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TV Review: Fringe – “Subject 13” Part I

Considering the past helps us trace the path to the future before us a lot better – or so it is hoped.  By going back to the 1980s to explore the consequences of what happened after Walter brought Peter to our side from the alternate universe, we can also understand better Walter’s recent reactions to, say, discovering the thinning of  the fabric in Mrs. Merchant’s apartment in the episode “6B”.

We also discover how Peter and Olivia are more closely linked than we previously thought; although we had seen on the list of children tested on in Jacksonville on the Foutrust website (which, by the way, seems to be on sale by the owner now…) that both Peter and Olivia had been tested on around the same time, and fans had previously speculated at how the two children might have crossed paths, we had no clues as to when and how the would have done so.

Until now.

I have also come to realise that one of the main concepts in Fringe might be about underestimating children. Walter seems to have had faith in their capability, after experimentation, of crossing, unaided, into the other universe; however, even Walter’s belief was dependent on the presence of Cortexifan.

In “Subject 13”, we are taken to about six months after the events in Season 2’s “Peter” (episode 16) to see that things began to unravel for the Bishops pretty much straight after Peter 2.0 was brought to this side. Young Peter remembers enough from the other side not to be taken in by his alternate parents’ explanation that the severity of his illness confused him to the point of mixing things up.

One of the best things about going back to 1985 (or beginning of 1986?) is that we are treated once again to the 1980s-style opening credits. I’m glad the Fringe production team was able to use it again and I can’t help but wonder if the storyline is going to take us to the 1990s and if so, they have to create a 1990s style opening credits. And now, I can’t help but wonder what “fringe” sciences would go into it. Probably the Internet… Hopefully, we’ll have enough seasons of Fringe to reuse the 1980s style retro credits as well as create a new 1990s style retro credits.

Our faithful Observer can be seen inside the Bishop Dynamic lab (in Florida, interestingly enough). Speaking of Bishop Dynamic, does its existence in a universe with no William Bell imply that he held Walter back in this universe? This would certainly tie-in quite well with the resentment Walter displayed in last season’s finale.

The glyphs spell SWITCH. Straight off last week’s glyph with a yellow heart instead of a dot comes a distortion of a glyph, as the image for the third glyph (the daisy) appears first normally, then distorts in from what looks like electromagnetic interference, probably from Olivia in the scene that just ended.

Recurring features include a drawing of two seahorses can be seen on the Bishops’ fridge door, an adorable mini Nick Lane with quite the devilish streak, and white tulips (Season 2’s episode titled, well, “White Tulip”). We also found out a couple of interesting details about the alternate universe when Peter points out that in the alternate universe, the Dodgers play in Brooklyn and not in Los Angeles, and that Green Lantern is, interestingly enough, Red Lantern. One non-recurring feature is Anna Torv; if I am not mistaken, this is the first episode ever in which she doesn’t appear at all.

The one thing that really bothered me is the casting of both young Olivia and young Peter. On the one hand, the two young actors who played young Olivia (Karley Collins) and young Peter (Chandler Canterbury) did a phenomenal job of playing both the part of normal children (Olivia playing with Walter, Peter playing with the toy plane) and children exposed to things even adults shouldn’t have to deal with (Olivia’s abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Peter’s trauma at being in the wrong universe).

However, it must be mentioned that both actors look far older than the characters they portray, for, 6 months after the events in Season 2’s “Peter” (episode 16), Olivia can’t be more than 6 and Peter can’t be more than 7. Although traumatic events do tend to mature children much faster, the fact that young Olivia looks like she is 10 or 11 years old, and that young Peter looks like he is 9 or 10 years old was rather odd.

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