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Fringe: The Dreamscape

“For some, it’s too much to take.”

Here’s a story for you: A man really, really wants a car. But this guy—let’s call him Bob—doesn’t have a great job, and has an even worse credit rating. So he scrimps and he saves and he finally makes enough to get a car. The catch? He has to get his car in Mexico, where things are generally a bit cheaper.

Okay, says Bob. I’ll go to Mexico. Bob saves a bit more and gets enough for the bus ride across the border. Finally! He’ll get his car! He busses it down to Mexico, buys the car of his meager dreams, and heads towards el norte. On the way there, in the bastard desert of southern Arizona, Bob sees a monarch butterfly. Then another, then another. The butterflies mob his car, getting all mixed up in his transmission and chassis and radiator and other car parts. They break the car and strand him in the desert.

True story. I heard it from a guy who knows the guy.

Sometimes life is too much to handle. And sometimes fringe science makes it worse. This episode was like one gigantic paraphrase of John Lennon: “Life is what doesn’t happen when you’re busy with your strange government job.” The next step in that logic is that Olivia doesn’t get to go out with her pals, and Peter barely has time for shady past-friends. Peter even has to quit surveilling his ex to help Olivia survive that damned tank.

According to Tessa, Peter is rather unknowable, but Peter feels like he’s shown her more than he’s showed anyone. Does this line up with what we’ve seen of Peter? He seems to wear his emotions on his face and to be awfully open about dropping fairly obvious hints about his life. Is this just a mistake on the writer’s part, or is Peter more open around Olivia because she knows his dad, which is to say, she knows the biggest secret of all?

Olivia, on the other hand, is trying to balance her life with John Scott’s memory-life, which seems to reappear only when she has dinner plans. I’ve made my thoughts about that damned tank clear in my other reviews, so I’ll refrain from saying what a stupid, boring, weird, and awkward plot device it is again.

We got lots of parallels between Olivia and Peter in this episode. Both beg questions with “long story.” Both are trying to deal with a past they can’t escape, whether in the form of damned tank/memory flashes or being pursued by former known associates (as the police say). Both of them are trying to hide from something that won’t stop looking for them—their relationship with the past is something of a nightmare. And that’s our Theme of the Week: “The Past is an Inescapable Nightmare.” Depressing, isn’t it? Even when you try to talk to it in a damned tank-dream or beat it up on the streets of Boston.

The cinematography in this episode was pretty awesome. The shot of Olivia standing a few stair steps above Walter was beautiful—I wish I could have found a screencap for us to enjoy. The man falling out of Massive Dynamics was truly dreamy, and reminded me of the scariest movie I’ve ever seen: Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the middle portion of which is basically exactly what all of my nightmares are like. Even upside-down Walter was awfully neat. And while Anna Torv is undeniably beautiful, she looked even more gorgeous than usual here.

The Good:

• Walter used to be religious? Tantalizing hint, that.

• I love it when criminals get stuck in traffic.

• Bad Guy: “I didn’t kill anybody. Why would I? That guy was a treasure trove of unbelievable things.” I wish I was a treasure trove of unbelievable things. As long as the unbelievable things weren’t chemical weapons.

• Olivia: “Who is working for whom?” I love grammar.

The Bad:

• Walter: “I just got an erection. Fear not, it has nothing to do with your state of undress. I need to urinate.” This is just unforgivable.

• Olivia: “I feel like I’m going clinically insane. Literally.” J.J. Abrams and I need to have a talk about appropriate and inappropriate uses of the word “literally.”

C’mon, That’s Ridiculous:

• Peter: “Olivia went back in the tank? Why?!” Exactly.

• “Apparently, [the drug] can literally scare you to death.” Okay, maybe that’s not entirely ridiculous. But almost.

• Peter threw out the gun in a trashcan just feet from the man he’d just attacked, and then turned his back on the aforementioned assault victim. Seems risky just for a cool shot of Peter walking angry.

• A washed-out John Scott killing the bad guy psychosomatically.

Is Massive Dynamic really creating all this fringe science craziness just as a smokescreen, like the bad guy says? Is William Bell really the devil? Will we ever get answers?

Two out of four monarchs. Maybe Elizabeth I and Louis XIV. Or Richard I and John Lackland.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. "The shot of Olivia standing a few stair steps above Walter was beautiful—I wish I could have found a screencap for us to enjoy."

    Ask and ye shall receive:
    screencap 1screencap 2screencap 3I hope this is the scene you meant.

  2. Crud, the formatting looked okay in preview. Well, anyway.

  3. Michael Dvorak, you have my eternal devotion.

    Although it was prettier in the episode itself, wasn't it? Something about the motion of Walter's head...

  4. I'm starting to like Olivia more, so that's a step in the right direction. Although I agree that the tank isn't the best of plot devices. Awkward. I wonder if they were just going overboard with the homages to Altered States?


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