Fringe 402 Review: One Night in October ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe 402 Review: One Night in October

      Email Post       10/02/2011 02:48:00 AM      

“I’ve always though there were people who leave an indelible mark on your soul. An imprint that can never be erased.”

Fringe has set itself a difficult task. To resolve the missing-Peter problem too quickly would diminish the impact of his absence. But creating a new, overarching narrative goal other than the restoration (in whatever form) of Peter would frustrate both our desires and the naturalistic progress of storytelling. Fringe must take its time to show us this Peter-less world, while still giving us something to invest in.

It’s not quite thumb-twiddling, but this episode felt a bit like wandering through a museum, enjoying the art, but searching for the masterpiece we know is lurking just one or two galleries away. Pleasant, even perfect in its own way, but not quite why we paid the price of admission.

I use the metaphor of a museum advisedly, too, as the architectural spaces of museums, libraries, bookshelves, and even beehives have been associated with memory since the days of classical rhetoric, though the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and into present-day memory competitions. The most common iteration of the locational mnemotechnique is the “memory palace,” in which each floor and each room organizes information for easy location and recollection at a later date. Want to recall if Polk came before or after Fillmore? Enter the American floor, turn left at the presidential wing, and open the door to the 19th century.

However, there’s another type of memory: not facts and dates, but the small moments that imprint our souls like wax under a seal. Proust attempted to express the nature of those memories in his thousands of pages searching for lost time (and lost pastries); Nabokov boiled them down to distinct images of the distant past that flare up again in a more recent past in Speak, Memory; and St. Augustine saw the imprimatur of these memories as so philosophically complicated that they made him question the nature of time and our experiences of it.

Astrid said that “what is in the past is in the past,” but the past is always alive in our impressionistic memories. The past shapes the present just as much—if not more so—than our present experiences shape our understanding of our memories. For McClellan I, the memories of Marjorie have shifted his life-course just enough to the side of the good that he has developed an empathetic response to those filled with darkness. The shots of Marjorie, with the hazy brightness and disconnected images, did a wonderful job of expressing the inexpressible: the sensory discontinuities that are the visual touchstones we use to locate our emotional remembrances.

McClellan I said, “I don’t think we can underestimate the role that empathy plays in the structuring of the self.” The lack of empathy, which is to say the lack of ability to occupy the position of the other, is a hallmark of sociopathy or psychopathy. Marjorie managed to awake the empathetic impulse in McClellan by showing him a world will hope and lightness. Because of her influence, McClellan moved beyond the desire to steal happiness and into the more emotionally and morally mature desire to help those who put the diminishment of their own misery before the well-being of others. For McClellan’s experience of his alter-self, empathy and memory are tied together: to understand McClellan II, he had to recall his own past and imagine its possible alterations. He had to, in other words, empathize with his own hypothetical memories.

It was Olivia’s empathy that allowed her to connect with McClellan I and understand where he was going. In an ironic twist, that empathetic connection was made easier by her own childhood experience without having met Peter: Olivia killed her stepfather in this reality. In the world we’ve come to know over the past few seasons, she had only wounded him—perhaps because her encounter with Peter in the field of white tulips diminished her rage, perhaps because in a Peter-less world Walter never told her stepfather to stop abusing her. (Her empathy has limits, though. She really doesn’t like Fauxlivia.)

McClellan I, by episode’s end, has lost his memory of Marjorie, but he has retained what he learned from her. Olivia, never having met Peter, seems not to have been affected by what she had learned in her own field-encounter. Or is she? Does the message of empathy and support she received from Peter still, somehow, linger in her mind, the way images of Peter haunt Walter in the lab?

Speaking of which: Walter chose to listen to Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. Not quite as much fun as “Love and Happiness,” that’s for sure. But Mozart makes sense: he crafted complicated musical and mathematical puzzles within his works, yet managed to express astonishing beauty that even those of us who aren’t great at musical puzzles (like myself) can begin to empathize with. That Walter would choose to listen to a requiem, a remembrance for the dead, may even hint that he is subconsciously aware of precisely what is haunting him in reflective surfaces and screens.

We’re In the Wrong Place:

• Walter: “They are loathsome, hateful, contemptible…”
Astrid: “Contemptible? Is he doing the synonym thing again?”

• Walter: “She bought my ignorance with baked goods.”

• Olivia: “He’s not even my type.”
Astrid: “Do you ever think that you type doesn’t exist?”

• McClellan: “Things are pretty dark right now…You know what they say. That even when it’s the darkest, you can step into the light.”

• Broyles: “At the risk of sounding sentimental, I’ve always though there were people who leave an indelible mark on your soul. An imprint that can never be erased.”

• Walter called Lincoln, Kennedy. Hilarious.

• I thought it was very sad that Olivia brought her own coffee, and coffee just for her. Wasn’t coffee something she and Peter often shared?

• The entire opening scene was so hilarious I thought we were going to get a weird comedy episode.

• Alt-Broyles! Numfar, do the dance of joy!

• Want to test your own empathic abilities? Simon Baron-Cohen has a test for that.

Three out of four traitorous baked goods.

(Josie Kafka has forgotten her real name. Maybe it's downstairs somewhere? While she searches, check out her reviews of Game of Thrones and the Vampire Diaries at


theoncominghope said...

I've also been wondering about Massive Dynamic. I imagine a lot of things changed when Walter lost Peter a second time, as he seems considerably more unhinged.

This episode shows that the show can succeed even without him, and frankly I'm enjoying the return to the smaller stories that Fringe does so well. I love a good story arc, but I think it will be difficult to beat the Walternate/parallel universes arc in scope or quality.

Anyway, Walter seems to be the only one receiving actual communication from Peter, but it seems Olivia is the one who's really experiencing a void inside of herself, and can't put a finger on why or what.

I've been doing snarky recaps of Fringe, and would love your thoughts:

Anonymous said...

George from Mexico.

Great, great review. Fringe is all about humans feelings. Love it.

I just have a question, what was in te wood box in the Barn that Marjorie had? (somethig dark, bad?)

Old Darth said...

A dead animal that John had killed.

Count Screwloose said...

"Fringe must take its time to show us this Peter-less world, while still giving us something to invest in." That's it, precisely. And so far, so good!

Question of the day: Why is John Lennon's name hiding in that of the profiler/serial killer?

Anonymous said...

how awesome was the two Olivia's chemistry?! Mad props to Anna Torv

milostanfield said...

VERY nice. Thanks. Especially liked the thought about the two types of memory: the kind that gets us through college (thing memory), and the kind that gets us through life (feeling memory).

You mentioned the irony that Olivia's empathy enabled her to connect with Prof. McClellen, even though she killed the monster in her life as an act of justice, not empathy. Another irony is that McClellen's empathy led directly to killing his counterpart, and your memory distinction, for me, sheds some light on that. He escaped and sought out his double not as an errand of justice, like the Fringe team, but instead to redeem him, to bring him into the light. He wanted to GIVE him the (feeling) memory of Marjorie, but the serial killer reverted to form and TOOK the (thing) memory of her, like it was intellectual property. And it hit him like a silver bullet hits a werewolf. The name on the bullet was Marjorie, and so he put a real bullet in his brain.

The past also comes into play here. The Prof. got his memory as an imprint on his soul early in life, built his life from that, and was able to cope with the darkness he shared with his double. The double got a darker imprint and built his life around that instead. There's some analogy to how Cortexiphan works here. If it is given to a child with her unshackled mind, it works. If given to an adult, it fails with fatal results. I am actually glad that the Prof. lost all memory of his encounter over there (another irony?) as he would have been haunted by the outcome of his effort to redeem.

We know so little about the circumstances of Olivia's childhood events (in both timelines), I think it would be risky to assess her actions as to how they would go down with or without Peter's influence. We certainly understand her motive. But we don't know the circumstances. We know that the Olivia in the original timeline picked up a gun as a child and shot her stepfather. But was her intention at that moment to kill, to wound, or to lash out blindly as a child would, not having thought through the consequences? Where, on the scale from assault, to accidental manslaughter, to 1st degree murder, did her action lie? We just don't know. Did the Olivia in the new timeline also act as a child, or did she track him down as an adolescent or adult and intentionally kill him? If the latter then there would definitely be cause to look at Peter's lack of influence in her life. But as long as a child is involved, I'm just not sure that, in an abusive situation, an informed ethical choice, based on past influence, could be made. Besides, a small frightened child wielding a big gun could have just missed (or not), regardless of intention, so chance comes into play as well.

Chance also came into play in the two John's lives. Both helpless children. One hid and got caught. One hid and ran away, chancing across the one who would redeem him in the middle of a field.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone, for not caring about peter anymore. THANKS A LOT!

Anonymous said...

I don't generally like to give attention to Trolls but to Anonymous above me: I am a huuuuge Joshua Jackson fan, probably since I was 6. He is the original reason I watched Fringe. But it is a show with a story line. It is a great show and even Josh approved of this story line. So get over it and he will be back on soon. Your comments make even the biggest Peter fans pissed. To everyone else sorry.


Anonymous said...

"Thank you, everyone, for not caring about peter anymore. THANKS A LOT!"

It is hard to care, when they are showing us how much better Olivia is without him. Less burdened? Check. Happier? Check. More confident? Check. Did he have any positive influence at all? Because this episode went out of its way to show he didn't.

And he won't stop torturing Walter.

What are these writers doing?

Post a Comment

Formatting Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i >italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">link</a> = link

Anonymous posting has been turned off.


Viral & Official FOX Websites

FTV Members


Powered by Blogger
Designed by Spot