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Episode 402, titled 'One Night In October' is my favorite Season 4 episode to date.
Ironically, it aired on 09/30/11. (It would have been cute if it had aired on one night in October.)
The Importance Of A Second Episode
Season 4 starts off with a look into the new timeline (milestanfield, I hope you don't mind if I borrow your abbreviation of the 'new timeline,' 'NTL,' and use it here) through the Blue Universe's Lincoln Lee's eyes.
I remember commenting on episode 102, 'The Same Old Story,' this past summer how important a second episode is to a new series. Well, the same goes for Season 4, which executive producers Pinkner and Wyman have mentioned in an interview is like a new series, especially for new fans just tuning in for the first time.
Just like 102, episode 402, 'One Night In October' has the monumentous task of giving us new, critical insight into our beloved characters, and propeling the storyline in a forward direction. And while it is obvious within the first few minutes that 402 was not written by the Pinkner/Abrams/Kurtzman/Orci team, I do give writers Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen praise for writing this brilliant episode, and I may finally forgive them for writing that depressing, garden, P/O scene in 'Marionette.'
Symmetry So Thick You Could Cut It With A Knife
Schapker and Owusu-Breen take us on a lovely in-depth tour of symmetry in this episode:
1) Actor John Pyper-Ferguson does a beautiful, double-duty job as a professor of Forensic Psychology who specializes in serial killers, in the Blue 'Verse, and as an actual serial killer, in the Red 'Verse. (See below for more detail.)
2) Near the beginning of the episode our Walter of the NTL waxes poetic to new recruit Lee about the shapeshifters from Over There.
Walter: It's like everything from over there. They are loathsome. Hateful. Contemptible.
As Walter says the words he stares at his reflection in something electronic, and then quickly covers it with a cloth. Nice reference to the Walter/Walternate similarities, and another nice reference to the infinite Fringe/Through The Looking Glass(Alice In Wonderland) connections we know creator JJ Abrams adores.
3) Our Olivia, Bolivia, and our Broyles meet in a conference room in the Bridge area to review the McClennan serial killer case wreaking havoc Over There. Later, after our McClennan escapes Over There, our Olivia, Bolivia, and Red 'Verse Broyles meet and discuss the case. Differences? Our Liv is classier Over There in her actions, than Bolivia is in the Bridge conference room. And Red 'Verse Broyles is colder to our Liv than our Broyles is to Bolivia, in my opinion.
4) There is an adorable scene where Bolivia dons a blonde wig to interview our McClennan(more on that below). Red Lincoln and Bolivia have a verbal interchange and then they go outside. Bolivia watches as our Olivia meets Red Lincoln Lee for the first time. Our Liv is all business and barely looks at the man. She steers her attention to Bolivia dressed identically to herself and says simply, "I button my jacket." Bolivia starts to button her jacket as she makes one of her crazy faces.
Lee tells our Liv they will do audio surveillance in the van outside the house. She says "that's fine" and moves back as a sedated McClennan is gurneyed toward the house. Sassy as always, Bolivia gives a crooked smile and says "Showtime." Torv does a great job in this scene showing that while perfectly symmetrical, the two Olivias couldn't be more different.
5) Our McClennan notices there is a chair in the serial killer's Norristown, PA house that is identical to a set he had in the house of his childhood. Then he notices a picture of his own father on the serial killer's 'Happy Wall,' and goes ballistic. But what's even better is my favorite scene of this episode when he walks out of the house, telling Bolivia "I'm finished here," and looks around him. In front of him is our Liv. McClennan turns slowly to look at Bolivia behind him, and then spots an amber quarantine zone down the street. In sheer panic he asks, "Where am I? Where am I?" This symmetrical screen shot deserves an award all by itself.
6) Serial killer McClennan is busy preparing poor Noreen Miller's brain so he can get a happy high again when he turns and sees our McClennan standing behind him. The serial killer is speechless for a second.All the scenes with the two McClennans are wonderfully done.
7) Bolivia Dunham asks our Olivia to ride with her on the way to finding Noreen Miller. What must have been going through our Olivia's head? Curiosity? Frustration? Probably both. A little recap here: While trying to get our McClennan to yield more information, our Olivia told McClennan "I also came from an abusive home." Below is the Bolivia/Olivia conversation in the SUV:
BOLIVIA DUNHAM: (driving through the dark, rural woods) What you said to John about your stepfather-- you were trying to open him up, huh?
OLIVIA: Yes. It's also true.
BOLIVIA DUNHAM: So what happened to him?
OLIVIA: My stepfather? (matter-of-factly) I killed him. (Bolivia not expecting that reply)
Whoa! But I saw that coming. Did you?
New Stuff We Learned About The NTL In 'One Night In October'
According to Walter, Bolivia also used the Portuguese sweet bread to gain Walter's trust while she stole pieces of 'the machine' in the NTL. (Breathe easy Polivia fans. Obviously Bolivia did not sleep with Peter in this new timeline since he died before he grew up.)
In the NTL Astrid is a more agressive matchmaker for Olivia than in the old one.
ASTRID: Do you ever think that maybe your type just doesn't exist?
Ah, great line, but we know he does. But it depends on your definition of 'exist.' (If you don't understand that rewatch 407 and be sure to read the commentary on that.)
The Over There Science Division has not gotten back to Broyles about that piece of 'tech'(a pump-like thingy) Walter found inside Shapeshifter2.0 in episode 401.
Walter is experimenting with his meds(nothing new there really), and Astrid in this NTL has taken over some of Peter Bishop's Walter-caretaking roles. Astrid in this NTL is in more of a caretaking role and much less of a friend role. Sadly, I miss the old Walter/Astrid dynamic very much.
"Kennedy, help me." In this NTL our Walter still has trouble with names, and it's adorable. Since Astrid has assumed some of Peter's caretaking roles, does that leave Lee to fill Astrid's old role as lab assistant? If so, it is only fitting then that his name be constantly butchered from here on out.
Red Lincoln Lee is still quite taken by Bolivia Dunham in this NTL, and feels the need to one-up Frank:
BOLIVIA: Yeah, come in. (She adjusts a blond wig on her head.) What do you think?
RED LINCOLN: Blond looks good on you.
BOLIVIA: Yeah well, lucky Frank likes the red huh? (looking at herself in the mirror.)
RED LINCOLN: I didn't say I didn't like the red. You look good in both.
BOLIVIA: Thank you.
By Bolivia's comments, we can assume she is still currently involved with Frank Stanton. And it just dawned on me how eerily similar that conversation above is to Peter and Bolivia's conversation in 'The Box' when she gets him to dance at the bar and he tells her "I've always preferred blonds, but you made a very sexy redhead," and Bolivia replies, "Good."
LINCOLN LEE: Charlie's on a beach sipping Mai-Tais with the Bug Lady. I'm sorry, Missus Bug Lady.
Yup, in the NTL apparently Agent Scarlie married Mona AKA "Bug Lady."
LINCOLN LEE: (looks at Olivia in the passenger's seat) You hate being out here, don't you?
OLIVIA: Why do you say that?
LINCOLN LEE: 'Cause it would drive her crazy.
OLIVIA: I'm fine with it.
There's an interview with Seth Gabel that came out shortly after this episode aired where he comments on this scene. Seth says that Red Lincoln is "titillated" with the Olivia Dunham from the Blue 'Verse, because she is another version of the woman he likes/loves. Rewatch the short scene of them in the van and watch Lincoln's eyes. His look is almost as expressive as Peter's when he gets his first look at Bolivia in 'Over There:Part I.'
BOLIVIA: You know, that woman processes more information in an hour than you and I will in a lifetime, so if she hasn't thought of it, it's not there.
Even in the NTL, Bolivia is not very nice to our Olivia. And, Bolivia is very protective and respectful of Over There Astrid.
In this NTL, our Olivia still has her incredible memory of numbers. Her memory of the license plate on the tractor in the picture of McClennan's father led them to the address of an old farm, and the location of the storm cellar where Noreen Miller was being held.
There may be a new serial killer in the days ahead for the Blue 'Verse, or maybe not. The neurologists think McClennan's memories of Marjorie may be gone forever-his only tether to sanity. Yet measuring from what he said to our Olivia, he seemed to recognize that there is a lighter side.
'One Night In October,' In Summary
In typical Fringe style this entire episode is symbolic and important in moving the grand story arc ahead.
First let me list some crucial dialogue, and then I'll tell you what I believe is the role of this particular episode:
"I don't think that we can underestimate the role that empathy plays in the structuring of the self, or -- or the lack thereof."-our Professor McClennan
"He needs to feel in control. Messy spaces bother him. (chuckles) He's highly intelligent. Hm. Probably self-taught. (carefully looking at action figures displayed in the shelf) And he's... fascinated by the brain." (about the many packages) Germany. China. Uh, Thailand. -our Professor McClennan
"Yeah, he ordered a lot of parts online from overseas for the schematics that he designed."-Bolivia Dunham
"He needs to divert himself from his misery, so he builds things to occupy his time."-our Professor McClennan
"Uh, he's deeply unhappy. He grew up feeling deprived, and... other kids had things, and he -- he didn't. He's trying to make up for it now, but... He can't. (opens fridge) Dinner's important to him. He hunts during the day. He blends into his surroundings."-our Professor McClennan
"Oh, because he's jealous of them. Because he... he hates that they have happy lives. That's what he looks for. He takes them when they're happy. His feelings are all that matter. He wants to feel better."-our Professor McClennan
OK. Reread the dialogue I posted above. Obviously the professor and Bolivia are talking about serial killer John McClennan from Over There. But some attributes also sound like Walternate, and in my opinion, more likely, Peter Bishop. Not exactly the Peter Bishop we've grown to know in the last 3 seasons, but the dark and dangerous Peter Bishop Nina repeatedly warned Olivia about in episode 219, 'Brown Betty.' Like the dark Peter we got a glimpse of in 'Reciprocity.'
It is just my opinion, but I believe Schapker and Owusu-Breen are using foreshadowing here and pointing to a return of a darker Peter, or less specifically, of a darker Fringe character. Of course, it may not be Peter Bishop the writers are pointing to. Notice also the juxtapositioning of good McClennan vs. bad McClennan, and the good trying to help the bad.
PROFESSOR MCCLENNAN: I don't just understand him. I am him. What's in him is in me.
Take a look at the first paragraph of Josie Kafka's fine review of episode 407, 'Wallflower':
"In one of the most famous passages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, geist encounters another, and the interchange between the two results in geist evolving into a more mature being through the encounter and the struggle for dominance it creates. No man, as Donne says, is an island. We must be recognized to recognize ourselves. We must recognize others in order to understand our relation to them and to the world we inhabit."
The last sentence has far-reaching ramifications for all the Fringe characters who, I believe, will be majorly affected by a dark version of someone in the episodes to come, and the chaos that ensues from that.
More Foreshadowing In This Episode
1) After our Olivia exits McClennan's hopsital room, she ponders his last words about hope:
MCCLENNAN:You know what they say. That even when it's the darkest, we can step into the light.
OLIVIA: He knows what she taught him, but he can't remember who she is. How is that possible?
BROYLES: At the risk of sounding sentimental...I've always thought there were people who leave an indelible mark on your soul. An imprint that can never be erased.
I believe this is foreshadowing of Peter Bishop, and his leaving an imprint on every one of our Fringe characters.
Also, switch Olivia's words around 180 degrees:
"She knows what he taught her, but she can't remember who he is. How is that possible?"
It may be a stretch, but I believe this is the real message the writers are leaving us with here. And again, it's referencing Olivia's inability to remember Peter Bishop.
2) In this episode, serial killer John McClennan says:
"I took her from him. I shouldn't have. She made him... feel for them. What have I done to all of them? (disoriented) Margery? What have I done?"(shoots himself.)
Is there a deeper meaning to these words? Suddently, Olivia is viewed as 'Margery,' so who is symbolic of 'Tortured John' then? Without getting into spoiler territory, could this be foreshadowing for one of the characters from either universe?
Some Nice Touches In This Episode
I do want to mention a couple things that make one smile while watching 'One Night In October.'
1) Our John McClennan assumes the tranquilizer the Fringe Team is going to give him is via injection. In familiar Fringe fashion, he unbuttons his dress shirt to his elbow. We anticipate another of those giant, old -fashioned needles at least one of the showrunners must fancy, but the agent hands John a vial with an amber liquid, and we all stop cringing.
2) Serial killer John McClennan sits watching a mother and daughter from an outside table, while he sips his Starbuck's tea (Remember there's barely any coffee Over There.) The daughter goes to the rest room by herself and we are so sure she's the unlucky person McClennan will snatch. But the daughter returns to an empty van, and it's then we realize McClennan has kidnapped the mother instead. Nope, not another morbid child abduction in this episode.
3) There is a scene where Walter is sitting way back in his chair listening to Mozart via an incredibly loud bank of speakers that is reminiscent of an old Maxwell cassette tape episode. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DP89iMe0BY
4) Serial killer John McClennan hooking the probe into the back of his skull, an adorable callback to Dr. Nayak in 205, 'Dream Logic,' who did the same thing. But here in 402 we get to see neon blue fluid running through coils to McClennan's victims' brains. A nice touch that will help us always to remember this episode.
Yup, 402's a keeper.