Fringe – Season 1


She goes back to see Jones at the FBI. Jones isn’t surprised that she’s skeptical, but he insists that she does have this ability, because she was one of a number of people treated with a drug called Cortexiphan. (Remember that. It just might be important later.) In fact, her kidnapping was about this — the spinal tap was to verify that Cortexiphan is in her system. Olivia isn’t having any of this, but Jones insists it’s true, and then passes out to emphasize the point. He is rushed to the lab (strapped to a gurney) so that Walter can try to stabilize him.

Olivia asks Charlie to find out about Cortexiphan. Turns out it is a real drug, and guess who invented it? If you guessed Massive Dynamic, you’re paying attention. When Olivia asks Nina Sharp for more info, Nina tells her it was administered to children by William Bell. Bell theorized that a child’s brain is “infinitely capable” but becomes less so with age, so he invented Cortexiphan in the hopes of stopping the limiting process that comes with age. It was tested on children at the Ohio State University in the early 80s. Olivia is relieved to know that it couldn’t have been tested on her, then, because she was living on a military base in Jacksonville, Florida at that time.

Bomb lightboardPeter rigs the light box so they can fool Jones into believing Olivia has passed the test. Jones agreeably tells her where the bomb is, and she and Charlie and Peter and other agents head off to save everyone. But it’s not so easy. The bomb squad can’t diffuse it, because… it’s hooked up to a slightly larger version of the light array from the tests. If any wire is removed, C4 will transport poison that will kill everyone in the street below the skyscraper where it’s located (and for miles around) in a grotesque fashion. The only way to stop that from happening, as the counter ticks down, is for someone like Olivia to turn off the lightbulbs.

Olivia calls Jones and admits she was bluffing and can’t do this. She tells him she was not treated with Cortexiphan, but he insists she can do this and it’s the only way to save many people from a gruesome death. Olivia orders all the agents out of the building and decides to try. Peter tries to get her to leave, but she won’t.

Instead, she focuses on the lights. And after several moments, they begin to turn off. With a couple of seconds left on the counter, all the lights go dark and the counter stops. Peter is amazed and impressed, and Olivia kind of looks like she wants to cry as she tells him she has no idea how she did it. When Astrid tells those at the lab, including Jones before he is wheeled away, that Olivia succeeded, Jones beams like a proud father. Eew.

Later, Olivia starts to Scully it up, saying that it was all a trick and the lights must have been programmed to shut themselves off at a certain time. For once, Peter disagrees. He says he’s never seen anything like the way she stared down the lights. He invites her to come have a drink (or five) with him, but she says she has paperwork. Suuuuure, Olivia.

Cortexiphan phone call

So, what you're saying is my childhood is even more messed up than I thought? Swell.

That night, as Olivia drinks by herself in her apartment, Nina Sharp calls her to talk more about Cortexiphan. It turns out there was another, smaller trial of the drug at around the same time — at a military base in Jacksonville, Florida. Olivia can barely draw breath to thank Nina for the information.

Other absolutely essential info comes in episode 17, “Bad Dreams”, which is another of my favorites. The episode begins with a mother in a NYC subway platform, with her little girl in a stroller. Suddenly, a familiar-looking person with long blond hair and a black coat seems to run forward and push the woman off the platform, just as a train is coming. When the person turns around, it is one Olivia Dunham. And then Olivia jerks awake in bed, looking horrified. She gets up, unable to go back to sleep.

Sure enough, it continues to seem that Olivia is killing people in her sleep. It is seriously freaking her out, unsurprisingly. The only thing is, no one remembers seeing Olivia at the crime scenes — it’s just her dreams that lead her to think she’s doing it. Anna Torv does some of her best work of the season here. You can’t help but feel for her as she tries to deal with the guilt and fear for her own sanity.

Finally, Olivia tracks down someone who was at both crime scenes. It’s a man named Nick Lane. He recently checked himself out of the mental institution where he’d been living when someone claiming to be his lawyer told him he had received a large inheritance. In other news, Nick also happened to believe he had been experimented on as a child, to prepare him to be a soldier in a coming war against people from another universe. This rings a bit of a bell for Olivia, strangely enough. The ZFT manuscript discusses that very idea — and what’s more, Nick Lane is from Jacksonville, and he lived there at the same time as Olivia.

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