“The beguiling Olivia Dunham beguiles”

TV Show: Fringe
Episode Title: Subject 13
Original Air Date: February 25, 2011
Episode Number: 3×15

Episode Description

The team revisits the past in this follow-up to last season’s “Peter” flashback episode that reveals a poignant period of time for both the Bishops and Olivia.

My Review

You know, for an episode without Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson, I think this might be in my top Fringe episodes ever. I’m still stunned after watching this episode because it was excellent from beginning to end. The acting, the story, the emotions, the directing, the cinematography, the writing…this is definitely another perfect Fringe episode (of which there are many). Kudos to John Noble, Orla Brady, and the two kids who played Olivia and Peter. Wonderful work from all of them.

We knew that Olivia’s stepdad was a horrible man, but did we know that he beat her when she was that young? I’m thinking to myself how else can the writers make Olivia’s backstory more tragic and they have her stepdad be abusive towards her. This is not a complaint, but merely an observation. Maybe Walter’s threat against her stepdad really made him stop abusing her so he turned his violent tendencies towards Olivia’s mother. I can definitely see this happening.

Olivia crossing over to the other side without realizing and cluing in Walternate that there is an alternate universe and that this is where Peter was taken to made my jaw drop. Yes, I’ve said it a million times before that this is not the first time I’ve watched this show, but I must have forgotten that it was Olivia who provided Walternate the answer as to what happened to Peter.

What a powerfully emotional scene this was. It definitely made me bawl my eyes out when Olivia was pleading Walternate to make her stepdad stop hitting her: “Can you make him stop hitting me, please?” Fucking broke my heart.

Continuing on this note, I couldn’t believe that Walter would risk having Olivia live with her stepdad knowing that he’s abusing her just so his experiment about enhancing her ability to cross over will manifest itself if her home life includes fear (from her stepdad) and love (from her mother). I was appalled that he would do this, as was Elizabeth.

The Peter and Olivia scene in the field of tulips was beautiful and showed their connection from the beginning. Peter tells Olivia that she needs to tell Walter because that’s the only way that her circumstances will change. Interesting that Peter didn’t reply when Olivia asked him if he trusts Walter. Also interesting that he stopped himself from calling Elizabeth “mom” at first, but then says it again this time more firmly.

It saddens me to think that Peter just gave up on insisting that he’s not from here and that the Bishops are not his real parents because he’s tired of fighting it. He figures that he’s never going to go home so he might as well make the best out of the situation. I’m guessing that he doesn’t remember the first few months after he was taken because it was so traumatic for him to process that he just blocked out all those unhappy memories.

After Peter calls Elizabeth “mom”, I think that’s the moment where Elizabeth completely unravels and her conscience starts to gnaw at her. It should have made her happy that Peter finally relented and is believing what they’ve been feeding him all this time, but her guilt was too much that she can’t bear to be called “mom” by this Peter. How heartbreaking is that?

Meanwhile, the AltBishops in the alternate universe are still absolutely devastated months after Peter’s disappearance that their marriage has suffered as a result and this drove Walternate to drink (interesting that in our universe, it’s Elizabeth who started drinking). AltElizabeth pleading with Walternate that they need to stick together because she can’t afford to lose him too was really sad especially when we find out that Walternate left the morning after to go back to Florida anyway.

Other random observations:

– That opening scene with Peter breaking the ice in Reiden Lake and tying himself to a block of cement was so devastating to watch.

– Loved the return of the groovy 80s opening credits.

– Did anyone else notice that this episode seemed blurrier, that maybe the editing team was employing some kind of effect so that this episode would look older? I thought that was cool.

– Nice callback to the White Tulip episode when we see Peter and Olivia in a field of white tulips.

– “I’m compiling some videos on my new Betamax.” This made me laugh. Walter being excited to use his new Betamax, lol.

– How cute were Nick and Olivia in this episode? I loved it when he was looking at her through the door window and then runs away when Walter sees him.

– “Dr. Bishop, the architect of the Star Wars Defense System that protects our nation…” – Oh, show. You are too much! Just can’t help yourself with the awesome geeky shoutouts, can you?

– So we have Bishop Dynamic on the other side instead of Massive Dynamic. Very cool. Seems like the company was specializing in space and aeronautics so is it safe to assume this is their version of NASA?

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