Fringe 4.10 “Forced Perspective” Review

While there were many things I enjoyed about tonight’s episode ‘Forced Perspective’, after the breakneck pace of the last two Fringe episodes it felt a bit like we hit the doldrums. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that it was something of a character study and was Olivia-centric, but I found myself missing the Other Side and the mythology. That being said, I’m very glad that they devoted the time to exploring Olivia’s reaction to September’s ominous warning, and that we’re finally starting to explore the Observers again.

Being an FBI agent, Olivia has obviously had to face death and her own mortality many times before, yet I imagine having your own death predicted, seemingly set in stone, would give anyone pause. I liked that ‘Forced Perspective’took the time to examine Olivia’s struggle with trying to come to terms with the dire prediction. As we’ve seen time and time again, Olivia Dunham isn’t a person to simply let things happen to her: ever since she was a little girl, she has fought back, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. In this way, among others, the young precog Emily (played by Alexis Raich) is eerily similar to Olivia. One of many questions I have about tonight’s episode is which foreshadowing we ought to believe: like Emily, will the very thing that gives Olivia power be the thing to lead to her death? Or are we to believe that future events are not written in stone, that the future can in fact be changed and tragedy averted? (Although given that it’s Fringe we’re talking about, it’ll probably be some impossibly mind-bending combination of both.)

As a species, humans have the capacity to experience time in a way that is wholly unique: we remember the past and anticipate the future in a way that is very different from that of any other animal on this planet. And even though parsing out how effect can precede cause when we experience time as linear gives me a headache, it certainly makes for thought-provoking debates. One thing I love about Fringe is that even at its most fantastical, the cases are rooted in scientific fact. I’m not saying I believe that it’s possible to see the future, or that future catastrophes send ripples back through time, but I did like Walter’s neurological hypothesis for Emily’s ability.

Speaking of neurological issues, I also wonder why the Cortexiphan with which Nina is dosing Olivia is causing migraines when it didn’t in the original timeline. I suppose it could be the manner in which it’s being administered, since this is probably the first time she’s had prolonged exposure since she was a child; it could just be that the alteration in her neural activity since we know Cortexiphan acts on the brain is being interpreted as pain. Although, given that Olivia left the trials early in this timeline, it could be that this latest exposure is finishing what Walter and Belly set in motion all those years ago.

Thus far it has seemed that, in some ways, this Olivia has had things better (except for not having Peter, obviously). Even though she has had to live with killing her stepfather, she isn’t haunted by him every year; and, perhaps most influentially, she gained a surrogate mother in Nina Sharp. I’ve found the shift in Olivia and Nina’s dynamic fascinating this season and I love that the powers that be decided to take their relationship in that direction. And yet I can’t help but despise Nina right now for what she’s doing to Olivia: it just makes her betrayal all the worse, since she’s one person Olivia trusts implicitly and without reservation. That Olivia actually remembers the Cortexiphan trials in this timeline makes Nina’s observation on how much Olivia has been expected to forgive even more poignant, and I think it adds even more depth to the relationship Walter and Olivia now share.

A couple more burning questions I have from tonight’s episode: what are the pills that Nina is going to give Olivia? More Cortexiphan? Or something more sinister? And how is it that the Machine doesn’t respond to Peter? It avoids one paradox, but introduces another: to my recollection, Walter built the Machine in the future so that Peter could go back in time to save Olivia. (Although I suppose with the deeper relationship between Olivia and Walter, he himself could have been sufficiently motivated by her death to alter the timeline himself.) It also raises the question of how the Bridge between the two universes was created in the first place, without someone to activate the Machine.

With Walter’s long-awaited acceptance of Peter in last week’s ‘Enemy of My Enemy’, this timeline is starting to feel a lot more like the original timeline, and I loved seeing the Bishop boys back in the lab together. I’m hoping that ‘Forced Perspective’is a way to ease us into a mythology-heavy episode next week hopefully with more information on the ever enigmatic Observers. And from what I’ve seen of the trailer for next week’s episode ‘Making Angels’, it promises to be resplendent with Other Side involvement, so make sure you tune in! B

  • MR505

    Betrayal is betrayal, but somehow, I think Nina's involvement with Mr. Jones in regards to Olivia isn't what it seems. Fringe always makes us think we're heading down one path, when in actual fact we're in a completely different road – and in another universe entirely. Sure, I believe that this Nina is less morally ambiguous (ie she is obviously morally lacking – evidenced by her very first s4 scene), but I don't think what she's doing now – despite its painful effects – is meant to be detrimental to Olivia.

    Mr. Jones, in the original timeline, had a plan for Olivia. She was important to him there, and I really think he means to use her as his recruit/soldier now for whatever war he's trying to wage.

    Wild theory: I think Nina is following orders. And the only person she takes orders from is Bell. And he didn't die in this timeline because he didn't need to sacrifice himself (unless they mentioned that he did and I missed it)… Maybe Jones got to him on the other side (revenge for turning down a research grant perhaps) and is now pretending to be Bell, or to work for him (or really IS working for him…), and communicating with Nina through her and Bell's quantum entangled old-as-anything computer.

    As for the episode itself, it felt like the short, slightly inconvenient, but much-needed water break during a marathon. In the original timeline, Olivia told Peter someone is going to kill her, then calmly ate toast. Here, the Observer tells her she will die, and it gets under her skin and worries her and forces her to look at her life and her choices. It might not be so obvious to the casual observer, but 410 is most likely going to be relevant to the rest of the season, because Fringe's filler-episodes are never really just that.

  • review

    I loved this episode for several reasons":
    Broyles and Olivia , last time we saw them this close was Marionette.
    Info on Olivia, only very little, and emphasizing my problem with how they treat Olivia, we still do not know much about her, so far it has been all to establish this Walter and Walternate, nothing for Altlivia and Olivia, exceot for these bits of info.

    We now know that her childhood was awful, why not tell us what happened, so that the viewer feels for Olivia as they seem for the Bishops, who do get all those big emo scenes about pain etc.
    Actually I feel that the Olivia /Nina scenes were more to set up Nina then Olivia, should be the other way around .

    End scene Nina and Olivia: there would be more understanding of the two together if they had given them more screentime earlier on, now it had to come from their great acting.

  • Review

    But because they did not show them together, it is difficult to see what is going on.
    I think that both women are pretending, Olivia opened the door reluctantly, she then siad I love you, only to switch to the migraines as to test Nina, if it was really menat as the big emotional scene, it should have been written better, now it was more a follow up of sentences, and I think they both play the game. We know Nina is not honest. Olivia tells Nina, what Nina wants to hear, Olivia has been in a damaged place 14 years, just quickly mentioned, helas.
    Olivia does have a problem with Nina's ethics, and in episode 1 this season she said she was seaking answers, to do with MD.Nina?
    She goes to the FBI doctor, risky, not to Nina for pills,
    Her expression after Nina tells her about the new drugs, is <here we go again>.
    I hope Olivia is reading Nina, I do not like Olivia as a victim.
    And I hope they will finally tell the backstory of Olivia, to much time spent on the Bishops, more then 3 seasons, and still we know only facts about Olivia, amazing acting from Anna Torv is what makes her.

  • Review

    On my theory above:

    Olivia's expression at the end, after Nina told her about the new drugs, is after many rewatches, for me a confirmation.
    Olivia had the migraines before (Wallflower), hoped to not getting them back, because of no longer living with Nina?
    I think next week Olivia will have the pills tested, since she went to the FBI doctor I want to believe she does not trust Nina, see also the scene in the office.

    Finally: I read several reviews, and most of them seem to agree that what Anna and Blair did in so little time showing us a complex relationship, and giving information, and setting up the next step, was brilliant.

    And what a waste they did nothing with them earlier and here is me hoping they will make up for that the rest of the season, bur please let Olivia be the fighter/survivor, not victim.

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