Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fringe recap: S1E17 "Bad Dreams"

A young mother, singing a song about an elephant, pushes her daughter in a stroller down a ramp at Grand Central Station, on their way back from the circus.  The little girl gazes happily at the bunch of balloons tied to the stroller,.  They descend to the tracks, the station largely deserted, just missing the train.  As they wait for the next train, the little girl looses a red balloon which bumps up against the ceiling.  Just as the next train arrives, a blonde woman rushes up and pushes the mother in front of it.  The blonde woman is Olivia.  She was dreaming and wakes up, gasping and frightened.

The next morning Olivia does her sit-ups, peruses her wardrobe of grey and black clothing, does the crossword puzzle while half-listening to the television news.  When the news reports that a young mother committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a moving train in NYC, Olivia puts down her pen.  The photo of the young mother is the same woman Olivia pushed in her dream.

Olivia asks Broyles if she can go to NYC to investigate, saying that she thinks extraordinary circumstances may be involved, making it a murder and not a suicide, but declining to tell him about her dream complicity.  He grudgingly gives her 24 hours, saying he needs her here, working as part of the Fringe team.  At Walter's lab, Peter scoffs when she says she thinks she murdered that woman, telling her that it was just a nightmare.  Walter checks her out with a Geiger counter, thinking that she might have teleported to NYC in her sleep and actually pushed the woman, but there's no residual radioactivity from any teleportation.  Another possibility is astral projection, but then it would have been difficult for Olivia to gain enough corporality to interact physically with the woman.  Peter rolls his eyes - and it's off to NYC for him and Olivia.

They meet up with a cop at Grand Central Station and ask her about the incident.  The cops think it was a suicide because there was no one else caught on the security camera when the woman jumped.  As they go down to the tracks, Olivia whispers to Peter that there will be a red balloon floating on the ceiling.  He doesn't have a smart-aleck comment when yes, there is a red balloon up there.  At the police station, they meet with the grieving husband who insists that his wife never would have killed herself - they were happy.  They review the security footage and see that no one pushed the woman, but Olivia asks for a copy of the tape anyway.

Back at the lab, Olivia insists that somehow she killed that woman.  She's beginning to get agitated.  Peter thinks it's crazy but Walter's like, okay, let's assume that you did it.  Why and how?  Did she somehow compel that woman to jump, using only her mind?  Peter thinks that's preposterous.  Walter shrugs, saying, "Okay.  Unless it happens again."

Even though she hasn't been sleeping well lately, Olivia buys a bunch of caffeine pills.  She goes to a nice restaurant and sits alone with a cup of coffee, intently watching a couple at a nearby table.  They're having a lovely dinner together until the wife starts shrieking, accusing her husband of having an affair.  The husband is confused, saying he doesn't know what she's talking about.  They both rise out of their chairs and the wife picks up a steak knife.  Olivia rushes over to them and grabs the wife's hand.  Then, together, the two women stab the husband multiple times in the belly.  He collapses and they step back, dropping the knife, hands bloody.

Olivia wakes up, nearly sobbing.  She calls Charlie immediately and says, "There's been a murder."

She and Peter walk through the halls of St. Vincent's Hospital (NYC).  Olivia's like, I killed him.  Peter, ever rational, reminds her that she was 300 miles away, plus numerous witnesses watched the wife - alone - stab her husband.  Olivia is adamnt about her involvement.  They ask the doctor how the husband is doing: he was basically gutted, his intestines shredded, but is still alive, albeit unconscious.

They question the wife, who for some reason has been given permission to sit by her husband's bedside.  The wife doesn't understand what is going on: she knows that her husband is devoted to her, but suddenly she got afraid and angry and just knew he was going to leave her.  Olivia starts to freak out, asking the wife if she felt like someone else was in her head, compelling her to attack her husband.  Peter drags Olivia away.

They go to the restaurant where it happened and Olivia finds a piece of broken coffee cup on the floor near the table she was sitting at in her dream.  She asks the restaurant owner who was sitting there, roughing him up a little when he backtalks to her; he tells her that it was just some blond guy with a scar on his face who comes in every now and again.  Olivia: "I know who that is."

Well, sort of: she tells Peter that she's seen a guy who matches that description.  They go back to Cambridge [Note: I don't think the producers of this show realize how far apart Boston and NYC are - the characters flit back and forth like they're going from Back Bay to Watertown] and look again at the security footage from Grand Central Station.  They do indeed see a thin blond guy with a scar on his face walk past the woman who eventually jumps.  He's been at both crime scenes.  Walter thinks that perhaps this guy is the one who's been attacking people with his mind, but somehow Olivia is dreaming of him.

They go to FBI HQ and run the guy's face through the FBI database: he's a former St. Jude's mental patient, Nick Lane.  Broyles comes in and is all WTF: you're using resources on something that isn't one of our cases and I've got a lawsuit from some NYC restaurant owner saying you pushed him around and explain yourself, Dunham!  Olivia brings him up to speed about their suspect Nick, and admits to her dreams.  Broyles is all, why didn't you come to me with this?  Olivia says she didn't want to sound crazy and then asks for a short leave of absence to sort things out, these weird Fringe-y things that seem to be happening to her.  Instead, Broyles opens a new case - this case - and puts her in charge of it, telling her to take care of herself.  Aw, he likes her!

Olivia and Peter go to St. Jude's, Peter remarking that until this year, he'd never spent any time in a mental hospital.  Olivia: "Learn to like new things."  They meet with Nick's former doctor who tells them that Nick had been there for years, self-committed and paid for under a high level military insurance policy.  Then, four months ago, some lawyer showed up, said that Nick had inherited a huge sum of money, and Nick checked himself out, leaving with the lawyer.  The doctor says that Nick's emotions seemed infectious: if he was happy, everyone was in a good mood; but if he was upset, you got sucked into a black hole of despair if you were around him.  She calls him hyperemotional with heavy self-contempt and a tendency towards suicide.  He was delusional too, saying he'd been recruited at a very young age to fight in a future war against the denizens of a parallel universe.  Olivia gives Peter an intense look upon hearing that.

Here's another coincidence: Nick was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1979.  Just like Olivia.  She and Peter go to Walter's hotel room and she asks him about that cortexyphan, the drug that Walter and William Bell developed.  Walter says that Bell experimented on children with it - which statement causes Peter to freak out - children who seemed predisposed to particular mental acuity, and that cortexyphan seemed to emphasize whatever psychic gifts they had, particularly any ability to alter perception or reality.  Olivia connects the dots: if Nick was treated with cortexyphan, he could change reality using his feelings, but possibly inadvertently, if his emotions were literally contagious.  He might have been thinking about committing suicide when he walked along the train platform; he might have been feeling lost and abandoned at the restaurant.

But how is Olivia connected?  Walter tells her that when Bell experimented on the children (another wig-out from Peter), he'd pair them up so they wouldn't be scared.  Sometimes an intense bond, amplified by the cortexyphan, would form between the two kids.  Peter's like, whatever, Olivia was never treated with cortexyphan.  Then he looks at Olivia and she's like, well, I might have been.  "Great!" says Walter, "then I think I might be able to find Nick."

Olivia goes to a strip club.  Except on this third outing we're pretty sure it's Nick, which is confirmed when we cut to Olivia hooked up to one of Walter's machines as he's got her in a hypnogogic REM state.  At the strip club, Olivia stares at the stripper who comes down off her pole and starts kissing her, as Nick's state of arousal excites the stripper.  They leave the club (despite the bouncer's shouted warnings) and go to a motel.  Peter, Walter and Astrid all get a little embarrassed when Olivia starts making sex noises.  Then, post-coitally, Nick feels guilty and ashamed, full of self-loathing, and the stripper becomes infected by his feelings.  She smashes a glass and slices her own throat, dream-Olivia's hand guiding hers.  Nick goes back to his apartment and Olivia snaps out of her trance, knowing where his apartment is.

The next morning, Nick takes a bunch of pills with his morning coffee.  He does his pushups and peruses his closet full of grey and black clothing.  Then he pauses.  Outside, an FBI squad has pulled up.  They bust into the apartment only to find it empty, one wall full of clippings, all paranoid, about government testing and experiments on children, plus some photographs of two-headed goats.  Peter now thinks that the lawyer showing up at the hospital with an inheritance was too good to be true: Nick was activated.

Nick walks down the street and as he passes other people, they turn and follow him like the Pied Piper.  The Fringe team gets a call from the cops saying they've located Nick.  Walter muses that Nick is a reverse empath and a kind of walking epidemic - if they get too close, they'll be infected as well.  Except probably not Olivia.  They find Nick and his entourage, all arrayed up on a skyscraper ledge downtwon.  The cops say they sent one guy up there and now he's on the ledge with the rest of them.  Olivia heads up there, over Peter's protests.

On the roof, she calls Nick's name.  He turns around, smiling: "You heard me, Olive! You heard me and you came!  You were always the strong one."  She says she's sorry but she doesn't remember anything.  He's a little crazy, saying that he does remember (although maybe he's not supposed to) and he stayed fit and ready for the call.  He tells her that some guy came and woke him up, and now he can't be put back to sleep.  "I want to stop hurting people!"  He hands her a gun and tells her to shoot him, put him out of his misery.  She doesn't want to and so Nick flinches, crying out, and a woman on the ledge throws herself off.  The jumper lands on a car next to Peter and Walter.  Walter: "I sure hope Agent Dunham meant to do that."

Back on the roof, Nick says that if "Olive" doesn't shoot him, the rest of the folks up there will jump.  And if he jumps, they'll all go too.  Olivia apologizes again and shoots him, once in each knee.  Nick collapses on the roof, all the others crumpling with him but none falling off.  He looks up at her: "Olive, you'll wish you'd killed me."

Later, as they walk through white industrial-looking corridors, Broyles tells Olivia that Nick's parents died a while back and his identity appears to have been falsified at some point.  They stop walking and look into a room where Nick has been put into a medically-induced coma, "indefinitely," according to Broyles.  Olivia's face is grim - she still doesn't remember anything from Jacksonville.  Broyles asks if she's okay and she replies, flatly, yes.

That night, Charlie stops by her apartment, handing her Nick's file and reminding her that he's breaking about a thousand regulations by doing so.  The file is classified, plus full of all sorts of newspaper clippings.  Olivia makes a frowny face and starts to read.

Meanwhile, alone in the lab, Walter has unearthed an old videotape.  It shows a little blonde girl, cowering in the corner of what looks like a hospital room.  Several voices, all off camera, say things like: "How many casualties?" and "We still haven't found [Whatsisname]" and "Something must have set her off."  Then it's Walter's voice on the tape: "Obviously she was upset about something."  A pause, and then Walter again, this time directed to the little girl:  "It's all right, nobody's angry with you, Olive. Everything's okay."

Previously on Fringe / next time on Fringe

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