Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fringe “Bad Dreams” Olivia's Wake Up Call

All photos from Fox

As a person who has always had very real and very vivid dreams, I found this episode of Fringe (Fox) “Bad Dreams” very believable and compelling to watch. I also think it was one of the best episodes of the season. It is clear after watching this episode that there is some hidden power within Olivia – and possibly a very strong one. Was she engineered as a child for some later purpose? First, we have to look at what happened in this episode for the clues.

The episode opens up with a woman who is walking alone in a subway station, singing to her daughter as she pushes her in the baby stroller. Her voice is echoing in the emptiness and there seems to be an unsettled feeling in the air. When she gets to the subway train platform, we see her daughter untie a red balloon from her stroller, and the woman moves to grab it before it floats off. But as the train approaches, we suddenly see Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) on the platform with her, and Olivia gives her a hard shove, pushing the woman into the oncoming train.

As Olivia shocks herself awake, she seems to pass it off as a bad dream, until she hears a news story about a woman jumping in front of a subway, killing herself. When she gets to work, she asks Broyles (Lance Reddick) if she can go to New York to check out the case. Broyles is worried because Olivia seems distracted the last few weeks, and she tells him she just hasn’t been sleeping well. He gives her 24 hours to check it out.

Back at the university lab of Walter Bishop (John Noble), Olivia tells Walter, Peter (Joshua Jackson) about her dream. After Walter scans her with a Geiger counter to check for radiation (finding none) and they discuss the dream, Olivia tries to convince them it was more than that - she could smell the subway platform area. She is worried that somehow she caused this woman’s death. Peter accompanies Olivia to the scene in New York, and despite the fact that Walter seems excited to go to New York to catch a show, Peter tells him to stay in Boston.

Olivia and Peter get to New York and talk to the detective working the case, and Olivia asks to see the security camera footage. Before they get down to the platform area, Olivia tells Peter to look for a red balloon on the ceiling, as that is what she saw in her dream. Sure enough, the red balloon is there. But when Olivia and Peter look at the security camera footage, of course Olivia is not in the picture, and it looks like the woman did suddenly leap in front of the train. Olivia takes a copy of the video back with her.

Back in Boston, they confer with Walter, and he says it is possible to murder someone with their own mind, but Peter is skeptical, saying that is ridiculous. Walter comments – unless it happens again.

Olivia picks up some caffeine pills to stay awake, but we then see her at a restaurant, watching many couples that seem in romantic moods. Suddenly, she sees one woman begin to shout at her husband about him flirting, and the next thing you know the woman has a knife in her hand, and Olivia’s hand is also on her hand, helping the woman to stab her husband right at the table. It seems despite the caffeine pills, Olivia has fallen asleep and she startles herself awake again. She calls Charlie, and tells him there has been another murder.

Olivia and Peter head to the hospital where the stabbed man is dying, his wife at his bedside. Olivia questions her, and the woman tells her she was overcome with a feeling her husband was going to leave her, and she got angry and stabbed him. But Olivia seems to think otherwise and tells the woman it wasn’t her who did it. Peter pulls Olivia aside, wondering what is going on with her. Later, when they meet with the restaurant owner, Olivia gets physically pushy with him, demanding to know if he saw her at the table by the window. He described a man with blonde hair and a scar who sat there, and the owner is very agitated at Olivia’s behavior.

Back at the lab, Astrid (Jasika Nicole) plays back the video from the subway and Olivia sees a blonde man with a scar enter the frame. Walter asks if she remembers seeing that man in her dream and she does not. He thinks she is dreaming the events from that man’s perspective.

When Olivia, Peter, and Walter get to the FBI building, Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) tells them the man is a former mental patient named Nick Lane. Broyles pulls Olivia aside and angrily asks her what is going on, as suddenly she is drawing people and resources on this matter. She tells him a man is either making her kill people or making her watch people get killed. Olivia is very convincing and Broyles decides to authorize the support she needs and makes it an official case.

When they go to the mental hospital where Nick had lived, they find that Nick, who was there voluntarily being covered by a military insurance program, checked himself out once a man arrived and told Nick about a large inheritance. The doctor in charge tells them that Nick was hyper-emotive; he could make people around him feel the same way he did, and Nick seemed to think he had been trained to be a soldier in a future war. But when Astrid calls Peter and read back to him a section from Walter’s manifesto, Olivia realized that it sounds similar to the language Nick used in the hospital. Peter also tells her that Nick was born in 1979, in Jacksonville Florida, the same place where Olivia was born.

Back at the lab, Olivia and Peter talk with Walter, Olivia asking him if he knows about the drug cortexophan. He tells her it could alter reality through the user's mind. Olivia thinks Nick is transmitting his emotions to people around him. Nick may have felt suicidal and passed it to the woman on the platform, and he may have felt abandonment in the restaurant and passed that along to the man’s wife. Olivia wonders if she was given cortexophan, and Walter says if she was, this could help them to find Nick.

While Walter induces a hypnotic controlled REM sleep, Olivia sees herself go into a club with adult dancing. She sees a woman dancing, makes a connection with her and they kiss. Back in the lab in her dream state, Olivia tells him that Nick is sexually excited and transferred those feelings to the dancer. In her dream, Olivia and the woman leave the club, go to a hotel room, and back in the lab, Olivia moans – Nick and the dancer are having sex. Afterwards, Nick feels hatred and loathing for himself, and transferring that feeling to the dancer, she breaks a glass in the bathroom, and Olivia, in her dream, helps the woman slit her own throat. When she tries to wake herself, Walter warns her to remain calm and still dreaming and enlists Peter’s help to keep her calm. It works, and Olivia sees where Nick’s apartment is located.

But, when Olivia and the FBI arrive, Nick is not there. All that is left is a wall of articles and pictures that depict what seem to be weird deaths. Walter sees a note written on the wall, 'What is written will come to pass'. Something has “activated” Nick. Meanwhile, Nick is walking down the street, and as he does so, one by one, people begin to follow him.

Charlie tells them that Nick was spotted downtown entering a building, and his is not alone. It appears he, and the others, are standing on the edge of a tall building, ready to jump. Olivia thinks she can get Nick to stop, and thinks she may be immune to his feelings. On the rooftop, Nick seems relieved Olivia has “heard” him, but he wants her to end it for him. Nick says he recalls Olivia from his childhood - he calls her “Olive” – and he says he could just not forget. He waited to be called up to the special army, staying fit and focused, he blended in, but the call never came. Nick adds that a man with glasses came to him in the hospital and said they needed warriors, and what was written would come to pass, and he said he knew how to wake him up. He pulls a gun on Olivia, and says sometimes when we wake up, we can’t be put back to sleep. He wants to stop hurting people. He tells her to take the gun and begs her to shoot him, as he can’t take this much longer. As she begs him to listen to her, he cries out and a woman drops herself off the edge of the building, crashing onto a car below with Peter and Walter standing right next to it. Peter reacts, but Walter doesn’t seem to flinch, saying dryly “ I do hope Agent Dunham meant to do that. “ Nick insists Olivia shoot him or he will continue to hurt people. She tells him she is sorry, and shoots him in the leg, causing him to drop down, the others on the roof collapsing down safely with him, coming out of Nick’s emotional pull. He tells Olivia that he wished she had killed him.

Later, Broyles takes Olivia to a locked room, where Nick is in a drug-induced coma. Also later on, Charlie comes to Olivia’s apartment and brings her Nick Lane’s file, reminding her of the risks he took to get this to her. Meanwhile, Walter is back at the lab, looking for a video. He finds a tape recording of a session where we see a young girl, sitting in the corner of the room. People are talking in the background, asking if the “instrument is contained” and if she is OK. We hear someone say she is fine. Then Walter hears his own voice telling the girl, whom he calls “Olive” that it is OK now, no one is angry with her, she didn’t to anything bad, and everything is OK. As Walter sits alone and watches, a look of sadness, maybe guilt comes over his face.

Walter clearly knows Olivia from the past, and was involved in some experiment involving her and likely other children, seemingly to give them some sort of power they could use at a later date. This recent meeting with Nick – someone from her past of whom she has no recollection – may be an early warning for Olivia that she may have something inside her over which she may have little control.

The star of this show still seems to be John Noble, who brings Walter Bishop’s eccentric behaviors to life. Who else but Walter could have pulled off such a casual comment right after a person has dropped to their death, right next to him? Walter also seems to be knee deep into this mess. Was the look on his face guilt for what he had done in the past? Or, was it worry for something that he fears will be coming down the road for them? Does Walter remember more than he lets on, or are all these things coming back to him as he gets more involved in Olivia’s cases? Things can only get more interesting.

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