"The Ghost Network" (1.03)

“The Ghost Network” is admittedly not one of my favorite episodes of Fringe. I am sure that I have said before, to people such as my friend Fady, for example, that the series (after the mind-blowing pilot episode, that is) starts off somewhat slow, and this is one of those early slow episodes. “The Arrival” (1.04) is a step up from this one, but even though I do really like "The Cure" (1.06), the season, as, again, I have told people, really picks up its pace and becomes the amazing season that it is at “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones” (1.07), which is probably because that is when a great deal of the mythology of the first season comes directly into play. Well, as always, I am forewarning you that this entry will pertain to “The Ghost Network” episode of Fringe and quite possibly many episodes that follow, as well, so if you do not want to be spoiled in the event that, for some reason, you haven't started watching this show yet, then do not read any further.

I can't and am not griping that this episode isn't mythological, because it definitely is mythological. Roy McComb has not returned to the series yet, and I don't suspect that he will, but his story has a great deal to do with the show's mythology, since first of all, he is representative of one of the many immoral activities that Walter's past involves, and second of all, what he sees and hears prior to and throughout this episode ties very heavily into ZFT activity. I really like how the tie-in to the pilot episode was made, since McComb saw Flight 627 before it happened and therefore both drew a picture of it and built a model of the plane. That alone goes to prove that this episode is heavy in mythology, because it is directly related to the pilot episode. However, I, again, just feel that the episode is very slow and that there isn't a lot of excitement until the last few minutes, and the episode therefore isn't really one of my favorites.

I also like how it is kind of established in this episode that Olivia and Charlie have a history, most likely just one of friendship, and that he cares about her a lot. I say that, because he can see that she is in pain in regards to John Scott betraying her and the entire force and then dying, and so he therefore does what he can to cheer her up. In this episode, he has what is probably his greatest line in his entire time in the series. Olivia tells Charlie that “he told me he loved me,” to which Charlie says, “I wasn't going to tell you this, but he said he loved me too.” At first, it is quite clear that Olivia is struggling to maintain her angst-ridden, “woman scorned” identity, but she simply can't do it and therefore laughs, and one thing that I have noticed is that on the rare occasions that Olivia does laugh or smile throughout the series, it's very frequently because of Charlie, which, of course, now stands as a very sentimental observation to make.

This episode also does quite a bit to illustrate Olivia's abilities, which, of course, we know have to wonder whether or not they are natural or Cortexiphan-induced. In this episode, for example, she notices what no one else did, something rather obscure, which is that the woman on the bus, Evelina Mendoza, is missing a backpack, and she notices this while she is comparing videos of the passengers. Again, this is something very obscure that I don't think very many people would normally notice, but she does, because her powers of observation are very elevated, something that we see repeatedly throughout the series. She pays very close attention to everything, and she makes note of everything, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or obscure. In this case, for example (no pun intended by calling it a case), her observation is a major step in solving the case.

Something about this episode that now doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me is that McComb says that he has been experiencing visions for approximately nine months, and then Broyles says that that is about how long the government has been aware of the Pattern. However, we now know from the most recent episode that was aired, “Earthling” (2.06), that Broyles has been investigating strange cases for at least four years, since the case that Fringe Division is trying to solve is something that Broyles recalls working on four years ago since it is the case that ended his marriage with his wife, so if the government had only been aware of the Pattern for nine months prior to “The Ghost Network,” then how could Broyles have been investigating such a strange occurrence four years ago prior to “Eathling”? The only solution that I can come up with is that at the time, it was merely one strange case and that that is why Broyles became so obsessed with it. In other words, there hadn't been a “pattern” yet. After all, one fact that we do learn in the first season is that as time went on, strange occurrences began to happen more and more frequently, so actually, I guess that it does make sense, a lot of sense, in fact.

"The Ghost Network" marks the second episode in a row in which the case ties back to something that Walter was working on back in the day, and that is not in any way unusual for Fringe; however, what is unusual is that it is the second episode in a row in which what Walter had been working on was related to the military. In “The Same Old Story” (1.02), the rapidly aging practice had been being put into action to “create” soldiers, and now, in this episode, the project that he was working on to send messages to people through their minds was a military project. I'm not really sure what to make of it or why, for that matter, I am even bringing it up, but I do think it's at least interesting and worth bringing up, because, for me, it begs the question as to why Walter would have been doing work for the military, or if not doing work for the military, aiding the military. I can only hope that this is something that we're going to see more of throughout the series.

Yet another indication that the episode is very heavy in mythology, even though this is something that we were obviously unaware of at the time, is that the “glass disk” story returns in “The Transformation” (1.13), when Olivia discovers that John Scott has a glass disk in his hand as well. Additionally, although unrelated, I find it interesting how the villain of this episode, Matthew Ziegler, commits suicide near the end of the episode after the disk is relinquished, and this is not the last time we see something like this happen. In “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones” (1.07), Smith makes an “attempt” to flee the scene but in the process of doing so, takes a gun out and aims it at an agent, and what I find interesting about that is that you don't have to be much of a genius to know that that is going to get you killed, and I therefore think that he does it on purpose. I am wondering if ZFT members work somewhat like the Japanese samurai, in that they believe that failure is shameful and should be punishable by death. It's most likely either that, or failure results in a severe inflicted punishment that those who fail fear so much that death is a more comfortable option. Whatever the reason may be, we frequently see ZFT members commit suicide to avoid some sort of consequence, either shame or an even worse inflicted action.

The ending of the episode is something that I definitely want to talk about, because I remember first seeing it on television and having my mouth drop open, because I thought that Broyles was a “bad guy” and that he and Nina had some “evil” plan schemed. The reason that I say that is because at the time, I thought that Nina was a villain, and so to see Broyles hand the disk over to her was a shocker to me. I thought that it was a confirmation that Broyles was a mole, and to be honest, I still don't know what to think about that scene, since it has not really been expounded upon since (something that is only to be expected out of J.J.). I still think that Broyles and Nina have deeply-rooted knowledge that only the two of them are aware of, especially since (even though I can't recall exactly what was said) they mention Olivia and what is in store for her and her future. It's definitely very mysterious, and, of course, the kiss in the second season premiere really adds yet another layer of mystery to whatever Nina and Broyles share. Ultimately, anyway, even though this episode did have a few perks, and I do, again, like how it is rooted in the show's mythology, I think that it is a rather slow-paced episode with not a lot of thrill to offer, and I therefore give this episode seven creepy stigmata drawings.

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