Fringe Rewatch 404: Subject 9 ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Rewatch 404: Subject 9

      Email Post       12/16/2011 02:11:00 AM      

The fourth episode of each Fringe season ( The Arrival - Momentum Deferred Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep) has historically been a turning point. Each of these set the pace for the storyline of the first half of their respective seasons. The prior three episodes of the current season showed a world in which Peter Bishop died in both universes. The repercussions of the absence of the Peter we know were made evident. Walter is a wreck, barely able to function and constantly under the threat of being committed to the mental hospital again. Olivia is a bit more open in some ways, but she’s certainly hiding her fears and doubts about herself well. There’s been no son to take care of his father and work with him. For Olivia, there’s been no consultant that evolved to a friend, lover, and future husband.

Previously, Olivia revealed to Walter that she had seen the same man he was seeing - in her dreams.

Many times throughout the series, Olivia has been shown trying to sleep. She often had a difficult time resting, as many burdens weighed heavy on her mind. In this Amber-verse, Olivia is more able to let go. Maybe that it is because she killed her stepfather, or had an early exit from the Cortexiphan trials. Or some other reason. But this Olivia sleeps soundly at night - maybe even hoping to dream of the stranger that she and Walter discussed. Her nightstand is shown with a few objects: a picture of her sister and niece, keys, and other small personal effects.

Clocks and time are always of importance - even if shown merely in the background. Olivia’s digital alarm clock initially showed a time of 5:58 - very close to the 6:02 am, a time that most astute Fringe viewers instantly recognize as the time that the machine was activated by the red universe in the original time-line. The mysterious light that slowly shined upon Olivia’s unaware form added a great sense of suspense as the minutes ticked away. When this episode first aired, I only really cared and hoped that maybe Peter would show up in some form, perhaps the astral projection Peter we knew from season three. This second time around, I was able to just take in the scene and really get an idea of what it meant.

Just as her clock struck six, activating the alarm, a blue mass of energy hovered above Olivia, prompting her to make for her gun (conveniently in her nightstand, maybe with her copy of Advanced Forensics.) As scared Olivia looked on, the mass dissipated. Yet, the alarm on again displayed from 5:59 to 6:00 am prompting confused Olivia to look over her bed - the mass had indeed attracted the metallic objects to it, leaving Olivia looking bewildered at what had just occurred.

The next day at Walter’s lab, the unstable scientist, along with Astrid, used Matrix-style movie camera filming and peanuts to test a way to capture images of his unwanted, non-corporeal  visitor. There is a joking terminology among some of the fans that have dubbed Walter as “Walnut,” and Peter as "Peanut." So this scene, very neat on its own, was especially funny to those in the online fandom.

Another Dome... hmm...
What wasn’t so funny was Olivia’s injury from having been touched by the energy mass, and her fears that she had something to do with its appearance - like “when she was a child and set fire to the room.” There were two of these incidents in the old-timeline. One occurred when she was three years old. The other when she was being tested in an effort to determine what made her able to cross over to the other universe, in the hopes of returning healed Peter to his family. Which was she referring to, and if it was the latter, why would Walter be trying to have her cross over if there wasn’t a Peter to return?

Walter’s witnessing of an event before it happened was a prelude to further time-slips later in the season.  However, time inconsistencies may have occurred before. I had written previously about my thoughts concerning Olivia’s experiences in The Road Not Taken. I believe this season gives evidence to my feelings that Olivia was not experiencing the red universe, but another time-line. We could also point back to Peter’s assertion concerning déjà vu in White Tulip - “I read that déjà vu is fate's way of telling you that you're exactly where you're supposed to be. That's why you feel like you've been there before.” But the biggest concern about this occurence came from Sam Weiss in  The Last Sam Weiss, when he remarked that time may be "course-correcting."

Mmmm... Delicious, Strawberry-flavored Death...
We know just how much of an effect that the revelation concerning her treatment with Cortexiphan had on Olivia in the prior time-line. It made her feel damaged, and it took a long time for her to embrace her abilities and just how “special” she was.  The current Olivia did not seem to know much about the other Corexiphan subjects and her interactions with Cameron gave her the insight that she lacked. Cameron - like Nick Lane, James Heath, and Simon Phillips -  conveyed to both Walter and Olivia how his life was altered by what the Cortexiphan trials did. He expressed hope at a normal life, and felt that he didn’t even receive a special power that could make him useful. It gave Olivia cause to reflect on her emotional capacity and ability to form bonds with other people. Walter earlier had reiterated William Bell’s words that Olivia was always the strongest. But strongest in what way? Is it in the ability to keep one’s emotions in check and be the stoic warrior for justice that defines Olivia Dunham?

Nina Sharp’s speech concerning technology and ethics piqued my interest. After all, Fringe is often a cautionary tale about the consequences of “crossing the line” and playing God.

“Nanotechnology -- the bloom is not off the rose. Because of the far-ranging claims that have been made about potential applications of nanotechnology, a number of serious concerns have been raised about how this will affect our society if realized and what actions, if any are deemed appropriate, might be needed to mitigate these risks. This is not Massive Dynamic's concern. We create technology. How it is used is not our concern. We just own the patents.”

Nina told Olivia in The Pilot: "We've reached a point where science and technology have advanced at an exponential rate for so long... that it may be far beyond our ability to regulate and control it."

The interesting thing about this is how I thought about the technology used to heal Captain Lincoln Lee from the alternate universe when he was burned to a crisp by Sally Clark on the bridge in Over There: Part One. Also, Nina would later discuss some similar technology in Those We Left Behind, and it was associated with the new human shape shifters.

Walter’s biggest fear was being returned to Saint Claire’s, just as it was in the old time-line. It was heartbreaking to watch him discover the letter addressed to Olivia, the woman who would be making the ultimate decision about his fate. When Olivia first entered the lab in this episode, Walter greets her with how happy he is that she is visiting. Olivia reminds him she is not “visiting” but is “working.”

After Olivia stopped Cameron from destroying the energy mass when she saw Peter’s face take form, Walter gave her something to chew on.

Walter: You acted against all reasonable agreements and expectations. You behaved irrationally with regard to only your intuition and instincts.
OLIVIA: I guess I did.
WALTER: When I do that, people say I'm crazy. I suppose I've learned that crazy is a lot more complicated than people think.

Even after Walter’s freak-out in the hotel room, Olivia came to see that Walter was not a threat, but like her, he needed to be trusted and feel valued. So her choice to give Walter a clean bill of sanity was a relief.

One other tidbit. Olivia remarked that Walter and Bell were testing children to see if one of their abilities was crossing to other universe - it seems this Olivia did not knowingly cross over.

Peter’s return via Reiden Lake was no surprise to me. In fact, I was counting on it. Ah, but what does the Observer think about this occurrence? This is still a mystery as we “calmly” await Fringe’s return January 13, with the episode Back to Where You Never Have Been.

Olivia’s reaction to seeing him still kills me. “Who are you?” Peter’s unbelieving and crushed face coupled with her stare of scared confusion caused the collective groan from Peter/Olivia shippers everywhere. Peter had come back from who-knows-where after making a choice to save the woman he loves from being murdered in the future, only to have her stand before him, frightened and with no memory of him.

But in my mind, Olivia’s question has relevance for the audience as well. Now that we know “Where is Peter Bishop,” the question we should be asking is:

“Who is Peter?”


fringeobsessed said...

Nicely done, Aimee.
Like all episodes of Fringe a fan really needs to watch this one at least twice to get the full gist of it. Like you, I was antsy during the first viewing, trying to get them to move on with things. But during a second viewing today, I just sat back and took it all in.

There's a lot of time spent here on the Walter/Olivia relationship, which is quite different than in the old timeline, of course due to Peter's absence.

One thing I was hoping you'd comment on was Walter's posturing in the hotel room right after he trashed it.
He glances at his two lacerated and bloodied palms, and stands there holding them in a position that should remind detail-oriented Fringies of Roy's drawing of ATF-agent Evelina Mendoza in episode 103, "The Ghost Network." She is standing in the picture with her bloody palms in a position eerily similar to Walter's.
Is this significant? Time will tell.

And yes, who IS Peter Bishop? In the old timeline, a man with a tortured background who mostly worked for the good, but who had a dark side. In this new timeline? We barely know yet, but on January 13th, 2012, I believe we will learn more.

Anonymous said...


your reactions are very entertaining, but at the same time very true.

i agree with every comment you posted.

its NOT going to be about peter in this episode.

the writers are just showing josh in this promos so they can attrack the lost josh fans.
who had given up after the so called peter season.

this episode (and this season ) is going to be about olivia , then lincoln and then the shapeshifters. and before the commercial break they are going to show some peter scenes (lol) to keep us idiots happy.

did you hear they going to make a astrid episode?

yeah, the writers are like: oke , we develloped the peter karakter enough , we have written for him more than enough and we spend too much time on him. so lets give other castmembers the spotlights.


note to the writers: first begin with writing for peter and than look for other karakters!

CuriousGirl said...

I love these recaps! I would never see the meta pattern of writers using both the second and fourth episodes in consistent ways across seasons, so thanks again for more insight.

Aimee, you hit on one of the biggest questions I had regarding the new time line... If Peter never existed as an adult in the Amberverse, why would Olivia, Broyles, and Walter cross over to the Redverse? Why would the Redverse abduct Blue Olivia... more state secrets, sure, but then why would they reach a truce so soon after such a trangression? Can't wait to see how that plays out.

Also can't wait for episode 8. Thankful for the recaps until then.

g33k said...

First, in the scene where Astrid and Olivia are combing through the files, you can see the 'Subject 13' test footage from the betamax playing in the background. Walter suspected that she had crossed over and seen the zeppelin before those tests started, so without any Peter in her life before those tests it is very likely the same events happened and she did cross over when her step father hit her, but never admitted it to anyone. Subsequent to this episode, they use the same footage in the "previously on fringe" portion in the beginning of the episode, so we know for sure the Subject 13 tests happened.

@CuriousGirl Second, your questions: "If Peter never existed as an adult in the Amberverse, why would Olivia, Broyles, and Walter cross over to the Redverse?"
The team never crossed over to the Redverse willingly, because they didn't have any reason to.

"Why would the Redverse abduct Blue Olivia..."
In 'One Night In October' Walter and Astrid explain to Lincoln that Olivia was kidnapped to the other side and Fauxlivia infiltrated the team. She still needed to steal a piece of the machine that they did not have on their side in order to turn the machine on, so Walternate sent her over. It is likely he sent her over in place of himself using the same door Walternate used in 'The man from the other side' from season 2, because he would have had no need to come over himself and get Peter back, so Fauxlivia probably used the door instead. They took Olivia over and kept her in solitary because they needed to 1) balance out the mass transfer, because otherwise the Fringe team would have been investigating similar mass transfer accidents that we saw in Jacksonville and 2) Fauxlivia could make sure her cover wasn't blown if Olivia was in the other universe.

Third, Walternate didn't inject Fauxlivia's memories into Olivia, because she seems to be a worse shot then Lincoln (Olivia killed a shapeshifter in 5 shots, Lincoln in 3 in NHNT) and because Peter wasn't around to bring her back from the tulip field, she ran away and never crossed over to speak to Walternate during 'Subject 13', so Walternate wouldn't have known about her being experimented on as a child and being able to cross over.

I'm sure people may debate the above on whether its true on not, but to me its pretty self explanatory based on stuff they've showed us (the vid from subject 13 in subject 9, the mass balance problem between universes, Olivia ran away in this uni, her bad shooting, previous mention of Fauxlivia's infiltration, and I believe the machine piece she stole)

Anyone else got a different take on it?

CuriousGirl said...

Very tight, g33k! Thanks for taking the time.

Anonymous said...

You're very welcome, I think what I figured out is pretty solid for being what happened, and I hate seeing fellow fringe fans frustrated over not having all the clues together into at least one plausible theory of events. (I'm not going to say it's totally correct until we have the writers tell us in one of those videos they do.) Hope it helps.

CuriousGirl said...

Ha. Make no mistake. I'm not a frustrated Fringe fan... just hadn't pieced the new storyline together as well as you (probably) have. I love the pacing of the show and I love what the writers have done throughout the seasons. I rarely predict what will happen next and am glad to have found a forum in which I can discuss it with other people who care. Looking forward to the next episode especially.

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