Fringe 5.02 Review: While You Were Sleeping ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe 5.02 Review: While You Were Sleeping

      Email Post       10/06/2012 11:33:00 PM      

In Absentia


While You Were Sleeping

 In Absentia refers to the Fringe Team as they struggle to come to terms with a world that has arisen while they slumbered and is unlike any they could have foreseen.  A world of misery, oppression, and as we are shown in the Medical and Science Building - a world of horror.

For Peter and Olivia it is even more difficult as they try to reconcile emotionally and mentally not only the loss of their child daughter but her return as an adult.  An adult; forged and tempered to be hard because of the harsh reality she has grown up in.

In an episode where every member’s strength in some manner was demonstrated - Walter’s genius, Peter’s engineering skills, Astrid’s support of Walter emotionally and technically, and Etta’s knowledge and experience of the world as it is; it was Olivia’s empathy and strength of character that carried the emotional undercurrents. With the focus between Olivia and Etta.

The episode opens with the Observer Invasion as seen from Olivia’s perspective to complement that of Peter’s from the previous episode.  It reinforces a couple of points.  For Peter and Olivia those moments happened only a few months of subjective time ago.  The emotional blowback that resulted, splintering their family, is still in play for both of them.

Olivia awakes from her nightmare trembling and Peter is at her side comforting her.  Much like he did in episode 5.01 when he checked on Etta to make sure she was OK.
Emotional AfterShock - Olivia Trembles

There were many cool and geeky moments throughout the episode and I’ve captured them in the bullet points.  What is the main power of this episode is watching Olivia and Etta feel out the dynamics of their relationship in ways that only a SF show like Fringe can offer.

Lasers are Invigorating!
Olivia and Etta are both characters that like to be in control.  And the control that Olivia displays here is an awesome one.  Olivia realizes that Etta is an extremely competent and experienced adult in the nightmare world they have reconnected in.  As one adult to another Olivia respects Etta’s abilities.

As a parent, she does not like how the world has shaped Etta’s abilities.  I have seen it said that this episode was showing that Olivia was going soft.  This episode showed me the exact opposite.  In this episode Olivia demonstrated strength of character never seen before.  For a person of action to place themselves on the side and let her daughter, and husband, go into battle while she stayed behind was the hardest thing Olivia has ever had to do.

Olivia obviously disapproved of Etta’s methods of questioning the Loyalist Manfretti but she never directly intervened.   Rather she used her ability to empathize to draw out the needed information from Manfretti and over the course of the episode made Etta and Manfretti believers that the Observers can be beaten.

Etta’s read of Manfretti was bang on.  He did lie and manipulate the situation to his advantage.  But I truly believe that Olivia was quite aware of what Manfretti was doing but perservered in the end because of her force of character.

As the episode drew to an end, Etta shows Olivia that she has released Manfretti. Etta tells Olivia, ‘I am on my way back.’  Surely a carefully worded line that initimates that Olivia’s fears of what the Observers have taken away are well founded but that the possibility for a person like Etta to reclaim them is yet still possible.
Making Angels the 2036 Way
Wonderful acting and writing for all the Olivia/Etta/Manfretti scenes.

Those ending moments of change work for Etta and Manfretti because one of the strengths of serialized story telling is that we get to know the characters.  So that even in a show as unique as Fringe where multiple iterations of the characters have come and gone, we know Olivia.

And we know Olivia is capable of impacting people in the way she did in this episode.
Criterion Collection Forgive Me!
Episode 'Patterns': Add your own in the comments.
  • Olivia dreams about Etta being taken - Peter is there to comfort when she awakes
  • Peter happy to stay in park with Olivia & Etta forever
  • pictures of Etta’s life while Peter & Olivia were ‘In Absentia’
  • Walter still using the Transilience Thought Unifier - knows Swedish & Portugese
  • Olivia ‘unifies’ Walter by asking if he took any notes
  • Walter’s lab taken over by Observers - ‘Not a problem for someone who does acid!’
  • Team Fringe stealths their way into lab - Frinjas! (Fringe Ninjas)
  • hatches and tunnels oh my! Yahtzee! The first Lost riff
  • Scariest mental image of the episode - Walter and Belly scooting around in the steam tunnels in their swimming trunks or speedos
  • Walter finds his lost dragon
  • lab has been ambered by Walter - no Gene?
  • Walter still prefers Betamax
  • Did Walter switch to GrapeVines? Or are they someone elses?
  • a Loyalist - Manfretti captured aka Rudzinsky the slimeball from Lost - 2nd riff
  • I need a laser. Could you make one? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Etta works on ‘opening the book’ that is Manfretti with Angel Device - freaky effect & a grotesque name for a horrible device - was there an intention to reference the Fourth Season episode - 4.11: Making Angels?
  • Forgive me Criterion Collection. Walter sacrifices his laser disc player.
  • Olivia struggles with Etta’s coldness - This is war. And we are losing.
  • Olivia’s empathy opens up Manfretti
  • Astral - Sharp Scalpel and my long handled stainless steel spoon!
  • Walter can add eye forger to his resume
  • Peter/Olivia - World has changed so much. Not sure I want to understand it.
  • Olivia lets Etta go about her business. Thanks for respecting me.  We both like to be in control.
  • Manfretti mentions Number Nineteen.  The big guy? Yeah, him.  Stephen King / Dark Tower reference?  Nineteen was a recurring number in that series too.
  • More on 19.  Is he Bell? We know they found Simon.  So they must have found Bell too.
  • Harvard Science/Medical Wing - now home to human experiments.
  • Creepiest and most haunting image of the episode - the blinking head of Simon Foster - Etta’s Fringe partner.
  • Lab lights shut off by the clapper.
  • Note - Nights In White Satin from the Moody Blues album - Days of Future passed playing when power comes on - and when Walter recorded his message.
  • Olivia tells Etta she is less concerned about what the Observers have done and more with what they have taken away.
  • Manfretti and Etta both respond to Olivia’s resolve - Do you really think you can win? We have to.
  • Manfretti - For the first time I felt like we were suppose to win.
  • Etta letting Manfretti go because she saw something in Olivia’s eyes too - pity for them all.
  • Walter’s message on tape - 3rd & 4th Lost riff.  Man in lab coat leaving messages on degraded video tapes.
  • Walter’s pep tape is for himself and the Fringe Team.
  • Etta shows Olivia she set Manfretti free and says she is on her way back - not just physically but emotionally too?
  • Follow the tapes! Episode ends with Walter’s stirring speech.

As mentioned in my review for Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11 the setting switch to a war time scenario removes the case of the week paralleling and we see the immediate results. All the characters are much more engaged in the episode storyline.

Plus with wartime drama the constant threat of discovery and death provides an undercurrent of tension each week.  Which is a very fertile dramatic playground as we were shockingly shown with Simon Foster’s head shot and Etta’s need for violent payback.

Even more, we get moments of stirring emotion as we listen to Walter recording a message intended for others but ends up being a rallying cry for himself and the rest of the Fringe team.
Find the tapes. Save the world!
Powerful stuff all around.


Gomeux said...

Great great review for a great great episode!

Blue said...

Loved this episode! I'm dying to know what happened to Bell. I don't think we've seen the last of him. Also, poor Simon!!!

I'm thinking that we're going to get a "tape of the week" instead of a "case of the week" format now

Anonymous said...

I am betting that Number 19 (the Big Guy) is Telly Savalas (Kojak) reincarnated. A true Observer bada$$ if there ever was one. "Who loves ya baby?" - munching on his "Carbon Monoxide lolipop" as he intimidates the Natives that want to mess with the Harvard Science Center. How likely is it that Science Ministry pundit Nina Sharp will come back into play - getting access to the inner-workings of the Harvard freak show in the Medical Wing. I am trying to figure how Broyles will roll back in. Maybe in the Simon Foster beheading, or the Windmark interrogation of Walter. Maybe Windmark puts Broyles in the hot seat for a little cerebral scanning.

Where does the scavenger hunt go next for missing BetaMax cassettes? Does Bell's hand open a storage shed (ep101) in Back Bay, Mass.? Does the address that Manfretti gave Olivia lead anywhere specific? Will Manfretti recur when he returns to Loyalist ranks and spill the secrets of Walter's lab? How Stella got her groove back... does Simon get his body back? We saw head reattachment when cryo head TJ Newton, who got an android body. Does Bell get his hand back? Of course Walter would put the hand back upside down, out of spite.

Scavenger hunt (cont)... how about the old garage that Walter had where he kept the Vista Cruiser? Is there a videotape there? Did he leave a tape at St Claire's? How about his crazy buddy from The Equation? Maybe that guy has critical info about missing video. Is there video in the alt-universe? On Liberty Island? Think about all the places where Walt and Sept crossed paths. The beach home? Reiden Lake? These are all Season 1 haunts where video can be left where Walter may remember. Maybe he has a pneumonic code set up so he can return to certain bank vaults?

The next 11 eps are going to be wild.

milostanfield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
milostanfield said...

Episode Pattern: Astrid going Rambo with a laser

Not sure what it is but I always have a little trouble with David Fury episodes. Nicely written but as with "Alone In The World" I am thinking that the acting was better than the writing. He's competent but not subtle I guess. I usually warm up to Fury episodes after rewatching so there's hope.

I do like that they have at least resolved for now the Olivia/Etta conflict without dragging it out over many episodes. Too much else going on. That was a tall order given how little we really knew about Etta's character before this ep. And Georgina was able to shine a bit. Kudos for that. So that leaves the Peter/Olivia conflict and the Walter/Walter's brain conflict to resolve and our team will be hitting on all 8 cylinders. Go Team!

So for now it's 4+ open hatches out of 5 for me.

milostanfield said...

Episode Pattern: Manfretti running off into that field. Another hopeful dandelion seed that may take root. I think we'll see him again.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy that Fringe has returned for one more season. I can’t say I think it is great so far, but it isn’t bad. I can’t get use to the fact that their daughter is older and basically, they are in her world. I was so glad my Hopper recorded it automatically with PrimeTime Anytime, because the season just started and I completely forgot it aired on Friday. A co-worker at DISH reminded me that it was on, and I had to watch it last night so I could see what was in store for the rest of the season. How the season is going so far hasn’t impressed me, but I will just have to wait and see.

Zepp said...

Yeah! We now have a guy on our side, in the middle of Observers: Manfretti! I can not stop thinking about the tapes, Betamax Walter. He is already struggling to remember, what he had to remember how then will he know where those tapes on Betamax, that will save the world. Everything is somehow, in Walter's head, hence the issue is complicated somewhat. The problem is in the correlation, referring to the war between VHS and Betamax system, everyone knows who won, even though the system loser, said as of superior quality. Who knows if this time, perhaps the Betamax, the victor is ...

Also I think the Bishop family has a valuable ally, which has never been eliminated by Observers: doves, or as Walter called them "... these flying bugs." Homing pigeons, have been used by Walter to find a person in the first season.

The physiognomy of Etta, the moment in which she was tortured, shaking Manfretti molecules, is an authentic shapeshifter 1.0 with no emotion. She was again having a feeling that could be called mercy when released prisoner in this field.

Fringe is great!

milostanfield said...

I have two working Betamax decks. Send me to 2036. I wanna help. I'll even give my LaserDisc player to Walter.

Anonymous said...

The standout scenes were all those with Anna Torv:
Olivia with the loyalist, he did most of the talking, and OLivias face we saw all her pain and grief she went through, and her empathy, and honesty.

Olivia and Etta only works beacuse of Anna Torvs brilliant acting,
Anna is the one doing all the hard work, she plays a 38 old Olivia, with the extra pain of losing a child and before ambering fighting Observers,

Etta is just a girl with big eyes , no emotions in her eyes, nothing on her face, and a lot of make-up.
Cliche tough american cop girl.

Georgina Haig says her lines, gets the active storylines,
in crucial moments, like the torture, or the head of Simon,
you do not see her eyes at all.

We have now more backstory written for Etta in 2 episodes than Olivia in 4 seasons.

What I see is that they do everything for the viewer to understand the cold, masklike Etta,

just as they did nothing for Olivia after the pilot.

And Georgina Haig is not a good actress, there is nothing behind her handling, and not the excuse of it is the character,
Olivia had her moemnts with suspects, but always there was her emotion in her eyes

I feel for Anna Torv, she had to wait until end season 2 to get some decent writing , had that until Marionette,

Olivia was then put back to once again serve Jackson and Noble,

(BTW Noble and Jackson behave as if they were ambered for fun, and are on a playground, last week Walter was all down and lost, and now he was happy/clappy Walter, and Peter is a boy, not a man that has been grieveing for the lost of his child)

and now in the final season Anna is forced to play a mother of a 25 year old who gets more writing than she gets and more make-up.

Wyman and co are already on the Emmyfor Noble campaign (see twitter), and
Georgina Haig has already had more praise for 1 epi than Anna Torv in her entire run>

(My bet is that both Noble and Haig will be in Wymans tv pilot).

I now truly watch Fringe for Anna Torv, her acting is a masterclass every second on screen.

The way she looked in the tattoo scene, with the loyalist, with Etta,
every second you see so many emotions going across her face, in her eyes, beautiful.

45 said...

Im sorry, Georgina was praised for one episode than Anna did her entire run? Um, who won saturn awards 3 times in a row? Who won a critics choice awards? Who won an entertainment weekly award for being snubbed for an Emmy? God, shut up. You sound like those annoying students who whine about getting an a- on a test while everyone else got bs and cs. Georgina didn't get any of that so shut up.

Of all the actors, Joshua Jackson is the one who gets the LEAST amount of praise.

Old Darth said...

'Of all the actors, Joshua Jackson is the one who gets the LEAST amount of praise.'

Well with fans like you it's no wonder at all why.

panda said...

Those 2 trolls (anonymous and 45) are so annoying. :(

Old Darth said...

Agreed Panda.

I have no problem with someone stating displeasure with aspects of a show. But once the point is made and nothing new is being brought to someone's posts - time to move on.

Dwelling on it publicly with repetitive whining posts becomes nothing than a selfish exercise, and embarrassing one too, that places an individual's desires above everyone else in the fandom.

XweAponX said...

Where have you been hiding these excellent reviews. I thought about expanding my IMDB reviews over on Blogspot like you have done here, but after reading this, "Nuff Said" - You got it all.

The Problem with IMDB is that we are limited to 1000 words, which means more like 980 words or so. It is very hard to put everything into that limited amount of space, which was why I started mirroring the reviews onto my Blogger account. You have done such a superb job here, I don't need to do that anymore.

Sometimes, after watching a Fringe Ep I am flabbergasted, and hard put to lay out using mere words how it affected me.

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