Fringe – Season 1


Little OliveWalter, meanwhile, searches through some of his old things until he finds a certain video tape. He plays it. We hear a voice identified as William Bell ask if the “incident” has been contained, as we see a little girl sitting hunched in the completely charred corner of a room. There is some offscreen discussion, and then Bell asks what triggered her. Walter’s voice replies that she was obviously upset, and then, in the voice of an adult trying to console a child, he addresses the girl as “Olive”.

One further thing we learn in an episode that I don’t have the space to recap — among all the other things we’re now hearing about the mysterious William Bell, he is the financial backer for ZFT. Episode 19, “The Road Not Taken”, begins with Broyles telling a team of agents that the FBI is now investigating the connection between William Bell and ZFT. More shocking, however, is the case of the week. A woman who doesn’t look at all well begins panicking when her window steams up and the seat in front of her begins smoking. She makes the bus stop immediately and gets off, still freaking out, and then in the middle of the street she bursts into flames.

So the team goes to the site of the woman’s death. Walter thinks it’s spontaneous human combustion, but wants the body taken back to the lab to be sure. Olivia asks says she’ll be sure they get there, looking down at the two charred victims. Walter wonders what other one she’s talking about, and when Olivia looks again, there’s only one body. She tries to dismiss the weirdness.

One corpse or two?

Is it one corpse or two?

She can’t dismiss it, though, when she has another similarly odd experience in Broyles’ office at the Federal Building. The office seems differently arranged than she is used to, and Broyles has a crime scene photo with two burned corpses in it. Then, a second later Broyles enters the room (which now looks back to normal) and asks about the victim, singular. Before Olivia has time to figure out if she should be worrying about going crazy, Sanford Harris comes in to demand that they stop investigating Massive Dynamic and Bell. After he leaves, though, Broyles tells Olivia they’re continuing it, because Broyles is awesome like that.

Astrid identifies the (one) body as Susan Pratt, from her dental remains. So Olivia and Charlie go check out Pratt’s apartment. It’s not decorated much, and the closet holds only gray and black clothing. Hmmm. Olivia finds a check for a very large sum of money. Charlie finds that the bathroom looks like a major fire has taken place there.

Walter has changed his mind about spontaneous human combustion — he now thinks the cause of death has to do with pyrokinesis, the ability to create heat with the mind by manipulating matter at a molecular level. He supposes that Pratt didn’t have anywhere to focus the energy of her pyrokinesis, so that’s why it ended up killing her. Olivia wonders if the ability was something that was done to Pratt.

Boston in flamesThey visit the office of the man who wrote Pratt the large check, and listen to his messages. There are several from Pratt, where she sounds increasingly more desperate and terrified about things that are happening to her. Poor woman. When Olivia leaves the building, she is shocked to see that the Boston skyline is in flames — and then when she turns to see Charlie exiting behind her and turns back again, the city looks fine.

Olivia finally decides it’s time to ask her colleagues if they can help figure out what the hell is going on. Walter calls her visions an extended form of deja vu and relates it to the theory of multiple universes: every choice we make creates a branch in which in another, alternate universe we made the other choice. (He draws a handy branch diagram on the lab’s blackboard to demonstrate.) He says deja vu is a brief glimpse into one of those alternate realities — you feel like you’ve experienced it before because you have, in an alternate universe. But of course, as Olivia remarks, that doesn’t really explain why this is happening to her, although she guesses it has something to do with Cortexiphan. That’s probably a good guess.

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