Fringe: The Same Old Story   Rewatch 
June 11, 2014 10:48 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A little bit of body horror never hurt anyone - The new team - For Country And Glory - A shadowy cabal - Wonders and miracles - The yearlong sleeper - Powers of deduction - A favor - Reanimator - Highly theoretical - You're telling me ... - The masterworks of Jules Verne - A woman of her word - Public service / private sector

"Inexplicable and frightening things are happening and there's a connection somehow."

I'm trying to keep the above-the-fold spoiler free. I'd be happy to run a "first watch" as well, and I'm sure the rewatch crew wouldn't mind. After all ...
posted by the man of twists and turns (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of the things I didn't understand about the killings is why they were punctuated. Five, and then nothing? No prior events?

Also, we are already seeing the extreme lengths a father will go to protect his son.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:20 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love the Victorian novel "chapter headings" style of recapping that you have going on here.
posted by gauche at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just love Walter more every time he opens his mouth.
posted by tracicle at 11:41 PM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd forgotten how much foreshadowing there was from the beginning on the walter/peter relationship.

Walter is one of my favorite schizophrenic character portrayals ever. It hits some notes that are true to life that other portrayals never touch on. (My dad is schizophrenic.)

I haz an exteme excite about this series rewatch. I'd forgotten how much I like this show.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:06 PM on June 14, 2014

It seems like the killings are grouped in fives because that's the amount of extracted pituitary hormone the killer needs to keep his raging growth in check. 5 glands, and he's good for however many years. I got the idea (though now I cannot recall at which point) that the series of 5 killings has repeated in the past.

And the father/son thing continues to be reflected in the relationships between the scientists from Walter's past and their subjects or new experiments. I love the way this show seems to be continually pulling back the curtain on an ever-larger conspiracy. "A smart boy, but there is much you don't know!"
posted by carsonb at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2014

Dunham references a prior case with same methods involved and seems to know more are coming this time.

I just saw the number five as being the right amount of age juice too and didn't really give the number much thought.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:47 PM on June 15, 2014

I really hate how so many shows feel the need to bring in the serial killers, strip clubs, and prostitutes at the beginning. If the show isn't interesting, how on earth do these make it more so?

That said, I really like noting that Walter already asked Olivia not to tell Peter. I find it interesting that she's willing to not know whatever it is he wants kept secret.

(And while I am enjoying that it's a rewatch, I'd be happy doing a first watch and being careful of my future knowledge if that would let more people enjoy Fringe.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:30 AM on June 16, 2014

This was the first episode of Fringe I ever saw, on first screening back in New Zealand in 2008/9. I found it really far fetched and underwhelming and avoided the show for like five years. Which in retrospect sucked, because I missed the show when it was actually live. I judged this initially due to what I saw as its lack of differentiation from your average cop show. Going back now, I am willing to accept that I was wrong. Totally wrong.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:39 AM on June 21, 2014

Yes I watched this with Sonny Jim and my initial reactions to the show were "meh". I remember finding Walter incredibly annoying, and negatively comparing the show to the X-Files. I thought the only way it could get better was if they moved away from the weird mad scientist character. When I look back I feel ashamed and sad.

I must say one thing about Walter's character still really disappoints me, and that's his love of Red Vines. I wonder what John Noble must be thinking as Australasian red licorice is vastly superior. I have tried many times, as a red licorice fan, to like Red Vines, but they are not good.

Oh no, does my rant about red vines count as a spoiler? I have to go back an scrutinize every episode now to document their first appearance!
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Watched this one last night. (I'm hoping to watch 3/week to catch up with everybody, and I might not do a write-up for all of them.) Right now I just have some random observations, not a coherent thread among them.

Man, lots of thematic stuff right off the bat with this show. "I was an experiment. My father should have let me die."

I love how hand-wavey the show is about the "science". Walter is talking about reading the electrical impulses in a dead woman's optic nerve in order to see what she saw at the moment of her death, and transmitting those impulses to some kind of a monitor or something, he doesn't know what, then he triumphantly and a bit theatrically says he'll use ... a TV screen! As though the monitor is the challenge, and not, you know, reading the electrical impulses, having confidence that they are indeed from the right time, translating them to some sort of spatial array that can be represented on a screen, &c. It's wonderful.

Also, this bit slayed me: "Walter, I'm with the victim, she's going into acute cardiac arrest. Her heatbeat's gone." "Do you have any cocaine?"

The first line of the episode: "what's her name?" Spoken by the intended victim who dies gruesomely but not in the way the killer intends. She's misreading his guilt as being about what he's done and not what he's about to do, although ironically it turns out that what he's done will kill her before he's even able to do what he wants to do. Interesting how people bring their own narratives to explain the guilty behaviors of others. Peter, we will learn, kind of does this with the manifestations of Walter's guilt that he must have observed all throughout his life.

The line reminds me of two things: first, and for reasons that I can't connect to the rest of the show, not even thematically, it reminds me of Walter's obdurate failure to remember Astrid's name. Second, it reminds me of the moment in the Pilot where we first meet Walter, he turns, sees Olivia, and says, IIRC, "I knew ... someone would come." Knowing what we know, I was half expecting him to say "I knew you'd come" and I'm wondering if the line reading wasn't meant to suggest that, a little.

The episode starts with "what's her name" but ends with a cryptic dialogue about Peter's medical history. Who is she? Who is he? These are the questions.

(It's a little implausible, though, that Olivia wouldn't seem more curious about what Walter's talking about, and we've already seen that she's tenacious enough to go digging. I don't remember if she goes after this stuff in future episodes or not.)

Interesting, too, that the cold open ends with people screaming at the sight of this impossible boy who should not, could not, have come from where he has, unmistakably, come from.

I'd forgotten what a villain they had set Nina Sharp up to be in the beginning of the show. First off, she challenges Broyles on adding Walter, Peter, and Olivia to the team, and she does her best to buy Olivia off at the end. Given the access she must have to all of their biographies, the fact of their coming together like this probably seems to her like a pointed message from someone, if not an actual threat, and I wonder whether her toning the villain stuff down a bit as the show progresses comes out of her eventually realizing that it really is just a freak coincidence that brought these three people (back) together.
posted by gauche at 7:33 AM on August 7, 2014

I'd forgotten, too, that this is not the last the sped-up pregnancy we'll see in the show, either. Damn.

And that makes me think something else: this is not a time-travel show, not really, but it is a show that seems obsessed with the dangers of people holding on to times not their own or trying to get around the effects of time. The pregnancies. Stephen Root's mad scientist. Peter Weller's mad scientist. The Observers. Walter cutting his own memories out of his head. Walter's terrible crime.

This obsession comes right out of the show's focus on technology, since after all technology is supposed to be about reducing effort and therefore giving the user time he would not otherwise have, or about staying the natural course and effects of time. But, as in the show, there are always unintended consequences to the use of technology, as there are unintended consequences to the attempts by these obsessed scientists to hold onto times not their own or to escape the effects of time.

It strikes me, too, that the unintended consequences of technology often have to do with technology escaping the lab and interacting with the real world. It's not that cars, for instance, don't work, in the sense that they do not reliably transport people from place to place. It's just that once cars enter the world, they change a number of variables around how people structure their lives and their patterns of activity, and those changes have knock-on effects and create external costs and so on, because the systems of the outside world are -- and you will pardon the term -- massively dynamic, in ways that cause simple changes to yield unexpected and uncontrollable, and sometimes powerfully destructive, results.

In the Pilot, Broyles says that someone is using the whole world as a laboratory for their experiments. Well, aren't we all?
posted by gauche at 8:45 AM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have no wise and thoughtful comments to make, but will remark for the bovineophiles amongst us that John Noble needs to learn how to milk a cow properly. Poor Gene, she was nowhere near done.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:42 PM on October 5, 2014

She did still look rather rare.
posted by Seamus at 3:15 PM on May 27, 2015

Remember not getting what this show was supposed to be about. Basically X-Files^Tech, or something, at the time.

Peter is annoying. Walter is also annoying, but charming. On second view, this is perhaps riding on their casting Torv (already!).

Everything else was super 90's clunky (cheap Vancouver stages and infrastructure and city hall bending backwards).

I am getting a, albeit weird, kick out of seeing Vancouver of a decade ago. It's really surreal.
posted by porpoise at 9:48 PM on August 25, 2018

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