Monday, September 02, 2013

Fringe 1x17: "Bad Dreams"

Olivia wakes up from a particularly vivid dream where she pushed a young mother off a subway platform and into the path of a train. At first, she brushes it off as a simple nightmare - until she sees a news story about that same woman, whose death is being labeled a suicide.

She and Peter head off to investigate, and she's extremely shaken to discover that all the details about the crime scene correspond with her dream. However, when she looks at the security camera footage, it looks like the woman jumped.

Despite taking caffeine pills, Olivia falls asleep again and dreams she's sitting in a restaurant, watching a woman suddenly accuse her husband of cheating on her. The hysterical woman then stabs her husband repeatedly - while Olivia's hand is holding the knife.

When Olivia interrogates the woman after waking up, the woman can't explain her actions. All she knows is that she suddenly felt angry and afraid, somehow convinced her husband was going to leave her. But it makes no sense, they were a happy couple.

A guilt-stricken and freaked out Olivia is now convinced she's somehow inducing these people into hurting themselves or others. However, when she goes to the restaurant to find clues, she learns a blond man with a scar had been sitting at the table her dream-self had been using when the murder occurred - the same blond man with a scar who was present on the subway platform when the young mother jumped.

The good news? Olivia isn't killing people with her mind! The bad news? Someone else is - a man named Nick Lane who recently checked out of a mental hospital where he'd been receiving treatment for his anxiety and suicidal tendencies. Walter theorizes that this man may be a reverse empath - he unwittingly infects people with his emotions. Hence, when he's thinking about jumping in front of a train, someone else does. And when he's feeling angry and alone at a restaurant, a woman experiencing his emotions kills her husband.

But why is Olivia dreaming about his experiences? Well, Olivia finds out that she and Nick are the same age and lived on the same military base in Florida when they were toddlers - the same place where Olivia was apparently treated with Cortexifan, the Psychic Brain Drug mentioned by Jones in THIS EPISODE. Walter admits that he and William Bell performed this testing, and they preferred to keep the young test subjects in pairs to stabilize their emotions - Olivia may have been Nick's Illegal Experiment Buddy. Peter and Olivia are both Understandably Appalled with Walter.

However - now they have a way to find Nick. Olivia's put under a hypnosis-induced REM sleep and tracks him to his house, but the FBI arrives too late. Nick is already planning on killing himself, and thanks to his emotions, he's unwittingly roped a huge crowd of people into standing on a ledge with him.

Nick recognizes Olivia when she comes to talk him down, and he calls her "Olive." He explains that they were both treated with Cortexifan in order to become soldiers for the upcoming war between realities (which corresponds with the prophesy in the ZFT manifesto from THIS EPISODE), but that he can't handle it anymore. He doesn't want to hurt people, and he begs Olivia to kill him before he unwittingly induces the other people into jumping off the ledge. I really feel sorry for this guy - and so does Olivia, because she shoots him to free the bystanders, but doesn't kill him (he instead winds up in a drug-induced coma).

Meanwhile, the episode ends with Walter watching some of his super-old test videos - and realizes without a doubt that both he and William Bell personally experimented on Olivia as a child - and that Olivia's powers may have been pretty nasty.

Mad Science:
  • Drug Experimentation on Children
  • Telepathic Bonds
  • Emotional Viruses
  • Empaths
Best Death Scene: The woman who jumps off the building when Nick snaps at Olivia. 

Mad Science Questions:
  • Did we really need those scenes of Olivia making out with a stripper and then experiencing a public orgasm during REM sleep? Were you losing the 18-34 male demo that badly? 
  • What war were Olivia and Nick being prepared for? What powers does Olivia have beyond dream-speaking and defusing Lite-Brite bombs?
  • Who is William Bell and why does his voice sound so familiar?

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