'Fringe' recap: LSD and the red door: Feed your head

Fringe returned to “our side” this week, leaving a doubtless exhausted Fauxlivia on the other side to nurse her new baby in peace. Over here, we had more pressing things to do, such as extracting William Bell’s consciousness from Olivia’s body, and consuming LSD as a gateway drug — into Olivia’s brain.

You remember that Bell is inhabiting Olivia: Anna Torv was employing her canny array of vocal and physical tics to portray Leonard Nimoy; I was particularly taken with her cocked eyebrow a couple of times this week, a very Nimoyish twitch. But two consciousnesses in one brain would eventually result in what we non-scientists call splatter, so the race was on to download Bell’s into a computer, thus freeing Olivia to resume control of her own mind.

Walter reminded us of the way Agent Scott and Olivia had shared their dream state, and LSD was the lubricant that enabled Walter, Peter, and Bell to enter Olivia’s brain. Two thousand milligrams shared, the male trio started stumbling around Olivia’s frightened psyche, encountering a murderous Nina Sharp (so Olivia really doesn’t trust her, eh?) and then finding themselves transformed into animated versions of themselves. Thus was the return of Leonard Nimoy, retired from acting only in the sense of not having a corporeal presence on-screen, effected.

The cartoons of Bell, Peter, and Walter enabled Fringe to have some fun — the Walking Dead parody of zombies chasing them was clever — but they also enabled Bell to impart some (final?) wisdom to Walter, who was fretting over “needing” Belly to solve the mysteries of the doomsday machine and the impending collision of worlds. Bell delivered a Spock-like speech that operated as a blessing upon Walter, telling him that while they once “needed each other,” Walter now possesses “the virtue of humility…the decisions you make will be the right ones; the direction you choose to take will be just.”

Comic relief was provided by Broyles, who, back in Walter’s lab with Astrid, accidentally consumed some LSD and spent the episode slack-jawed and giddy, tripping on the spirals in a licorice stick. Even here, however, there was a moment of grave seriousness. “I saw death,” Broyles told Astrid, “and it was me.” That is, Broyles must have seen a vision of his alt-universe, dead self.

The core goal of this week’s episode, titled “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,” was to do something literal that most TV writers usually talk about figuratively: To get inside a character’s head and show us what makes her tick. In this case, writers Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman wanted to establish some fundamental things about Olivia. That she’s ruled, much of the time, by fear; that there’s a level on which she’s never bid farewell to the scared little girl she was who’d been experimented upon in Jacksonville; that she is, however, extremely strong (intelligent and psychically powerful) when she can muster the strength to face her fears; and that love is the answer to those fears.

By the end of the episode, all seemed toasty warm — indeed, Olivia, having tested Peter and found him worthy of devotion, was nibbling on some buttered toast. Then came the final Fringe twist that almost never fails to pay off as something that transcends a mere Twilight Zone-ish twist; it sends the series into its next phase. Asked about the hostile man with the cross-like glyph on his shirt that we had seen as a cartoon and whom Olivia had drawn in her cozy kitchen, she calmly, chillingly replied, “I haven’t seen him before but I think he’s the man who’s gonna kill me.”

The line was potent enough, but the way Olivia delivered it — so calmly, with such assurance and lack of fear — that’s big, friends; that’s big.

Fringe benefits:

• Bell’s Star Trek salute, “Aye, aye, captain!”

“That dog wouldn’t hunt.”

• Why was the color red chosen for the door Olivia’s childhood home, I mean aside from the stated fact that it made the otherwise-identical-looking house distinctive for the kid? Red as a signal for the Other Side must have some significance, right?

“I downloaded ZOOM for you.”

• Ken Kesey could have been a story editor for Fringe; the king of the Merry Pranksters (“to hell with facts — we need stories!”) once wrote of “a cartoon world, where the figures are flat and outlined in black, jerking through some kind of goofy story that might be real funny if it weren’t for the cartoon figures being real guys… ” Exactly…

Where do we go from here, Cortexifans? What did you think of “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (322 total) Add your comment
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  • Tracey

    There was a LOT of LSD involved in the making of that ep, both on-camera and off.

    • Dessy

      LoL.

      • Jennifer TruthTeller

        A BLATANT AND CLUMSY RIP OFF OF INCEPTION.
        SHAME ON FRINGE.

      • tarc

        What are you, three? You must be, or you’d know Inception ripped everything off from what came before. Moron.

      • Pete

        I think that Fringe is actually working as a nice complement to Inception. The theme is common between the two, but Fringe makes better explanation of how shared dreams are possible, whereas Inception merely glosses over that and establishes rules of what happens within the dreams. In any case, both made excellent outings based on what they were tried to accomplish.

      • Roy

        First of all, this is not a rip-off of Inception. Totally different plots. And since when can only one movie/show/whatever use the “go inside a person’s brain” idea? Fringe did not rip off Inception any more than Inception “ripped off” Being John Malkovich (i.e. in no way at all). Though one could say that Inception did borrow heavily from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and outright steal from Donald Duck:

        http://www.cracked.com/article_19021_5-amazing-things-invented-by-donald-duck-seriously.html

        For the record, I love all of those movies, but to scold Fringe for ripping off Inception is just wrong.

        Cheers.

      • tipsy

        @ Jennifer Truth Teller

        Inception rip off? It had homages to so many movies which was fun to figure out what meant what. Peter with sunglasses = Matrix. Red door = another Matrix reference. Zombies = Walking Dead. Aye aye Captain = Star Trek.Etc. Fringe has always been pop culture referential and this episode is no exception.

      • tipsy

        addition: more than Inception, this was really LSD version of Wizard of Oz.

      • Shaun

        Look, I loved Inception… But Fringe was doing “let’s get inside someone’s brain” stuff a couple of years before Inception was made.

      • Hiro Kitty

        Totally ripped off Inception. You Fringe fanbabies need to remember Akiva Goldsman writes and produces this show. He’s the WORST person in Hollywood. (Batman & Robin, Lost in Space)

      • Michely

        Jennifer and Hiro!! chill the F out! it’s fun and a pleasure to watch. you guys don’t like it then go watch glee or something..oh no wait glee rips off music from artists…nevermind read a book then. secondly, i dont remember fringe claiming rights to those ideas…so chill out and watch or gtfo!

      • KM

        Grow up, Jennifer TT. I was reading plots like this in high school study hall in the 1950s. There’s nothing new under the sun.
        P.S. Loved the episode for its creative presentation.

      • KM

        P.S. Forgot to include that I was reading Science Fiction books instead of studying.

      • Steve

        Pretty mixed feelings on this episode. The animation looked great when the scene was static, but once any movement was involved, it just looked cheap. (“Farscape”‘s animated episode was FAR superior.) And you’d think they could’ve pulled alot more laughs from the LSD storyline, especially the scenes with Broyles. The whole episode felt sort of clunky.

      • WWP

        I’m afraid the others are right, Jennifer Truth Teller — the only truth here is that you apparently have very limited and somewhat provecial experience on the whole history of sci-fi.

      • Shaun

        Fringe Fanbabies? Listen jerk… Why even watch if you hate it so much? No friends to hang out with on Friday nights, and nothing else worth watching? How sad for you.

        And if you’re not watching, then how do you know it “ripped off” Inception? Aside from some similiarities, there was plenty that was unique to Fringe. And, again, Fringe was doing similar stuff two years before Inception was made.

        If there’s any criticism to be had about “LSD” it’s that (if that’s really it for William Bell), they spent three episodes on “Belliva” for no apparently reason other than helping Walter understand he doesn’t need Bell’s help anymore.

        Having said that, this was still a fun episode. The animation was… “fascinating,” and Broyles tripping was just awesome.

        Anyhow, the next three weeks should provide all kinds of awesome, as we get back to the main storyline (and hopefully a kick-a** season finale/cliffhanger)

      • Ingvar

        @tipsy
        Are you sure those zombies were a homage to The Walking Dead? Seemed to me like the final scene of Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead, what with the main characters escaping from a zombie-filled rooftop via aviation and all.

      • sfday

        I’m sorry but did NOBODY notice who the zombies were???

      • Sannerl

        The zombies were all versions of Brandon, weren’t they??

      • JDMB

        WHAT!!A!!TRIP!! And I enjoyed the references to Matrix (did I see Keanu in the MM lobby?), Inception, the Farscape cartoon episode (I forget rhe ep. Title), Star Trek… I thought it was great! My wife not so much.

      • @Jennifer Truth Teller

        I’m pretty sure all the references were deliberate. Fringe has always had plenty of homages to movies and other things in pop culture. I loved it.

      • alan of montreal

        @Steve, I think the animation may have been meant as an homage to Waltzing with Bashir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J9uoLMhMhs

    • Mary Ann Chandler

      That was the silliest episode yet. Nearly impossible to make heads or tales out of it. I am speaking for my entire household.

      • Tugo

        I disagree, It was actually one of the best episodes of the whole series!!!

      • Michely

        you must not have a creative adventuous side…dear, you gotta learn to have fun with things and Tugo us right. it was one of its best shows..they took steps most tv shows wont make..watch it again maybe you were tired last night and out of focus

      • Crissi

        That was definitely one of the top episodes of Fringe ever. out of the complications of the first and second season this is by far the easiest season to grasp

      • Mike

        I honestly don’t understand this comment. For me, this episode was actually pretty straightforward in its actual storytelling, not hard to follow in its progression, and pretty much self-contained.

        But then again, I did do a lot of LSD in the 60′s….

      • Shaun

        How hard was it to understand what was happening?

        Going into Olivia’s mind, and the various constructs/defenses she was putting up (unconsciously) to protect herself were creating what Walter, Peter, and Bell were experiencing.

        The similarities to Inception were there, so if you found this confusing check that movie out. Maybe it’ll make more sense after that. Or maybe it’ll confuse you further. Hard to say.

      • Simm Fan

        So, that’s what, you and your six cats?

      • Angelo Barovier

        She coulda been speaking about it in a more emotional mindset and not a narrative way. Let’s not fixate on literalism after watching a show entitled Fringe with an episode called L.S.D…

      • Kelly Mack

        I’m with you. I’m a big fan and I love head-tripping shows/episodes/books/films, but this to me was silly and not inspired. I do not get all the love for this season at all. Yes, they’re trying new things, and kudos, but the stories aren’t working and the characters don’t connect like they used to. Without that, “creative” storytelling devices look more like gimmicks than genius.

    • OMG

      OMG if u go to FOX’s Fringe website..dere is c lip from d next episode dats both super-cute n cupar-fuuny!

      • Halo

        This is an english language site; please only post comments that are in english

    • Sophie

      Television has been feeding off of itself and other art forms for decades. All of the performing arts borrow so heavily from each other. There was once a time when original works could only be found in theater. Have you looked at the current roster of Broadway plays? Addams Family anybody?

      • Brian

        …And many of those “original works” were based on books, plays, and mythology that had been told and retold for a long time before. Riffs on other stories are hardly anything new.

    • Irishgirl

      Ha! I have to say, I was surprised that the animation lasted as long as it did. But I liked it alot. I am wondering, will Peter discuss Nina’s arm with Olivia or Walter? And is Peter aware that Walter knows Olivia’s step-father? I find it interesting that Olivia still doesn’t trust Nina. And Brandon as a zombie….or a gaggle of zombies…was an interesting choice for him. Did anyone figure out who the X shirt dude is? I have heard his voice before, but I can’t place it. While Walter had some really funny lines, Broyles was the funniest when he was tripping on the LSD.

    • Irishgirl

      Oh….I forgot to ask….did anyone else think of Charles Widmore’s red bottle of Scotch from LOST (MacCutcheon) when Bell was pouring himself a drink?

  • Trenton

    Genius simply put genius. At first I felt the show was moving so slowly, and wasn’t going to be great which is partly due to the hiatus. And then all of these layers start popping up. It wasn’t inception at all it was innovation. LOVED Walter’s bubble thought. And we get introduced to the “man that’s gonna kill me.” Broyle’s finally getting to have some comedic play. And for Olivia to see Peter know her, choose her, and not be fooled made it all the more sweet. Best episode of the series!

    • Trenton

      I thought Nina as a villain was clever b/c it shows you that Olivia doesn’t trust her at all…but furthermore we know that someone on Fringe is gonna die. So far Broyles and Olivia are the leading candidates having made observations in this episode. Somehow I don’t think it’s gonna be an Alt-World person…it’s as if they need this death to be final.

      • M

        Nina is definitly up to no good. Do I sense a bit of foreshadowing?

      • ac

        I liked the emphasis on Olivia not trusting Nina, but what was it that Nina did that made Peter not trust her and realize what she was up to?

      • Trenton

        She wasn’t wearing her “skin” for her prosthetic. Or put another way, she wasn’t hiding who she is anymore? Or, she was nice which is kinda creepy coming from nina

      • O.O

        you know, i think it might be either broyles or nina:
        1)both have been somewhat absent in recent episodes, perhaps being written out?
        2) both were linked with death in this episode:Broyles tripping, Nina Killing
        3) maybe the strange man olivia drew was a shape shifter, and one of the two has been taken over? just a thought, though i think they OD on that one with charlie :P
        4) It just can’t be olivia. Fringe, for all it’s clever writing and intricate plots… is still a tv series. They can’t kill off a popular/main character. most likely this mysterious guy will try to kill olivia, and either broyles or nina will try to stop them and get killed. But who knows? maybe fringe will surprise us… it always does :)

      • Jennifer TruthTeller

        TRENTON = SIMPLETON

      • tarc

        Jennifer TruthTeller = troll.

      • Anne

        Who said she was our Nina? She could have been the alt-Nina.

      • ac

        I liked Trenton’s anaology. Nina showing her true colors, ie not hiding behind her own skin. Makes sense and the simple answer usually the best answer. Good job

    • Lorit

      Worst episode of the series. WTF Johnny Quest meets Fringe. No genious writing involved here. V and Chuck must be masterpieces of creativity. There is no way Fringe with this kinda of crap and ratings makes it thru a 4th season without an order cut or an early cancellation. Fringe just LOST 2 more viewers what do they have now 10. Holy Crap

      • mary

        disagree.i really liked it, it was funny and dramatic at the same time

      • Bobby’s Robot

        I’m a fan of a show, but I didn’t like one episode, so I’ll never watch it again.

    • Angela

      I also loved the thought bubble. It was very clever.

  • Anjali

    GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • forrest

      I could not agree more. Really.

    • meToo

      That’s what I said! GENIUS.
      If you didn’t get all the pop culture references from Archer to Star Trek to the Walking Dead, Matrix etc… then you don’t deserve to watch THE BEST SHOW on tv.

  • Dessy

    that episode was epic.

    • tarc

      Totally epic!

  • Jay

    This was the most bizarre episode of Fringe yet, and somehow it all worked for me. I felt like I was tripping through the entire episode. I’m glad Olivia is back. And, Broyles was so good tonight.

  • Melly

    I loved everything about this episode. LOVED IT. The MacCutcheon’s scotch was a real nice (Bad Robot!) touch.

    • Amy

      Glad someone else caught that too!

    • tracy bluth

      Charles Widmore would be proud.

  • Maryfranc

    Loved Broyles’ smile, he is always so serious. Peter’s cartoon self didn’t look as much like him than Walter and Bell’s cartoon self. Loved the Inception and Walking Dead nods, and even the Wizard of Oz moment when Olivia woke up in the lab as herself, with Peter, Walter, and Astrid gathered around her and smiling. Wonderful episode. More, please

    • dfred

      didn’t The Wizard of Oz have a “Wally” reference?

  • Danielle

    Let me start off by saying I love the cartoon version. Two of my favorites combined as one – Fringe and anime. I thought that Peter identifying Olivia was pivotal for this show because it makes up for the whole Holivia thing and all I could think of was awww. Broyles was hilarious this episode; could not stop laughing and who knew a smile from him made him look so gorgeous. Oh and one more thing I want to comment on is Zoom – loved that show as a kid.
    P.S. Finally my favorite character Astrid had something to do for the whole episode, I think that was the longest time she spent on screen in one episode. Improvement! Love this show. Writers keep doing what your doing.

    • Peter

      er….how was that anime?

      • ger

        I think she meant cartoons,

    • Shaun

      I’d have liked it better if the cartoon versions actually looked like the actors. The supposed likenesses were terrible.

      • fg

        They really needed to hire some better artists.

      • Peter

        Yes. I didn’t like the style in general, but it would have helped if it had looked like them.

      • Me

        Yeah. I really dislike that sort of 3D mapping animation. The Broyles’s LSD birdy was nicely animated, though.

      • S.L.

        Agreed! Liked the episode and love Fringe but I just wish the animation had looked better. It was distractingly awful looking. I know better quality animation is more expensive and they’re working within a budget but if they couldn’t afford good animation for all those segments it would’ve been better to scale back the quantity of animated scenes in order to scale up the quality.

  • David

    Another Fringe masterpiece and another reason why this show must be allowed to tell it’s story fully,not just a second season but until it’s really done.

    So I’m guessing the apparent loss of Bell isn’t the death we’ve been told is coming but Olivia’s death?And then what?I guess that will be answered next season if it is Olivia’s death,and likely with some kind of reversal or “undeath”.

    All I know is I have watched every episode and will watch every episode.

    • Jo

      Ummmm…second season? David — this is Fringe’s third season. And according to Fox execs…there will be a fourth!

  • alan

    why were they on the other side in her mind? LOVED the episode but i was confused….thx

    • Leithen

      Ummm….they weren’t.

      • alice

        I agree but I can see why alan thought that they were – the zeppole & world trade center were part of the other universe scenes. I took it as experiences that Olivia had jumbled in her mind – much like we all do in our dream states.

      • Trenton

        Yea and it also served the story as belle and the jets needed a way to “get to” florida from nyc.

      • Steve

        Mmmm…flying zeppole.

    • Diana

      I am always confused when I watch this show but I love it and wouldn’t miss it! Great episode. I missed the first season so I am gonna watch it on Netflix on my computer, maybe then I will understand it more.

    • fg

      They weren’t on either side but in Olivia’s mind so some elements of the other side were present (zepplin).

    • alice

      They weren’t. Her mind was dominated by all of her fears, and given her experiences on the Other Side, it makes sense that when fears manifested, it would include not just her stepfather, but the world in which she was a prisoner.

  • kim in kentucky

    I FREAKIN love this show – thank you Fox for renewing it! No mention of Walter calling Astrid – Astro and then her calling him Wally!

    • Sharon

      Hahah, YES! Walter was in such a state of shock because of Astrid’s friendly punch in the stomach.

  • Jack2211

    I was a little worried when passersby started to turn and was willing Peter to make the crack. “I’m starting to think renting Inception for our last date night might have been a bad idea.” And then it got pretty great.

    Olivia matter-of-factly musing about her future killer while munching on marble-rye toast (are you sure you don’t want any?) was a heck of an ending. The most ordinary thing I’ve ever seen her do.

    • Blame Leno!

      That single moment was some of the best writing, producing and acting of the season. I know it seems as though I’m overreacting but the thought of that last line and her munching on the toast still gives me chills. It was so out of left field and perfectly executed. I love this SHOW!!

  • Reality Shifter

    Funniest parts of tonight’s episode; 1. Peter on LSD trying to touch Broyle’s head and then telling Astrid that Broyles is an Observer. 2. Broyles stoned on LSD. This episode was much better than Season 2′s “Brown Betty”.

  • charlie’s angel

    absolutely wonderful ep. …very a scanner darkly…

    • Dexter

      I thought the same thing!

    • Melvina

      There are no words to descrbie how bodacious this is.

  • Emmabe

    Despite missing the first fifteen minutes, I think I mostly got caught up. The animation was a little off-putting at first, but I actualy enjoyed it after a while! And the Zoom shout-out at the end just MADE MY DAY. I didn’t think anyone else was actually aware of that show’s existence. brings me back to 2nd grade again…

    • MelindaB

      Thanks to Zoom, I will never forget Boston’s ZIP code. :-) I loved that show and can still speak Ubby Dubby…mostly.

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