Fringe Review: Subject 13

I don’t even know where to being in describing this beautifully heartbreaking flashback episode of Fringe. Its one of those episodes that make you realize how damn good this show can be. It’s episodes like these that make it so painful to see it get such depressing ratings even though, its completely understandable. A casual view wouldn’t have taken away what we witnessed in this episode, they would have to have seen practically ever other episode of Fringe to understand why “Subject 13” was so important to the entire story of this show. Its safe to say that this episode was for the fans.

This episode took us back to 1985 (retro opening credits and all) as we see the repercussions of Walter’s kidnapping of the “Other Peter.” This episode not only shows us the repercussions of the Bishop family over here, but it also over there. Both stories are gut-wrenchingly sad yet explain so much about whose these people are today and why things happened the way they did.  I kept having “ah-ha” moments throughout the entire episode; like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and seeing the pieces fit for the very first time, this episode, was that good.

It is so easy to understand now why Peter never lived a stable life. If you remember, he never finished College, even though he had a genius IQ. Peter was also considered a master con artist and a jack-of-all-trades. Peter never trusted his father and was never fond of him and his resentment towards him only grew further after the death of his “mother.” This young Peter never trusted his new parents from the beginning, he knew, immediately that they were not his real parents and for 6 months he questioned them about every day. It was his mother, however, who got the brunt end of it, because Walter was away in Jacksonville. We learned tonight, why it was Elizabeth drove herself into drinking. Unlike Walternate or Walter, she didn’t have an escape and use her sorrows for good, instead, she let herself be overcome by the grief and the guilt. I just have to say, Orla Brady is yet again, superbly fantastic in this episode, she really needs to submit this episode for the guest-star Emmy award.

Then there was young Olivia. First, I would just like to say that we need to applaud the casting director for finding the perfect Young Olivia (Karley Scott Collins) and Young Peter (Chandler Canterbury); these two young actors beautifully captured the characters of Olivia and Peter in such a haunting way, that I was truly starting to believe that these two actors were related to Torv and Jackson. Back to the episode though, seeing how scared young Olivia was in regards to her abusive step-father, showed us why the Olivia we know today, has such a hard time trusting people and being vulnerable with them. Yes, we had known this from the past, through subtle clues, but seeing it first hand show why this woman is the way she is today. That she can cross the universe when “love and terror stimulates cortical action,” as we’ve seen from Olivia before. It completely explains why she was crossing over so much during the first half of this season, that’s for sure. I have to say though, as hauntingly beautiful the scenes with Peter and his mother were, it was Young Olivia and Walter/Walternate who stole the show tonight. Their stories were just so wonderfully executed, that it gave a whole new appreciation for this show.

A few weeks ago we learned that whoever Peter chooses, Olivia or Fauxlivia, will be their universe that gets to survive. Maybe I am crazy here but I think we learned tonight that we already know whom he’s going to choose. Peter and Olivia met at such a critical point in their young lives that they formed a bond that can never be forgotten, regardless if they don’t remember meeting one another. The scene in the field of White Tulips, a scene so significant to this series, with two children, neither of whom trust the homes they are living in, may have been one of the most touching scenes in Fringe history. Whether or not you are a fan of romance between Peter and Olivia, you could not deny that this scene was special, especially for these two characters. The only problem I have with it is that, how has Olivia and Peter never remembered meeting each other like this? It was such a critical point in both their lives, you would think they would remember when they met that one other person who seemed to understand. Hopefully this will be explained because it has weighed on my mind since the end of the episode.

John Noble proved yet again what a tremendous actor he really is. Acting both the struggling father and the grieving father, he gave such a poignant portrayal of Walter and Walternate. Two fathers struggling with the situation of Peter; Walter struggled to find a way to bring him back, something that I actually never considered before this episode. I had honestly thought that he had no intention of giving Peter back, so I was a little shocked to see that the reason he was so focused on the Cortexifam children was because he knew/believed that they were the ones who could bring Peter back.

Then there’s Walternate, who was so sticken by grief of dealing with the kidnapping of his child, that he let his own marriage slip away from him. It was interesting to see though that he was had formed Bishop Dynamic (which was in place of Cape Canaveral and NASA and WALTERNATE was the one who created the Star Wars defense program! Of course he would!) He buried himself in work to deal with his grief but was rewarded when a little girl appeared to him, out of no where, and told him that she was being abused by her father at home, and that she needed his help. He (as well as we the audience) were confused at first until she handed him her coloring book in which he saw a photo of the girl, Olivia, and her new friend Peter. Suddenly everything became clear, everything opened up, and Walternate knew exactly where his son was. We now understand why Fauxlivia was the one meant to go over to the other side, why she was important, because Walternate knew that she was the key to getting him back, just like Walter knew that our Olivia was the key to getting Peter back to the other side. It was one of those blink and you miss it moments, one so subtle yet so perfect, that it truly makes you realize how great this show is and can be.

“Subject 13” proved to be a great episode of Fringe and while I agree with a lot of people out there, wondering how or what the point was to the episode, I’d say it was to really explain just how important these main characters are to this series, that its not about the sci-fi and what not, its about the heart and love these characters bring to the show. It’s something that I feel was never truly well executed on other JJ Abrams shows like Alias or Lost. Their mythology works because of the characters who bring it to life. It would be really sad to see this show go so soon, so I hope that it continues, because this show is truly great and it deserves a nice long run on television. I just hope Fox sees the same.

 

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