Nice, oranfly.
OK, before my head explodes...Liv mentions about not liking the yellow M&M's because they remind her of "yucky medicine." Reminds me of Dani's description of "Bound" in which she said all one had to do to be home to the cold virus monster was drink the "powdery yellow stuff." What do the writers/executive producers have against the color yellow?

This was the episode that switched my mind into red alert regarding Peter's status. When he's looking at the "boy's" GI Joe and says, "Funny, I remember the scar being on the other side," I just KNEW that had to be significant. So when Peter glimmered in "Jacksonville" it was AHA!

I mentioned in "The Transformation" that Walter calls Peter "Boy," (and there are other places also in the series where he does that)and we have pointed out that The Observers also call Peter "Boy." IS it significant that here we have another "boy"? Are the boy in "Inner Child" and the Alternate Peter Bishop we know related in some way?

Also, when Walter puts his cool neurostimulator on the boy's head we can hear audio, which includes, imo, the boy saying his name. I have played that clip over and over(yeah, obsessed, I know) and I get ..."Samuel Mattea." There's other words too but they seem unintelligible, then the boy starts shivvering and all focus on his thoughts/words is lost.

One last thought. Walter saying that the boy is an empath is foreshadowing of Nick Lane being an empath in "Bad Dreams," which is coming up soon!

Unknown said...

Hmmm, are these boys the origin of the Observers? Yet, the boy is an empath and shows emotional response. The Observers are different in that the can read thought and sense emotion, but appear detached, with August being the noticeable exception.

I wonder why Olivia developed a special bond with the child. Is it just because she is good with children, or is the boy something more to her?

fringeobsessed said...

I vote for the latter-the boy is something more to her.

fringeaddict said...

I really liked this episode because the mystery of boy hasn't come up since and i have two theories other than him being a baby observer.
First thought is that the boy has more to do with Peter. Maybe it's the shipper in me, but I always thought that the boy is somehow a part of Peter because the boy's focus is toward Olivia and wanting to help her feel better or less burdened by an unsolved case. It reminds me of the way Peter knows Olivia blames herself if a case remains unsolved and he does things to help find a solution asap, sometimes not even looking at what the consequences are for him. If the boy is part Observer (sort of), he is not meant to help (as stated by the Observers somewhere along the line) but the boy does help because he is part of Peter (sort of)...
Afterthought 2 came about after season 3. Maybe it's baby Henry because he existed then disappeared along with his father. I'm not exactly sure where i was going with this thought but the mother son bond could still be there even though it's the wrong 'mother'.

fringeobsessed said...

All good points. Thanks for weighing in.
That's what we want this feature to do, get everyone motivated to share their views. :)

Anonymous said...

About when the boy spots the observer in the end: could it be that the boy IS that particular observer(can't remember his name right now), since observers don't experience time as we humans do. Could it be that he was 'visiting' his younger self? Which would also mean that they grow (but we've only seen male observers. are the female too? how else could they be born?) and appearantly can be in the same place twice.(?!)

Just thought of this while watching the episode again since a long time. I do like your theory too fringeaddict.

By Anonymousfringefan#0

Xindilini said...

I always liked this episode.

Having heard so much speculations and implications about Peter's lack of origin, there is something about this episode that seem to strike a chord.

Something I have never thought about before. What if the boy is Peter. He seemed to have formed a bond with Olivia soon after they met. Look at the way their eyes meet. Look at the way he smiles at her. The silence speaks volumes. I see a familiarity. The reasons are physical as well. They haven't determined how he came to be in a sealed room. How he knows something before it happens is very temporal to me, as if he had foresight.

I will save my own theories in my rewatch.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the boy IS Henry and before his world died, the Observers saved him and transported him to the "safe" universe in the past/present. But in the process, somehow he inherited some of the Observer's abilities? Either that or it's Olivia's future child (not Bolivia cause she didn't have any powers) that was saved and sent to the past and he inherited his abilities from her.. ???

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