Fringe Summer Rewatch #217: "Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver." ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch #217: "Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver."

      Email Post       8/23/2011 02:33:00 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.

By now, and pretty much from here to the end of the season, we're firmly entrenched in the larger mythos of the series. With the arguable exception of Northwest Passage, we're done with Mystery of the Week episodes, and hanging on for dear life as we ride the jaw-dropping, heartbreaking, and completely exhilarating roller coaster of story that has at last filled us in on why these two worlds are on a collision course. We'll spend the rest of the season examining the increasingly catastrophic fallout of Walter's meddling. Fanfrikkingtastic. If you're not hanging anxiously on every episode by his point, this is probably not be the show for you.

We have two plots here, and while James Heath and his tragic murders are certainly important, and will come into play again later, in this episode the Fringe investigation really takes a back seat to the other storyline – the immediate consequences of Walter's confession to Olivia. As we know now, the cracks appearing between the universes are Walter's fault.And Olivia is roiling inside, the secret she agreed to keep eating away at her, twisting her guts every time she looks at Peter. She can't be alone with him, afraid that he'll see the secret in her eyes, afraid of what he'll do if she tells him, afraid of what she'll be if she doesn't. Unable to sleep, she visits Sam, hoping for some kind of Jedi sagacity. And although Sam can see immediately that she's not sleeping because something is eating her, he proves ultimately disappointing, telling her that she's beyond the scope of his expertise. But before he lets her go he tells her “You're a good person, you know. One of the few I know. If you agreed to keep this secret I'm sure you had a good reason.” Trust yourself, he's telling her, your heart is true. Maybe he's not entirely out of wisdom after all.

Investigating the string of gruesome deaths is an almost welcome distraction from the guilt and doubt gnawing away at her insides.

Walter is also in a state of high anxiety. His relationship with Olivia has taken a lot of hits recently, and he's afraid the damage may be so great she won't be able to forgive him. He's awkward around her, nervous, afraid of her judgement, and knowing that it's justified. His secret is out, and he's terrified of Peter finding out as well. He comforts himself with plans to take his son away, to keep him to himself, away from Olivia, who is plainly struggling with her promise. But since they're on a case, he settles for making the taffy Peter loved as a boy. Anything, anything to make his son happy. To make Peter love him. And when Olivia tells him that she can't do it, she has to tell Peter, Walter panics. She's as gentle with him as she can be, despite all the things he's done – to her, to Peter, to the universe – she still cares for him, and tries to reassure him that the truth won't cost him his son. But Walter is adamant.

“I'm begging you,” he says, desperately “Not yet please. Give me time to prepare. Please.” Reluctantly, Olivia agrees. How differently things might have turned out if she hadn't.

Despite her best efforts to conceal her turmoil, Peter knows Olivia well, and he's well aware that something's bothering her. And given that she's actively avoiding being alone with him, he thinks he knows what it is. He's loved her for a while now, the slow realization of it finally clenching painfully when he thought she was dead. But he knows who she is. He knows she walls away her vulnerability, and he'd rather have her honest friendship than risk driving her deeper into herself by pushing for something more. It has to be her dance to lead - maybe someday she will. On their way to investigate another death, he carefully broaches the subject.

That trip down to Jacksonville was crazy. We were both exhausted, we were both emotional, and you know if something had happened between the two of us, I mean if we had actually kissed, then we'd have to deal with that, but we didn't...You know this past year this is the longest I've ever stayed in one place, so this thing we have, you, me, Walter, this...this...odd little family unit we've got going - I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that.”

Poor Olivia, he's got it wrong, but she's not ready for the real explanation. What if Walter's right after all? Miserably, she keeps her silence, letting him have his assumption.

Oh thank God, murders to solve.

There have been five of these deaths, all from the same rapid onset cancer. For some reason she can't explain, Olivia recognizes one off the victims. Grateful for the distraction, she heads home to mull it over, the scotch dulling the ceaseless gnawing at the back of her mind. A midnight knock at the door announces Sam, who absurdly wants to play Clue. Or maybe he wants to give her a clue. Whatever his motivations for showing up at midnight, his “taller than I seem” remark clicks the tumblers into place and Olivia is off to the Bishop's, where Walter is baking the skin from Miranda's arm in the oven. When Peter tells him the killer is targeting Cortexiphan subjects, he flinches. More deaths on his head, and Olivia may be a target as well. All of his sins, coming home to roost.

Failing to get a list of Cortexiphan kids from Walter, Olivia pays a visit to Nina Sharp. She comes on strong, full of righteous anger at the secrets Nina always seems to keep, but the names are just a pretext. Olivia is angry about other things, and Nina is someone she can take it out on. It doesn't take her long to get around to the real reason for her visit. “I know about Peter,” she grates, “I know the whole story.” Nina is suddenly concerned, wanting to know if she's told Peter. When Olivia says no, not yet, things suddenly click for Nina too. She's a veteran at many things; love, weirdness, and Bishops not least among them. “I'm fairly certain that you're not prepared to lose him,” she says knowingly, “You didn't come here to ask me about a list you already know I don't have, and you didn't come here to announce that you're going to tell Peter who he really is. You came here to have me talk you out of it.”

The circle of skin cut from Miranda's arm looks queasily like a painted hamburger patty as Walter places it on a scanner. Ever the Scully, Peter watches doubtfully as the scanner looks for a fingerprint. When it finds one, he circles around to give his father an affectionate hug, oblivious to the pained look that passes between Walter and Olivia. The fingerprint finds no match however, and Walter moves away, deeply disturbed.

At home, Olivia has finally put the pieces together – the killer is James Heath, cancer victim. He and his sister Julie were both in the Jacksonville Cortexiphan trials, and Julie was the first to die. Olivia is on her way out the door to pay a visit to the hospital where Heath was being treated, when she finds him standing in the hallway outside her apartment. She doesn't manage to get the door closed before he's on her, and she's fighting for her life, kicking frantically to keep him from touching her. Grabbing her phone she instinctively calls Peter, yelling desperately for him to help her. She's able to take her attacker down on her own however, clocking him with the appropriate candlestick just before the cavalry arrives. Heath sees his sister's photograph on the floor and begins to weep pathetically. He tells Olivia about a man who came to see him in the hospital, telling him that he'd been experimented on as a child, and that because of the experiments, the man could teach him how to fight his cancer. It worked, sort of. Whatever the man taught him gave him the ability to stave off his disease by transferring it to others. At first he killed accidentally, first his sister, and then Timothy Ober before he realized what was happening. “I think,” he chokes “if that man had never come to see me, I would have died the way I was supposed to. And my sister would still be alive. They'd all still be alive.”

Afterward, Peter teases Olivia about being number one on her speed dial. She denies it with a flippant joke, and then starts to say something else. But she can't. She knows that now, and the knowledge that she will keep Walter's secret is weighty on her. Still misreading her pain, Peter smiles to hide his own.

Later that night, Olivia stops by the Bishop house, relieved when she finds Walter there alone, it's him she wants to talk to. She tells him that she's decided he may be right, that some truths are better left unsaid. But Walter surprises her. “Thank you Olivia,” he says heavily, “but the truth is, I've done enough damage.” Nancy Lewis and her sister, Susan Pratt. Nick Lane. Julie and James Heath. Timothy Ober, Lloyd Becker, Miranda Greene, Alan DeRosa. Others. Olivia. Peter. “It's time to start to put things right, whatever the consequences. And that starts with telling Peter the truth. I have to tell him who he really is.”
Unnameable emotions warring in her face, Olivia can only stare at him.

Interesting tidbits:

 “Time is just a matter of semantics.” - Sam Weiss

Walter is convinced at first that Peter will never forgive him if he finds out the truth, possibly because he and Elizabeth worked so hard, and so systematically to brain wash him as a boy, when he knew the truth.

Miranda Greene was preparing a lawsuit against INtREPUS Pharmaceuticals, the same company run by David Esterbrooke in the Season one episode “The Cure.”

Sam points out Olivia's “uniform” and refers to her as a soldier. This is eerily reminiscent of Nick Lane's distraught outburst in Bad Dreams: “I did what they told us. I waited Olive. For the soldier to come who was both natural and unnatural. Stay fit, stay focused, stay ready. I wore the blacks and grays! I blended in, but the call never came.It never came.”

Nick's aunt is working a jigsaw puzzle detail of Michelangelo's “The Creation of Adam,” visually referencing Olivia's efforts to make sense of her new knowledge of Peter as well as the more mundane puzzle of solving the murders. The painting also touches on the overarching theme of faith, and Carla Warren's belief that some things belong to God alone.

This episode hints again at a possible sexual history between Nina and Walter and/or Bell: “I recognize the look in your eyes. I know that working closely with someone can bring about...feelings.”

Olivia can say whatever she wants, Peter is totally number one on her speed dial.

Unanswered questions:

Sam demonstrates some more of his uncanny ability to read minds/auras/emotions – whatever it is he reads. How does he do that? He's older than he looks, and taller than he appears - what exactly is he?

Nina seems genuinely concerned when asking if Peter knew his own origin. But why? Is she worried about something in particular resulting from his knowledge, or just concerned for her old friend, and the boy she once knew?

Who is the man who keeps trying to activate the Cortexiphan subjects? If he's still trying after the death of Sanford Harris, who is he working for?

If Peter Bishop didn't exist:

Walter may never have punched a hole between universes in the first place. It seems apparent that something would have caused the clash eventually, but would it have been Walter? Walternate? Some other, unknown force? This may be a question we see answered in season four.

Someone else would have had to collect the pus sample.
There would have been less coffee, and probably no taffee.
There would have been no agonizing tension between Olivia and Walter.

Olivia would have been alone in the car, alone in her investigation. She would have had to call someone else for help, or maybe no one at all. Despite the weirdness between him and Olivia, he's actually pretty happy right now. If Olivia wants to be his sister, I think he's ready to accept that with only a little regret. He loves her, and he loves her enough to accept whatever she's willing to give him. And for Peter, his relationship with Walter is only deepening. He has a family, for the first time in many, many years, and he loves them all. But I think what he doesn't realize is that he's the one who draws them together – without Peter, there is no family.

And that brings me once again to the conclusion that without Peter, Walter would never have been released from St. Claire's, and again this case, any of the cases, might never have been solved. And a lot more people might be dead.


45 said...

"Poor Olivia, he got it wrong"

Wow, Olivia lies to peter's face and its poor Olivia? Excuse Peter for not KNOWING the truth that Olivia is hiding but I'm not surprised. Peter is supposed to know EVERYTHING and if he doesn't know everything that Olivia is feeling, Peter is the bad guy and its poor Olivia.

You know, these reviews are starting to become nothing more than big Olivia pity party while Peter gets no sympathy just criticism.

Anonymous said...

You know 45, far be it from me to ever want to agree with you on anything, but you have a point. I think it's amusing, though. "Poor Olivia, she's keeping Peter's true identity from him" LMAO!

Anyway, as opposed to "Peter", where the whole episode would have made no sense without Peter's existence (he´s in the title, after all), he had absolutely no influence in this episode.

birdandbear said...

Lol, I didn't have much time to do this, and was worried about the overall tone being too shippy, but apparently it wasn't shippy enough. Or maybe it's just not Petery enough.

I love Peter, he's my favorite character. I can (and sometimes do) talk about why he's so great all the live long day. Peter is very much at the heart of this episode, but it's an episode in which the people who love him most have to wrestle with the moral dilemma of whether or not to tell him the truth. It's not an easy question. Simple ideas of right and wrong are clouded by strong feelings for Peter, mostly love and fear of losing him.

"Poor Olivia, he's got it wrong. Idiot."

Where does it say that?
Peter is misinterpreting the weird signals he's been getting from Olivia under the most logical terms. He tried to kiss her, she shied away. They went out, it was weird, and she's been avoiding alone time with him ever since, ergo the girl doesn't like him that way. Most of us have been in that position at least once. It's the most natural assumption in the world for him to make, and he handles it with grace. He's disappointed, but not about to risk hurting his new family over it, because he feels that having Olivia in his life in any capacity is better than having no Olivia at all.

So at this point in the story I do feel a little bad for Peter, but I feel much worse for Olivia because I believe he does have it wrong. I believe she did want to kiss him. She started to, but realized suddenly that her fear would enable her to see, and seeing would save lives, so she broke off and ran to do her job. But I think she'd been slowly realizing how much he meant to her for a while, and was ready to open up to him when she saw him glimmer. She was on her way out with him, she let her hair down to make herself prettier for him. She's never been good at relationships, and her last one ended very badly, but she was ready for the risk again, and she was definitely interested in persuing that kiss.

And then he glimmered, and she knew what it meant.
And it threw her for a major loop, and she didn't know what to do. She's just figured out how much she needs him. What if she tells him and he leaves? What about Walter? Doesn't Peter deserve to know? Is it lying to him to not tell him? She promised Walter she wouldn't say anything...
So many questions, none with easy answers. So she's weird, distant, sleepless, while she tries to absorb the information. And when she realizes he's reading her wrong it hurts her, because she knows it's hurting him, and that is not what she wants. But until she figures out what to do, she has to let him think what he will.
So yeah. Poor Olivia.

birdandbear said...

Yeah, it was kinda hard to come up with the "What if Peter didn't exist?" stuff for this one. Which is weird, because he's at the center of the episode, but he doesn't actually do much in it.

But still, whether he does anything significant or not in any given episode, whenever I think of a Peterless Fringeverse, there's just this horrifying gaping emptiness. :(

45 said...

birdandbear, I want to thank you for not giving a crap about peter's feelings. THANKS SO MUCH.

45 said...

I want to also thank you for blaming PETER on Olivia's poor helpless feelings when SHE'S THE ONE HIDING SECRETS FROM HIM.

I hate Olivia. Nobody cares about him because of that blonde.

birdandbear said...

"I love Peter, he's my favorite character. I can (and sometimes do) talk about why he's so great all the live long day."

Was this unclear?
I care about Peter very much. Most of the writers here do. But I'm also capable of looking beyond my fangirl crush and empathizing with the other characters on the show. :)

Unknown said...

We can argue in Peter's favor all day long, birdandbear, but if you show any remorse for Olivia and Walter, then you're automatically a Peter-Hater to some people. Never mind that we adore the character... They can't see the gray areas that each of these characters have to navigate. Ignore it and move on.

Unknown said...

Olivia had to struggle with yet another Cortexiphan subject coming out of the woodwork. James Heath had good reason to be angry with Walter in "Over There" - His life was ruined. Olivia was at least functioning, unaware of what was done to her as a child until she met Walter and Peter again. This case shook her up hard.

Peter has always been cautious around Olivia. Trying not to overstep his boundaries. It's ashame that just as he was willing to make his move with Olivia, and she was likely going to reciprocate, that Walter's secret became known to Olivia. As stated, Olivia struggled with what she knew. She couldn't sleep. She wanted to tell him when Peter came to her aid in the apartment. But looking at him, smiling at her speed-dial statement, made her not want to upset him. Like Nina said- she wasn't prepared to lose him. Selfish? Maybe. But I'm not sure that I'd do differently in her place.

Unknown said...

One of Peter's most admirable qualities is that he'll eventually tell the truth about things - no matter how much it hurts. Because as Walter said, "You know the pain that a lie can inflict more than anyone." So, he told Olivia the truth in Marionette . He showed her the shapeshifter discs in Os

This episode (2.17)is really good with laying out the morality cards. On one hand, telling Peter is the "right" thing to do. On the other, would this knowledge have been to of any benefit to Peter at this point in his life? Things were just starting to come together. Peter had a purpose and a family. It's hard to judge the choices made by Walter and Olivia.

Anonymous said...

Hi--This is OT but I thought people here would be interested. AOL TV has been spotlighting the 5 essential episodes of what they consider the best scripted dramas and comedies on TV, aimed at new viewers. Today they are spotlighting Fringe. Here is the link: See if you agree or disagree with their choices.

fringeobsessed said...

Thanks for sharing the link. I think one needs to add 204 "Momentum Deferred" to that list to understand what Willaim Bell did to Olivia and what he apparently said to her, jmo.

Unknown said...

I may be biased because it is my fave episode, but I'd include White Tulip, because it is totally what Fringe is all about: The lengths someone will go to in order to save a loved one, consequences be damned.

Anonymous said...

@birdandbear Your reply above, "And when she realizes he's reading her wrong it hurts her, because she knows it's hurting him", made me tear up, very good review. Ahem... I would have to agree, poor Olivia, and this is coming from someone who has seen every Josh movie, and adores him fervently.

"But I think what he doesn't realize is that he's the one who draws them together" Brilliant, I loved that as well!

cortexifan said...

Awesome job, birdandbear and cool Fringemobile again btw. Just finished mine too :)
Still working on re-watching this episode but here is a If Peter never existed ....
-45 would have to find something else to complain about :)

Fringie6989 said...

Haven't had a chance to read everything but so far great job everyone! I LOVE this episode. Like what Aimee said about the motivations behind telling Peter the truth. I think Olivia was doing her best to protect Peter. Yes, she should have told him. But she was trying to figure out what would be best not just for Peter but also Walter. Also, about it being unfortunate about Peter and Olivia moving forward only to have the bomb dropped about Peter, has been one of many times that something has come up to stop the two of them. But I think this is what has made Peter and Olivia such a great couple and also what has made us PO shippers so passionate. Just to put my position out there, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Peter. But I also LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Olivia AND Walter. Its not a competition and I really wish certain people who stop throwing a shadow on these wonderful rewatches, by making such overgeneralized statements about all of us hating Peter, because I have yet to speak to a single Fringe fan who hates Peter for what happened with Olivia.

45 said...

None of you care about peter! where the hell is Peter's "POOR PETER" huh, huh, huh! answer me that you annoying olivia fans!

cortexifan said...

-5:18 on Olivia’s alarm clock was the clue for White Tulip. Peck wanted to go back to May 18th to save his fiancĂ©.
-All the weapons from the clue game were spread throughout the episode: Sam is holding a pipe and there is a wrench as well were he lays on the floor at the bowling alley. In the lab there is rope on a table. On Lloyd Becker’s mantel is a dagger. Olivia’s gun and she hits Heath with the candlestick.
-She’s still not sleeping.
-Olivia is declining alcohol? What’s wrong with her :)
-Sam: “You’ve officially gone beyond my field of expertise.”How much does Sam really know? I keep going back to the anagram in 2.22 Over There part 2 that said: Don’t trust Sam Weiss. When Nina was asking him about the device at the end of 3.12 Concentrate And Ask Again, was he lying. Even in 3.21 The Last Sam Weiss I didn’t trust him.
-“You’re a good person. One of the few I know.” Hm, I thought Sam knows a lot of people since he seem to be older than he appeared. Or is Olivia really a “rare commodity”?
-Great typical Walter moments in this episode.
-Miranda was working on a case against Intrepus. Whatever happened to Estebrook. Intrepus gets in trouble again in 3.12 Concentrate And Ask Again.
-Olivia really seems to struggle with this. Almost as much as when she came back from the other side.
-When did Walter and Olivia discuss how to handle this? Was it right after he came to see her and explain everything?
-Olivia: “If it was the other way around I would want him to tell me.” Well, Peter did tell her that he slept with Fauxlivia and I must say, Olivia didn’t take it all too well. If Olivia would have told him right there I think Peter would have handled it better. IMO
-“I’m up for a road trip, how about you?” Not a very pleasant one or two actually when Peter talks about the little family they got going. So much different than the road trip in 3.16 Os where they play “full disclosure”.
-It’s too bad the cortexi-kids were sacrificed in 2.21 Over There part 1.
-Broyles to Olivia: “What do you see?” I think that’s an interesting statement and just shows how much Broyles trusts Olivia’s judgment. They have a special relationship (for lack of a better word) which is brought out as well in the delete scene. They should have left that in there.
-Peter’s come a long way wanting to not hurt this little family thing they’ve got going. Olivia and Peter make a great couple. And yes, Walter fits in there somewhere too :)
-Peter: “So, we’re good, right?” Olivia: “Yeah.” Every time that phrase is used (mostly by Olivia) it’s a lie.

cortexifan said...

part 2

@birdandbear , here is an answer to your question whether this is the same guy who came after the other cortexi-kids. I’m going to say yes and here is why. Astrid said they found 5 victims over a “20 months” period. I’m going to say that Isaac Winters came to find James Heath first, then went after Nick Lane and Susan Pratt, before he found Nancy Lewis and then gets killed by Olivia. That works for me, how about for you?

How did Olivia know Timothy Obers middle name, if all she had to go on was the list from Jacksonville because as stated by Nina there are no written records of the subjects.
-Olivia moved around a lot, had tumultuous childhood and a hard time forming relationships. Sam, you have no idea, or do you?
-“You’re a soldier, protector and a crow bar :)
-Nina: “Do you doubt me Agent Dunham?” Not just her Nina, me too.
-Why did Nina think Olivia wanted to be talked out of telling Peter the truth?
It’s amazing how much filth we carry around on our hands.” Which translates to: It’s amazing how many skeletons we have in our closets.
-Olivia to Peter: “Thank you for coming.” In 3.19 LSD Olivia says; “Thank you for coming to get me.”
-Broyles said Heath’s activation failed and that the cancer is an unintended side effect. Nick affected people with his emotions, Susan set herself on fire. So did Olivia get activated when she did the light test in 1.14 Ability? How come she shows no side effects?
-In a way I’m glad she didn’t tell Peter because it should be Walter’s responsibility anyway.

If Peter never existed in this episode…
-Would Olivia have called Broyles for help?

Mr. Winters said...

Olivia shows no side effects because she was the strongest of all.

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